Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Parent

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?

10 things I’ve learned since becoming a parent

Matilda may only be 6 weeks old, but you learn fast with babies don’t you? It’s either that or go insane. So here in no particular order are the top 10 things I’ve learnt so far.

  1. Babies are born with a 6th sense that tells them when you sit down to eat or drink a cup of tea so that they can cry at precisely the right moment.
  2. Whenever you plan to go out, think of the time it will take you to get ready and then double it. This is the time it will really take to get out the door.
  3. A baby knows when you have neither hands free and will take that opportunity to be sick all over your shoulder and not on the carefully placed muslin.
  4. The consistency of poo and other bowel related topics will become the main source of conversation during any mealtime.
  5. The ability to sniff a nappy and determine its contents is a talent to be admired.
  6. Your baby isn’t smiling at you, it’s going to the toilet and is amused at the thought of you cleaning it up shortly.
  7. The world record for shortest time a nappy is in use is 0.01 seconds, I know it’s my record.
  8. Looking after a baby is a team sport, but you have to remember to tag in and out, walking away from the field of play is frowned upon and punishable with a week of night shifts.
  9. Your children will get more presents than you, even on your birthday.
  10. After 6 weeks you can do anything with one hand, including tweeting, loading the dishwasher, watering the garden and putting the bins out.

So that’s my top 10, what did you learn when you became a parent?

Helplessly in control

So here we are, parents. A little girl dependent on us to provide for her, trusting us to look after her and know what she needs. Parents who should know what’s best, know what is wrong when she cries and fix it, know how to make her laugh when she’s sad, know how to comfort her and protect her when she’s scared.

First time parents, yet needing to be an expert from day 1. Expert in putting a nappy on, in bathing and cleaning, in knowing which cry means food and which means change my nappy, in doing up a babygrow and in mixing formula.

We’re the adults so we should be control right, making the decisions, deciding when to sleep and when to eat. But we’re not, this little girl dictates the day. She decides when we can have rest, whether we can go out for the day, when she wants a cuddle. She’s the boss and if you do it wrong you know it.

But we’re learning, every day a new lesson, every day discovering something new about her, everyday noticing her growing and changing, As each day passes we gradually restore order and routine and find new ways to live our lives now that we are a family. We may sleep less and drink more, but so far we’re loving every minute and have the photo’s to prove it.

I’m not religous but…..

This weeks (yes I aiming for weekly now!) blog was inspired by a post by English mum about being happy because of other people’s successes. So you may be wondering what the hell has this got to do with religion? A tenuous link at best right? Well I really am not a religious person, sure I’m a classic hypocrisy where I find civil wedding ceremonies just weird, but I’m not convinced by the whole god story and assign some credence to the conspiracy theories (see Dan Brown!). But despite all this I actually think I live a relatively Christian life.

This fools family values

As fatherhood rapidly approaches (half way now), I started to take more interest in how children are brought up and the opportunity I have along with the current lady of the manor to instill our version of family values.  inevitably this is a mish mash of the values we were brought up under adapted based on our view of the world. So what do I think’s important and what do I want to make sure my children learn from day 1?

1. Family comes first

For me family is the most important, I could be quite content spending all my free time with my wife, dog, children (soon) and the occasional visit from siblings and parents. I come from a big immediate family (3 brothers and a sister) and my wife grew up with all her cousins and aunts and uncles living in the same village. So we both love family life, what can be better than a roast dinner with family followed by a walk with dogs and kids? If its a lovely autumn or winters day then perfect!

2. Marriage

Kind of linked to the first one, but I am a strong believer in marriage. Its not the be all and end all and I know that kids can be better off being brought up by a single parent, but in my opinion marrying someone you love and brining up children in that environment gives the best opportunity to them. It seems that marriage has lost some of its credibility in recent years as people seem to get married with any boyfriend/girlfriend of more than 6 months, without really thinking about if this is the person they truly want to get old and wrinkly with.

3. Eat well , be happy

It may seem like a strange value but good food equals healthy, happy people. I LOVE food, I love trying new things (have you tried pork knuckle? Yum!), cooking recipes for the first time and best of all sharing good food with friends. Food can bring such happiness and if you eat well you feel well in body and mind. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying we should all eat rich food, with cream and butter added to everything. Then you’d have a heart attack and definitely not be healthy! But a balanced diet, with a mix of healthy and unhealthy food can only be good for you. If you eat a lot of junk food you’ll inevitably have health issues and fell unhappy, on the flip side if you force yourself to eat salad everyday and never anything even remotely naughty then I pretty sure you’ll also be un happy. Moderation people is the way forward!

4. Exercise

As some of you may know, I’m a bit of an exercise freak and run every day to work and back. I take part in adventure races including the fabulous rat race and have done a few half marathons.  The long suffering lady of the manor has been worn down by this for the last 11 years and from someone who pretty much hated exercise now also ENJOYS going for a run. That is go for a run because she wants to not because she feels she has to. Exercise of course gets you fit and healthy, but also its good for mental health. Going for a run blasts away the stresses and strains of the day and you come back feeling refreshed. But I know running isn’t for everyone, so you need to find what works for you. What can you do that will get you out a few time each week? It could be as simple as walking to the take away rather than getting delivery! But you have to find something that excites you and you’ll keep doing for more than 6 weeks. Instilling this enjoyment of exercise early is clearly something I’m going to try and do with my children. Be it a walk in a forest to kick some leaves or playing rugby every saturday.

5. Honesty

Life is complicated enough without having to keep lies going to family and friends, of course you have to be subtle in how honest you are sometimes, but being open with your family about how you are feeling etc can avoid an awful lot of headaches. I honestly can’t stand all the gossiping and back stabbing that can go on sometimes, I try not to judge people and take them as I see them (not so easy in these days of x-factor, one look at twitter on a saturday night will tell you that). In return I like to think I’m pretty open and honest with people, good or bad what you see is what you get with me.

So I started this rambling talking about religion, when you look at my family values I don’t think its unreasonable to say that they are christian like. I don’t plan to start attending church any time soon, but if there is a god (there isn’t of course, Darwinism people) then I would hope that he/she/it would judge me positively.