paternity leave in Sweden follows slower rhythms

In Daddyland, the rhythms are slower, less modern, centered around the baby.  I like that.  I like slowing down the pace of my steps, not rushing to the subway, having to stop and listen to my crying son or wait for a toddler to fill an empty box with snow.

It changes the way I think – less about career and the latest sports scores and that latest assignment at work.  More about … well, life – parenthood, death, joy, play, religion, myth, stories, writing (and not the grind it out kind).

I’m not sure this would be true if I was a stay at home dad in the US, because then it is your life and maybe you cannot help but get connected and revved up and, anyway, you have to make your life happen – the playdates, the driving around, all that.

Here, Baby B and I walk NK to daycare.  We walk to open preschool.  We walk to the store.  Once the snow melts or the baby walks, we will walk to the park and the sandbox and the mud.  I am acutely aware of the smallest change in light and season now, of the depth of the puddles of melted ice and the dampness of the sand in the sandbox and what precise time the sun goes down relative to bedtime or breakfast time (these things are also more heightened in Sweden, where the weather and the light and the seasons are so distinct and so dramatic and so crucial to your state of mind).

Also, I am an expat, and already in a slightly separate place, out of context.  I am not sure I am this dreamy in, say, Los Angeles.

Sometimes, however, the slower rhythms are too slow.  Right now, I am trapped by baby sleep, not allowed out of a five minute walking radius of our very small apartment.

Baby B gets sleepy when we walk his older sister to daycare.  Sometimes I can rush him to open preschool in time to stay awake, but only the closest open preschool, which I am not really feeling this time around.   We can go no other places (until the snow melts or the baby crawls) because he just falls asleep.

If he does sleep, I rush home.

Today, I tried the third option.  I came home when he was awake.

Didn’t work.  He was too tired and not distracted.  He kept falling down and reaching for things he could not have.  He cried as he drifted off to sleep in my arms.

I could leave our little zone when he sleeps, but I am not ready to give up my own writing time, my own nap, my own quiet just yet.  I am not all that dreamy if I am shopping while he sleeps or on a train.  Plus, he does not sleep that long in the stroller, and I shudder at the thought of an afternoon with him after a 30 minute nap, especially after we pick up the tired toddler from daycare.

The deadlines of Daddyland.   As frustrated as I might get, I am going to watch the sun melt the snow outside our window now.

And that is not bad.

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One thought on “paternity leave in Sweden follows slower rhythms

  1. It’s very strange and refreshing to hear about your life as a stay-at-home Dad. Strange, because I can likely count on two hands the number of times I’ve left 3 year old and his Daddy alone. Refreshing, well for the same reasons really. Your descriptions of your day seem so much like those of so many Moms and yet so different. I can’t quite put my finger on it but give me time. Maybe it’s just this simple: Boys and Girls are different :-). I really enjoy your posts and will try to comment more as opposed to my quick lurking :-).

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