The end of paternity leave is a double-sided coin. Today, the Friday before I go back to work, I see the past week and a half as a blessing. Talk to me tonight and I feel that feeling of time as sand slipping through my fingers.
Time off to get to know my newborn daughter and serve my wife as she recovers has been a blessing. Focusing on the solution, I’ve gotten to nap “skin to skin” with my daughter on my chest. I swear there is some kind of drug that is delivered to my brain when we do this. I have also been able to:
- give her baths in the sink
- hold her while she naps for endless hours
- watch her face contort in never ending emotions
- see her enjoy sucking her hands, even if they miraculously find their way her mouth by accident
- catch her smile in her sleep
- see her enjoy gazing around propped up on a pillow
- hold her “skin to skin” (did I mention this already)
Of course there is a part of me that dreams of Iceland’s max paternity leave of 91 days or Norway’s 70, or even Spain’s 28, but again, I stay grateful for the 2.5 weeks. I’m also taking a few days additional days here and there.
It’s almost as if I wish I could just freeze time and cuddle with my newborn daughter forever, but there is also something satisfying about spending the day with adults and working toward something constructive to earn a living.
She is just perfect in my eyes, as they say God sees me. So if God does in fact see me as perfect (I’m glad someone does because I sure don’t), and that he does have a plan laid out for me. Tomorrow that plan is for me to go back to work. My newborn daughter will still be in the comfort of her mother’s arms for the remainder of my wife’s FMLA. I’ve learned to balance work and home life and say to no extra curricular activities, so I can be here for my family.
My role is to serve whether I’m at work, home or in the community. And with this mindset everything is a gift. I’m lucky to have a job and be able to provide for my family. The other side of the coin is that my infant baby is being taken from me for 40+ hours a week. But that type of mindset only leads to resentment.
As long as I continue to look for Him in earnest, he has plans for me. And these plans are for prosperity, not disaster. I’m paraphrasing from Jeremiah 29:11. This gives me comfort as I take each day as it is given and work toward what he has me doing. He also has plans for each one of my family members.
So I will saddle up, march on, head back to the salt mines as they say, and bring my full self to my human duties, as an employee, as a friend, as a husband and father.