The OODD guide to The Dad Body.

So, it’s happened, you’re a dad.

Congratulations.

Yet, as the euphoria fades and the reality of day to day life with children settles, it’s likely that you’ve had some concerns about your body. Perhaps you’ve noticed that it’s changed a little of late? Maybe you’re not the athlete you once were? Have you discovered hair in places you never dreamed of?

Don’t worry, it’s all perfectly normal.

Like a fat caterpillar transitioning into a glorious flamboyant butterfly, your pre-children physique has transformed into something completely different:

The Dad Body!

Here’s your handy Out Of Depth Dad guide to the new body that you’re currently residing within.

1: Things change

Nothing (with the possible exception of any episode of ITV1’s Loose Women)  goes on forever. It’s the same with your body. You may have thought you’d be that Brad Pitt look-alike until your dying day, but sadly that’s not going to happen. In fact, if you take a long hard look in the mirror you’ll now see that you look more like Brad Pitt ON his dying day. Something has happened to your body – it’s wilted quicker than a bag of supermarket salad.

‘How did this happen?’ I hear you cry!

Simply put becoming a dad unlocks a special part of your brain that encourages you to let your body go to crap.

It’s a tale as old as time.

2: People see things differently. 

So how did you not notice the sudden arrival of The Dad Body? Frankly, you were too tired to even care. Looking after a baby is one long cycle of pooey nappies, feeds and secretly eating entire cans of Pringles in one sitting when you think nobody is looking. The strange thing is, Mother Nature (in her infinite wisdom) decided to put dads in denial about The Dad Body until it was far too late to do anything about it – anything easy, that didn’t require getting up from the sofa, at least!

So, for all those months you’ve been holding your kid and seeing yourself as an Athena model when you look in the mirror, you’ve actually been in denial about looking more like Eric Pickles’ kid brother.

Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Nature and the purveyors of a whole array of delicious salty snacks were scheming against you. What were you to do?

3: You can only suck your tummy in for so long…

At some point every recipient of The Dad Body must bite the bullet and embrace their new physique. You need to learn to love the new, more capacious, you. It’s hard to suck your tummy in, 24 hours a day, for months at a time. So the time finally comes when you must let your tummy out*.

Do it. You owe it to yourself.

*Be sure not to do this in a confined area – as people may be injured by the ricochet effect your newly unleashed gut has as it lurches for freedom.

4: Budgie Smugglers

Traditionally, new recipients of The Dad Body go through ‘Rites of Passage’. Once the dad gut is released, and you’re no longer able to see your toes, fathers the world over invest in one item of clothing – tiny swimming trunks.

We’re not entirely sure what attracts recent Dad Body converts to the tiniest shorts known to humanity. Some say that the part of the brain that traditionally guides taste and embarrassment is short-circuited when the male passes into The Dad Body phase. Whatever the truth is, it’s important that all dads find themselves a pair of budgie smugglers. Especially tiny pairs of trunks are available for especially chunky dads with nothing to write home about in the downstairs department. Perhaps consult your local friendly sports’ retailer to discover which set of trunks suits you least – then buy them.

5: The MAMIL

Of late, a second option, beyond the requisite budgie smugglers, has gone on offer for fully paid up members of The Dad Body club. Many dads are now turning to cycling* to show off their total lack of physique. These Middle Aged Men in Lycra can be spotted up and down the country – occasionally in possession of a bike. So if the Speedo is too much for you, why not consider shoe-horning yourself into a Spandex bodysuit that leaves literally nothing to the imagination. It’s the perfect way to embrace your Dad Body and embarrass the hell out of your kids.

*Note. Don’t worry, actually cycling is an optional extra. Most men in possession of The Dad Body merely put on the kit and drink lattes outside coffee shops.

6: Hair today

As you familiarize yourself with your newly acquired Dad Body, you’ll notice that you now have hair in places you didn’t expect. Hair shoulders, knuckles, ears, noses and ridiculous eyebrows are all part and parcel of entering The Dad Body state. There are two ways to go with these new forest like patches erupting from your body.

i) Most men pretend it’s not happening and focus on finding the perfect pair of swimming trunks.

ii) Some men turn to waxing. This painful method of hair removal requires entering (of all things to strike fear in a man’s heart) ‘A Salon’, where a overly-friendly lady, who believes there’s no such thing as ‘too much makeup’ will agonizingly rip the hair from your skin.

The back wax is most popular for owners of The Dad Body, yet other options are available. Why not consider ‘The Back, Sack and Crack’? I’m told it’s the closest thing to the pain of labour a man can go through – so it may bring you closer to your partner.

7: Exercise

Many will tell you that a thing called ‘Exercise’ is the best way for men to revert back to their pre-Dad Body state. These people are liars! ‘Exercise’ was invented in the 1970s by the government in an effort to thin down the number of people surviving to a pensionable age.

If you must exercise, make sure you get involved in an activity like Golf – essentially a walk and a chat with a particularly heavy bag. Squash is to be avoided at all costs. Any game named after a children’s drink is not a good idea.

8: The exceptions…

You’ll notice that there are a very few men, who don’t develop into The Dad Body stage on having children. Instead they maintain flat stomachs and have muscles. Don’t be confused, these exceptions are the weirdos – not you. These unnatural types inject themselves with unicorn placentas, commune with unholy spirits and do even weirder things like eat vegetables.

If you find yourself having a chat with an exception (he’ll be called ‘Brad’ or ‘Rob’) just nod and smile and get away from him as soon as you can. Be assured, they may have non-dad bodies, but they’re not happy.

***

So there’s my OODD guide to The Dad Body.

I’ll end with a reminder, next time you’re feeling bad about your dad physique remember a wise man once said:

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a man with a Dad Body to walk past McDonalds.”

Give yourself a break – you’re doing great!

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

Facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

@Outofdepth_dad

Mission Bloody Impossible!!

Life’s full of little surprises at the moment, like the one I just gave myself when I tried to open the cupboard under the sink.

“Wait a minute, I’ll just get the washing up li… OH SHIT!***”

Like some latter-day Samson (without comparable hair), I’d inadvertently ripped off the baby-proof lock I’d painstakingly spend hours putting on the cupboard door. The air was momentarily blue with my frustration.

***I debated for a while whether I should represent the word ‘shit’ as ‘sh*t’. It seemed, for a moment, like that might be the most genteel thing to do. Then I noticed the ‘Bloody’ in my title and thought sod it.

Back to the cupboard under the sink… I’d just spent the last few days baby proofing the house and, boy, was it an unpleasant task.

With the prospect of Sam getting to grips with crawling firmly on the horizon, the need to protect him from himself is at the forefront of our minds.

“Just buy a few of those magnetic lock things,” said the mate that I consulted over the issue. “They’re easy to fit.”

Easy?

EASY?

Compared to what? Nuclear Fusion? I have never, in my entire existence, found anything trickier to put together – they’re like doing a Rubik’s Cube in the dark.

At first I was all GCSE technical drawing, with my ruler and pencil, marking onto the door the point where the locks should go. I drew my guide lines and attached the lock, clip and closed the door. I then pulled on the handle and door opened freely. As if the lock wasn’t there.

In the next six hours (I’m not joking) I fitted 6 locks. Each started with the pencil and ruler, then they were ditched – I may or may not have taken the ruler snapped it in half and thrown it out of the kitchen window.

The method I found most successful was as follows:

Stick the lock on.

Close the door.

Open the door.

Swear.

Try and rip the lock off.

Fail.

Get a knife and lever the lock off.

Scratch myself with the knife.

Swear again.

Get the the lock off.

Re-stick the lock, a little left from where it was originally.

Close the door.

Open the door.

Swear – louder this time.

Try and pull the lock off.

Lever it off again.

Realize the glue isn’t very sticky on the lock anymore.

Try moving it right this time – almost close the door and squint through the gap.

Stick it down.

Close the door.

Open the door again – nothing.

Swear – very loudly this time.

Kick something.

Throw the lock in the bin.

Have a walk around the garden.

Retrieve the lock from the bin. 

You get the idea.

So when I’d finally got the locks to work – you can imagine how frustrating it was to accidentally pull it off again!

Now the locks are in place, I’m like a forgetful safe-cracker, with my little magnet, trying to remember where exactly the lock is on the other side of the door. It takes forever! Seriously, the makers should forget the whole ‘child safety’ element of the devices and sell them to dieters. You could starve to death as you slide the magnet around, waiting for the lock to click!

GOD! I HATE DIY! 

Still Sinking…

www.facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

@Outofdepth_dad

 

 

10 lessons I learned from Sam’s 1st birthday party…

“Let’s have a party!” I said, with an enthusiasm that I now understand was naive.

“Yes,” said Sam’s Mum, ” something small.”

I must admit I don’t like the word ‘small’. I’m a BIG person, with a BIG appetite and a BIG mouth.

“Not that small. We want a day to remember.” I insisted.

“Yes, a small day to remember.”

“We’ll figure out the details later,” I suggested.

Small details.”

That woman has more wisdom than a whole host of Solomons. We ended up with a small-ish party and it almost killed me. I swear that next year we’re just going to show Sam a photo of a birthday cake and that’ll be it…

Here’s the 10 lessons I learned from Sam’s 1st Birthday Party…

1:

The party is not for the child.

It’s for the adults who’ve survived a year with a child. Rather than being called a ‘Birthday Party’ it should be named a ‘365 days without accidentally damaging your baby party”. Sam had a great time at the do, there’s no doubt on that, but he had no idea what was going on and would, I’m sure, have been most surprised that the collected throng were assembled for him.

2:

There will always be too much food.

This is something I find very tricky, I want to be a good host – part of which includes ensuring that no guest leaves feeling hungry. That said, guessing the size of appetite possessed by a group of grannies, new mums and their tots is an almost impossible task. I totally miscalculated, leaving a table that looked like my local Iceland was suffering from a power cut and had cooked everything in their freezers. Let’s just say that many sausage rolls found their way to a bin that day – totally untouched. Their sacrifice will always be remembered.

3:

Any salad is too much salad. 

Sam’s mum and I looked at the assembled masses of beige food and realised we needed more salad. So bowls of leaves were bought, dressed and ignored. Nobody ever touches salad at a children’s party, but it HAS TO BE THERE – it’s the law! If I ever get on Dragons’ Den, my big idea will be inflatable bowls of salad, that are placed on trestle tables to provide colour, then deflated to be used again. Genius eh?

4:

People aren’t really up for alcohol at midday. 

By the time the party started, I was so stressed that I quite fancied a drink – whether the sun was over the yard arm or not! The difficulty is getting someone else to drink with you. Grannies are no help in this cause, or granddads for that matter (stern looks from their better halves ensure this), while other parents are reticent as a mid-afternoon hangover (while looking after a youngster) is no fun at all. In this situation I found myself necking champagne making loud comments about not remembering the last time I drank during the day – to avoid any rumours of a perennial G & T with This Morning each morning emerging*.

*Note, this is a bad idea **.

**Note, I tried it once, it did make the show a lot more palatable.

5:

Babies love boxes. 

The sad truth is that no matter how amazing the present is, the baby will always prefer the box it comes in.

ALWAYS.

You could unwrap a fully-automated life-sized model of Disney World and the baby will ignore it and make a bee-line for the box it came in – to be fair this would be a pretty impressive box! In this situation, as your child impassively tosses aside an impressive selection of carefully chosen gifts, it falls to the parents to make ‘oohs!’ and ‘ahhs!’ on their behalf. I’ve never been particularly good at conveying emotion – I’m convinced it’s something to do with my Wigan-based upbringing – so I often find any enthusiastic exclamations can sound like sarcasm. In order to combat this I lift the tone of my voice an octave, which (if I’m not careful) leads to my sounding like an overly enthusiastic Mickey Mouse-clone exclaiming how lovely a teddy is.

God, this parenting stuff isn’t easy.

6:

I am no longer a raconteur.

Before Samuel’s arrival, I laboured under the deluded belief that I was something of a gifted conversationalist. I put myself as somewhere between Clive James and Peter Ustinov as a witty chatterbox that might give Parky reason to resurrect his chat show just to hear my anecdotes. Of course this was complete fantasy, but I could at least tell a funny story – I thought.

At the party I realised that these days had gone. My conversation is now limited to Sam and sleep. I started chatting to a friend I haven’t seen in some months and within seconds I was recounting my son’s bowel movements.

“Yes, we had a rather IMPRESSIVE poo today. His mum and I were VERY pleased.”

To their credit, my friend nodded as enthusiastically as you can to a story of a baby’s motion. Within milliseconds the chat had moved onto that old fall-back, the weather. Stephen Fry needn’t worry, I won’t be taking his seat on the chat show circuit any day soon.

7:

Agree the baby’s name in advance. 

Before you break into a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday To You… announce to the crowd how the child’s name will be used. Sam’s full name is Samuel, a two syllable word, which fits in with the two syllable gap left in the fore-mentioned song. The shortened version ‘Sam’ is only one syllable and can lead to an awkward lengthening of the name to ‘Sa.. am” – which the pedant in me hates. We found a clash of ‘Samuel’s and ‘Sa… am’s during our birthday song which I’m sure Gareth Malone would’ve hated. Not that I’m a fan of Mr Malone’s work either, but that’s another story.

8:

Name badges are great. 

Remembering names can, at the best of times, be a struggle for us all. A kid’s birthday party can be particularly taxing in this department, where most people don’t know each other. We didn’t give out name badges, but I wish we had done. My mum famously would go through the name of each and every one of my cousins before she’d settle on my name when trying to attract my attention. We had a few similar incidents at the party, which I won’t go into a avoid any blushes.

9:

Have a post-party, party. 

Sam’s mum and I were so EXHAUSTED by the time the party and the accompanying festivities were done that we needed a holiday. That wasn’t on the offing, but we did treat ourselves to a bottle of prosecco, a takeaway and half a movie – a major party for us. As any parent knows, I say ‘half a movie’ because we never have the stamina to sit up through a whole film. Those days are well and truly gone.

10:

Sam’s 2nd birthday will be small affair – tiny. 

Next year Sam’s birthday will be on a completely different scale. I enjoyed the experience for his first outing, but from now on we’ll be going smaller. I just don’t have the energy for anything else. Seriously, a year is no where near long enough to recuperate.

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad.

Facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

@Outofdepth_dad

 

 

 

 

5 Things I Didn’t Expect From Fatherhood…

I’m the first to admit that I was quite naive going into this whole ‘parenting thing’.

I really was.

I genuinely thought my days would be just as they were before, with a few nappy changes and the occasional bottle feed.

How dumb was I?

The answer is pretty dumb – almost Donald Trump levels of stupidity.

Thankfully I’m a quick learner. I can now change nappies with my eyes closed – not to show off, I just find I have to look at much less poo that way. All in all, I genuinely feel like some days I’m getting into the swing of this whole parenting thing. Some days. That said, there are still somethings that I do, on a daily basis, that surprise me. Moments that are a little odd, that nobody warned me about.

Here are my 5 Things I Didn’t Expect From Fatherhood:

1: I pick my son’s nose most days. 

There, I said it.

Babies, all babies, are snotty creatures. Sometimes it feels like producing snot is their actual job. Sam, like so many of his peers, produces bogies at a prodigious rate. I mean, if snot were gold we’d be millionaires.

You know that feeling you get, the slightly awkward one, where you’re talking to someone and they (unknowingly) have a bogie hanging from their nose? You don’t mention it at first, not wanting to be rude, but then you reach a point when you can’t mention it – as it’s been too long. The snot draws you in like a tractor-beam; soon you’re not hearing what they’re saying, instead you’re looking at the unwanted appendage swinging in the breeze. Well that feeling drives me nuts, and Sam’s face seldom isn’t home to (at least) a bogie or two.

With small babies (whose noses are two small to pick) there are these little vacuum pumps that you insert into your young un’s nostril and squeeze – in an attempt to dislodge the accumulated goo.  These devices are about as useful as… as… something not very useful at all. There are other bits of kit that allow you to siphon snot from your kid’s nose by inserting a tube in there and sucking on the other end. I’m sorry, but that was never going to happen.

So you can imagine my glee when Sam’s nose became large enough to pick. God there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Anyway, in order to keep him – relatively – snot free a good nose-picking is what I give him. The joys of fatherhood.

2: Work is ‘time off’. 

I do childcare for Sam three working days a week – he’s in nursery for the rest. My days with him are glorious, but tiring.

Oh, so tiring.

Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning plates, running around trying to do ten things simultaneously: play games, wash bottles, find toys, prep lunch – growing ever more exhausted until the plates start dropping.  These days I drop so many (metaphorical) plates the (metaphorical) floor looks like it belongs in a (metaphorical) Greek restaurant.

So my days doing work, which used to be the low-point of my week (although they were the majority of it), now feel like a period of relaxation. All I need to do is sit down and get things done, with nobody to worry about but myself. They feel luxurious.

There’s an old cartoon Click here where we see a sheep dog and Wile E. Coyote spending the day protecting and hunting sheep (respectively) – the gag is that both see this activity merely as ‘work’. Handing over Sam at nursery feels like the moment here where they both punch out of work and calm descends. It’s a great feeling. That said, I do miss the little fella during the day.

3: I’ve become competitive.

I’ve become strangely competitive. Which is strange because (generally) I’m not a competitive person. Or perhaps I see the foolishness in misplaced universal competitiveness. I’m not one of those people who feels the need to compete at everything, from ten pin bowling to getting away first from traffic lights. Why waste energy on things that are: i. Unimportant. ii. Physically or mentally draining. iii. Likely to be done better than you by a host of people? I’ve always limited my competitiveness to one or two key areas where I know I have talent, leaving the rest to those who are easily distracted by shiny things.

I have, however, become very competitive on Sam’s behalf. On our daily activities together I find myself silently comparing Sam to the other babies we encounter – always announcing Sam as the victor. Which baby has a nicer laugh? Sam. Which baby has better hair? Sam. Which baby would be most at home rollerskating in an Evian commercial? Sam.

I’m sure this will only get worse at the years roll by. As long as I don’t turn into one of those screaming dads shouting encouragement (read ‘abuse’) at Saturday football (unlikely considering how much I detest the sport) I think this should be manageable.

4: I smell poo everywhere.

Poo is a big part of my life these days (not my own). Sam’s mum and I talk about little else:

“Did he poo this morning?”

“A little.”

“How little’s little?”

“Cadbury’s Creme Egg sized.”

“OK. What colour?”

“Brown.”

“Dark brown or sandy?”

You get the idea.

I’m constantly sniffing the air to see if a nappy needs changing or (God forbid) a leakage has occurred. They say that Queen think the world smells of fresh paint, which must be awful. Wet paint gives me a headache. For me, I’m sure the entire world smells of poo. Why? i. It does. ii. I’m concerned there is an (as yet unfound) poo stain on my person, from a particularly involved nappy change. iii. I have poo tinnitus.

I’m not sure if ‘poo tinnitus’ is a ‘thing’, but if it’s not it should be!

5: Socks will always be with me…

In Star Wars there’s a line ‘The force will be with you, always…’ Click here. Fatherhood has brought me a similar thing, but with socks. “Socks will be with you, always…” Socks to a just-about-one year old are the best thing in the world. They’re right there at the end of your leg, ready to be pulled off, laughed at, shook about and discarded.

My life seems to be one long succession of putting on and picking up socks. Every item of clothing I own has one of Sam’s socks in its pockets, rescued from the floor. Seriously, his socks are everywhere, in my shoes, in my kit bag, behind the TV… I even went through a phase of using them as impromptu book marks.

The only place I rarely find socks is on Sam’s feet. And if that doesn’t sound like something a dad would say, I don’t know what does!

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad 

@Outofdepth_dad

facebook.com/OutofDepthDad/

The Missing Piece of the Jigsaw…

It’s not an easy subject to talk about.

Trust me.

But that’s probably a very good reason for continuing…

Becoming a parent has been a life-changing experience. It’s changed the way I look at the world – and I’m talking about more than the blurred perspective of tiredness!

As a dad, I’m growing more fully aware of the role my own parents played in my development. There’s a dawning realization just how integral they were to making me… me.

Which brings me back to my main point, that missing piece of the jigsaw.

It’s been 18 years since my mother’s premature passing. She was only 45.

18 years, really?

Some days it feels like yesterday. If I choose to seek them out, I’d easily find the emotions attached to her death – the hurt, the pain – knowing they’re all still as fresh as if it were a recent event. Which is probably why this chapter of my life is often kept in a room that I keep locked – ‘Warning, do not enter, unhappy memories lie within’.

My mother died of cancer. A cruel and merciless disease. It tore a hole in my family 18 years ago, just as it continues to decimate the lives of people up and down the country every day.

The thing is, as a parent, I’m now necessarily pondering the ‘What ifs?’ of my life. Actually, that’s not true. I’m pondering one, major ‘What if?’.

It’s quite simple really.

“What if my mother had lived long enough to know my son?”

Part of me thinks that such a question should never be broached, it’s a cruel conundrum to burden myself with, as a useful answer can never, truly, be given. Even so, I think of her a lot at the moment.

I was (just) 20 when she died. Looking back on it all I can see that I was a kid, nothing more. So immature, so tied to the apron strings, so lacking in any meaningful life experience. My parents had managed to shield me from the worst of what life had to offer, which, I think, is a big part of your role, as a parent. This, however, had a unintended side effect. It made the savage, gut-wrenching, unfairness of her death all the more piquant.

I’m not going to go into details. It’s enough to say that the disease tried to rob her of her dignity. It failed, but that was only because of the sheer force of will she brought to the situation. 45 is no age at all.

As a father I’m now aware of wanting to have a positive and lasting effect on my son’s life. Something that lingers. None of us know what tomorrow brings, but thinking back to my mum makes me what to take a little more control of today. I’m sure that she had regrets. We all do. But the regret that my mum shared with me was, and is, an inspiration.

Speaking, just the two of us, during one of the precious moments that came between influxes of nurses, well-wishers and medication, my mum shared a thought.

“I wish,” she said, with a wistful smile. “I wish I’d roller-skated more often.”

The sheer whimsy of this statement, from a woman who was staring into the abyss, has stayed with me. I take her thought to mean that she wished she’d lived in the moment a little more, that she had taken more time to enjoy herself. Forgetting to have fun is a trap, even with her warning all those years ago, I frequently fall into myself.

So what do I take from all this? Where does it go? I’m not going to stop thinking about my mother, keeping her alive in the memory is a duty that I have been given. I also feel that it’s my duty to tell stories of her to my son. I catch glimpses of her in him every now and then, just moments that evaporate as soon as I’ve noticed them. There’s part of me that feels on some level, he’ll know the stories of his grandma already – passed down in his DNA.

What else?

Well it might not surprise you to hear that, as soon as he’s ready, Sam will be getting a pair of skates. I’m sure he’ll skate rings around his daddy, probably with the assistance of a set of celestial stabilizers.

 

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

@Outofdepth_dad

www.facebook.com/OutofDepthDad