I didn’t want to turn this blog into a diary of a dad, because I planned that it was to be all about my writing. I’ve been told that blogs should focus on one topic – that’s how you’ll get followers to stick around. However, I’m not one-dimensional. This blog is really about me, and has always contained entries about the important things that have happened in my life. Oh, and football. So here’s the final part of the baby trilogy that so far seems to have amused a few of you out there…
I’m home from work. I’ve sent Shell upstairs to get some sleep. Amber is asleep in the car seat in the living room. The cat has been fed. All I need to do is hang up the washing, cook some pasta and then sit down and listen to a webinar on crowdfunding for books at 8pm. What could possibly be simpler?
As I start hanging up my socks on the airer in the kitchen, I hear Amber stirring. In the five seconds it takes me to reach her, she’s gearing up for the next level. I quickly get her out of the car seat and cuddle her. Eruption avoided. She even looks happy. However…holding her I can do nothing else. I could use the sling, but I haven’t tried that yet and have visions of cooking dinner and setting her bum alight with the stove. I know – her activity mat! I lay her down, pull the cord on the musical octopus (or is it a jellyfish? She may grow up quite confused), stay with her a few minutes and then go back in the kitchen.
I get everything out to make the pasta. When I say make, I mean undo the packet of fresh 3-minute pasta and take off the lid of the microwaveable sauce. I’m about to start boiling the water when I begin to feel guilty about not supervising Amber in the other room. Nah, nothing will happen to her. She’s on a soft play mat and cannot roll over yet. Still… I pop back and check. She’s fine. I go back to the kitchen and try to ignite one of the large gas hob rings. It sparks, it lights but then goes out. I try again, but to no avail. Time for the daddy centre ring then. Hang on – is that a murmur from Amber? I only checked on her twenty seconds ago but part of my brain has just given me the image of her choking on some object previously unseen by me. Or even worse – dribbling on the Sky remote control. No, she’s fine, surely. I light the gas and at the same time she starts to cry. Dammit. The instinctive part of me tells me to go to her, to comfort her, to stop her from reaching a level that would wake my wife who so dearly needs her sleep. I start walking to the living room. It was then that the non-baby part of my brain woke up to process the fact that whilst my current course of action was admirable, given that the gas was now on and unlit, the likely result of said action was the total destruction of everything around me, and that such an explosion might just ruin my number one objective and wake up Shell. Shit! What the hell am I thinking of? It was only one second but my mind obviously isn’t used to processing such primal thoughts with modern realities and always coming up with the best initial action. Gas off, I go to Amber.
Oh come on! I’m still bouncing Amber in my arms hoping she’ll go to sleep. The cat’s meowing, wanting attention. The pasta begs me to cook and eat it. My iPhone reminds me that the webinar is about to start. I begin to wish I was that octopus.
The pram! The pram can be my saviour. Why didn’t I consider that before? Let’s lie Amber in the pram and cook my pasta. She’s looking a little sleepy, but I’ve fallen for that before. The transition from sleepy baby in arms to wriggling screaming monster can occur from about 2mm from your current position. It’s a risk I’m willing to take…and she’s down! She looks a little miffed, but seems to be quiet. Time for the pasta.
Meow. Meow. Meeeeeeoooooowww! Oh good grief. Getting the pram meant releasing the cat upstairs, and now he’s doing a good impression of an alarm clock outside the bedroom door. Time to rescue him before he undoes all my work.
Pasta cooked. Sauce done and mixed in. I’m nearly there!
Ok, so the pasta’s still in the saucepan and could be staying there for some time – Amber’s now in full-on screaming mode.
Sleep! C’mon Amber. All I want is a few minutes. C’mon!
Amber’s in meltdown mode. We’re talking screeching until I’m convinced my ears are bleeding. I’m holding and rocking her in the kitchen but I may as well not be here for all the good it’s doing. Just stop! Please stop! What do you want? You can’t be hungry. You’re nappy’s fine. JUST STOP CRYING!!!
That’s it. I’ve had enough. All I bloody well wanted was to eat dinner and some time to myself. I’ve worked all day and looked forward to seeing my lovely daughter, not a crying machine with no off switch. I can’t stand the noise, can’t stand not being able to do anything to get even close to reducing it. Ammmmmmberrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Oh sod it. Shell can deal with it. Off you go upstairs. I’m sorry, but that’s it – I’ve simply had enough…
And then it hits me. An inner voice pipes up. All of this…it’s nothing. Nothing what my wife probably goes through twenty times a day. Nothing that men, women and probably even some older children go through around the world with babies. Every day. Are you really trying, Andy? I mean REALLY trying? Imagine if you had no other choice…what would you do? I bet Shell would have coped with this. Sure, there may have been tears, but she would have probably cooked dinner, worked out the finance for our new car and chosen Amber’s university whilst holding her. What have you got, Daddy?
Jees, way to go all new-age dad. Back in the day I wouldn’t even be in this situation. I’d be watching football or asleep or something while the mother dealt with it. But you’re right. I’m not trying my best. Maybe I can do this. Don’t be such a wuss and TRY. Time to up my game…
Deploy the shooshing and random white noise tune generator within you!
This baby is getting settled…
Oh yes. I’ve only gone and done it! She’s now miraculously asleep thanks to my daddy cuddling skills. I’ve got the moves like Jagger, I’ve got the moves like Jagger, I’ve got the moo-ooo-ooo-ooooooo…. anyway…
I then perform the task of putting her back into the pram with no less skill, patience and precision than a bomb disposal expert disarming a 10-megaton nuke. Everyone knows the tricky bit is the removal of your hand from behind the head once they’re down – slow and careful versus tablecloth whip action – but I manage it with barely a whimper.
I’m eating pasta with two hands! Ok, so not literally with two hands, but you know what I mean. I’m free. She’s quiet and actually looks like she’s gone to asleep. I’ve even started my webinar, seemingly just in time for the good bits. All is well. Peace reigns.
I have triumphed over adversity, and all it took was a bit of extra effort, a touch of luck and the best damn moves this side of Strictly.
So there you have it. A microcosm of life with a baby, played over many times in millions of homes throughout the world with far more challenging situations than the one described.
But as small as it seems, I’ll take this little victory for Team Dad.