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After eight weeks at home with my newborn son, going back to work was fraught with mixed emotions—and this little surprise. What kept me from totally losing it, though, was the fact that instead of leaving my baby with a relative stranger at day care, I would be leaving him with my husband.
My husband was taking three months off from work for what they call "bonding leave" so that he could care for our son. When all the i's were dotted and t's crossed with his employer, I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that our baby would be in safe, loving hands.
Little did I know that what my husband considered father-son "bonding" involved a mullet wig, a mustache, fake cigarettes and the beach.
Yes, I hadn't been back at work a full week before my husband was emailing me photos of our son's first trip to the beach in Santa Monica, cradled (thankfully) in his Baby Bjorn while his thirtysomething-year-old father ran in the sand while wearing a long, blond wig, a white tank top and shorts.
Granted, he frequently takes crazy photos and sends them to friends—most recently as Christmas cards—but this was my barely 2-month-old baby.
I'll admit that letting go was harder than I'd imagined—and that I'd been, shall we say, concerned about our son's care. Was this my husband's way of getting back at me for being a little uptight, not to say neurotic?
OK, so maybe the night before my first day back I'd reminded my husband of how I did things with our son. And again the morning before I left. (OK, so maybe twice in less than 12 hours was a bit much.)
And maybe he had said something along the lines of "Don't micromanage me," after I'd told him for the third time that he should cradle the baby on the Boppy while feeding him instead of leaning him against some pillows on the bed.
"It's important that he can see you," I pressed. "Feeding time is when you get to bond."
But apparently feeding time for my husband is not the time to bond with your newborn. Apparently, it's when you're in public, in costume and in danger of being arrested.
What was he thinking? And how was this supposed to make me feel better when I was at work and not close enough to put a stop to this madness? The baffled onlookers in the photos and I wanted answers.
Suddenly, day care—and even strangers—seemed a lot less risky.
Then I thought about those first eight weeks, and how our son had literally been attached to me for the better part of the day. I remember my husband's looks of frustration when I'd hand over our baby to him and the little guy would cry. I also remember my husband half-joking that our child didn't even know his own dad.
That's when I realized that I needed to take a step back and let my husband bond with his son in his own way. Even if that way seemed beyond insane and potentially illegal.
After all, I'd gotten my bonding time in while breast-feeding and cradling our son just so.
Now it was his turn to bond that way with our son, albeit with a wig instead of a Boppy.