Editor’s note: We live in a parenting world where it’s easy for families to fall into the pitfalls of the dreaded “Gatekeeping Phenomonon.” Consequently, it’s nice to hear a story about an at-home dad via this guest post by NYC Dads Group member, Bryan Grossbauer, that was fortunate to be home together with his wife during her lengthy maternity leave, and overcoming their challenges, they found a path to having a successful parenting partnership. Cheers to Bryan! – L.S.
The routine that my son Finn and I had slipped into was working out quite well. We had our park, snack, and nap down to a science. It was a schedule that both of us were thriving on. Sure we had some ups and downs; the food throwing, the running away from me at the park, and the bout with early rising, just to name a few.
Around his second birthday, Finn’s little sister arrived. With open arms we welcomed a cute little girl to our apartment full of toy trucks and soccer balls. As a special treat for her brother, Georgina had decided to join our family just a few hours after her big brothers 2nd birthday. What a nice present! Not only were we excited about getting to know this new addition, but also the idea of having Mommy home from work for almost 4 months was quite appealing to the both of us.
This was going to be great! Getting settled into our new life with no concerns of work or other outside distractions. It was just our family, figuring out the new routine. I imagined us eating huge breakfasts, taking slow walks in the park, and even Finn changing his sister’s diaper. I have a very strong and hopeful imagination.
Back in reality, our whole structure was changing; it was no longer just Finn and I in our comfortable, reliable routine. It was now Mom and Dad and this new baby around all the time. This was a big challenge for me. I found myself still trying to maintain the title of primary caregiver. My male ego was in full bloom. After all, I was not on leave from my job. Food still needed to be cooked, laundry continued to get dirty and most of all, our son needed to be looked after. He had just turned two and was really into testing the boundaries.
Once my wife was back on her feet and fully recovered, things started to get a little confusing. By not letting her have an active part in the care giving, it was creating some unnecessary tension between us. I found myself repeating everything that she had said to our son. As if he would listen better because it came from me, the person he was used to being around the most. I wasn’t sharing any of the care giving, trying to do everything myself. I do not have control issues; I just don’t like putting people out.
Halfway through the summer, I had reached the breaking point. Something had to give, I couldn’t continue to ignore the help that my wife was offering while I was selfishly trying to tackle everything myself. The only way that we were going to be able to embrace this new reality was for me to change as well. It began slowly with little things, like sharing tubby time and having Mom handle some discipline without me butting in to “help”. She was more than willing to take on her share and then some.
Amazingly, things started getting easier. I needed to deflate my ego and learn how we could work together towards a common goal- what’s best for the kids, and what’s best for us. I found out that accepting help didn’t make me any less of a man. It’s an important value to pass on…we can’t do everything and asking for help is ok.
Abot the author
Bryan Grossbauer is an actor, musician, former teacher, and full time stay at home dad. He is father to 22-month old Finn and has a daughter that will be arriving at the end of April. Bryan and his wife, Erin O’Callaghan, live in Manhattan and enjoy traveling, hiking, and live music. Follow his adventures at redwagonstories.blogspot.com and @bryangrossbauer on Twitter.