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Focus on Fathers

A Dad's Special Role

Naomi Hambleton
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 2, March -- April 2007, pp.72

I can't talk about my husband, Greg Patterson, as a father without first talking about him as a husband and the changes that have occurred in him. When we met, I was 20 and he was 19; we're now 35 and 34. We started out as friends and, in our relationship, we have found a way to have an equal partnership. In the beginning of our marriage, we both worked to support each other monetarily. We also took turns with household chores like dishes, laundry, and yard work, equally.

We wanted children, but I think we were both surprised at the changes a family brought about, not only in ourselves, but in our marriage, too. Suddenly, I was out of the loop in the work world and he was less in the loop at home. It was an adjustment for me to do things over and over and not get to check much off "the list." I'm sure he would come home some days and wonder if I did much but nurse Abigail (some days that was about all we did)!

But his job in our marriage was suddenly different, too. He became financially responsible for everything. He now has the pressure to take care of all of us so that I can be home to take care of our daughter, Abigail, and son, Samuel.

As for the role of fatherhood, Greg has been in love from the start. I remember his tears of joy during both Abigail and Samuel's births. He was such a support for me during the labor process, making me feel strong and that I could do it naturally.

As I have grown in my own intuition of how to nurture and care for Abigail and Samuel, so has he. I try not to hover too much, and he has found his own way. When Abigail was born, we were quite overwhelmed with all the changes (and all the laundry)! I was exhausted since she nursed for 45 minutes of each hour. Greg was there to tell me that I was doing great. He was there to take his turn at trying to keep her contented. He had a really hard time adjusting when he went back to work because he wanted to be home to smell our daughter's hair and count her fingers like I got to do. When he is home from work, he gets to enjoy bath time, rocking time, reading time, and feeding solids once our children were ready. He tells me what a good job I am doing and how proud of me he is.

I have gotten better at letting Greg know when I need help at home and with the children, instead of expecting him to already know. Our jobs aren't divided "equally" any more -- they are divided by what we are each good at and capable of. Sometimes he plays with the children and I cook a meal, or vice versa. He is a wonderful father, and he really finds joy in his children. I love watching him with Abigail and Samuel.

His support has meant so much for my mothering and my nursing relationships with my children. I know it would have been really hard at times if people questioned breastfeeding or extended nursing and Greg wasn't standing by what I was saying.

With two children, there have been different challenges, and we've gotten better at communicating to each other. I remember Greg telling me he was jealous sometimes because I could "just nurse" Abigail or Samuel and everything would be all right. I told him that there were times when I was jealous of him because I couldn't try all the "tricks in the bag" that he could because my babies wouldn't have that from me. All these feelings have been helpful for us to discuss as a couple because they made us more aware of each other and how we each parent as individuals.

It's been really important for us to share our thoughts. In relationships, changes will occur and some feelings of jealousy are valid. Each parent has a special role in raising children. Dads are not substitute moms. Greg reminds me that we are both doing the best we can. As our relationship grows with our children, our relationship as a couple has blossomed.

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