Every so often Andrea likes to congratulate himself for being such an involved dad. While this would elicit an eye roll on my part if we lived in Canada, I do agree he deserves some credit for it here in Italy. He tells me all the time how his father friends don’t do nearly as much as he does and how his mother friends are jealous of me.
Of course, I would never have married or had a baby with him if I didn’t think he would pull his weight at home. Yet I was still nervous about how it would all play out once Peanut arrived. “You do know I expect you to split parenting 50/50 with me, right?” I asked him constantly when I was pregnant. “Right??" Despite all the hopeful signs, I was dealing after all with an Italian male who, rather typically, had only moved out of his mom’s house when he moved in with me. Thank god we later lived apart for almost three years. It nearly destroyed our relationship, but one reason I don’t regret it is because Andrea learned how to live by himself.
So I must say that one of the best things so far about mothering Peanut is how fully Andrea has kept up his end of this bargain. Not only is he an attentive, affectionate, entertaining, creative and enthusiastic dad, but he has done even more household chores than he did before Peanut arrived. (I should qualify that we both work and that his mother helps us with child care.)
I feel especially bad for Andrea now that we’ve entered the fear-of-abandonment stage in which Peanut regularly clings to me. Andrea has gone from being hurt to resigned over this constant rejection. And as much as I love feeling needed like this, there are moments – say a 4 a.m. teething-related wake-up call cry – when I wish Peanut would accept some eagerly offered fatherly comfort.
Anyway, I feel like I won the baby-daddy lottery, especially considering the depressing statistics on the domestic involvement of Italian husbands and fathers. On the other hand, I know I’m not the only expat with an Italian partner who bucks tradition. Let these progressive Italian men be examples for the rest!