Tag Archives: dad

Boy who cried wolf

We had Jake’s “party” today.  Really it was just a low-key dinner at my in-laws’.  Frank’s aunt and uncle were also there.

My dad and his girlfriend were planning to come for the weekend.  They were going to stay with us for two nights.  They were supposed to get here yesterday.  I woke up yesterday to a message on my cell phone, from my dad.  He was sick, and really felt crappy, and didn’t want to risk getting anyone else sick, so they weren’t going to be coming.

At first glance, this might seem noble and courteous.  But then, you didn’t grow up in the same house as my dad.  My dad’s got a few mental misfirings going on, which isn’t surprising given the abundance of mental illness on my grandma’s side of the family.  I suspect he might be cyclothymic or worse-  he definitely has a history of periods that I wouldn’t characterize as a severe mania, but could definitely be hypomanic, and he’s definitely had bouts of depression, too, though nothing I would characterize as a major depression though he’s good at getting angry to cover all other emotion.  He has what could be characterized as borderline personality tendencies, though probably not quite severe enough to warrant that diagnosis (mostly, he has lots of anger and abandonment issues, and troubles with impulse behavior, like promiscuity in relationships and drinking), but that could be part and parcel to the bipolar tendencies, or vice versa.  He also, most pronounced of the lot, has a significant issue with anxiety.  He has it and he often deals with it poorly.  Last year he had a sore throat and became convinced he had throat cancer.  He worries endlessly about stuff that really shouldn’t even take up two minutes of his day, like if he got the ‘best’ presents for my kids on Christmas or their birthdays.  (He got Lane dress-up stuff for Christmas, and my brother got her an Imaginext dinosaur, and she played with the dinosaur more in the next couple days, and my dad kept kicking himself that he didn’t get her the BEST, MOST FAVORITE present, like it meant he was a failure as a grandfather or something.  This, after prodding me endlessly in the weeks preceding Christmas to try to ensure he was getting gifts for the kids that they were sure to LOVE.)  Above all else, he has a major social anxiety.  Well, “major” is probably a bit much, but it’s enough to interfere with his normal life activities.  If you’ve ever watched Sex and The City — when Carrie is dating the Russian, and he gets all ill and upset before certain social situations,  but then once he’s there he’s all confident and charismatic… that’s my dad.  I remember all through my childhood, my dad wiggling out of attending parties, weddings, etc. because he “didn’t feel good”.  Countless times in the car, we all strapped in and ready to head somewhere that required social interaction (even something as simple as one of my little league softball games), and my dad would sit in the driver’s seat, with his head on the steering wheel, either in an attempt to try to get my mom to say, “well, if you really don’t feel well, just stay home” and/or to psych himself up enough to put the car in gear and head toward the kibitzing.  Sometimes he’d sit there for minutes and minutes… and we had to be quiet… oh it was like hours.  I distinctly remember a couple instances where we sat for 20 minutes or more.  I haven’t lived under the same roof as him for more than ten years, but I’ve heard from at least a couple of his post-Mom girlfriends that the behavior has persisted — they’d be ready to go meet someone, ready to go to a party, and all of a sudden Dad wouldn’t feel well and would try to talk them into staying in.

Long story short, I’m sure a therapist could have a field day peeling away all the weird layers they would find there, assuming my father would ever open himself to that possibility.  (He won’t.  I’ve lobbied him aggressively to try.)

Given that history… it’s really hard for me to totally buy any time my dad says he’s too sick to do something.  And since this weekend meant coming here with his girlfriend and staying with us in our house (foreign territory), then going over to my in-laws’ house for a small party (even more foreign territory, coupled with the possibility of not having bought the BEST GIFT EVER), well, it was a situation ripe for an attempt at playing hookey.

I don’t doubt he actually was sick.  I’m sure he had at least a sniffle or a scratchy throat.  When I called him yesterday evening to see how he was feeling, though, I caught him at the mall with his girlfriend; they had just gone out to dinner.  And he hadn’t had to miss any days of work with this bout of avian flu or whatever he thinks he had.   I’m really not at a point anymore where this surprises me, or even disappoints me much.  And maybe he was/is sicker than I’m imagining.  But he’s been the boy who cried wolf my whole life, so it’s hard to assume the best when it’s probably not the case.

Despite Dad’s shenanigans, we had a nice evening.  My in-laws made a lovely dinner and I supplied a from-scratch carrot cake with cream cheese frosting that was sinfully delicious – even though in my quest to drop what is now 34 of the 37 extra pounds I started with (thank you very much) I subbed some Splenda for part of the sugar, some wheat flour for part of the white flour, and some applesauce for some of the oil required.   According to the recipe builder on the Weight Watchers website, the changes shaved 4 points (about 200 calories) off each slice of cake.

Jake got a couple toys, some beach/pool stuff for our trip to Aruba in April, and a smattering of clothes.  And he loves cream cheese frosting, but only if you let him operate the spoon himself.


So your wife wants to breastfeed? Breastfeeding Narrative #2

This is one in a series of breastfeeding posts. Really, I’m no expert – I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doula, I’m not a lactation consultant. I am simply a breastfeeding mom who has nursed one child to three years old, and am currently nursing another who is nearly a year old.
If you’re looking for specific answers, I recommend giving a visit to http://www.kellymom.com, a breastfeeding site written by a lactation consultant. These will simply be me blabbering about my experiences and is not medical advice.
Maybe she isn’t your wife… maybe she’s your fiance or girlfriend or partner, and she’s pregnant with your child. Or maybe it’s not even “your” child. But her belly’s getting bigger, she’s having difficulty tying her shoes, and the baby’s arrival is imminent. Or, maybe the little dude or dudette arrived not so long ago. But regardless, maybe you’re looking at your wife’s boobs and are feeling a little territorial. You’ve had unfettered access for awhile. What’s this going to be like?
Some men have a hard time getting over the sexualness of a woman’s breasts. Breasts are for fun! Breasts are for you to play with and touch and lube up and do unholy things with! Breasts are fun to look at! Well, all this is true. And it will continue to be true. But breasts, primarily, are for the nourishment of a baby. I took an evolutionary psychology class in college, and the basis of evolutionary psychology is that most normal behaviors, emotions, desires, etc. are tied to some sort of furtherance of the human species — what you think, how you feel, what you do, all serve in some way to ensure you’ll spread your proverbial seed. From this standpoint, it would be the argument that the sexualization of a woman’s breasts has occurred because round, voluptuous breasts indicate that this woman would be a good mating partner; were she to birth your offspring, she could adequately feed that baby and help ensure its survival, to further spread your seed.
(Let me just note here that it really isn’t necessary for a woman’s breasts to be round or voluptuous to successfully breastfeed. If your partner’s sporting a perky set of A’s they should not be a hindrance to her breastfeeding success.)
First understand, breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby. (Even formula companies will tell you this.) It’s also way cheaper than formula. Breastmilk is nutritionally optimal, and contains chemicals and enzymes and immunity boosting stuff that formula cannot and will never be able to duplicate. Your child is very lucky to be breastfed. That isn’t to say that formula is “bad”. Formula is great. Formula has been lifesaving for so many babies who couldn’t be breastfed, for the zillion reasons there are for not breastfeeding. Formula is wonderful. Breastmilk is even better.
It’s sort of like the difference between a Mercedes and a Bentley. A Mercedes is a great car. It’s safe and beautiful and really has just about everything could ever need from a car. The Bentley, however, is a Bentley.
My big piece of advice is, get over it. Having a kid changes everything; this is no different. Some women are cool about their breasts’ continued involvement in your lovemaking or general day-to-day getting-felt-upedness, but some aren’t. For me personally, I’m OK with my breasts being touched, but not within like 15 minutes of a feeding. And DEFINITELY not WHILE I’m nursing. (My husband made that mistake once. Once.) So please respect your partner’s wishes here. She’s not asking you to leave the girls out to punish you. The boundaries of comfort just have shifted. There may need to be other adjustments, too. The hormone that surges through her body when she nurses her baby happens to be the same one that surges through her body when she has an orgasm. So for a while, you may need to deal with getting wet, or she may need to wear a bra with nursing pads during lovemaking. Or maybe you’re a big pervert and you’ll like it; I don’t know you. (Just kidding about that pervert thing. Well, sort of.)
For most women, the breastfeeding relationship they have with their kids is extremely cherished and valuable to them. As a breastfeeding mom, it’s not something I would trade for the world. Expect that this bond between your partner and the baby will be strong and special, and for a long time only Mommy will do. And yes, you will not be able to help much with the feeding itself, but there are many other things you can do to share in the parenting workload, and bond and hang out and get to know the baby. Change diapers. Give baths. Wear the baby to sleep in a sling. Cuddle with her on your bare chest (babies often love this). Watch hockey games with him.
Now, amuse me for a moment while I go through some other thoughts I wish someone would have told my husband!
– Remember to “mother the mother”. Especially during those first few weeks, when the breastfeeding relationship is being established and your partner is still recovering from childbirth, you have to take care of her. Make sure she always has a drink within reach. (Not a DRINK drink… if she always has a martini in reach, perhaps she shouldn’t be breastfeeding!) Offer to rub her feet while she’s breastfeeding. Take over some of the chores she usually does for a few weeks, and don’t slack on the stuff you’re supposed to do, either. E.g., don’t make her nag you to take out the trash like she has every week for the last three years. And if you want to be your partner’s hero, a couple times a week take the baby somewhere and leave mom at home. Take him for a drive, or a walk, or on an errand with you, and give your partner 30 minutes of alone time where she’s guaranteed to not have to respond to or hear a baby cry. If you make sure you go right after a feeding, you don’t have to worry about having milk with you. Moms have very little opportunity to be truly alone, especially in the early baby weeks, and especially in their own home. This is different than letting her get out of the house without the baby, which will also be appreciated.
– Consider co-sleeping. I’m not sure I could have had a successful breastfeeding relationship with my babies if I didn’t bring them to bed with me. Be open to this idea, and even suggest it if your wife’s up a dozen times a night feeding a baby. With a bit of practice, it’s so easy to nurse lying down, and it is really nice to cuddle with your baby at night. Some of my favorite pictures of my husband with our kids are ones where I’ve caught them cuddling in the morning when I woke up and they were still snoozing away, nuzzling. If you do co-sleep, be sure to do it safely.
– Nursing in public: Your wife wants to breastfeed in public and it makes you feel a little weird? See above: Get over it. Remember, they aren’t your breasts. If she feels comfortable, that’s what matters. No one’s paying attention anyway. And chances are, 75% of anyone who pays enough attention to your partner won’t even realize she’s breastfeeding. I’ve had minutes-long conversation with my brother’s early-20s friends (who I know are all sorts of perverted), baby on boob, and they never even realized we were breastfeeding; they thought the baby was sleeping. Most of the people who will realize there’s nursing going on are other women who have breastfed babies. In other words, you don’t really have to worry about the pervs flocking around your partner, because they simply won’t know better. And in any event, breastfeeding doesn’t generally show any more boobage than your everyday bikini, and most guys that I know really enjoy their partners to wear bikinis.
– Remember, it will get better. Eventually, your partner won’t be as tired. She’ll get more sleep. The baby will start to sleep better, too. (Maybe not “great”, but definitely better.)
– I won’t even talk about extended breastfeeding. I think that’s probably a post in itself. Just remember like all good things, breastfeeding will come to an end, sooner or later. Your child will not celebrate getting his driver’s license by taking a guzzle off mom’s boobs.