It’s said that London is a 24 hour city… and I suppose that’s probably true, if by 24 hour city you mean you can buy reheated, fried chicken in a dodgy kebab shop at four am or wander bleeding into the ER of University College London. On the whole the wee, small hours can be a quiet and isolating time – even in a city of eight million people.

They’re time for contemplation and introspection and it’s in these very hours that I find myself at this exact moment, having just fed my son and finally rocked him to sleep as Becky sleeps peacefully in the bedroom upstairs.

My house is at the top of a hill and the bay window of the living room looks out across the city, which at this hour is wonderfully still and peaceful. I stood here earlier feeding Noah, taking in the scene, marvelling at the amount of life, listening to the birds – who now seem to sing all night long.

In the distance to the left I can see the golden arches of McDonalds lighting up the horizon like a false dawn. To the right my gaze follows the road down the hill, out across the roof tops to the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral some five miles away.

“What do you dream of, Noah?” I asked my son as I looked down at him filled with love.

With large questioning eyes my son stared back at me, grimaced, farted loudly and promptly filled his nappy.

soulrepair

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9.30pm – Am lying on the sofa doing the cute act. Booby lady is in the bath, Dad Guy is on his laptop beside me but keeps checking me out like I am some sort of shoplifter. What is this place coming to?!

10.30pm – Bored of the cute act. Need to get Booby Lady out of the bath. BOOBY LADY! BOOBY LADY! Need Fed! Am Bloody Starving! Starving I tell you! Are you guys blind? I’ve not fed in minutes!

11.15pm – Enough already of this Booby Lady! Dad Guy! Front and centre, one pace forward – top up now! Give me the bottle… maybe just a little, tiny top up, maybe just a soupcon, a hint, a pinch, a speck, a touch… SOD IT, I WANT IT ALL! I’M STARVING! STARVING! SHEESH, THE SERVICE IN THIS PLACE IS APPALLING! THIS IS ABUSE! I’VE NOT EATEN IN SECONDS!

12.30am – Bored… again.Will amuse myself by whinging, crying and then randomly pretending to choke just to watch the Booby Lady jump.

0130am – Oh this is all too rubbish, I’m off to sleep.

0226am – BOOBY LADY, BOOBY LADY, STARVING! STARVING!….Not you Dad Guy! Get your hands off me. You have nothing I need. Get the Booby Lady over here now or there’s going to be Flippin’ trouble!

0330am – Ok Dad Guy, your turn. I’ll have what you’re offering now – just don’t get any funny ideas and no sudden moves. Don’t even think about trying to put me in that Moses basket or the Booby Lady gets it next time I’m on the nipple… munch, munch, you hear what I’m saying?

0400am – Might just have a little… Zzzzzzzzzzz….

0630am – Gawd! What’s that hellish buzzing noise coming from the time machine… Turn it off! TURN-IT-OFF! Can’t a guy get some sleep around here… Is it really to much to ask? Jeez, look at the state of Booby Lady and Dad Guy, they look exhausted. They really need to take more care of themselves….

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity," Nah, that's just rubbish!

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity," Nah, that's just rubbish!

1/ Screaming loudly until your mother gets her boobs out in public.

2/ Lying on your back butt naked spraying a golden arc of urine into the air.

3/ Being congratulated for filling your pants.

4/ Sleeping for 18 out of 24 hours. (not even students do this)

5/ Bursting into tears when someone takes your food away even for a second.

6/ Being told you are a good for burping loudly into someones face.

7/ Being lifted aloft and have an adult sniff your bottom for poo.

Any more suggestions are most gratefully received… the wittiest will receive a chorus of ‘who’s a clever boy / girl then’ from all readers of this blog….

If this makes you at all excited seek help immediately!

If this makes you at all excited seek help immediately!

When people find out that you are about to have a baby it’s like suddenly they have the God given write to bestow upon you over 1600 pieces of information – 1597 of which will all be useless and, more likely, confusing – ‘What? You are saying never feed him peas on the first Tuesday of any month with a Y in it? Er, okay…’

The most common and bleedingly obvious thing they will say is…’Ooh, you’re going to be tired!’ However, what no one really explained to me is that after 20 hours of labour and everything else that goes into giving birth you start out on this voyage of discovery absolutely done in…. and THEN you get more tired!

Four weeks into fatherhood I have hit a wall. I am tired. I am beyond tired. I regularly feel myself staring off into the distance, all conversation gone, the world around me a blur and elevator music playing in my head. I can no longer answer any of Becky’s questions without first repeating them – it’s like once is just not enough for my frazzled brain to take any requests in.

I keep waiting and hoping that people are about to say, “Four weeks? Ah, you’ve hit what us parents call The Four Week Wall. Well done! Welcome to The Club, from here on in it all gets really really easy! They sleep through the night, they change their own nappies, they will even nip down the shops at the weekend to get you the Sunday papers… Relax, the hard bit is over! From now on it’s Easy Street!”

I mentioned this to my friend Douglas who is a father of two. After about twenty minutes he stopped laughing and the colour in his face went (almost) back to normal. “Four weeks!? Four weeks? Oh no, my deluded friend,” he bellowed. “It’s just a little longer… it’s the first ten years that are the worst.”

A GALLERY OF TIRED DADS

tired-dad-one1tired-dad-two1tired-dad-31tired-dad-fourtired-dad-6tired-dad-5

Full House!

April 25, 2009

Becky’s brother Arthur came to visit yesterday and brought his three children, making a total of four children in our small house. It was total and utter chaos and the best contraceptive I have ever experienced.

Arthur has the stamina of seven tri-athletes.Three children under five? The man is either a saint or a nutcase.

The youngest child pulled my curtains down and head butted the patio doors while the middle child ran interference for the eldest by screaming indiscriminantly, during which the eldest emptied every pan, bowl and container from the lower kitchen cupboards on to the floor. Arthur took it all in his stride, as is his way – pragmatic and calm. This is not my way… my way is more neurotic and dramatic. I reacted accordingly.

Next up Ellie (4 in June) decided it was time to go for a poo. “Fine!” I said, “You crack on, I will be right outside.”

“No, Uncle Marcus, you need to stay here to make sure I wipe my bottom properly,” she said, looking up at me angelically as my stomach lurched and I tried my hardest to act like the uncle and father that I should be by now.

Eventually the chaos subsided to about nine on the Richter scale and we sat down to some macaroni cheese. This is when Daisy started stabbing my antique dining table hard and repeatedly with her fork and I fetched a can of lager from the fridge and downed it in three gulps.

“I don’t know how you do it,” I said to Arthur.

“I used to be like you,” he said wistfully, looking into his half pint of beer. “Then you make a decision… either you let go of your furniture… or you let go of your sanity.”

“I’ll get the beers in,” I said heading for the fridge.

...change the nappy, hold the baby, don't drink that, come here, pick that up, put that down...

...change the nappy, hold the baby, don't drink that, come here, pick that up, put that down...

I like to think of myself as a relatively interesting person. I am not awful at telling jokes, I am not terrible at small talk and as far as I am aware, on the rare occasion that Becky and I go to a party, people do not go out their way to avoid me.

A few times in my life people have even prevailed upon me to tell a certain story or recount a vaguely amusing experience… but not anymore. Having a child has made me boring, not just a little boring – phenomenally boring, ear bleedingly blank, indifferent, monotonous, spiritless, unexciting, vacuous, dull, dull, dull!

Now let me stop you right there before you jump to any conclusions. Childbirth is far from dull. My son is a phenomenally exciting and charming fellow and every day is a voyage of learning and discovery… but somehow, inexplicably, all this excitement has made me as boring as a night in watching ‘The English Patient’ with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Allow me to illustrate the point. The last three conversations that Becky and I have had went like this:

Conversation One –

Me: We need to buy furniture polish.

Her: Yes we do.

Conversation Two –

Me: Mmmm… nice pasta.

Her: Thanks.

Conversation Three –

Me: Shall we go to the supermarket later?

Her: Which one? The one just down the road?

Me: No, lets go to the one in town. The one down the road is too small. The one in town is a better size.

What’s going on? Here we are, two intelligent, cosmopolitan, relatively well read adults discussing the pros and cons of supermarket size! There was a time not so long ago I was knee deep in models and M and M’s* (*This is a complete lie made up to make myself look more windswept and interesting.) And now I am reduced to discussing the square metre merits of one branch of Tesco over another. Having a child makes you practical, and as much as it pains me to say it, practical is boring!

So, we drove the family car to the slightly larger supermarket in town where we mainly bought peppered mackerel and toilet rolls. However, I would like to vehemently stress that there is far more to me and my life than just eating fish and pooing.

How to avoid me is discussed on Page 67.

How to avoid me is discussed on Page 67.


And in other news, the price of Booby Juice goes up!

And in other news, the price of Booby Juice goes up!

The “Big Question” on most ‘New Dad’s’ minds is ‘when can you first go down the pub with your newborn?’ More accurately, the question more likely is, ‘ when can you get away with going down the pub with your newborn?’

Does it look reprehensible to be sitting in a pub garden sipping a pint of Amber Nectar and reading the paper while your child sleeps on blissfully unaware? God only knows after three weeks of fatherhood I need a pint more than I ever have in my whole life!

Any fellow Dads reading this probably think this is one of the best ideas they have ever heard of – a cold pint, a watch of Sky Sports News and all the while giving poor Mum a much earned break – a perfect combo!

Any Mums reading this may think it’s the thin end of the wedge… and they may be right. There’s a small part of me that knows it’s simply a matter of time before the only thing keeping me upright is the handle of the pram as I weave home after seven pints, oblivious to the fact I have left my son on the changing table in the disabled toilet!

Take the baby down the pub? Yes we can!

Take the baby down the pub? Yes we can!

We all want our sons and daughters to grow up strong and healthy. Many of us want them to be athletic and sporty and nearly all Dads dream of their son’s representing their country at football or rugby.

Unfortunately, I am at an immediate disadvantage with my son being from Scottish working class stock and bordering on Ginger. “Strawberry Blonde!” His Mum cries every time the subject comes up.

Being Scottish is a double edged sword. He is unlikely ever to play in a World Cup final (no matter what other Scottish football fans will tell you), but unlike an Italian or Brazilian baby he does have a fair chance of playing for his national team. Realistically, you just have to make sure you stay out of jail and watch how many pies you eat to have a shot at getting in the Scotland squad.

He will never be posh enough to play tennis for Britain. It’s a little known fact that Andrew Murray is Scotland’s only official posh person. And I am not a mean enough father to drive him forward like Venus and Sabatini Williams – or whetever they are called!

I have a dream that he may be a wonderful skier, but then the French have this area pretty much sewn up. Every year in the French Alps I watch the tiny French children, barely a foot tall caterpillaring down the piste all attached to each other. Some are so young they are attached to each other by their umbilical cords!

So, will it be football, rugby, athletics or tennis? I feel all this procrastinating has probably cost me dearly. It may already be too late for my son to truly bask in the light of an Olympic torch. I did not start him early enough on the road to stardom and the big bucks. I have blown it, at three weeks and three days old it would be like trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

It may be too late for this kind of success for my son!

It may be too late for this kind of success for my son!

“I’m starting to get really fed up with all this rubbish that we now have to be super indestructible Mums,”said Becky last night, tossing the magazine she was reading on to the coffee table.

“Hmm?” I replied, almost tipping the wee man completely upside down in a vain attempt to wind him.

“All this… stuff I keep reading about these bloody Yummy Mummys that give birth and then forty minutes later they’re back in their size ten jeans and back at work, hanging out with that French politician woman who went back to work after 5 days, while teaching their children Sudoku!”

“I wouldn’t give it a second thought Babe, it’s all nonsense!” I reassured her. “If we started to teach Noah Japanese while listening to Mozart and fed him only organically recycled Muesli bars, the only effect it would have on him is that he would probably end up in the Priory with a midlife crisis by the age of six.”

“My rational self knows that,” Becky said nodding, “but it doesn’t really help when even the pregnancy magazines are filled with pictures of models with perfectly symmetrical bumps. When these women get pregnant they start eating for one!

“Just ignore it,” I say, while considering holding the boy upside down by the ankles in order to get a any kind of small burping noise out of him.

“How come I never read about Jordan or Victoria Beckham talking about their hard boobs, their swollen ankles or vaginal grazing…. real childbirth is just not showbiz enough! I just want my pre-pregnancy body back.”

“Steve’s wife said that last week. He said to her, ‘your pre-pregnancy body? Why not try for a really good one!’

“Really,” said Becky raising one eyebrow. ” How did she react to that?”

“Oh, he’s still sleeping on the couch.”

Lisa Gherardini, mother of 5 and the original Yummy Mummy.

Lisa Gherardini, mother of 5 and the original Yummy Mummy.