Beyond making sure your partner (or co-parent) and child are never in need or want of anything: diapers, formula, clothes, etc, the importance of simply being present and participatory in all aspects of (co-)parenting can never be overstated.
When I found out we were pregnant, I vowed to not only be an unwavering provider, but a positive presence and participant in all things related to the well-being of my partner and little one. And of course, this is not to imply that I am perfect: it’s simply to say that I committed to always working towards being the best person I can be to, and for, my family.
On Being Present
I made sure to be present: to be physically and emotionally locked into anything and everything related to my partner and child.
I made sure to be present at every ultrasound and OB/GYN appointment I could possibly attend. Even if it meant coming into work early that day so that my boss could let me take a longer lunch, I did. This was important to me, not only because I wanted to know how my child was doing, but because I wanted to be there for my partner. I wanted her to feel my support, and for our doctor to know she wasn’t going through it alone. And god forbid your partner gets given some difficult news, I wanted to be there to hold her and go through it with her should the moment present itself—luckily it never did.
And after the baby was born, I continued: I was in the room for his first wellness checkup and his four month one. The one I did not attended, although I drove them there and sat in the car, was his two month check. Because of COVID-19 guidelines, our pediatrician’s office allowed only one parent to be in the room during the check.
But the great thing about being present is that you also don’t miss out on all the joy that comes with it. From finding out you’re pregnant to seeing your little one on the ultrasound, from opening your baby shower gifts in front of the people that love you to hearing your baby’s first cries as they take their first breathe, it’s magical. And after your little one is born, these moments just keep coming: first smile, first laugh, etc.
On Being Participatory
But its not enough to just be in the room, its important to make sure your presence is felt. From the things you say to your non-verbals, its about showing that you want to be there—you care to be there.
It’s about asking your pediatrician questions, even if you think they are dumb (you’re allowed to): What are your thoughts on vaccinations? Should we circumcise? When can my little one eat solids? It’s about discussing and researching the things you and your partner want to put in your baby registry. It’s about helping pick the colors and cake for your baby shower. And them welcoming every guest that attends, opening every gift with enthusiasm, and sending thank you cards to those who couldn’t attend but they sent you something in the mail. It’s about changing diapers just as often as your partner does, helping bottle feed, packing the diaper bags, play-time, and putting the baby back to sleep when the cry at night.
Of course I could on and on giving more examples about what I mean when I say be present and participatory, but I hope my point is made. And to be fair, a lot of what I share is aspirational. There are indeed going to be times when, for one reason or the other, some thing gets in the way—work, health, life’s stresses, etc. But I hope these moments that get in the way are very few and far apart, because when you are making a consistent effort, your dedication will not go unnoticed and unappreciated by your partner and your little one.
This New Dad,
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