I have always loved Saturdays.
It’s my favorite day of the week, edging out Sundays by a hair during football season, but Saturdays do not mean today what they once did.
Growing up, it was the day of the week that provided a chance to sleep in after getting up early all week for school. That, of course, evolves over time and through the experiences of life, and it’s safe to say sleeping in is not on the radar screen with a 3-month-old in the home.
Saturday morning is my time with our little boy and I look forward to it. We are now at the stage with our 13-week-old that he’s interacting with us. His eyes are focused. He’s alert and attentive and making some of the sweetest sounds ever to fall on these ears. He’s also learning his hands can be utilized as tools, and that they, along with just about anything else, feel good in his mouth.
I am new to this parenting thing, but it seems to me each parent should spend time one-on-one with the child of the house. It allows time to bond and get more comfortable with the routine of the baby and gives the other parent a chance to be baby free for a spell. Well, Saturday mornings are my time with our boy, while my wife is at work. I call it Daddy Day Care. It is my time alone with my son and gives me the opportunity to talk to him the way I never would when others are around.
During his first couple months, this time consisted of the normal stuff – feedings, changes, playing and sleeping. It’s basically just customer service, maintaining him and meeting his needs. Now that he’s getting a little bigger and more alert, he’s becoming a lot of fun and interested in exploring and trying new things (toys).
For the sake of this column, I kept track of our day on a recent Saturday, starting in the middle of the night.
2 a.m.: It’s not “last call” around my house. I am awoken to the type of cry all parents are accustomed to hearing after a little one’s been asleep. It’s a cry signifying he means business. His diaper is both wet and dirty and he’s hungry, and my wife has an early morning of work looming. So Daddy Day Care officially starts. He frantically eats his bottle, gives a few good burps and crashes in my arms. He’s full, dry and clean, at least for now. I can’t say the same, but it doesn’t matter.
2:50 a.m.: After being placed in the crib, he assumes his favored sleeping position of the week and immediately throws both arms above his head like Michael Phelps did the other night celebrating his win. A moment befitting a camera, but I know better than to risk a flash at this time of night because I’m going back down, too.
6 a.m.: Some baby grunts from the nursery. I lie in bed and watch him move around, thanks to the video monitor. I give him a few minutes to see if he’s going to “self-soothe” – that’s what the books call it – and go back down. It’s clear he wants out and with good reason. He needs a diaper change and it’s time to eat again. The big difference between this feeding and the middle of the night version is he’s much more alert, giggling and laughing. He’s not going back down, at least not immediately.
6:45 a.m.: He’s strapped into the jogging stroller with his favorite blanket tightly clenched within both hands. He likes the motion and drifts in and out of sleep on the run. By the time we get back to the house, he’s out, but I make the mistake of trying to relocate him and he’s making me pay with some high-shriek cries that echo throughout our quiet community.
7:30 a.m.: He calms down and goes down for a nap.
8:30 a.m.: The routine starts over with a change, feeding, change, etc. Since dad is starting to fade, it’s off to the Coffee Beanery for an iced latte (try it with a Splenda). However, before that, the baby needs a new outfit. Along with his new attention span and attentiveness has come a messy drooling habit and it’s all over the front of him. It’s cute.
8:40 a.m.: While he’s blowing bubbles, the onesie comes off and it’s off to the closest to decide what he should wear. He has now graduated to the 3-month outfits and that means a whole new wardrobe to choose from. I like dressing him, but I am not good at it, especially the color coordinating of the socks. The outfit of the day is a simple blue onesie with “Daddy’s First Mate”. Before becoming a dad, I would have made fun of any friend who made his son wear something dripping of cheese like this, but that’s the way it is now. As far as the socks, the choice between all white, gray stripes or a simple blue was confounding. We left the house without any socks.
9 a.m.: He falls asleep in the car and I weigh whether to take him on a few errands with me. He comes along into the coffee shop as well as Venable’s for the quick dry cleaning pick up. I think long and hard whether I want to take him on my first grocery store run with baby
9:40 a.m.: I leave the grocery store trip for another day and head for safe cover.
11:30: He wakes up, ready for a feed and change, full of smiles and giggles. There’s nothing like a well-rested baby. The fits of smiles and giggles makes daddy feel like he’s ready for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.
Noon: My wife returns and Daddy Day Care is complete. I survived another round of man-to-man coverage. The little boy is now back in the easy double team parental defense and I am left exhausted, wondering whether I will ever be able to take him to the grocery store. I am working my way up to that … maybe this Saturday.
(The writer is the publisher and editor of The Dispatch. He and his wife, Pamela, recently welcomed a newborn into their lives. This weekly column examines their transition into parenthood and all that goes along with it. Email any thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.)