Everett and I have started to attend an “Infant Massage with Daddy Class.” I had three main reasons for signing up for the course. First, I thought it would be good to learn some different massages to help relax Everett, even though he is the exact opposite of a fussy baby. The second reason was to have a specific time where I could bond with my son, because I’m usually busy all day (and sometimes at night) writing pay copy. The final reason was that I was distracted by the computer while Emily asked if I wanted to register for a class.
I’ve bragged countless times in this column about how easy going and relaxed Everett can be, and how we rarely have to deal with an unsettled baby. I never really thought I needed to learn any major techniques to calm him down. I still felt that discovering a few types of massages would be helpful in case Everett does have a bad day. The massages are also supposed to be a good way to create a bond between dad and baby. I also have to admit that I spent most of the first class just talking and playing with my son, because he seemed to be in a mood to talk to the other babies and show off his ability to run on the spot (with an assist from me who held him). I’m not sure how effective I will be at massaging him without the teacher nearby.
As for the bonding, my relationship with my son is actually pretty amazing. I realize most dads are away at work every day. This class may be one of the few times some dads may actually get to spend time with their baby. Even though I work during the day, I’m in a position where I can make frequent visits or stop work for a quick play time. I’ve bonded with my son, and I don’t think the classes will strengthen that bond too much.
The classes are really good for most dads, because this may also be one of the few times where daddy gets to bond with baby without the mommy present. I have at least one night a week where I am the sole caregiver in the house (because society doesn’t allow me to count Summit the dog). I have had numerous opportunities to have mommy-free bonding with Everett and be able to get him comfortable with just being with me. The bonding time in the class hasn’t been any different than what I get other nights in the week.
I have actually received something really valuable from this class. It was a little unexpected. This class was the first time that I’ve left the house with Everett without Emily (besides the occasional walk with Summit). All our bonding had been restricted to inside our home prior to this class. More importantly, this is the first time I’ve been in a room with other daddies and their babies. It has been energizing to see and talk to other dads, and also see how they interact with their children. I have a job where I’m hidden away in my house most days, and so it is just really great to get out of the house and talk to some new people. It is even nicer to be able to talk to actual dads, because we all have one really important thing in common.
Before attending this class, I never really thought that socializing with other dads would be that important. For some dads, it may not be. I’ve found it to be a rewarding time to be able to share about my experiences with Everett and also hear about other dad’s experiences. We get to compare the development of our children and realize all our worries and struggles are pretty similar. It is nice to know that we all are kind of winging it for the most part.
The massage classes have given me some special times with my son. I have been able to vaguely remember a massage or two. The best part has been able to finally meet other dads and share about the most important thing in our lives—our babies.