Yeah it’s Moo and me but there’s also a hugely important other part to this equation. To this family unit. To our little team among all the other teams in London. I’m talking of course about our two dachshunds… No, only joking. I’m talking about Moo’s Mummy. However, let me start by talking about me though, ‘cos I’m good at that:
I’m a full time Dad. Well yes. You know that. Hence the blog. But the question I get asked most is, “was becoming one a big adjustment?” Of course it was. I now spend most of my days being dictated to by someone who sounds like a cross between a whale and Manuel from Fawlty Towers; and if I’m not picking up dog poo then I’m wrestling with Moo doing her best Kill Bill impression as I try and change her nappy. Mmmmm delicious.
Now I can go whole days hardly seeing, let alone speaking to another adult. Couple that with Moo having one of her, ‘naps are for dick heads’ moments and so, spending the whole day grizzling like a losing contestant on X Factor, well it’s a lonely, lonely time. Interestingly I often get dads saying they are quite envious of my set up. I get it. I really do. The good times (and there are many) are exquisite. Funny. Inspiring. Just plain silly. Seeing so much of your child. Just so lucky! But the hard times, and there are many of those too, are really, really hard. Harder than anything I’ve done before and I’ve had to wear a jockstrap, tights and makeup for a living, so there. Sometimes Moo is the only person I see and I feel like I am the last person in the world she wants to see. I see Mums looking at us in the park and my paranoia takes me to, ‘oh that poor girl crying. She needs her Mum’.
Yes she does. And her Mum needs her. I can’t imagine how hard it is for my wife to deal with this set up and her adjustment to it must have been incredibly tough. 9 months (well 18 if you count the time she was cooking in her tummy) and they hardly left each others side then, thwack. Mum and daughter are apart and my wife is head first back into a corporate world dealing with things that I have no concept of. Is it easier for a Dad to go back to work? I dunno. I haven’t done it. All I know is it must kill my wife to miss bed and bath time so much and there I am, checking my watch, wondering how long it will be until I can crack open a bottle of wine. Then we come to the task of getting through the ‘only Dad will do phase’ and my wife must come home with a very heavy heart indeed.
But know this Moo’s Mum. When you come home and your daughter is sitting with me in the back room and she hears the front door, the look on her face is one of pure joy and excitement. At no other time is she that happy. It’s beautiful. She doesn’t help matters by then being a bit grumpy with you, I know. But she’s frustrated. If she could talk to you, and she will soon, she will delight in telling you every inch of her day. About the stag beetle we found and watched for 15 minutes. About the bees and the fact that they have hilariously big bums. About the lycra clad cyclist Daddy shouted at for nearly hitting one of the dogs. About how she has learnt some new words that daddy was shouting and that, apparently, she is not allowed to say them… About how ice cream really is the best thing and that she doesn’t actually get the argument about how she has to eat something else.
She needs her Mum. But not just for the moment that she is absorbed fully in. But for every waking moment for ever more. She needs her Dad. She needs the dogs. Her world is both tiny and infinite and you are the Captain of her ship. Of our ship. Pretty soon we’ll have the ‘only Mummy will do’ phase and that’s gonna be a whole heap of japes for me to circumnavigate. Oh holy hell
You know what though, I hear so much about ‘guilt’ from so many people. Particularly women it has to be said. Guilt about not being around enough. About doing too much. About not doing enough. That guilt lingers and permeates the very moments when you could be doing the things you are feeling guilty about not doing. It’s toxic. Don’t give yourself a hard time. You are immeasurably amazing and, for goodness sake, we can only do what we can do! I’ll finish with this: an Australian friend once laid it out succinctly for me when he said,
“Guilt is like a fucking back of bricks mate. Who the fuck are you carrying it round for anyway?”
Delicately put I think you’ll agree.