There have been few defining moments in my life as a parent.
Many would-be parents look at their future as ‘Mum and Dad’ as an endless string of little events, making each day a new adventure and yah-dah-yah-dah-yah-dah…
I feel no guilt whatsoever in saying this: parenting is not an emotional roller coaster. It is a long, taxing road trip filled with noise, arguments and tears. It will take you much longer than you think to reach the end and (from what I’ve heard) you might well fall asleep at the wheel a couple of times in the process: so just be ready for that when it happens!
As a stay at home Dad, my role as a parent is quite similar to the role that my own Mother played whilst I was a child. I spend my days staying on top of cleaning duties, a task which is made easier with the kids out of the house and out from under my feet. Just like my Mum before me, I feel like I spend most of my time following a trail of mess around the house, whether it’s a visible mud track that’s been walked in by little boots or a scattered path of belongings that have somehow lost their way back to their rightful place.
After doing the stay-at-home-Dad-thing for the last 8 years, I’ve now reached a level of competence that is bordering on the robotic.
My Monday to Friday routine is a pin-point accurate ballet that covers every nook and cranny of the home. I’ve been adapting and refining this daily routine, which has become a sort of domestic Groundhog Day that I’ve been learning to improve at with each passing day, week, month and year.
There’s more to house-keeping than just keeping the house clean and the development of technology has certainly put me ahead of my old Mum in terms of efficiency. Once a week I order in a food delivery that brings all our groceries to the front door, the kids’ washing is all done in the space of a day and that only leaves the school-run itself to sort out which is the only point in my day that is out of my control.
When I was my boys’ age I’d walk the 3 miles into school every day. My Mum would pack me off with a sandwich and an apple, then I’d merrily traipse my away along busy main roads to school: simpler times indeed. My boys know how to cross roads, but there’s no way I’d let them cover the same distance by themselves.
Each and every morning I bundle by kids into the car. Like a couple of world-weary GIs with one too many battles on their consciences, they usually spend the 20 minute journey in brooding silence. We don’t play the radio in the car, so the hum of engines is only punctuated by the half-muttered expletives that escape my mouth which are usually followed by the stifled titters of the boys in the back.