Daddy Day Care

by Bryan Friedman in Daddy's Corner, Marvelous Madelyn

This past weekend, Alison went away for a few days with her girls, leaving Madelyn and me home alone to fend for ourselves. We did not have the usual services that mom provides, like picking out outfits, preparing dinner, and basically just making all decisions — my main reason for marrying a good Jewish wife in the first place. Luckily, I felt up to the task and was actually excited to spend the weekend with my daughter, just the two of us (and Princeton). I mean, it was only two and a half days, so I couldn’t screw things up too badly.

I remember the few times I got to stay home with just my dad when my mom was gone, it was like being at work when the boss is out. I had all the cliches — pizza for dinner, staying up late, watching rated-R movies — it was awesome. Of course, I was older than Madelyn is now, so it was definitely different. But I was still excited to be a single dad for the weekend. The last time I was “on my own” with Madelyn for more than a few hours at a nostalgic time for me — the first month or so of Madelyn’s life when Alison was recovering and I was working overtime as a stay-at-home dad/husband. Though it seemed so overwhelming at the time, everything was so laughably easy back then given that Madelyn could barely move and basically only wanted to drink milk, poop, or sleep at any given point. Of course, things are so much more complicated now with not just milk to digest, Madelyn constantly on the move, and a whole host of extra things to take care of. But I’ve watched my wife, the master mom, do it so many times that I wasn’t even slightly worried.

Thankfully, neither was she. I was grateful not to have to navigate through sticky notes of instructions spread all around the house as I recall my dad having to do when I was little. Things may be more complicated now, but we’re not quite to the point of schlepping to soccer practice or dance class yet — no crazy schedules to keep or random bits of information to keep track of. M has her routine, and it’s one that Alison and I have a pretty good handle on by now. I like to take over a lot of the caretaker duties on Saturdays anyway since I don’t get to spend as much time doing it during the week. So Alison knew I’d be fine, and I was.

I left a little bit early from work on Friday to take over for Mimi and Poppa, who came over for a brief gap-filling afternoon shift so I could finish up my work day. I had scheduled some hangout time with my friend Brian that evening, but Madelyn and I spent the afternoon together. We hung out downstairs, fiddling with our toys — her with her Elmo doll in her playpen, me with my new TV on the wall. After her afternoon nap, it was time for dinner. Alison and I try to keep Madelyn eating healthy (even if I somehow can’t keep myself eating healthy), so it was chicken sausage and vegetables on Madelyn’s highchair tray.

Though I tried to keep her up long enough to see her Uncle Brian, she just couldn’t make it, and it was time for bed. Like the master sleeper that she is, she went down easy, leaving just enough time to clean up the house for my guests and pretend like it’s always that clean. I had a fun, late night chatting it up and went to sleep wondering how Alison does this every day…and I only had a half day!

On Saturday, after some play time and a morning nap, I picked out Madelyn’s outfit (by myself!) and it was off to Grandma’s house for a fun-filled day with Grandma and Grandpa, Auntie Ali, soon-to-be-Uncle Michael, and cousins Steve and Chris, whose 60th birthday we celebrated. It was nice to have some extra help, of course, and Madelyn loved crawling around a more spacious house, performing for a larger crowd. Madelyn played, napped, then played some more as we sang some guitar-accompanied songs with her and had a fabulous dinner that she helped us gobble up.

When it was time for Madelyn to go to sleep, she went to sleep as usual, and when it was time for me to go to sleep, I scooped her up, put her in the car seat, drove home, then scooped her up again and put her in her crib. Amazingly, she didn’t complain one bit. No whining. No crying. No milk. Nothing. She just went right back to sleep each time.

I love her so much.

On our last day together, we started off the day with breakfast and Sesame Street (already a weekend morning tradition by this point) followed by the usual morning nap. Then it was off to meet Uncle Kevin and Aunt Lisa at our favorite brunch location (and yours too I hope) — Brent’s Deli! It’s always fun seeing Kevin and Lisa, especially at Brent’s. We had a grand old time as Madelyn entertained us the whole time.

One thing that was really funny was watching a couple who showed up a few minutes after I did with a baby about Madelyn’s age. They followed the same routine I did! 1) High chair cover, 2) Plastic sticky-back placemat, 3) Puffs (same brand), 4) Little bits of food from adult plate, 5) Oops!…Move the knife, 6) Repeat steps 3-5. It was validation that I was doing everything right. It’s like Alison taught both me and them what to do before she left.

The fun parts of the weekend were over as Madelyn and I headed home. During the final afternoon nap, I cleaned the house and readied everything for Alison’s grand return. It’s always nice to come home to a clean house, so I wanted to use the down time and take the opportunity to make sure that’s what happened. After a nice long nap, Madelyn woke up, had some leftovers from Friday night, then it was time for a nice…long…bath. This kid was a mess and I couldn’t let her mom see her like this. So a few scrubs and washes later, we concluded our time together and Madelyn went to sleep, hardly realizing what a feat her father had just accomplished. And the next morning, she’d wake up to see her mommy and forget all about our fun weekend together.

Especially now as Madelyn is turning one, I know I will remember this weekend fondly for a long time. Of course by our next weekend together she’ll most definitely be walking and talking, but this weekend together was just a fantastic reminder of what a great ride this year has been…and how much I love being Maddie’s Daddy.

Happy Birthday sweet girl!