From the Daddy Desk: An Open Letter to New Fathers

Call me Latke. This is an open letter to all you fathers who are new to Down syndrome. Just a list of five things I’ve learned so far: (1) Your wife will join a Facebook group for mommies of kids with Ds. Upon joining, she will instantly become BFFs with 100 people you’ve never met. Be prepared. These people will never stop communicating with each other. Ever. In fact, your wife may stop interacting with you entirely unless you attach a glowing screen to your face. In case of emergency, you may find it necessary to trick your wife into communicating with you by fashioning this disguise:

(2) Is your wife a stay-at-home mom? If yes, you will arrive home after work and find her laying on the couch, baby on her chest, gazing wistfully into the eyes of . . . her Facebook friends. Do not expect her to acknowledge your arrival, or to be aware of anything else that’s happening around her. If you have a two-year-old, she will greet you at the door. She will, however, be naked, drinking toilet water out of a sippy cup, and inviting you to come look at her latest masterpiece on the living room wall: a collage of spaghetti sauce, hot glue, and clippings from her hair. (You will clean this up while your wife chats on Facebook.) (3) During dinner, your wife will scold your four-year-old for bad table manners. She will do this, however, with flecks of food flying from her mouth as she feverishly types into her smartphone. You will have secret concerns about the lessons your four-year-old is learning from your wife. (4) After dinner, you will spend approximately 1-3 hours on the following chores: putting the kids to bed, cleaning the kitchen, taking out the garbage, doing the laundry, and picking up toys. Your wife will promise to help out after “just one last message, real quick.” You will be surprised to learn that “one last message, real quick” takes approximately 1-3 hours to write. Once you’ve finished your chores and are looking forward to bedtime, your wife will finally put down her phone, turn to you, and begin a lengthy conversation about . . . her Facebook friends. If you hesitate, appear tired, or otherwise express interest in talking about something else, your wife will sigh and lament “how little quiet time together” you have these days. You will then agree to hear stories about 100 babies you’ve never met. (5) After you finally make it to bed, your wife will stay up for another 2-4 hours “catching up” on Facebook. The next morning, she will blame her sleep deprivation on you for snoring and/or talking in your sleep. You will be defenseless, because your alleged misconduct occurred while you were asleep, i.e., unconscious. If you deny the allegations, your wife–who is now a medical expert because of Down syndrome–will diagnose you with sleep apnea and threaten you with space masks until you promise not to (unconsciously) keep her awake any more. * * * * All joking aside, fellas, you will be struck–but not surprised–by your wife’s strength in the face of life’s challenging adventures. You will learn to love and respect her in ways you never dreamed of before. And at the end of the day, it will be clear that she’s exactly the person you married all those years ago–just even better than you imagined. Go get ’em!

Reprinted with permission. Originally published: Photo courtesy of:

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