Monday, September 15, 2008


I've determined that men with children can be neatly divided into two categories: Dads Who Do Baby Bjorns and Dads Who Do Not.  (I think the capital city for DWDBB is Seattle, because that's where I actually saw a men's public restroom that had a sign saying there was a baby changing table inside. No joke!) Anyway, my husband is a quote-unquote Modern Dad in many ways, but as much as I'd love for him to be a member of the former, I'm resigned to the fact that he is, alas, a DWDN.  

Case in point: we spent a lovely day yesterday at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which incidentally provided ample entertainment for K. but not in the ways I had imagined.  (For example, no matter what the specimen - the most brilliant and unusual exhibit of wild tree frogs or a spooky tank containing an electric eel - he would fixate on the same thing: the little metallic keyhole at the bottom corner of the glass. Or, the exposed electrical sockets lining the walls.  Which made for an average of only about 9 seconds of enjoyable exhibit observation time per tank for me and his father... but then again, such is life with a 1 year old.)  

Anyway, I digress.  The aquarium was filled with people, because that's what you get on a 96 degree day in the Baltimore/Washington metro area.  Conseqently, we had to constantly carry K. around lest he get lost in the shuffle.  And you couldn't use strollers; you had to check them at the door. 

I've simply gotten used to the typical way to hold a toddler - I call it the Side-of-the-Hip-Mom-Hold.  You mothers out there know what I am talking about.  I'm sure it's been adapted over the milennia ever since our ancestors carried their little cave babies around, scouring for food. It works pretty well, no?  

Well, no offense to my spouse, but I've marveled at how, even after 16 months, he has yet to settle upon a decent method for carrying K. around.  And this is what brings me back to the Baby Bjorn observation  - I would go so far as to say that DWDBB have more of a natural instinct for caring for babies.  Now, rest assured I am NOT SAYING that they love their children MORE than Dads Who Do Not; it's just that they "get it" when it comes to child care tips and tricks, at least more so than their DWDN brethren.

For me, yesterday brought this more clearly into focus where my husband is concerned.  

He tends to hold K. like a self-conscious lumberjack, carrying a cord of wood: arms extended forward, child supine and laying across forearms.  (I've spent the last 15 minutes trying to find a suitable photo on the internet as a diagram, but the only good ones are stock photos that are asking me for money.  So you'll just have to go with me on this one... or else do a Google image search for "man carrying firewood")  After about 1.5 minutes carrying your toddler in this way, you inevitably get tired.  So then, without fail, my husband goes through a series of attempts at other, less-than-ideal carrying positions.  

My question is: wouldn't carrying the child on your hip like a woman be really so bad?  What is going to happen -- will the child slide down the father's leg?  Will the Emasculation Police appear out of nowhere, sirens blazing and lights flashing?  No kidding, I'm really wondering here.  The Side-of-the-Hip-Mom-Hold seems like a win for everyone - baby is happy, Mom is relatively happy (it's probably not the most ergonomically-friendly position, but at least you're not more aggressively damaging your back and neck).  But again, and this is how we come full circle to my original subject, I think that attempting something a little out-of-the-typical-male-comfort-zone like the Side-of-the-Hip hold is something best left to DWDBB. Along with packing their children's lunches, taking them grocery shopping (solo), and dressing them in something that does not resemble linen shorts and a pajama top.*

Although I secretly long for a DWDBB husband, I understand that you can't have it all.  And I have to say, watching him do typical, stereotypically-gender-friendly activities with K. like setting up a Matchbox race track, or appreciating when he takes K. to the local Starbucks, ie., their "ol watering hole," so that I can get a bit of a break, shows me that there are lots of ways a father can show his love for his son.  And his wife.  And they don't always have to involve baby gear.

*I actually know fathers who do these things!!

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About Me

Arlington, VA, United States
Maestro and mom to a wee virtuoso

I'm #1804