Before my son was born, I always found myself shocked when new parents would simply hand off their children to family members, usually accompanied with a line like “I’ve held him enough today,” or “Please take him!”
What was wrong with these people?
Don’t they realize that every moment with your child is precious?
These new little babies don’t stay that size for long, and these parents need to be there for as many of those moments as possible.
A few years ago my cousin/adopted sister had her first boy, and I showed up to the hospital the day he was born and held him in my arms.
When I got there, she and her husband handed him over, using the “We’ve held him enough today; you can hold him” line.
I was shocked by this. Here is this baby, who is less than a day old, and they’re just like “whatever” and handing him to me. I didn’t understand it at all.
Later that year, a good friend of mine got married, and while there I held my cousin’s son, who couldn’t have been more than 3 months old, the entire time. I kept asking if she wanted him back. She kept saying, “No, he’s happy; you keep him.”
I really didn’t understand that. He was awfully cute, not fussy, and I have a bunch of great pictures of me holding him with a flower on his head while I’m drinking beer. Why was she so willing to let me have this time with him? Didn’t she want these moments with her child?
Now I have a new baby. He’ll be 8 weeks old Sunday, and I love him more than anything else in the world. When he arrived, I was the first to hold him, and my wife had to actually yell at me to hand him over to her for the first time. I wanted to hold on to him forever.
But three weeks ago, I handed him off to a perfect stranger with gusto.
I had no idea how quickly I could reach the “Please, take him!” phase of parenting, but not only am I there, but I’ve been there for a while.
And before you call Child Protective Services on me, claiming I toss my child off to anyone in the world, let me clarify what happened, because it makes me look a little better as a parent.
Three weeks ago, my wife and I were visiting our families in Seattle.
While there, we attended the wedding of one of her sorority sisters.
During the reception, a stranger approached us and said, “Here, hand me the baby, and you two go dance.”
I didn’t ask her name, I didn’t even think about what was happening, I just said “OK” and grabbed my wife and danced with her for the first time in a long time.
I didn’t look back. Didn’t think about it. Didn’t think, “Hey, this might be a bad idea.”
I did realize how ridiculous the situation was when we came back, and took a picture of this random woman holding our son just for the sheer comedy of the moment.
After returning to the dance floor, my wife looked at me and asked, “Did you take a picture of her to show the police when she runs off with our baby?”
Yeah, that is a possibility.
Didn’t care, though. I love my child, sure, but when someone else wants to handle him, I encourage it.
I’m glad I’m able to handle him as much as I am, to be with him as much as I do — I am a stay-at-home dad. But if someone else wants to take him for a bit, please call me, and we’ll arrange something.
I’m sure his mother would be OK with that as well.