For the past three months, Kayla has stayed home to take care of Kate. Her days have been filled with milk, dirty diapers, milk, naps and more milk as she’s essentially been a single parent during the weekdays when I went back to work.
After 12 weeks, it’s my turn. Our positions are now reversed as I’ll be home on baby duty for three weeks.
Paternity leave for me came with the same emotions as being a parent, itself. Fear and excitement.
This is the first one-on-one time I get to have with Kate that’s more than an hour or two long while Kayla runs to Target. For three weeks, it’s me and Kate, and it’s coming at a perfect time. She’s right around three months old and is starting to show some personality.
Tonight we got to hear her clearly giggle while being tickled for the first time. She’s been a boisterous child for some time now, but we couldn’t help laughing, ourselves as Kate smiled. On my first day flying solo I also got to witness a first when Kate held her bottle up all by herself while drinking. Admittedly, it was only for about 25 seconds and I couldn’t get her to do it again, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I tried to get a pic on my phone, but naturally she started to drop the bottle just as I got my phone out.
It’s these little, seemingly insignificant things I’m thrilled to be a part of for the next three weeks. The tiny milestones that are only important to you, but are so important to you. She’s doing good at tummy time and lifting her head up on her own. She still swings it like a wrecking ball whichever direction she thinks there might be food, but hopefully that will pass. She’s also going to be a savvy consumer when she grows up thanks to religiously watching The Price is Right with me every morning.
I’ve also found that there’s a fair amount of down time. Kate takes three naps a day, leaving me to entertain myself. HBO, Netflix and Hulu can only get you so far. One day into paternity leave I’ve prepared my taxes, checked the air in my tires, vacuumed the house, dusted the house, washed three rounds of dishes and cleaned the kitchen. My to-do list is running short already.
Not to boast, but I think I’m doing a pretty alright job at this fatherhood thing so far. Admittedly we’re only a few months in, but so far so good. Changing diapers, rocking Kate to sleep and looking out for spit up is like second nature at this point. Yet it feels like I’ve been pedaling with training wheels. There are those nights when Kate’s especially fussy and looking for food that I’ve tagged out and handed her off so Kayla can nurse. Now it’s nine hours a day of just me and a row of carefully-labeled bottles in the fridge. There’s no backup during the days for me to call in.
Today when Kate had a massive diaper blowout, I’m talking on the scale of something the U.S. would have ordered to end World War II, there were no helping hands to get everything under control. Just me scrambling to change her without making too much of a mess on the kitchen floor.
Kate and I are getting along great during my paternity leave, for two whole days. So great I fantasize about somehow making enough money from this blog to quit my job and be a work-from-home dad. I didn’t put on real pants or brush my teeth today. Does it get any better?
I spend my days telling myself to just cherish every day as it comes and not dwell so much on yesterday when it comes to Kate. It’s hard. She’s only three months old and near daily Kayla and I remark on how fast she’s growing, how much she’s changed and that we wish she could stay that small forever. But there’s no looking back. Instead, it’s all eyes forward. I just want to cherish every day as it comes and enjoy them all, even those that test your patience.