I love Olive. That needs to be said up front. I would like to say that I never complain or that this blog won't contain complaints about parenthood. I don't believe that you can be a parent and not have minor complaints about the situation. You may be the happiest mommy or daddy on the planet, but if you don't have some complaints about it, well you're either deluding yourself or very lucky. Everyone knows the basics, the poop, the sleepless nights (and days for you SAH's).
I have a complaint that I feel if I have, many Dad's have but don't know how to properly express. Sometimes, I am lonely. This is something that no one really prepares you for. You go to birthing classes and it's focused on the actual birth process and the short time after. It's a crash course in how to keep your baby alive the first day/week/month. There's a lot of thought given to mothers and postpartum depression. There's a lot of thought given to keeping your baby warm and happy. I think Dad's get the raw end of the deal here. I don't want this to sound sanctimonious or ungrateful, but I see in writing it that it can come across that way.
I'm so glad that I have a career and position that let's Tracey stay at home with our baby and raise her how we see fit. She can stay at home and bond with Olive and it's beautiful. Not many people can say they run an entire IT department before the age of 30, but i can and it affords us a life of certain luxuries. We could live a life of leisure if Tracey were to work and Olive went to daycare. Our combined income could easily be in the 6 figure range as good as Tracey was at her previous job. We decided as a family though that we wanted her to be able to stay home and we'd make the necessary budget cuts to afford that luxury.Tracey couldn't be happier, Olive couldn't be happier and I love being able to provide for my family. A lot of status in today's society is based on the stuff you have or the places you go. We have chosen to value the quality of our family and in retrospect it is the best decision we ever made.
I wanted to say all of that so there is no confusion about my feeling on our current situation. I'm not sure where the loneliness really comes from, but there are times when I feel like an outsider looking in. People tell me that eventually she will become like my little shadow. Most likely between the ages of 18 - 24 months, she will start never wanting to leave my side. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this. At the moment Tracey and Olive have their own little world sometimes. There have been times recently when I pick her up and she immediately looks around for Mommy and starts whining. If I take her out of Mommy's arms, that's even worse. No one really prepares you for these moments. There are also moments when it becomes clear that in the great pecking order of life you have become number 2 to both your child and partner. Those are the tough moments. They are generally few and far between. Look, I don't want you to think my wife is a horrible person or anything. She's doing a wonderful job of being a mom and she has a lot on her plate. I know she loves me and if I am number 2 on her list it's a very close 2. She does her best to let me know that I am very loved and very appreciated. That's not what this is about. This is about those moments that punch you in the gut.
As a new dad, when I get those feelings, it helps me to take a step back from the situation and look at it objectively. In the overall scheme of things, having a loving daughter and wife who are sometimes in their own little world isn't the worst situation ever. I've found that outside social interaction really helps too. For some people it may be going out with your drinking buddies or going to hang out with your friends in a physical setting (hockey game, bar, bowling alley...). For me, it's online games. It doesn't matter if it's a competitive game like Starcraft II or a more socially oriented game like World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic. In either case I have a group of friends whom I can identify by the sound of their voice but most of them I couldn't tell you a thing about what they look like. Some people say these aren't real friends, but I heartily disagree. One of these "not real" friends has become one of my best life friends even though she has never lived in the same city as me and we're going to her wedding later this year. There's also an added bonus that these interactions don't require me to leave my house or my family alone.
My point of all of this is, to you dads who feel left out some times, It's OK and you're not alone. From what I can tell, it happens to everyone. If you can find somewhere else to get the social interaction and support you need and that's acceptable to your family (i.e. no hookers) then go that route. If it is killing you inside and you can't stand it, tell your partner. Don't leave them in the dark and resent them. Most likely they have no idea how you feel. I know we dads aren't good at expressing our feeling, but sometimes just being blunt and saying what's on your mind can work wonders for your familial interactions. If you're feeling left out in the baby bond, your partner can help you spend more time with your child(ren). If you're feeling left out of your partner relationship, your partner would love to know that and will want to work with you to be there for you. The longer you ignore these feelings and try to push them away the worse they will get.