Freakin’ freaky control freak

Freakin’ freaky control freak

I truly didn’t realise how much of a control freak I am until I became a father. I mean, it’s almost unbearable. To the point where, when my wife is cooking, I flutter around like a twatty annoying moth clearing up any mess as she goes. Some may think, ‘OOoo that’s nice. I wish my husband would do that’. But alas, no. It’s not enviable. Not. At. All. I’ve so far only been threatened once with a knife which, I think you’ll agree, is some seriously good restraint from my wife. For fuck sake I even followed one of the dogs around yesterday on hands and knees, wiping with a cloth as I went, all because he drank some water and his glistening wet beard was dripping on my recently cleaned floors. For the merest of seconds I was tempted to take the water away from them… What’s a bit of canine dehydration when kitchen floor splodges are at risk. (Please don’t react to that. I’m joking… A bit)

So, mix into this toxic brew of functioning OCD the unpredictability of a baby whose very reason for living seems to be so she can test out the adhesive quality of yoghurt on all surfaces, then I guess it’s easy to understand why my migraines have got worse. Jesus I sound menopausal. Is that possible for me? Perhaps man-opausal. A good friend announced the other day that she basically talks to me like I’m a mum so is my next step to grow boobs? Actually… With my impending 40th birthday and Moo’s utter reluctance to go back to the creche at the gym I am neatly cultivating some plentiful bloke bosoms, some ‘man-aries’, as I type. Of course that has NOTHING whatsoever to do with eating Moo’s left overs and the impressive amount of wine I drink… Noooo

I’ve really struggled with the unpredictable mess that having a baby automatically equates to. Seriously bloody struggled at times. Those end of the day moments when the food is largely Jackson Pollocked all over the wall and floor, when she then empties the seemingly endless supply of balls from the ball pit, when the dogs are somehow now more yoghurt than fur, and when she ensures there is more water on the outside of the bath than the inside; those days are hard – like some Orwellian nightmare hard. I desperately want to clear it all up before my wife gets home. I ultimately cannot relax until I’ve reset everything and supper is on it’s way. But, to be perfectly frank as I am not frankly perfect, I’m fucking knackered by that point that even feeding the dogs feels like a massive task. (I do though. I promise… Sometimes)

I recently brought her a load of art supplies… I’ll just leave that sentence hanging there

If I let all of my paranoias and neuroses impact on the way I see Moo developing; the way she eats, plays, gets angry, grizzles, everything; then I, and she, will be in trouble. I have to really watch myself as I am so aware of how much my crappy nonsense can infect her, how much I can influence her and pass on my man-hang-ups. And I really don’t wanna do that! I help myself through this by remembering that I know no functioning adults that refuse to brush their teeth and throw their crocodile toothbrush into the loo (yes ladies, very clever – ‘Why don’t you close the seat then’. I will. Leave me alone will you). I have yet, rather unfortunately actually, come to meet someone at an upmarket restaurant who displays the kind of petulance Moo is capable of. Picture the scene:

“And what would Sir like to order?”

“WAAHHHAHHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH BLAAAAAAAAAAA MAAAAAAAAAAA”   * throws small plate at nice lady diner and laughs. Swings back and forth in chair like a loon.

I have met a few who spill their drink down their front though. Also, Moo does actually eat a lot better than some musicians I know. But generally, the things she does at the moment, the so called ‘bad habits’ are not actually anything at all. The more I let them pass me by, the less she has to test against. There’s an element of having to predict what could happen based on her moods, but, really, truly, she’s a diamond and I am the rough. She is doing so well, she’s new to all of our, basically quite ridiculous human social niceties. But she’ll get them. Then she can correct me.

The good thing is I now feel like I have a bit of a handle on how I react and how I translate what is going on with Moo. Again, she’s teaching me well and I owe her so much. I believe I am doing fine with my freaky assed control freak nature. As long as nothing comes along and upsets the apple cart like another baby or anything…

To be continued…





The undadsy dad?

There’s a great blog I’ve recently been introduced to called The Unmumsy Mum. Essentially, other than many wonderful pearls of wisdom, the popularity of this blog may well reside in it’s acerbic, sometimes sarcastic, dry, witty asides about life as a mother and the many highs and lows that being a parent provides. I love it. But it’s the title that intrigues me the most. The Unmumsy Mum. That’s pretty cool right? You can sort of guess the kind of attitude the author may well be trying to portray just from that nom de plume. Fun, willing to admit fuck ups, forthright in telling the truth about themselves and their children etc etc

It kind of got me thinking about what an undadsy dad might be. Wouldn’t it just be a man who walks out on his kids? Or at the very least it would be a man that doesn’t really engage with them right? Or is it though… My father’s generation was rife with dads that didn’t necessarily change nappies or take over feeding time etc, but a lot of those dads are heroes in their children’s eyes. Is that because that father in question is actually a brilliant, practical man, serious at times, fun at others and always the scary presence mum would threaten you with if you were misbehaving? So an undadsy dad would therefore be the opposite of that – a uselessly impractical man, hardly ever serious (so basically a fucking clown) and a complete pushover. Damn, is that me? I hope it isn’t! As for me ‘walking out’ well, Moo is basically my diminutive, grazed knee, messy haired shadow so that may well be quite difficult.

I find it confusing to know exactly what a stay at home dad should actually look like. It’s even more tricky to know how I am viewed by the mums I bump into every day. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I really don’t harbour paranoias about them talking about me in hushed voices with comments such as, “he’s trying so hard bless him but it’s a bit like using a Tescos when there’s a Waitrose around the corner. It’s just not right darling”. I promise you, I don’t really think like that. Much…

Even more unsettling though is what their husbands might think about the whole thing! There I am, a gorgeous, funny, muscular dad knocking on their wife’s door at 3pm for a ‘play date’. I mean, just imagine that phone call between them! It makes ‘Confessions of a Window Cleaner’ look plausible! OK so, for ‘gorgeous, funny and muscular’ perhaps read: balding, tired and middle aged. I guess one should also consider the fact that those husbands are all lovely and much more grown up than me, and then, well, maybe that’s not such a problem after all is it. It’s the curtain twitchers next door I need to worry about. They probably think that I am that lovely yummy mummy’s ‘afternoon delight’!

Or, perhaps not…

But why does what anyone thinks about me matter anyway? Why, when I am basically a knackered echo of the man I used to be, would I waste time caring about any of that stuff?

(I mention that last bit because I had a text conversation with my friend this week that went –

Him: “I’m test riding a Suzuki sports bike today then heading to the pub. What ya up to?”

Me: “Making sandcastles to be stamped on before cooking Moo’s supper for the dogs to eat”)

I guess I ponder on all this because the notion of having a job title or clear job description matters to a lot of people; me included. I feel I have to justify things to myself in my silly befuddled head. In terms of the ‘Unmumsy Mum’ character it’s clear how someone could push against type because being a stay at home mum surely has a well worked blue print, therefore one can rebel against it. I’m not sure what my stay at home dad blue print is though. Perhaps it’s this: A man who wears the same cargo shorts everyday, covered in milk, scrambled egg and some unidentifiable muck Moo wiped on me from the park (and yes, it does look like I have had a little poo on myself), being constantly bossed around by a 17 month old tyrant who makes a white-van driver stuck in traffic look calm and measured.

Sometimes you see the dads that ‘try too hard’ to be the ‘Dad’. (It’s going to be so difficult not to come across as condescending right now but I’ll do my best). You know, the ones that play with super enthusiasm. That go to the playground and talk on a level with their kids and say, “HEY, I KNOW A COOL GAME YEAH LET’S PLAY WOOOO HOOOO WEEEEEEEEEEE YEAHHHHHH”. The ones that jump in the puddles way before the child has even intimated that they have harboured any notion of doing it themselves. Well, now hear this: Far from being patronising and criticising anyone by writing that, I’m happy to announce that that very description fitted me like the proverbial ‘raisin up a toddler’s nose’ the other day…

My friend has a 5 year old daughter whom I adore. She’s crazy funny, boisterous, bright and beautiful. A couple of days ago in the sand pit at my local park, I picked Moo up and swung her around as I normally do. My friend’s daughter saw this and wanted a go. Cue me spending 15 minutes throwing, swinging and whooping and screaming like an over grown 5 year old; like I really had something to prove. Was I seriously trying to impress her and win her friendship? Damn I’m childish. All through this time Moo was stood staring at me with an expression that can only be described as ‘You sad, pitiful little man’. Anyway, the result of all this exuberant throwing and rambunctious swinging was that I managed to completely poleaxe a small 6 year old boy, like an 82kg bowling ball on a collision course with a tiny twig. Cue death stare from said boy’s mum. What a clumsy, clumsy fucker. At this point Moo skulked off, embarrassed and disappointed, to go and cuddle my friend’s mum. Quite right.

I guess then that the ‘Undadsy Dad’ is everything all at once. I can be the show off trying to impress mine (and other people’s) children. I can be the clown. I can be the cook, the cleaner and the protector. And I can be the serious one who picks my daughter up and soothes her grazed knee with kisses, cuddles and a little ointment. Perhaps it’s much easier for me to push against type than a mum actually! There’s nowhere near as much pressure on me to be some kind of a universally recognised stay at home dad cliché because there isn’t one yet. In fact, maybe we’re all of us actually undadsy dads and unmumsy mums in our own unique ways, and that’s what makes us special to our diminutive, messy haired shadows.