Top 10!

A friend who happens to be a father to be suggested a blog about the top 10 things I’ve learnt about parenting. Mmmmm, interesting idea…

However, this list will not be written from the point of view of someone who knows very much at all  about this ‘biz’ we call parenting. No, this will be told by someone who, after a year or so of doing it, knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about  parenting. By someone who has only read one book about it. (For one book please see 6 chapters of 10. For reading please note ‘looked at pictures’). This list will be compiled by someone with so little knowledge and does so little prep, yet still deems to call himself a father. A full time, stay at home, primary carer one at that. Poor, poor Moo.

So what I will do is centre the list around the top 10 things I’ve noticed about being a stay at home Dad. Or as our American brethren like to call us, ‘SAHD’. Genius. I will try not to make presumptions on how I feel you should be doing ANYTHING! I wasn’t there when you embarked on this adventure initially. Unfortunately. Unless I am under your bed… Or in the case of one couple – in your car (you know who you are!) so I will not presume to know how you should do things now. Except you are doing that wrong. And that…

The List

1. Large groups of Mothers in coffee shops are one of the top 5 scariest things in the world. Closely followed by nuclear war, spiders, running out of wine and Boris Johnson playing any sort of sport at all. They are an awesome hurricane of noise, confidence and chatter, eating cake in tracksuits, with three wheeler buggies that they run with around the park, murdering small dogs and squirrels. Be afraid. Be very afraid

2. “Ah, out with your little one today are you? Daddy’s day is it?”, will become one of the the most incendiary statements, the most irritating, the most downright fucking ignorant things you will ever hear as a stay at home Dad. “Screw you and your ignorant presumptions Doris, Sales Assistant. It’s Daddy’s day EVERYDAY!” Actually, reading that back I may well have been pretty tired when that happened. Whoops. My bad. That poor old lady in Boots. I’m so, so sorry dear…

3. People talking about being tired was and is the most pointless, yet the most constant thing you will encounter. You have been up late before. You know what tired is. It isn’t complicated. Get on with it and focus on something else like, how sleepy you are

4. It is pretty lonely out there as a stay at home Dad and things like the ‘Cussons, Mum & Me’ range will test your resolve, (who thought of that product name by the way? What a cockwomble). Equality and any discussion around it is a very one sided affair and the notion of ‘equilibrium’ between the sexes is far off. There’s a constant stream of Mum-centric sites, discussions, clubs, products, events etc and you will often feel like a giant spotlight is shining on you and highlighting how alone you are. But there are many, many wonderful people out there who really want to help you and give you support. Take all the friendly smiles you can. Ignore any negativity and take delight in the everyday ordinary. Your child is noticing everything for the first time and that is the most exciting thing in the world. You’re about to achieve complete and utter delight from watching blossom fall, screaming at helicopters, pointing at runners, laughing at dogs, getting soaked in muddy puddles, going on a swing or seesaw or roundabout, and collecting sticks to put in the buggy. Screw everything else. This is pure and utter beauty and you are blessed beyond belief to share so many of these life enhancing moments with your child

5. Coffee is good. Not just like you thought it was before. No. It is now your best friend. Your wing man. Your co pilot. The Goose to your Maverick. I am now made up of 70% coffee, 18% carbon, 10% hydrogen and 2% flaccid disappointment in my own masculinity

6. Single mums and single dads should wear capes. They’re breathtakingly incredible super hero people who cope with more in one day than a hedge fund manager copes with in a lifetime. I am in constant awe of them

7. Wine always, always seems like a good idea once they’re down to bed. Then eventually it seems like a good idea when they get up in the morning too… However, if you thought hangovers were bad before, you are now entering a twilight zone of unfairness that starts from the huge disappointment that 1 glass will now push you into a full-day-headache-stomach-hanging-out-your-arse hangover and ends with you looking at the bottle and pleading, “WHY OH WHY my sweet Lord Bacchus! Why do you tempt me with your treasured fruit only to smite me down with a single blow. You used to lift me up and make me the most interesting person in the bar! Together we sang songs of joy. We entertained. (At least, that is what you always told me in the morning). Why do you forsake me when I need you the most?”. That my friend is, so far, the most upsetting thing about parenthood

8. The “Oh, you wait” brigade are a constant annoyance, much like wasps. Your child sits up – “Oh, you wait until they are crawling. Then your life is over”. Your child crawls? “Oh, you wait until they are walking. Kiss your life goodbye then!”. What about when they go to Uni? Or pass their driving test? Or get married? “Oh, you wait. You’ll miss them then…” Ignore the inside knowledge of what happens next and how it is filled with difficulty. Every stage is amazing. I swear. Moo not only walks now, but she is falling down stairs, climbing boulders in the park, running down slopes, slipping over constantly. It is exhausting. But there is something magical about watching her accomplish so many human things. I mean, standing on two legs! What the fuck!! The first moment she did it was incredible; like there was a force field surrounding her. I could almost hear an angelic chorus of “Hallelujah” as this seemingly impossible feat was accomplished; it really was very moving. Yes it’s tiring chasing them the whole day. But if you didn’t want to be tired, and to have your life and status quo interrupted, then you’re in for quite a shock. To quote my wife, “Shit’s about to get real mofo, better buckle up and enjoy the ride”. (NB she would never actually say it like that to be fair. She’s the graceful, intelligent one who for some unknown reason, perhaps a social experiment, has decided to stay with me)

9. You will get frustrated. You will get angry. You will find yourself wanting to scream at your child. The moment when they take your homemade, beautiful food and throw it on the floor, with what seems like a sarcastic smirk on their face, after a day of rain when they have missed their naps and they grizzle constantly to be picked up only to arch their back to be put down immediately, will push you like you have never been pushed before. It’s soul destroying and I have found myself a gibbering mess more than once. The problem is, I hate any notion that I may not be able to cope, even for a minute. I guess I’m still very much a man and I have that trait that means I believe I can do it all on my own. That I have the answers. That I don’t want to admit to anyone that sometimes I really do need help. To do that would mean I have failed. That I am useless… Deep breath my friend. Lock them in their high chair out of harms way and walk off for a bit. Know that, no matter what, everything is a phase and it will all pass. Remember the fun times and look upon them with those memories. Also, bed time is only around the corner and there’s a nice bottle of red on the counter waiting for you. You’re welcome

10. People talk about areas of London as being a ‘Village’ – well… Foxtons do – and now my little corner here really does feel like that. I know my local park better than any dog walker has known any park in the history of the world. I greet the Park Keeper and the Parks Police by name. I know everyone in the local coffee shops and they have my order ready for me before I have squeezed through the now seemingly tiny door with my buggy, crashing into everything, knocking the sugar and spoons and little wooden stirry things over whilst shouting at my dogs who have managed to tie their leads around my legs in a knot that would bewilder Houdini. Being forced to be out so much with Moo has meant I really do see so many regular faces. For just a moment I can allow myself to steal a smile, wave a “Good Morning” or talk about something both arbitrary and lovely at the same time. These connections are so important to me. I recently quit Facebook because I found myself out with Moo and looking at my phone, therefore missing real, proper updates with real, 3 dimensional human types. These people can describe their lunch; not just photograph it! Moo is the ultimate ice breaker. She’s my little no-sharp-edges-slightly-pink-ever-so-round bridge between my normal, cynical, tired eyed view of the world and a place where anything is possible. She somehow allows me to meet new people and share beautiful little moments with them. That is priceless as far as I am concerned. I really do owe her so much



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