Simply Put . . . Moms Matter

It had been one of those stormy, wintery days where the snow had been swirling for hours and the wind had been building large drifts against the back door.  There was no let up to the harsh weather so it was a perfect moment to be inside, quietly snuggled up for the evening – just the three of us.  It was warm inside the house, with the lights low, the music playing softly in the background.  It was cozy.  My wife was nestled up against me on the couch with our baby daughter in her arms.  I just watched the two of them look at each other, play with each others fingers.  Their eyes were locked in a special way that even at 3 wks old, Anne knew where her comfort came from.  It was a look of trust.  It was a look that only a mother can share with her baby.
Now I know that, as a dad, I can create comfort for Anne, too.  There is a “dad’s way” (generally speaking), but at this moment I was struck by the depth of the connection between a mom and her baby.  This connection is vital, critical, indispensable, urgent, supremely significant – I don’t know the right word that captures the importance of this.
Do we (do I) really understand the significance of this connection?  Do we (do I) really know what to do to help this connection?
Cuddled on the couch together, just the three of us, brought some things to mind that may help us dads take mothering more seriously and less for granted:
  1. Being a mom is not necessarily a natural thing.  She will have her questions, doubts, concerns about mothering.
  2. She can’t be looking after us.  Her plate is full with the baby.  It may seem like she doesn’t care or isn’t aware of us like she used to be – and in many ways that is true.  But this isn’t a bad thing.  It shows her attachment to your baby.
  3. She feels the change in the relationship different than we do.  She is focused on the baby in a way we are not.  Her identity is in being a mother in a different way than ours is as a father.  Moms are more sensitive to their bond with the baby. Men are more sensitive to the bond they have with mom.  Moms are aware of their babies’ attitudes and actions that reflect the state of their bond together. This may take more thought and explanation, which I will address at some other time.  But it relates to the next point.
  4. She feels pressure to get things right.  There is an expectation that moms have to know the answers, do the right thing, and say the right thing.  This can lead her to feel the need to “teach” us things.  It also affects how she views herself as a good mother.
  5. She needs our help.  Practical things are great – garbage, dishes, cooking dinner, etc.  But also just jump in. Do things without being asked.  Sometimes she speaks in code: “That dishwasher sure is full”.  Pay close attention to that.  She also needs time on her own, which gives us time on our own with the baby.
  6. She may not know what she needs at any given time.  Asking her what we can do to help may just bring tears or anger – “I don’t know!”.  Sometimes just do something to help.  Become a student of her feelings, attitudes, needs, etc.  Pay close attention to her.
  7. Support her feeding choices.  Feeding success depends on our support.  Be involved. Be supportive. Give her space to listen to her body and intuition.
  8. Acknowledge her.  Thank her for being a great mom.  Point out the neat things she is doing.  Remind her of the importance of her role.  Moms don’t get much affirmation because they are in a role where it is assumed being a mom is a natural thing to do.
  9. Talk.  She needs to hear our words.  She needs to know we are listening.  She needs communication.  This is one great way to keep your love strong.  As important as your relationship with your baby is, your relationship with mom is more important.  Do everything you can to keep it that way.
  10. Be an attentive, involved dad.  Moms love it when they see dad taking a real interest in their baby.  It creates a feeling of safety for them – it builds trust dad.  There is great comfort for moms when dads step up to the plate and make their baby a priority.
These thoughts swirled around my mind like the snow across our back door.  They gave me admiration for a woman I love who is giving everything she has for the good of our child.  That admiration give me purpose as I see the importance of my words, my presence, and my caring hand that will support her in her important role as a mother.

This article is written with support from Welcome to Parenting which is an online parenting program for couples expecting a baby and for those whose baby has already arrived (up to 1 year).  Check it out in Toronto, Windsor, and Nova Scotia.  There is also a Young Parents version.

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