One of the most enduring stories of my childhood–one that my parents liked to tell regularly all through my life–was that I breastfed until I was two-and-a-half years old. My father would always finish the story by saying that he knew it was time to cut me off when I started walking up to my mom and saying, “I want to nanny-suck.” My parents always laughed at this point, sometimes whoever was listening would laugh, too, sometimes they just got a queasy look on their faces. I usually just sat there smiling, I didn’t really see any harm in breastfeeding that long, why not?
Now that I have a 19-month-old that is still breastfeeding I have two reactions to this story. First of all, I don’t think it was exactly true. I may have said that and that may have been why they decided to stop but there’s no way I was a full year older than my son is now when I quit breastfeeding. I know that because my year-and-half old already walks around talking about how he wants to “eat boo-boos” all the time. Occasionally, this involves my wife sitting on a child’s chair with her shirt hiked up while G stands and feeds.
It’s a strange sight (and not the strangest, but I can’t and won’t go into it) and a little unseemly and has us both thinking about when and how we are going to move G on. Quite honestly, I don’t’ see how my parents could have taken 30 months of breastfeeding. In fact, I don’t see how any parent could because it’s starting to get weird around here.
As a stay-at-home dad, there are a number of things that make my life easier, and in some ways I could not exist without them. Individually, they might seem trivial but taken as a collective they help me survive. I plan to make a comprehensive list as I go along but wanted to highlight one at a time. My first are my Crocs.
Before I got a pair I thought they were the stupidest thing I’d ever seen, rubber shoes that looked like clogs, but then I saw someone wearing a camouflage pair that looked kind of cool and decided to get them, almost as a lark. Now I’m on my second pair, black camouflage ones now, and they are indispensable–light, indestructible, and amphibious. I can run and play in them, they’re easy to slip on when I’m holding a baby, and I can walk in water with them. Brilliant!
An article in the New York Times today reports on a study that found that the more time men spend caring for their children the more their testosterone drops. Lest we men who watch our kids full-time feel any more depressed, the article tries to reassure us that their findings are actually a positive. “The real take-home message,” says some Harvard professor, is that “male parental care is important. It’s important enough that it’s actually shaped the physiology of men.”
That actually is kind of fascinating but not necessarily what I want to hear. I think it’s hard for a lot of stay-at-home dads to deal with occupying what was traditionally seen as a woman’s place in the home. I know I have at times, I’m not saying that it’s right, but there are times when I feel like I should be out there being the manly breadwinner. Now, the notion that I am actually morphing physically takes it to an altogether different level. Damn.