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“Not the mama!”

Folks around my age might remember the TV show “Dinosaurs” and the baby’s famous “Not the Mama” thing. Over the past (almost) two years, that’s sometimes how it’s been being a father. Obviously in utero and infancy, the mother is a child’s first interpersonal relationship and the source of nourishment via nursing, so she naturally becomes the primary attachment figure to the baby.

As my son has gotten older, it seems he has learned to appreciate both my wife and I for who we are, and I know I’ve developed a special relationship with him as his dada.

However, there’s still times when only mama will satisfy a need or desire.

For example, my son doesn’t quite make it sleeping through the night yet. When he wakes up crying (usually around 3am or so), I am the one who usually goes upstairs to get him. The first thing he does is point toward the door and says “mama”, meaning “bring me to her.” My presence as the first responder is okay enough for him to stop crying, but ultimately I’m just the delivery guy.

On weekends, when he wakes up at 6:something in the morning, my wife and I sometimes take turns getting up early with him and letting the other get another hour or so of sleep. On days when I get up early with him, it’s hard for him to let my wife sleep in. He will go up to the door of the bedroom and call for her. If she had gone to the supermarket or something, he’d be fine; it’s more about the idea that mama is in the house but not fulfilling her usual role with him.

At these times my wife and I have a “grass is greener” thing going. She wonders why it always has to be her when our son is in mama mode, gladly willing to pass the baton to me if he would let her, and I would gladly take it. But ultimately we both need to recognize we both have a special role and be thankful.

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Categories: fatherhood
  1. September 14, 2012 at 9:17 am

    The rest of the story my husband doesn’t know, so I will tell is that everyday when I pick the little one up from school and drive into the driveway he says “dada/dada car” (we exist only because of our cars). We are truly blessed to be able to tag team because we are the ying to one another’s yang. And our son is the puppetmaster directing our every dance. Life is good in our house.

  2. September 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Yep, I get this. I wake up at 3AM, go in to my daughter’s room to comfort her, only to have her push me aside and go look for mom. Then I’m left standing there feeling feckless and tired. My wife does complain that she is always the one that has to be the final source of comfort. But I gently remind her that she would hate for it to be the other way.

  3. Ask A Great Dad
    September 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I will admit it, the best part of my day is when my daughter calls for me.

  4. September 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Trust me.. I understand that young child struggle in the early stages of the morning.

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