It was my 40th birthday recently and for it my wife bought me a motorbike. A red motorbike. ‘Dog Cock Red’ is how I like to describe it. Classy… It’s an extremely generous gift as I am sure you will agree and I feel very lucky indeed. It also fits very neatly into my burgeoning mid-life crisis which makes me very happy; yessiree. It will actually sit quite nicely alongside my forthcoming pierced ear and tattoo. (I’m serious by the way. They will happen. I just don’t believe I should get a tattoo whilst I’m quite as tubby as I am. I want it to be less ‘fat-tat’ and more ‘hell-THAT-tat’! Undoubtedly, what with my ever decreasing hairline and undeniable advancing years it will actually transpire to be a ‘twat-tat’).
I haven’t ridden a bike since 2014 – a year pre-Moo – when I sold my last one to raise some cash for a project. Up until then I would ride everyday between jobs and had been around Europe on a boys own style adventure. Think Top Gear but younger, cooler, faster, better clothes and much less inclined to punch a producer. There was that barman in Nice though… With this new bike (which I have yet to name) comes the promise of another European trip with the same group of friends. In September we will blast through the motorways on our way to the Vosges mountains where we will enjoy the ‘twisties’ during the day and the Strasbourg nightlife during the evenings. Beers and bikes. What fun!!
Or is it…
I have lain awake most evenings recently worried to death about the whole thing. Now, I can actually already hear the gentle murmurings of – ‘Well, so you should be! Not exactly the most responsible thing for a full time stay at home Dad AND expectant father to be doing now is it!’ But you see, and this is the capper, it’s not actually the risk or the danger that worries me at all. It’s the prospect of being away from Moo for 4 nights that’s driving (or riding) me to insomnia. It’s the thought of how much I’ll miss her and how I’ll have to keep most of that locked inside so as not to annoy the be-jangles off of my riding partners. In this, quite manly of pursuits, I will be the one that’s a bit squishy around the edges (and I don’t just mean physically this time) and not at all ‘manly’ in the traditional sense. SO, if they see water trickling out from my visor then I’ll just have to play up the hayfever card I guess.
To be totally honest I think they’ll probably be pretty expectant of all my softness. The last time we went I was the only one to neatly pack a pair of Massimo Dutti pyjamas, mouthwash and a tube of ‘Bite and Sting Relief Cream’, much to their continued mirth. They weren’t laughing when one of them got stung on the eyelid at 100mph and needed my healing ointment then though! It was then that I discovered there can be very few things in life camper than a guy in leather running along an Alpine road with cream in one hand shouting, “Don’t worry Richard! I’m coming!” The looks on my intrepid road warrior brethren’s faces, with their bemused open mouth gawping, pretty much summed up their thoughts.
Herein lies the crux to the title of this blog. Paradoxes: Every-bloody-where. I’m an ex-ballet dancer who plays and teaches blues rock guitar. A stay at home dad who likes fast motorbikes. A he-will-never-bloody-stop-and-just-sit-down-for-a-few-minutes type person and a congenital heart disorder sufferer. A man who can hold court at playgroup with the ladies and discuss the sexiness of Tom Hiddleston whilst sharing out his homemade pastel de natas and can also discuss which are the best cuban cigars with his manly man friend. This list can go on and on and on.
So really it all just seems to be one big load of opposites in my life at the moment. Even with what I notice about Moo… Last week I decided it was worth giving potty training a go. She ticks many of the Mumsnet tick boxes for being ready, (holy cracked nipples by the way, that website is hella scary! This is only the second time I’ve used it, the first being when I googlerised a behavioural question and then read the diatribe of assumptions and sanctimonious responses to someone’s query of a similar nature to mine. It’s so overwhelmingly tempting to spend one of Moo’s nap times going through it all and responding to the very worst people with the most sarcastic thing I can. Maybe I’ll save that for a rainy day treat). The potty training neatly coincided with her teething her incisors and also, over night, going through the unbelievably fucking annoying “NOOOOO” stage. All on the same day. How in the ballsacks is that even possible? I am persevering with potty training despite this and she’s doing OK. She actually prefers to sit on the loo though so therein continues the contrary nature of things.
Owing to the wonderful (for ‘wonderful’ please read, ‘cocking irritating’) amount of time I am spending in the middle of the night thinking about all this I’m starting to believe that these aren’t actually paradoxes at all. That she isn’t actually changing and flipping between ways of being and personality types. Of course she’s not. She’s not a psychopath. I think… She’s just developing many sides to her personality as we all have. It’s my assumptions that make them seem contrary rather than just a single piece that adds to the whole person that is her. I remember when she was born and someone asked me about the overwhelming sense of love that I must feel for this tiny person in my life and I believe my response kind of upset them. I said that ‘I didn’t feel that kind of all encompassing adoration for this new person in my life. I don’t know her at all’. What I meant was, of course I loved her and wanted to care for and nurture her. But, I had a home with my wife and dogs and she was a new addition to it that we had to get to know over time and she has to get to know us as well. It was out of respect to her and how I wanted to learn about her; not make massive assumptions about who she is and what she does.
Everyday she is letting out more of her personality and developing her individuality and I cherish this even when it is at it’s most difficult for me. Like when I ask her if she wants the blueberries I’m handing her in a bowl and she shouts “NOOOO” whilst hitting them out of my hand, then cries ‘cos the dogs have eaten them all off the floor. Or when she asks for a banana, waits for me to peel it and break some off before laughing and turning on her heels to jauntily waddle off. She quite often acts like the most independent little thing in the world, wandering off, discovering everything for herself, and then suddenly flips and won’t let me put her down and is stuck to me like a barnacle of love.
Yes she is developing and testing and working out what she does and doesn’t like but, and I think this is my point here, turning 40 and really examining these things for myself has shown me that this is not something that should be reserved for the very youngest in our lives. Surely it is integral that we all reexamine who we are, what we like and what makes us tick? I love being a bit of a walking paradox. I love not really knowing how to pigeon hole myself. I love not following type. And I really love watching Moo play with her own ideas of who she is, what she does and what she likes. It’s beautiful. I’m gonna bloody miss it when I’m in France though…