I Call Shotgun

Posted on October 21, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I ran into a friend yesterday whose wife gave birth to twins eight months ago. I asked him one question, “How’s the new family?”  The expression on his face gently spoke a thousand words. He stood still for a moment before trying to reply. His stillness wasn’t a reaction due to his uncertainty of my question…but rather a gathering of all the beautiful, twisted, euphoric and even unexplained feelings he was trying to put into words for me.  All I could do was smile. I understood his awkwardness. This transcendent love he felt… it’s…unfathomable.  Many mothers feel it while carrying, some feel it after they give birth and others, the moment they lay eyes on their child.  I often forget to wonder or ask, “When do the men feel it?” so I had to ask. The answers I received touched my heart so deeply that I’ll share them throughout this article.

I felt in love the moment I found out he was a boy, I fell deeper in love with him the second he was born and I dedicated my love and life to him as soon as I held him in my arms.”  Written by a NY, Daddy

I found myself surprised at how open and vulnerable my conversation with the twins’ dad was. His matter-of-fact answers and willingness to admit that some days he feels lost, overwhelmed, yet always in love and baffled by this thing we call parenting reminded me of every mother I’d ever spoken to. Had I closed my eyes and raised his vocals up a few octaves, I would have sworn I was talking to one of my mommy friends.

I was in love instantly, especially as soon as I felt her move…another part of me was born. No feeling can come close to that.” Written by a Brooklyn Daddy

That conversation softened me. It also made me want to slide my feet into my love’s shoes and see our child through his eyes for a moment.  Instantly, I remembered the disappointment I overlooked in his eyes one day as he expressed wanting to be able to feed our daughter. Looking back, I remember how difficult it was to nurse in the beginning. How much it hurt, how much work it took for me to keep milk flowing and how my body instantly understood when an artificial device, the pump was being used instead of the living body it was providing food for. The real story was that I was secretly afraid to stop and pump, (not to mention I seriously disliked the pump. I started off with the wrong pump and that will do it)  I didn’t go back and forth between nursing and bottle feeding in the beginning so our daughter never took to the bottle. Putting my love’s shoes back on, I realized the hurt he must have felt. He wanted to bond, too. He was actually really looking forward to feeding her. We all want to bond with our babies.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I were going through a very unhappy time during her pregnancy…but it was love at first sight once she arrived.” Written by a Philadelphia Daddy

The twins dad also mentioned his wife having to really be still and lay in bed the first month. I watched him excitedly recite how cool it was for him to be the caregiver the first month of their lives. He said, “I knew all their needs and was able to tell my wife when she started feeling better things like: “No, that cry means he’s wet.” Or, Is she fussing? Well that  just means she wants to be held this way.”  I wish you could have seen the joy in his face. I understood at that moment that he is one of the few fathers that got to feel 100% needed the first month of his child(s) life.

I fell in love the first time I saw the lump in my wife’s belly.” Written by a Brooklyn Daddy

I was enlightened by our conversation and it got me to thinking, if I always grab the wheel as a mom then I’ll always be expected to be the main driver.  In most instances it’s not that the men don’t want to drive or that they don’t know how to as the parent driver. It’s because we don’t allow them to drive! I call, “Shotgun.” It’s okay to be the passenger every now and again.

I fell in love the exact moment I knew my wife was pregnant…I started planning for our future right then and there.” Written by a Queens Daddy

The best advice I received as a mother was from a wonderful lady who held our baby wise (Lamaze type) class. She said, “Mommies, the men will NEVER be able to do what you do as a mother, they can’t, but keep in mind that you will NEVER be able to do what they do as fathers, you can’t. You both created this child; therefore it needs you BOTH to direct and guide him/her for a reason.”  In other words…share.

For me it wasn’t as cliche as, the first time I saw them. It is every time I see them experience something new for themselves. Or see them show a little more of their own personality.” Written by a North Carolina Daddy

So, over the past several months I allow myself to ride shotgun. My love will do my daughter’s hair these days. It looked pretty insane in the beginning. She was definitely lopsided or unicorn looking at times. But he loved it and I found that she walked around with a sense of pride that her daddy combed and styled her hair.  She goes outdoors some days with a pajama shirt on that he’s mistaken for a regular shirt.  I learned to be quiet when he allows her to jump off the highest step without holding her hand. I zip it when he sneaks her candy or allows her to stay up a tad bit longer than her bed time. I’ve watched my cousin carry his 6 month old around like a football. I was tempted to say something until I saw the smile on my nephew’s face, and that’s my point…. my nephew was smiling from cheek to cheek. My daughter loves when her dad does her hair or lets her do things I normally would be too nervous to allow her to do. I found that riding shotgun is one of the most all- around rewarding things we, as parents, can give one another. It benefits everyone. Fathers learn hands on how to do for their children and do for them their own way while building trust and respect from us. We get to allow the “S” on our chest to sleep in a bit or simply kick our feet up for a second. The children get to interact with us both almost evenly. What a win-win situation!!! Let’s face it, neither one of us knows what to do all the time and the kids didn’t exactly come with a guide book, we’re in this together.

So if ever you see me and my family out and suddenly you hear me yell “I call shotgun,”  you can laugh but let it be a reminder for you to do the same.  They may be all over the road at times but like everything else, with practice they’ll be just fine!

I fell deeply in love with my daughter when I first saw her, in embryonic form – existing – inside her mother‘s body, thru ultrasonic waves. I fell deeper in love when I heard her heartbeat thumping away! Deeper when I laid eyes on her screaming form in the flesh! I fall deeper in love with her every day, watching her grow! Being a Father is truly a blessing!” Written by my Love.

Thanks for journeying with me!

xoxo Journey Ward xoxo


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16 Responses to “I Call Shotgun”

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Oh I love this! I don’t have kids, but it makes me think twice about having one and then I think I rather go and get my brothers kids for the weekend and the joy of laughing and hugging and kissing me and giving them ice cream or popsicles for breakfast and then the joy of taking them home to their parents and coming back home to sleep. But whatever the LORD has in store for me regarding a little one, I will always remember to let the Daddy be apart of him/her and not be the “Shot Caller”.

Nice!!!!! Very well written!

I was hoping you enjoyed it! Thank you! I already know your an amazing father!!! Your daughter is a better woman already because of your steady existence in her life.

Crystal Hyman – you are amazing!! – you have a wonderful and sensitive way in sharing these experiences – no doubt you write this into a book and you will have a best seller. Love reading all of them – keeping them coming

Thank you Titi!!! I love you and thank you so much for all of your support!!!

This article is really awesome because recently I asked Alfred how can fathers bond with the child when they do not carry the child, feel the child in womb, give birth to the child or nurse the child. Now I know more about it! 🙂 Thanks!

Hi Jina,

Thanks so much for visiting! As challenging as it is, it’s so important to have your husband really participate as much as he can. When the two of you learn and experience together it’s makes parenting so much more enjoyable!!

Nice to see the Father’s in the world get some Love:)

You guys deserve it! I haven’t told you this but I will now. I absolutely love the stories you share with me about your kids. Your eyes light up and it’s such a blessing to witness!

Wow. This was great. I fell inlove with my daughter when I found out she was coming. Your words express how I feel. Its has been hard with all her health problems but she is the strongest lady I have been around and the way I see her fight makes me a stronger man. Not only for the little one but my 19 year old makes me look at life a different way. Fatherhood is the best thing that has happened to me. I have never felt love like this before.

Great article Crystal. Keep them coming!!!

Thanks for the lesson that its ok not too be in control all the time. This applies to so many things within relationships but when I have kids I will remember this.

It’s always nice to see the men side of things. Wish I would’ve called you,now.

I couldn’t agree more! I realized a while ago when dealing with my husband and my kids, that sometimes you just have to sit back and relax. I admit it was hard at first because my husband isn’t my kids biological father, but guess what? Last night I went to bed early but woke up thirsty around 8:30, I walked into the living room and my husband and 15yr daughter were sitting on the couch, he was helping her with her homework, my 9yr old son was ironing his clothes for school the next day. Everything was quiet and running smoothly…it pays to give up the keys every now and then. I quietly got some water and returned to bed. I feel rested and my family unit is growing stronger. I have learned the rewards of “I call Shotgun!!!” Great entry…keep them coming.

Isn’t it the hardest but most rewarding thing to do.

Beautifully written! Brought me to tears!!! Great job crystal!

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