I remember his mother and I would discuss, in those oft-remembered (much missed) quiet relaxed evenings before our son was born, television's role in our household. We'd pretty much decided that our offspring would never be sullied by exposure to the telly. Equally he'd never touch sugar, only eat organic and spend his life with well-thought through educationally relevant play. What mugs we were!
Suddenly a cry rings out, causing a shudder of tiredness to run up my spine and take root in the bags under my eyes. Next, probably by magic, your feet find the floor and you question y our existence. The door opens and a night light illuminates the face of a crying toddler, you smile broadly - pushing back your own desire to cry. Then, tot in arms, you collapse into the chair and break into a droning "Incy Wincy Spider..." as you look at the clock. It's 3 am. But the tot doesn't care about the time. Why? You get your answer as the full flavour of the nappy he's just filled wafts towards you. Happy Birthday.
For our kids, when they are young, we are the entire world. A mindbogglingly important role. It worries me if I think about it too much. In their eyes we, as parents, have almost superhuman abilities. The power to make everything 'OK' is our most potent gift.
Nobody, and I really mean NOBODY is interested in other people's holiday snaps. They are the photographic equivalent of watching Songs Of Praise at your nan's house or uncomfortable chats with taxi drivers - something to be endured and got over with, as quickly as is humanly possible. I'm sorry to say it, but it's the same with other people's kids. We all love our own offspring, we find what they do absolutely fascinating. We talk about them endlessly. We rearrange our entire lives for them. Yet, despite all this, our kids are ONLY of interest to US. For everyone else they are (at best) dull and (at worst) actively irritating.
As a SAHD, I'm beginning to feel like a Betamax owner in a VHS world - ask your mum. To be fair, I do try to be quite 'zen' about the stupidity I encounter daily from members of the public. But there's only so much idiocy one man can take...
"I look forward to bin day, I find it strangely cathartic." That bin day or 'Big Bin Day' as we call it our house - in order to distinguish it from the lesser recycling box collection day - is a highlight of my month, surprises me.
I firmly believe that we, as a society, need to find new role models for our boys and young men. We need to do this quickly. Traditionally, we've expected boys to look up to movie stars, sportsmen, musicians, politicians and the business elite. Yet, the starry ensemble has repeatedly shown itself unworthy of this honour.
In the meantime we parents, who have enough on their plate, are beaten with (metaphorical) sticks. Trending hashtags, focusing on parenting perfection, tell us we’re doing it all wrong. Instagram images of perfectly dressed, puke free, angelic children make the rest of us sick to the stomach as we battle to dress our toddlers without WW3 breaking out. Linked-in profiles that show parents simultaneously looking after kids, pursuing an amazing career, charity work, an interesting hobby and maintaining great hair – make the rest of us feel like crap.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Charlie King of Heroic Fatherhood. It was great to have an in depth chat about what it means to be a SAHD.
I briefly considered trying to wrestle the pouch from the woman, but quickly dismissed the idea. One of the issues of being a large man is that, if discovered fighting with a Miss Marple look-a-like in the Co-op, few people are likely to believe that you didn’t start it.