On Sunday we drove down to the city to do some shopping – both Adam and I are fairly frugal people (and I am ridiculously meticulous/indecisive) so we rarely purchase anything on these little outings, but it’s just nice to get out of town and wander the streets, ducking into little boutiques and lunching at cafes, no plan, no schedule, just going with the flow.
As we drove down, Olive fell asleep and Adam and I were chatting in the sort of relaxed, effortless way you do with someone you’ve known intimately for a decade. At one point he said something funny, and then held out his fist to me for the Obama fist bump. You know the one.
I laughed and rolled my eyes (you can’t refuse Adam a fist bump. If you do, he repeats “Fist me. FIST ME!”. In public. Until you do it. So, yeah. I just do it now)
We bumped fists, and then without either of us saying anything, or even looking at eachother we fist bumped again but this time made a little explosion gesture afterwards like this:
It was so nerdy, and so ridiculously lame, but also just spontaneous and silly and fun, and I couldn’t stop laughing and in between the laughter, I realized: I have my husband back!
For a while there after Olive was born, Adam ceased to be my husband and became instead, that guy. As in, that guy who couldn’t soothe a baby as well as my mom. That guy who I’d hear snoring from the other room as I rocked Olive at 4am. That guy who couldn’t even breastfeed, I mean really!
it wasn’t any fault of his own that he became that guy, he’d had almost zero experience with babies before and didn’t know what to do. Place a baby in a woman’s arms and she’ll almost instinctively start to rock and sway. Place a baby in most men’s arms and they hold them out away from their body, face to face. They like to play and explore and converse, but comforting and nurturing seems more difficult to come by naturally in a man, and in the early days and weeks that’s pretty much the only interaction you have with your baby.
I think men find it hard to find their place within this new little twinset of mom and baby – they’re sort of superfluous, an extra thumb, a third nipple (and a non-functional nipple at that). So while Adam was doing everything he could to help – picking up extra chores, taking lots of time off work to be here with us, he wasn’t a woman. He wasn’t a mother. And this made me incredibly angry sometimes.
I’d sit there rocking and seething, unable to express what I wanted him to do – because really, he couldn’t do anything! Olive wanted nothing more than to nurse, and then she’d fall asleep on me and I was too worried she’d wake up if I moved so I’d sit there and bark orders and lord, there’s nothing Adam hates more than being told what to do. And there is nothing I hate more than Adam not doing what he’s told.
We were not, as Oprah says, our best selves.
I hereby apologize to my sisters for having to suffer through full weekends of this malarky. Oh god they may never get married because of what they saw.
So the first six weeks of Olive, while making me love Adam even more in a deep, abstract way, made me also want to do a lot of throat punching and silent pillow screaming in the day-to-day grind. I would have traded him for my mom, or a housekeeper, or even some strange woman I picked up off the street, in a heartbeat.
Family would visit and the extra help would make me madder instead of relaxing me, because our female relatives would flit around making lunch and offering to hold Olive and they’d change her diaper without having to be asked, and I would be silently fuming that Adam wasn’t doing this. I mean he was her dad! Come ON!
I think that’s the adjustment they talk about when people talk about the havoc a new baby can wreak on a new relationship. Navigating these changing roles isn’t always easy, and in some ways it doesn’t get easier – typically your partner goes back to work and then becomes detached from the day to day routine, leaving you huffy and impatient on the weekends when he doesn’t know that she needs to nap every two hours, or that she can’t go in her jolly jumper right after eating because she’ll spit up everywhere and then Gus will lick it off the floor and oh god it’s like I just breastfed Gus!
But in many ways that far outweigh the other ways, it does get easier. Way easier. When your baby is around 3 months old they are all of a sudden little human beings. They turn their head and smile when they see you, they jump and giggle and actually interact with you! This is where Adam shines. Seeing him jump through hoop to get this child to smile, I’m like that guy? Who? What guy? This is my man.
Fist bump. Explosion. POW.
All photos by Brent Calis Photography