"Cuando el doctor dijo, "Senor, lo felicito..."
Como poder explicarte?
Como poder explicartelo?
El amor de un padre a un hijo no se puede comparar
Es mucho más que todo
No si vos sabes" -Los Fabulosos Cadilacs, Vos Sabes
I'm very grateful right now for some legislation that was signed in 2008 authorizing paternity leave for Title 10 (Federal) and Title 32 (Active-Status non-mobilized Guardsmen) soldiers. I actually pasted a bit of the ALARACT (All Army Activities) message announcing the policy below:
3. PURPOSE: THIS MESSAGE ANNOUNCES ARMY GUIDANCE FOR PATERNITY LEAVE AUTHORIZED BY THE RECENT CHANGE TO LAW (TITLE 10) CONTAINED IN REFERENCE A ABOVE. ON 14 OCTOBER 2008 THE PRESIDENT SIGNED THE NDAA FOR FY 2009 TO AUTHORIZE 10 DAYS OF PATERNITY LEAVE TO BE USED IN CONNECTION WITH THE BIRTH OF A CHILD. PATERNITY LEAVE MAY BE GRANTED IN ADDITION TO OTHER LEAVE AUTHORIZED.
4. APPLICABILITY: PATERNITY LEAVE IS ONLY AUTHORIZED FOR A MARRIED SOLDIER ON ACTIVE DUTY, TO INCLUDE TITLE 10 AND TITLE 32 ACTIVE GUARD AND RESERVE (AGR) DUTY, WHOSE WIFE GIVES BIRTH TO A CHILD ON OR AFTER 14 OCTOBER 2008. PATERNITY LEAVE IS A NON-CHARGEABLE ADMINISTRATIVE ABSENCE. PATERNITY LEAVE LEGISLATION CANNOT BE APPLIED TO SINGLE SOLDIERS FATHERING A CHILD OUT OF WEDLOCK.
5. PATERNITY LEAVE WILL NOT EXCEED 10 DAYS, AND MUST BE TAKEN CONSECUTIVELY AND WITHIN 45 DAYS AFTER THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD. THIS AUTHORIZED ABSENCE (NON-CHARGEABLE PATERNITY LEAVE) IS APPLICABLE TO SINGLE PREGNANCIES, TO INCLUDE THOSE THAT RESULT IN MULTIPLE BIRTHS (TWINS, TRIPLETS, ETC.). DEPLOYED SOLDIERS HAVE 60 DAYS AFTER RETURNING FROM DEPLOYMENT TO UTILIZE THE 10 DAYS OF PATERNITY LEAVE. IF NOT USED WITHIN THE ESTABLISHED TIME FRAME LEAVE IS LOST.
This looks like a lot of administrative mumbo-jumbo, but to me it means a chance to take a pause from training, to see Ratriey and help her recover from the gestational hypertension that brought Lily to us early. Yes, it's 10 "free" days I'm getting back from the Army, but from a retention standpoint, family-friendly policy is a wise long-term investment.
The picture above is probably something I'll force the poor chap who shows up on prom night to suffer through. Last night, Ratriey and I were down in the NICU with Lily. I put my index finger by her side, and she wrapped four of her fingers around it. Eventually, when I tried to pull it away, she mustered up all the two-day-old strength she had to not let me out of her vice grip. Of course, I obliged and stayed in said position until she had fallen back sound asleep.
I'll be back in Killeen next week, and the proverbial beat will go on with everything the Brigade needs to get done. Once again, my sense of time and perspective will flip. I'll lose track of what-day-of-the-week-it-is-today, not from idleness and Kangaroo Care and loving smiles but because the endless busyness of the operations will render the distinction moot anyway.
Still, the time here at Tufts is going to soften the blow of separation from the ladies for all parties involved, and it'll lift some of the 'missing-out' guilt off one Captain's shoulders.
Consider me grateful for it.