For years I’ve wanted a child. It took over 5 years and a lot of struggles and heartache to make our daughter. But on Saturday when wifey announced that she was going to a day spa and “don’t you remember you agreed to look after baby for the day”, my first reaction was fear, closely followed by horror. Wifey told me weeks ago. I vaguely remember her saying she wanted a day off but I was watching football at the time and didn’t pay full attention. She is a cunning one wifey. She used to make her controversial proposals just after sex, when lying in bed with my soppy grin and serotonin flooding my body I’d happily agree to anything. But we rarely have sex now, so football is the new post-coital.
It’s not that I don’t love my daughter it’s just that as millions of mums and dads will testify to, they are bloody exhausting. I function best as a daddy when I can give her a short period of fun attention. Read her a book, jump on the bed together, dance to a rave tune. Babysitting all day is a different matter. It’s also a totally inappropriate term when there is no sitting involved. More like, baby sit down-get up -run around-sit down-get up-try and read the paper-get up. As she left there was another wifey curve ball – “remember we are potty training so no nappies, just watch her and when she looks like she is doing a poo or a wee move her to the potty.” Great. I can’t even watch the telly now.
As baby plays with her tea set I watch her like a hawk and look for the signs. But I can’t see any. So after ten minutes I elect to sit her on the potty. She sits there reading her book. Quite content. She’s obviously been observing daddy’s toilet time. After 5 or so minute she gets up. I look inside the potty. Nothing.
5 minutes later she has shat all over the carpet. She looks at me.I look at her.
“Uh oh’ she says.
It’s the first of many accidents. Between potty time we watch animated penguins dance for over an hour on You Tube. We go to the park and go up and own the slide over 20 times in a row. We read the same nursery rhymes dozens of times. We jump on the bed. I bath baby, feed her and she is sick. (On reflection, jumping on the bed after breakfast was not the smartest move.) She also pees in the kitchen, and the lounge twice. All before 10.30 am.
By the time wifey arrives back home at 8 that night glowing from her facial and all day pampering I am a broken man. But overjoyed. “She peed in the potty. She peed in the potty. It was only a little one. But she peed in the potty” I excitedly tell wifey, slightly delirious. I choose not to mention the 9 times she didn’t.
I love football because in a game of football you have high drama, periods of boredom, tears, joy, elation, disappointment, frustration, excitement, all packed into 90 minutes. Child care is similar. Except it’s like watching or playing 10 games of football back to back.
Respect to all mothers of the world and all stay at home dads. I salute you.