FKB – Father Knows Sh!t

I've been hanging around this place since comment #3 or something as a snot-nosed, know-it-all 17 year old. Now I'm 31, married, and have a 4 month old (offically yesterday) at home (a home I "own" no less, after 10 years of vagabondery), and something resembling the beginning of a career. I'm not sure I ever really believed I'd end up here (or that I would want to), and I wouldn't be surprised if any of you said you'd thought the same along the way.

In a prior FKB that I have tried in vain to find, I definitely remember commenting that my greatest fear of any potential fatherhood for me would be not bonding properly with my kid. So far, I think we're bonded pretty good. But there are times where she's screaming and I think "Why? I chose this why?" I have trouble calming her sometimes. A lot falls on my wife, who it seems can calm the baby instantly. It makes me feel like a bad father and husband, someone who doesn't know his kid and can't pull his weight.

Sure, I know how to warm up a bottle and give it to her. I can change a diaper no problems, install a carseat, set up the monitor. But as to my child's emotional well-being, I feel like I know less than anything. She smiles when she sees me after work, but after the nth screaming fit that I fail to calm and my wife quiets instantly, I fear the worst - that I am just emotionally lacking and failing my kid.

11 thoughts on “FKB – Father Knows Sh!t”

  1. I dimly remember several times Runner daughter was crying about something or other, and it bothered me to no end that she had to go to Mrs Runner and not me for solace. That said, she's closer to me now than Mrs Runner, so all I can say is give it time. Just wait until night time reading and shared movie time, and things will eventually shift.

  2. Four-year-old? They grow up so fast.

    It was at least a year that only the wife could calm the second. There were many nights where I hand him off, screaming, to her because I simply didn't have the right hardware.

    Now, with the first (nearly four), I'm the one he prefers to play with. I can make him laugh hysterically with a look and she can't manage anything close no matter how hard she tries. The second is slowly becoming that way too. I had a hard time connecting with him (read: previous paragraph). Part of it was that I worked so well with the first and nothing worked with the second. It's not a fair comparison for the second because there was a 2.5 year difference in time. One is three and can talk and the other can only cry. The other part is I have difficultly connecting with them so young. I take more time.

    I wouldn't worry about it yet. You're hitting line drives at the fielders right now. The process is good even if the results suck. You'll get some loft on them soon enough and land in the seats.

  3. She's four months old. Sometimes she will just want her mother, and that's natural. Keep doing what you're doing- and talk to your wife about it. I can't tell you how many different little quirks the kids had that one of us figured out and shared with the other that made it easier for nap time or feeding or whatever.

    And you're changing diapers, you're way ahead of some fathers I know.

    1. The communication of quirks & work-arounds with your spouse is key. Much respect to the single parents out there who are figuring it all out on the fly.

    2. Yea, you are gonna continue to question yourself. That's the way this thing works.

      I have shared before my first completely solo parenting spell. The Mrs went out for some me time, and the Boy screamed non-stop for about two hours. That'll leave marks on your self-confidence as well as your eardrums and nerves.

  4. It swings like a pendulum. There will be days where you think you've made a horrible mistake by doing any of this. This will pass.

    There will be days (honest!) where things are going great and you allow yourself to think that you've kind of got things figured out.

    This too shall pass.

    1. Hell, there will be hours where you think you've got it figured out.... until the next hour. Last night my son called me his best friend, then tried to kick me when I made him go to bed one hour later.

  5. The Poissonnier was bottle-fed from the beginning (long story there), which likely helped her feel equally comfortable with either of us. That said, there were times when we'd pick her up from daycare and she'd have a meltdown if I was the one who picked her up. It felt very much like a personal rejection, even if it was just some phase she was going through. What really turned the tide on that was when she picked up hooting like a barred owl from me. It was an interaction we could share, and one that she soon started instigating on her own. It became a wordless way of communicating – "Hi!" "Play with me!" "I love you." – and instantly drew us closer.

    sean's line drive metaphor above is a good one. It'll take some time for your kiddo to get there, but you've got some wonderful things ahead of you. Plus, once she's eating baby food, you'll get to participate in the feeding. That helps.

    1. If your wife pumps, you can participate in the feeding now. Although 2 a.m. bottles are a pain, it is nice to feed them. I almost exclusively do bedtime for Niblet now (3 in October) and that's the product of me doing his bedtime routine and bottle from very early on.

  6. Heidegger (just turned 1) has been an absolute beast at times for both Philosfette and myself. It used to be that her mother couldn't comfort her. Now it's me, except when she's really tired. Everything everyone else has said so far regarding shifts and varying personalities and the like is true. I remember spending hours trying to put my oldest to sleep and growing frustrated. Even now with Heidegger we don't have a real bed time routine like we did with the others because she has just bucked the system so much.

    RE: Bonding... For me, at least, I feel like this is completely hit and miss. I am well-bonded with Aquinas. He's a lot like me, and we just get along so well. My middle two... it can be hour to hour or day to day. There have probably been complete weeks where I don't really feel like I'm doing enough for them, building relationships with them, helping them learn and grown, etc. I feel horrible about it whenever I don't feel like we're bonded, but then someday I'll come home from work and they won't leave my side and they demand that I'm the one who puts them to bed and they want to help me make supper, etc. So I guess I'm trying to say that I think I know the feeling. Maybe not completely, but at least in part. And you'll get there.

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