Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Interview with a Dad

photo credit: Audria Abney, www.audriaabney.com

     I've noticed that in a lot of the mom groups I participate in online there are lots of questions about fathers- either their perspectives on certain issues or how to navigate relationships with our partners as we all enter into this whole parenthood thing. So I decided to interview a dad and get the low down for myself. I kind of cheated and just interviewed Perrin's dad, my partner Joey, since he is readily accessible and all. I asked him a range of open ended questions about parenting in general and "hot" topics, especially ones I see come up a lot in reference to support and opposition from fathers. So what does this dad think about all things baby? Read on to find out.

What is your favorite thing about being a dad?
     Um...just watching him grow. Watching him learn and do things for the first time and just kind of experience life. That's the big thing- just watching the wonder in his eyes when he sees new things for the first time.

Least favorite thing?
    Um....night's like last night when you're just ready to go to bed and tired, but he's either fighting sleep or...I guess just teething in general. Him being so restless and not going to sleep. Getting frustrated but you can't really do anything about it because it's not like he knows what he's doing or understands what's going on. He's just learning his feelings and asserting himself.

What was pregnancy like from your perspective?
    Quick. Exciting. It was kind of the excitement of the unknown. Just knowing that he was coming and curiosity since we didn't find out what it was, whether it would be a boy or girl. I thought it was kind of neat seeing your [Roxanne's] body change, especially when he started kicking or getting the hiccups. Hiccups were kind of funny. It was just kind of trippy that something was growing inside of you. And also kind of ridiculous how many times you had to pee.

The pregnant female- gross, sexy, or neither?
     I think it's sexy. I think it's pretty cool. Sexy in a maternal way. I don't know, I think it's a really cool transformation. It's usually pretty special- I know not all women see it that way, but...

Post-partum bodies- same question.
     I think it's sexy. I think the whole process is sexy. I don't see it being, detracting from the thing that brought me to you and it makes it that much more special that it's something we share now. You're body might change, but that doesn't change my perception of you.

What was it like to have a wife with PPD?
     It was very hard. Kind of...just reminding myself that you're [Roxanne] not doing it on purpose. Just reminding myself that it will get better.

We had the baby at home, what was that like?
     I thought that was really cool. I don't know, it was just very peaceful. Just, non-stress. Well, not non-stress but reduced stress and less pressure. Just because we were already excited and anxious and stuff, and especially with how long he took, it was nice to just go at our own pace. And it was very freeing. Just that we could go up to campus and go for a walk or go to In N Out for a hamburger. Hell, I went for a run with the dog one morning to settle him down. We had Lia and everyone with us, but we didn't have people disturbing us- poking and prodding you and breathing down our necks saying we need to do this.

What do you think about breastfeeding in general?
    Um...hmmm. Uhh...I think it's ideal. I fee like it's ideal because it's a lot more nutritious than formula, but I also respect that it's the mom's decision. And that she can do it for however long she feels most comfortable doing it. So, like if...I think it's good to be supportive and realize how much it means to the mom to do the breastfeeding stuff and then try and support it as much as you can. Especially in the beginning, because from what I've noticed everyone has trouble in the beginning. Not many people have that wonderful start where baby latches properly and there's no pain. But just that- being supportive in the beginning when it's hard and understanding how much it means to the mom. Like with you- from the beginning I knew how important it was to, so if you wanted to keep going that's fine, but if you really really really wanted to stop I wouldn't have said you can't. Like now, like if you told me tonight that you were tired of it and done I wouldn't say anything to stop you, even though he's not two yet. And even if at two or however many weeks when it was the hardest if you had said "I'm done, I gave it shot and didn't like it" and wanted to switch to formula I would have supported that. That's what I mean, I think it's ideal. I don't think formula is the worst thing in the world, I just don't think it's the best. It's just...different. Not my body, not my call.

...In public?
     I think it's great. I think it's a lot easier than having to worry about covering and peeking on the baby and stuff.  [I clarified that nursing in public includes with a cover] Oh, when you say breastfeeding in public I jump to no cover, just whipping it out. Because I feel like when you are doing it with a cover, you are still breastfeeding in public, but you are hiding the fact that you are breastfeeding in public. So you want to do it, but you don't want other people to know you are doing it, which is fine. I don't really notice, but you know when sometimes I come home and tell you I noticed a woman breastfeeding at the park without a cover just whipping it out...I don't know, it doesn't bother me.

...Around family?
    Heheheh...it's funny. Ha ha haha. Just the differences. Like your mom and them don't care, and my mom doesn't care anymore either. Just kind of the differences, because like...well you did it at Christmas? I don't know, I guess I envisioned my family saying more than they do. It was definitely a conversation before he was born that that was what we were going to do. Just because no one in my family had been around it. I guess one really had in your family either. I guess it's just funny because everyone made a big deal about it in the beginning, but then when you actually did it and they saw it, it wasn't a big deal.

How do you feel about cosleeping?
     Um...I like it and I don't like it. I guess it's kind of like what I said before withe the parts I don't like about being a dad, like when he's not feeling well- which I guess it wouldn't matter if he was in a another room- well, let me rephrase. I guess, it's an acceptable inconvenience until he decides he doesn't want to. Because it doesn't matter if he was in another room or sleeping with us, if he's not feeling well it's not that we would just leave in him in the room by himself all night. So I guess it's just we don't have to walk into another room. I hate how his restless nights keep you from getting any sleep. I really like the nights- I don't mind him sleeping on me or with me- but that's the big thing though I know it's harder for you to sleep at night because he's always wanting to nurse and roll around and stuff. I wish he'd sleep with me more. But if it helps him developmentally and emotionally, it's more of a necessary, an acceptable inconvenience and I'd rather forgo the little bit of extra sleep I'd get.

How did you/do you bond with Perrin?
     Um...I bonded with Perrin through our walks, especially at night and stuff, and through how hard things were in the beginning. But I'd take him on walks for at least 30 minutes at a time, multiple times a day. But through that and me being able to take off from work for that period of time and just kind of hang out at home. Our showers are always fun. And um...yeah, those are the main two I guess.

Babywearing- practical or emasculating?
     Practical. No hesitation. I think everyone should do it.

Is gender neutral parenting weird?
    Uuummmm...Only beyond the point where you feel comfortable. Uhhh...let me see. I get it. And I agree with it to an extent. I feel like with gender neutral stuff there is a spectrum, and I consider myself more in the middle as opposed to the full on everything neutral. That's what I mean by "beyond the point where you feel comfortable" so finding where you are on the spectrum and then anything beyond that is weird...well maybe not weird, but just too much. [I asked for clarification] I fine with everything up to some of the clothing. I'm fine with all the colors and the hair and toys, it doesn't offend me if someone calls him a girl. And I don't like the whole, like um, sexualization of the clothing like the "Heartbreaker" type stuff.
photo credit: Audria Abney, www.audriaabney.com

How do you cope with your and Perrin's penises not matching? [Referring to Perrin being intact and Joey not]
     [Shrugs] I don't think about it. I don't think about it because it's not an issue.

What are your thoughts on gentle discipline?
     I like it. It's definitely a different way of doing it than what I'm used to seeing. I think it's definitely a lot nicer. And I mean, it seems to be just as effective. It might take a little longer because you may not see the immediate results, but it's because it's him learning instead of him just doing it because I'm about to smack the shit out of him. That's about it.

Is cloth diapering really gross?
     No. I'm in charge of the cloth diapers; it's not. I shouldn't say I'm in charge, but I do it mostly. No, I think they're great.

photo credit: Audria Abney, www.audriaabney.com

What are your thoughts about how dad's are portrayed in the media or pop culture? Anything you would like to set straight?
     I don't think there is anything I feel I need to set straight. I think some things are decent and some or more kind of, just a little out there. I feel like I'm not the one to ask this because  I don't pay attention enough or consider things unless it's just blatant. There was that carseat commercial that was a little blatant. Oh, and the football game one that was talking about dad having to watch the game and not...the guy was too busy watching football and couldn't do anything and that was just the center of his life. I thought that was a bit excessive.

What do you think is the most important things for dads or dads-to-be to know?
     Patience and support. Lots and lots of patience and be as supportive as you can.

Any last tips or advice?
    Not at the moment- ask me later [as he cleans up the basket of tea Perrin just dumped all over the kitchen floor].