Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: dad

What do you do for work daddy?

Today was my day to take Matilda to preschool, I try to do it once a week to give the lady of the manor a break from getting out the house early and also simply because I quite like being part of what the children do each day. On Tuesday’s it’s just Matilda, Henry has a day at home, which is great because we get a little one on one time to bond. However it also means Matilda has 10 minutes in the car with me alone to interrogate me. The subjects vary wildly and normally start with a seemingly innocuous question before BAM she hits you with the killer punch.

This morning it started all very light with a chat about why there weren’t animals in the fields (grain was growing) and whether she would be making her Easter basket today (she is). But then the real interrogation started:

Matilda: Mummy works at a hospital doesn’t she?

Me: She sure does

Matilda: She looks after people and makes them better if they bang their heads or break their legs.

Me: Exactly, she looks after children just like you.

Matilda: what do you do at work?

Me: well, I, err, use a computer. And help people manager their money. And make sure they spend it on the right things.

Matilda: *puzzled face*

How exactly do you explain to a 3 year old that you’re a management accountant? As I tell her what I do even I realise it sounds a bit bonkers. When you compare it to the lady of the manor who has a ‘real’ job mine sounds a bit pointless. Maybe that should be a new rule? If you can’t convince a 3 year old that your job is worthwhile then it shouldn’t exist?

Precisely the reason also why the lady of the manor and I now have a 3 year plan to make some big changes to our lives and the work we do. I’m not quite ready to share them yet but soon maybe. In the mean time I’m going to enjoy watching Matilda become the strong, intelligent and fiercely independent girl she’s shaping up to be.

Matilda on rope bridge

Baby wearing for dads

I’ve always found baby wearing a bit of an odd term, it makes your baby sound like an accessory rather than your child. You wear a t shirt or jumper, you carry a baby. But whatever name you want to give it I don’t think we would have survived the first 3 months of Rupert’s life without making good use of slings and baby carriers. Below is a sample from my Instagram feed to give you an idea, I think you’ll agree baby wearing for dads is an essential:

IMG_4407 IMG_4406 IMG_4404

IMG_4403 IMG_4402 IMG_4401

Rupert like many small babies didn’t like being put down (and why would he when he’s used to being in his mummies tummy) and if he did go down happily there was a high risk Matilda and Henry would say hello to him. Which would be fine if it didn’t involve poking, kissing and strangling cuddling. Nothing nasty of course just being enthusiastic 2 and 3 year olds.

So there’s a practical reason for embracing baby wearing but for me there’s also a very personal reason; it’s the best opportunity I get to bond and cuddle with my son. Clearly I can’t help feed him and with 2 other children my main role in the first weeks is to ensure the house is kept clean and that we all eat properly etc. In this crazy time it’s not always easy as a dad to get quality time with your baby which is where baby wearing comes in.

We’ve now been through a number of different carriers with the 3 children and I have a little idea of what works and what doesn’t work,  for me at least. Today I’d like to share a quick review of 2 of my favourites from a dad’s perspective. My one piece of advice though is to try a few different ones out for yourself. We’re all different shapes and sizes so what works for me may not work for you.

Babasling

I struggled with our Babasling a little when we had Matilda and that put me off using it with Henry, but the lady of the manor has always liked it so I decided to give it another go with Rupert. Now I absolutely love it, it’s perfect for wearing around the house and when you pop out to the shops and know you’ll be lifting him in and out a few times. Not sure I’d use it to go and do a long dog walk though as it goes over one shoulder only and personally I prefer to have the weight spread over two for those type of walks.

What I really like is how easy it is to just slip him into it as there are no straps to fiddle with or clasps that do up behind your back. Some carriers have felt more like a straight jacket than a baby carrier. As their are no straps we’ve been able to transfer him from sling to car seat and back again without waking him which is a god send when you have a small baby.

I use this sling all the time at home when I need to carry Rupert and get him to sleep but also need my hands free. He falls asleep really easily in it and I can then get on with getting Matilda and Henry fed and dressed with two hands free to help them. It may mean Rupert ends up with the occasional toast crumb on his head but I’m sure the butter is good for his skin.

Ergobaby Original

For longer walks I tend to use the Ergobaby for the reasons mentioned above, it’s great for spreading the weight across your shoulders making it more comfortable for extended use. There is a newborn insert for when the baby is really tiny and you can wear on your front, side and then back as your child grows. We still use this for Matilda and Henry when they’re being particularly lazy or you’d like to finish your walk not at toddler pace.Walking with an Ergobaby

It can be a little fiddly getting it done up, particularly when you have your child on the front, but gets easier with practise. I used this an awful lot when Matilda and Henry were 18 months – 2 years as they were walking but really not much distance. I’d put it on without any child in and then whenever they got tired they could just jump up on my back and have a rest. I can remember Matilda falling asleep on a number of occasions like this while out on dog walks. The carrier has a hood that clips up and supports their head if they fall asleep which is a great feature.

I also tested the travel version of this carrier a while ago if you’re interested, same design just more compact and can be folded into a small bag. Review is here.

What about you? Do you baby wear? What are you favourite carriers?

Darkness

Her eyes told me all I needed to know, no words were needed. We’ve been here before and I know what comes next, doesn’t make it any easier of course.

The thing that every parent-to-be knows is a risk but never expects to happen to them has happened. The thing that you soon realise has actually happened to most parents but is never talked about. A name never spoken unless in hushed tones.

But we should talk about it. Miscarriage is a bastard with a capital B. The darkest of days as a parent. Where once there was hope, expectation and excitement there is now nothing. A gaping hole where you expected your son or daughter to be but you’ll never know what they were like.

But it feels surreal, 3 weeks is only just enough time to start getting used to the idea of being a dad again, I don’t have that physical bond that the lady of the manor feels. I want to feel the loss and attachment, but it has to mostly come through her grieving and pain. If I can take the burden for some of that pain then I will in an instance of course but otherwise I feel a little lost.

You may have only been a few weeks old my teeny tiny boy (for the lady of the manor assures me you were a boy) but you were still ours and we shall live our lives wondering what might have been.

 

A bacon sandwich short of a perfect Saturday

PicMonkey Collage

Becoming dad

I’d been meaning to write this post for a while, but was finally motivated to do it when reading this post by Mothers always right. Firstly this post is not intended to in any way to belittle how tough it is being a mum and what an amazing role mums perform, the lady of the manor is proof of that. But often I think it is overlooked how hard it can be for a new dad and I speak here from my personal perspective over the past 9 weeks since Matilda was born.

It begins in the delivery suite, if you want a definition of a man feeling helpless it is this moment, you can be supportive and motivating all day but ultimately you have to sit back and watch in awe as your lady takes care of business so to speak.  You are stripped of any opportunity to ‘be a man’ or demonstrate any of the qualities that we have evolved to have. You almost feel a little surplus to requirements.

Then you get home and the adrenaline and excitement wears off leaving you with the sleep deprived reality of the situation. Matilda was being breast fed so my role was tea boy, nappy changer and baby pacifier whenever she was crying. Fun times, although it was alright because I had all that paternity leave to get to know her right? Well those 2 days passed pretty quickly and then it was back to work (yes I know you can take 2 weeks on statutory pay, but who can afford to do that?).

Back to work and back to leaving the house at 7am 5 days a week and getting home at 6.30pm. The lady of the manor has done such a good job getting her settled in a routine, unfortunately that does mean that she’s asleep when I get home. I get a cuddle at 11pm when I do a dream feed, but that’s not really an opportunity to bond is it? I’m slowly becoming precisely the dad that I said I never would. One who doesn’t know how to look after his children or know their routine and what they need. I want to be the dad that knows exactly how to cheer his little girl when she cries, who knows what her favourite food is and one that reads her a bedtime story every night.

On Thursday I worked from home and realised what I’m missing, Matilda sat laughing and gurgling while the lady of the manor chatted to her. My little girl is changing every day and I hate the fact that she wouldn’t smile for my like she did for the lady of the manor. So I need to change, I need to start spending time playing and interacting with her whenever I can. I need to forget the to-do list and jobs around the house and just relax, not something that I’m always very good at. A portion of the weekend needs to become dad time so we can have some quality time together. Today being father’s day I did exactly that (after a small lie in of course), a fabulous cuddle on the sofa with my wee girl and the Brackster (who never passes up the opportunity for a cuddle).

Some other changes may be needed in the future if I’m going to be the dad that I really want to be, but for now this will do. My little girl smiles at me as I enter the room, what more can a man ask for?