Munchkin is 10 months old now, and he's seriously hit the "stranger danger" phase. He wants Mama and nothing but Mama, 24/7. He'll grin at people and do the flirty, shy, back-and-forth smile-then-look-away-then-look-back-to-see-if-you're-looking thing with my family, friends, even strangers if you catch him at the right moment, but only if he's in my arms. He'll pretend like he wants to let Grammie or Nana hold him, only to turn back around, crying for Mommy, in the next split second. You'd think that he was just a Mama's boy, but lately, there's one person who makes him happy like no one else can: his dad.
When my husband comes home from work, it doesn't matter what our son has been doing - his attention is all about Daddy, and he beams like he's got a 100-watt bulb in his head. I wish I could make him smile that broadly. I just took a picture of the two of them that I know will become one of my most prized possessions: my husband has just returned from a business trip, and is wearing the boy in our Ergo for the first time in months - both of them are looking at the camera, and the utter joy in both their faces, particularly our son's, brings tears to my eyes. They both love each other so much, and it's undeniable in that captured moment.
I'm ashamed to say that sometimes, I pull the mom-card with my husband. I don't trust that he's holding the boy properly, or watching him closely enough, or diapering effectively - I hover, and critique, and second-guess. I'm a new mom - I'm nervous. Our son is the most important person in the world to me, and I'm scared that if something were ever to happen to him, no matter who was watching him at the time, it would all be my fault. I'd blame myself; I know I would.
I'm trying to do better. If I catch myself being unnecessarily overprotective, I apologize right away; try to breathe deeply, and think, "Trust..." to myself. I wouldn't do this with just anyone - if a random acquaintance is holding my boy, you'd better believe I'm spotting him, ready at a moment if Mr. Wiggle-worm decides to wriggle free while their attention is diverted. But my husband is trustworthy. Just because he wasn't born a mom doesn't mean that he has any less of the boy's best interests at heart. That boy is his life. If anything were to happen to him - he'd be more heartbroken than I would.
The best indicator of how much his daddy means to him is the length of time that the boy is calm in his presence. Whenever my husband and I go out for a date night, or I have an appointment or a job where I can't take the Munchkin, his grandparents stay with him; the reports I get back from Nana and Grammie are either a) he was fine for about an hour, but then began crying hysterically and exhausted himself until he crashed to sleep, or b) he began crying hysterically the second I was out the door and exhausted himself until he crashed to sleep. A couple of weeks ago, I left Munchkin with the hubby while I went for my Mother's Day gift: a 90-minute massage. It was amazing, but I was nervous - would I return to a blubbering mess of a baby, thereby undoing all of the hard work my amazing massage therapist had undone from me? When I returned three hours later, it was like I had never left. My husband and child were playing happily together on the living room floor, and the hubs said the boy groused minimally when I left, but my loving man successfully distracted him, and was fine for the duration. I was so happy, I was almost in tears.
This morning I went for my six-weekly haircut, kissed the boy and man goodbye and skipped out the door. At my return, the scene was the same - both of them on the living room rug, smiling and playing. I can't tell you how much a relief this is for me; to know that leaving them together will be a pleasurable experience for them both, and giving my loving husband bonding time with our son.
I still may seem unkind from time-to-time when I get frustrated that his parenting decision isn't one that I would have made, or if a hard-won nap is interrupted by a rough Daddy set-down of the carseat. I'm working on that. What will keep me on the kinder path is to remember that we're both new at this - my husband is just doing the best he can, as am I. All I have to do is look at my son's face as he lights up every time he sees my husband turn the corner, or when I say "Daddy's home!" and he starts to squawk, or when he cranes his neck to watch Dad pass by, to know that he loves his father with every fiber of his tiny little being, and he thinks his daddy's doing an awesome job. I think so, too.