Pants party

Pants party

So, those of you that follow my Instagram @gavfitzsahd might well have seen ‘high’ lights of my weekend alone without the children. These included, but weren’t limited to, watching Breakfast Club, in my pants (as in ‘briefs’, or ‘Calvins’ to my American readers); drinking coffee whilst it’s still warm, in my pants; dancing around the kitchen to MY music without my demanding dictator/choreographer shouting at me, in my pants; playing the guitar undisturbed, in my pants; drinking Jim Beam, in my pants; and going to the gym. But not in my pants. They wouldn’t let me.

By 1pm on Saturday I realised I hadn’t yet spoken to anyone. I hadn’t been nagged or shouted at either so I thought, on balance, everything was AOK. By 5pm, post gym, supper eaten, in my pants, and ready to watch a box set of Peaky Blinders, I realised I missed my family something awful. This was compounded by a FaceTime conversation with Moo where she was screaming that she “WANTS MY DADDY!!!!”. Yes. I felt like shit.

Sunday started with pretty much more of the same. Except I added a dressing gown. I did more dancing around the kitchen. Some cooking. Some TV watching. Some fixing my guitar. Just, stuff really. The sort of thing I usually do with Moo around. Except I’d be wearing more than just my pants. She wouldn’t though. Of course not, she’d be naked. Always naked.

Another gym session. More Peaky Blinders. And then they all came home around 9pm.

It was here that I thought I’d be greeted with smiles, cuddles and unbridled love. Ha. How easily you forget Gavin. No. Moo was pissed at me and remained so right through the next morning when I was rushing around doing breakfast and sorting the dogs and her stuff for nursery and my stuff for the gym. Then, suddenly, she gets down from her chair at the table and say’s, “My Daddy!” and gives me the biggest cuddle ever. Once we got to nursery she was like a barnacle; but with better hair.

We’ve been rolling around the floor most of the afternoon and she has insisted on wearing a dress she grew out of 6 months ago and choreographing my dancing to the Moana soundtrack. The boy has been in my arms throughout and is very reluctant to be put down. It’s a bit like we’re a set of Matroyshka Dolls really.

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What did I learn from the weekend? That I love my own company. That it’s important for my sanity and my ability to not lose my fucking sense of humour to remember to take some time for myself when shit is hitting the fan with the kids. We all need that space to remember ourselves, of course. It just took me two years to realise… We could also translate this as – “I’m in a better mood if I’m alone and dancing in my pants whilst drinking whiskey…”. But that just sounds weird!

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Learning to be a gentle man

Learning to be a gentle man

Since Moo was born in Feb 2015 I have spent a total of 5 nights away from her, and not 1 away from the boy! This coming weekend M.o.M is taking them down to Granny’s so I can have a couple of days/nights away from them. Why do I need this time away? Because I seem to have lost myself a little bit and have turned into a complete and utter grumpy bastard. I spend more time lecturing Moo and being grumpy with the boy, mostly for nothing, than I do anything else. When you spend so much time with your children you start not to see the proverbial wood for the proverbial trees. In fact you can’t even see the proverbial trees because most of the time there’s a tyrannical, screaming, 2 1/2 year old right up in your face. That’s when, of course, I’m not extracting my 9 month old’s hands from the dog’s bowl. Or pulling yet another Sylvanian Families accessory from the back of his throat.

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No. I have, in short, become a bit of an arsehole. I regularly find myself, when the children are finally asleep, going downstairs only to hang my head in shame at how much I’ve let myself down that day. It’s just all too intense sometimes. Moo’s going through a hitting, shouting, hating Daddy phase, and the boy? The boy I hardly feel I know because Moo is taking up ALL my attention. IMG_9139Being a man I have a louder, bigger presence than a lot of women and so I know my shouting and being grumpy is more scary and more horrible. Being a full time carer is an ideal opportunity for me to learn more about myself and become more gentle, man. (See what I did there! Oh the joy of commas). But it’s all got a bit too much recently. I have to finally admit that I need some help. (Those that know me will know that it takes a hell of a lot for me to admit something like that).

 

This time though, it’s about more than my ego and my stubborn chin. It’s about my children and how I need to be at my best for them.

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So, in the last month, I’ve been back at the gym and dieting and now look better and feel better. However, I will have to collect some man points though because, even though ‘being back at the gym’ sounds butch, it’s not really when it’s followed by a trip to Planet Organic to buy a brown rice milk latte in my reusable cup. I am more Yummy Mummy than MMA Daddy.

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It occurs to me, what with having to be so self reflective and having to work so hard to improve one’s demeanour, that spending so much time with such small children is actually, rather ironically, making me have to grow up! Sort of…

 

What will I do with my free time, you probably aren’t asking?

Sleep. Fucking glorious sleep.

 

 

And count the hours until Moo and the boy come back!!!

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Father’s Day?

Father’s Day?

In China they celebrate Father’s Day on 8 August. The number 8 in Chinese is pronounced ‘Ba’, and the colloquial term for father in China is ‘Ba Ba’; so the 8th day of the 8th month actually sounds like the Chinese pet name for ‘Daddy’. I like that

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Yeah, I know, it’s been a while. I haven’t blogged since just after the boy was born in January when for 2 Minutes he didn’t make a sound. Horrible, unwelcome moments. To be fair, he hasn’t stopped making sounds since then so maybe, in hindsight, he was just pausing for a long breath before he embarked on his continuous stream of squeaks and gurgles in his obvious attempts of telling us all his stories. Owing to his limited life experiences thus far I can only assume the content of those stories are detailed descriptions of the inside of M.o.M’s ‘Twinkle Cavern’.

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The reasons for my lack of blogs are many fold. Laziness, tiredness, drunkeness… But the main defence for the absence of content has probably been my increased use of Instagram and therefore being exposed to just how many bloody parent blogs there are out there. It’s unbelievable! Quite a few of them seem principally set out to try and make money or get free shit which, the morally condescending voice in me finds distasteful. But let’s be honest, the main voice in me finds it irritating as I have no way of doing that with this blog because, and this is the capper, who wants to sponsor a middle-aged man’s accounts of his failings as a stay at home dad?

Bollinger?      Fender?     Aston Martin?

 

Ocado? Please…

 

So, it’s Father’s Day today. A 100 year or so old tradition originating in Spokane and now taken on by countries around the world to appreciate (spoil) the Father of the house. It’s a lovely gesture and social media is awash with tributes to Dad’s alive and not. It’s telling, however, that when googling Father’s day, quite near the top of the list is an article on ‘How to celebrate Father’s Day when your child’s Father is not in their life’. Yes, for all the modern Dad’s/Man’s improvements there are still a lot of twats out there.

What was my present this year? I got an afternoon to go drinking and to watch Guns n’ Roses at the thoroughly horrible Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Slash was awesome, Axl was fat, Duff looked younger and the sound was amazing. What with The Stone Roses playing Wembley on the same night it would surprise me if there were any white middle aged men left in the home counties at all last night. It must have been a very quiet, empty place devoid of any DIY. I wonder if all the pubs cashed in and held ladies bingo nights? (I assume that’s what you girls do when you get together? That and talk about lingerie and boobs, right?)

I lay in bed this morning to the sounds of Moo playing with her Mum and her Godmother downstairs. I showered, dressed, made myself a coffee in the kitchen and went into the garden with the hopeful heart of a loving father ready to be greeted by his adoring daughter. Not quite how it happened… She hasn’t spoken to me in the 3 hours I’ve been up. She’s angry with me for going out yesterday. Great.

So, I guess my real reason for only writing a blog now after a 4 month absence is I have nothing else to do right now. I’m not being nagged. I’m not needed. Father’s Day sucks balls

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2 minutes

2 minutes

It takes 2 minutes to walk from my front door to the shop. 10 if it’s with Moo

2 minutes to chase Moo around the house trying to put her pants on

2 minutes to decide to go to the gym

2 minutes to turn around and go home again

2 minutes to discuss whether or not to take Moo’s scooter out

2 minutes to argue about how many books to read before bed

If I’m alone for 2 minutes, it feels like a lifetime

I’d like 2 minutes to watch the programmes I WANT to watch. Please?

I’d like 2 minutes to tell you about your baby brother

 

It was 2 minutes to 8 when he was born; miniature and new

 

For 2 minutes though, he didn’t breathe…

For 2 minutes I cried and held my breath and shook and waited

For 2 minutes your Mum, in pain and exhausted and spent, panicked

 

2 minutes with his cord around his neck

2 minutes I watched him, limp and lifeless

2 minutes my mind raced; “How will I help my wife through this?”

2 minutes I knew terror. I knew helplessness

2 minutes with 15 people in the room trying to help him live

2 minutes felt like too much

2 minutes. 120 seconds. Eternity

 

2 minutes and then…

 

He cried!

He screamed!

He lay naked on Mummy; colour flooding his tiny body

 

I breathed out

 

For 2 minutes I kissed every part of his tiny head. Welcome to our magnificent army son

 

I love you both with all that I am

 

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Moving with the times

4:53am and I sit here in my new kitchen, writing on my new computer, my first blog post for a while now. How did I get a new kitchen? Well it’s a new house actually; in a new area, with all new playgroups and toddler things to navigate (more on that later). How did I get a new computer? Insurance payout after my wonderful 40th birthday motorbike was stolen a month after I got it… Don’t even ask. Why am I up at 4:53am? Well, because it’s a house, and I can’t work out the heating, and I’m completely paranoid that Moo is too cold, and so I can’t sleep. 

I miss my flat.

We moved from our home in Fulham to Earlsfield at the end of October principally because we desired more space and Fulham houses are now priced at a point so high that I’m starting to believe:

A). No one told anyone there that Brexit happened and the pound is now fucked  

B). A group of despotic, maniacal, Estate Agents are sitting in a dimly lit board room, around a dark mahogany room, dressed in long black leather SS style coats, sneering and making shit up as they see fit.

So Earsfield is where we be.

Things I’ve learnt in the last week:

  1. Packing companies are a marvel. Our guys – Tactical Removals – were polite, organised and brilliant. And who knew that part would be so easy! Note to self: I must stop flirting with workmen though. It just comes across as weird.
  2. Just because someone is packing for you, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go through your stuff before hand to check on the things that you might not actually want. Like, Moo’s individually wrapped sticks she collected from the park, for example…
  3. Unpacking boxes sucks balls. Old, greying, saggy balls.
  4. NEVER, and I repeat NEVER attempt this moving malarkey with a 6 month pregnant wife and a 20 month old toddler in tow… Holy cocking headache

That last point couldn’t be more true and you’ll thank me for the tip one day. Mainly because of the guilt factor; the guilt of your child being ignored and grumbled at in equal measure, and your pregnant wife being, well, ignored and grumbled at in equal measure. But it’s  also because of the pure logistical necessities of just getting shit done. A typical hour for us went like this –

  • I cut open a box and marvel at the crap inside
  • Moo asks me to play
  • I put Moo in front of the iPad to watch CBeebies and commence the guilt about her brain melting
  • I unpack the box and wonder where the hell things are going to go
  • Moo shouts at me and Mummy to play
  • I load up yet ANOTHER Sarah and Duck episode for Moo and feel even more guilty
  • I shout at Mummy
  • Mummy cries
  • I open a different box
  • Moo shouts at everyone
  • Mummy cries
  • Moo comforts Mummy – “Mummy sad. Layla give hug”
  • Mummy and Moo go off on some female pact to talk about the arsehole Father
  • I repack boxes and make a cup of tea

It truly has been a nightmare. We wait for Moo to have her nap or for her to go to sleep by which point we are so tired that we are at a stage whereby if someone offered to come along and take ALL the boxes away and dump them, then we would smile, nod, and then lie down and spread out on the nice, empty, stress free floor.

But we’re getting there… Slowly. On the plus side though, I have a shed in my garden! Not only is this manly and cool, but the shed itself is now chock full of the stuff I have no idea where to put. Including, and who doesn’t need these, 4 half empty white spirit containers. Handy. I’ve closed the door and made a note to sort it all out. In 2018.

2 days after we moved in I put a post up on a Facebook group called ‘SW18 Mums’ (and yes, the exclusivity of the word ‘Mums’ does piss me off excessively) seeking advice about activities to do with a toddler. Happily I was inundated with responses as it seems we have landed ourselves right, smack, bang in the middle of nappy valley. I made a list of everything and put it on the fridge, downloaded the handy app called ‘Hoop’ (that I still haven’t opened), and began to plan out the things we could do.

The first activity we embarked upon was called ‘Tumble Time’. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with ‘Mr Tumble’ – “Take your fingers, just like so. Make a V and say, HELL NO!”

For £2.75 Moo was able to play for 2 hours on a bouncy castle, slides, soft climbing thing, soft giant puzzle pieces, and with other crazy toddlers. It was great actually. I especially liked the bouncy castle. Not sure what Moo liked best… I met a few lovely people and, most importantly, learnt that Waitrose is just round the corner and they do coffee. Top tip: buy your ticket at 9:00am, get your coffee from Waitrose, head back to Tumble Time for 9:30am start. Owning it like a Mum.

So, all in all it’s looking good here in Earlsfield. We have the river at the bottom of our garden and the park beyond that. Moo has a massive room and the dogs seem genuinely happy to be here. Apparently there are quite a few stay at home dads in the area, which ultimately means I’m not the anomaly… I don’t know how I feel about that. I quite liked being the novelty in my part of Fulham. But that’s because I’m an ego maniac I guess.

 

Anyway, back to working out that heating system…

 

 

 

 

 

Moo and the suicidal caterpillar

Moo and the suicidal caterpillar

I have a deep loathing of Radio 4 that’s reserved, specifically, for the mornings. To the extent that I’d even prefer to have CBeebies on instead. EVEN ‘Show me, Show me’! (I know, right!) However, Mrs. Moo quite often insists on Radio 4 being on as she says it is –

“our current affairs fix. We don’t want to become those parents that ONLY talk about their children now do we?”

Now, I have many issues with this –

1. The last thing I want to do in the morning is listen to some Dimblebum or what ever his name is, cantankerously shout down some politician whilst coming over all, ‘I’M A SERIOUS JOURNALIST YOU KNOW!’ No you’re not. You’re a miserable, disinterested old man who only knows how to “discuss” whilst being aggressive and slightly bullying

2. We only really pay attention when they are talking about something child related, i.e. schools or some ludicrous fucking change to the car seat laws. (What is the cocking law on this by the way? If I have to spend the next 10 years strapping children into those things, I think I’ll go bonkers)

3. I still have that man-crush on Andy from ‘Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures’ so I kinda want CBeebies on. It’s his shotgun nostrils you see. That and his amazing barnet

4. Radio 2, despite Chris Evans’s best efforts, sometimes forgets itself and plays decent music so it’s always worth tuning in on the off chance you hear a good tune

One thing I absolutely love on Radio 4 though is the religious ‘Thought for the Day’ segment. My adoration for this briefest of interludes doesn’t stem from any personal religious beliefs I have, or even because they have a thought provoking point to make that helps me along with my daily trials and tribulations (even though, they quite often do!). Non, mon petit choufleur (as my Corsican brethren would say). It is because they can take any anecdote and quite magnificently, at any given point, without even the most tenuous links, make a genuine reference to Jesus. As if there was a whole page missing from their speech but they thought, ‘Sod it. No one will notice’. It is delightfully hilarious and never fails to make me smile.

“I was walking down by the river the other day when I noticed a large group of drake mallards fighting over the attention and possible courtship of a hen mallard. Unfortunately, so aggressive was their behavior around her that she was pushed under the water and she drowned. This reminds me of the time Jesus helped a leper…”

Everything else on Radio 4 is really quite miserable though. It is either delivered with nonchalant cynicism (the very worst kind. One should never be nonchalant about their cynicism), or with a dismissive, belligerent air that suggests we are all fucked anyway. To be honest with you, there seems little point in continuing along a path that is certain to end in the absolutely depressing, cataclysmic way that they keep promising; so why listen?

All this talk of impending doom brings to mind the caterpillars I found in Corsica recently… (I too can make ludicrous jumps in my metaphors Radio 4 religious people. I too). Every evening there were streams of them, curling their backs and shuffling themselves along the pool side at a seriously impressive rate of knots, where they fell in and writhed on the surface until they became bloated like sausage shaped balloons, and then they sank down, down, to the bottom to lie like dark, tiny poos. That was, until they were unceremoniously scooped up with a net and dumped on the grass on the outer edges of the poolside by me. Why did they continue to do it though? Why were they so steadfast in their belief that this horrible end was, for some god-only-knows reason, a good idea? Why oh why did one, even after I had saved it from its watery torture, wriggle around on its haunches and make its way back to the water? What a dick! I mean, if there was ever a time when the insult “don’t be a twat!” could be labelled at a tiny, sentient but basic creature then that was it!

Watching them on their desperate, Frodo-like quest that was only ever going to end in pain, tears, and huge amounts of water retention (which must be an absolute diaster for the more body conscious caterpillars), reminded me of Moo and her descent in toddler tantrumville. (Holy  segmented arthropod Batman, that’s my second successive spurious, nonsensical metaphorical link in as many paragraphs! I’m getting good at this…)

So insistent is she of winding herself up into a frenzy at the most innocuous things, that I often wonder if I need to scoop her up in a net and dump her on the grass before she falls into the murky depths of continued doom and despair… No, wait. I think that’s probably a metaphor too far… Anyway, she’s got to this point where I can see she’s “playing” with the idea of having a tantrum. Today she asked for an ice cream. I said, “OK. Yes, let’s have some ice cream then”, at which point she threw herself on the floor and screamed “NOOOOOooooo” as if I was some cold-hearted, evil Bond villain that just melted all her toys in the microwave whilst laughing my maniacal laugh. But instead, there I was, standing stock still, with a spoon in one hand, an ice cream in the other, a bewildered look on my face and a ludicrous ball of angry nonsense writhing around on the floor in front of me like one of those aforementioned suicidal caterpillars.

I do understand her need for testing and pushing; her frustration with communication, her inability to control the chemical endochrine reactions happening inside her. I know this can lead to the “difficlut phase”. I am, of course, sympathetic to it and patient. But my God, don’t you just wanna get inside their tiny heads and say, “dude, seriously, chill. All will be fine. You are in no danger. We love you, completely. Take your time and breathe deep.” Saying that though, if she starts to go towards the tantrum-shit-house I actually want her to completely explode in her most energised rage possible. I truly believe she needs to feel the depths of those emotions. As humans we spend far too much time quashing down almost all our feelings whether they are happy or sad and it can only lead to disaster. As the brilliant comedian Louis C.K. so aptly put it:

“Sadness is poetic. You’re lucky to live sad moments… Because when you let yourself feel sad, your body has antibodies, it has happiness that comes rushing in to meet the sadness. So I was grateful to feel sad, and then I met it with true, profound happiness. It was such a trip.”.

We have to experience the depth of emotions in order to let ourselves grow and learn. And Moo’s only just beginning to feel the plethora of bonkers emotions and mixed emotions that humans are capable of! So I kinda don’t wanna quash the tantrum as much as I don’t wanna quash her joy!

To be fair though, it was only a fucking ice cream, and she asked for it…

This all reminds of when Jesus was in Galilee…

The times they are a changin’…

The times they are a changin’…

So, here I am, sitting by the Corsican mountains, a glass of red wine from the vineyards at the bottom of my villa’s drive, the outdoor lights glistening across the pool as the sun sets with it’s gentle, breath taking colour show. Moo is asleep and my wife is reading her book. There’s even my favourite soundtrack on the speaker system playing my favourite variety of ‘stop and think’ tunes and finally there is my Corsican wild boar stew bubbling in the oven preparing itself to be eaten after 24 hours of bathing in delicious vin rouge and hand picked herbs. Perfect serenity. Two things spring to mind from this: 1. Blimey I’m lucky. 2. Blimey I’m a pretentious wanker.

It truly is wonderful here. It will probably be our last family holiday for a while though, what with a possible home move coming up, a shiny new baby on the horizon and some unbelievable fuck-tard stealing my brand new motorbike. Yes, that happened. I don’t wanna talk about it though.

Ooo yes, didn’t I mention? Moo is gaining a ‘sib’! Her world is quite literally about to be ‘thrown out of her pram’. The flavour of this new arrival will be of the male variety; we know this because of the unbelievable size of his knob evident on the 20 week scan. Proud doesn’t even cut it – him and me. I mean, I’ve never felt such smug satisfaction IN MY LIFE. I even made one of my now famous quips at the all too regular inappropriate time. Cue attractive sonographer lady moving pointy scan stick thing over my wife’s tummy to highlight mini Fitzpea’s not-so-mini Fitzpea and, after I had got over my initial shock of him being a boy, I raised my hands in the air and said, (much to my own twatty grin delight)

“Ladies of the world, hear me now. YOU. ARE. WELCOME”

OK, slow down. I can hear your tutting from here. It’s so loud even horses are starting to move faster. Yes, yes, yes  I too can point out my utter hypocrisy in making that joke to my wife and our phenomenally unamused sonographer. You are absolutely right in that I would never have said a similar thing about finding out I was having a daughter. Absolutely not. And so begins a whole new mind fuck chapter on how I approach everything and think about everything. It’s a good job I love reexamining all this I guess.

Skip forward and here we are a week or so later on holiday with Moo. She has been a delight on this trip. Heartbreakingly so. She’s a tiny ball of fire and at 19 months is speaking in good sentences, is potty trained and has me completely and utterly wrapped around her tiny pinky. Quite right. She was wonderful on the delayed flight over. Much better than the miserable old lady next to us who tutted when she saw us coming down the aisle. Mind you, that may have been directed at me with my Hawaiian shirt, travel potty, and irritating chuckle at my own bad joke I had just made to the air steward. Fair dos  for the old lady really.

I have loved watching my wife spend loads of time with Moo and I have struggled to contain my heart in my chest upon watching Moo delight in lapping up every ounce of time with her Mum. The two of them are gorgeous together and it’s so evident how much Moo idolises her. She copies her gestures, wants to try her makeup and creams, follows her around, delights in telling her she has done a poo on the toilet… That usually happens at ‘Moo volume’ (a hither to undiscovered impressive audible level) in a café. There’s that lovely parent quandary wherein you simultaneously apologise to the angry French patrons and praise your miniature tousled haired self to the hilt. It’s an art form.

The holiday has also highlighted how close I am to Moo and how special my relationship is with her. I am supremely lucky as a man to have such a strong relationship with my daughter so early on. Now, I’m not saying others don’t. I’m sure they do. But I know that we have a ‘thick as thieves’ nature with each other that is more precious to me than the stars above my head right now.

So I’m left here, on this glorious evening, on this beautiful island, surrounded by so many of my favourite things, but still fretting about the future. The future of me. The future of Moo. The future of her Mum and the future of all of us with mini male Fitzpea… What the hell does that look like? How can there be more room in my heart? I would die for my wife. I would die with a smile on my face for Moo. How the hell can I fit any one else in? There’s only so many times I can die; I’m not a bloody cat!

Everything I have done in my life has had an element of risk to it. An element of trust that it will all work out. I am an improvisor. I jump way before I look. In fact I tend to jump, land, splat all over the place and only then say, “Oh. Whoops. Perhaps I should wait?”. And so it will be in the future. I shall jump into this new adventure and not even mind if I splat everywhere like a Moo rejected spaghetti Bolognese, because this is the best thing in the world. Right now, shit doesn’t get any better. I. Am. Having. A. Son.

Oh hell…