Sunday, June 19, 2005

Three Cheers for Daddy

WHO WOULD have thought that just one Sunday could cost me so much? I am of course referring to the fun and games that is Father's Day.

Being a daughter, a daughter in law and the mother of a son who happens to have a father, granddad and grandpa and Godfather, this card buying business has turned into quite an expensive affair.
Six cards and a considerable dent in my meagre wages later, we're about ready for the big day to dawn upon us. All I have to do now is take the somewhat questionable risk of putting a biro in my 16 month old's hands and letting him try to "sign" the cards himself. (Chances are he will either try to eat the pen or draw on my walls).
Now I have to say that money aside, I'm all in favour of Father's Day. Of course, I tend to prefer Mother's Day these days, but it's nice to be forced by the card companies into actually saying a thank you to the men in our lives at least once a year.

I know for a fact that my wee man adores his daddy. It can gall me somewhat, after all I'm the one who endured the 26 hours of gruelling labour and the associated weeks of sitting uncomfortably while the stitches healed to give the wee man life; but given a choice between mammy and daddy, daddy wins hands down.
However having a somewhat limited vocabulary at the moment (basically 'Daddy' 'Noddy' 'Splish Splash' 'Nana' and 'swing swing') Joseph isn't generally able to tell his daddy thank you in uncertain terms. And as for me, I'm generally too caught up in what Joseph's daddy doesn't do to stop and say thank you myself.
You see my other half has surprised me with his approach to fatherhood. He is a man who in all his 32 years before becoming father refused steadfastly to even hold a baby let alone actually do anything to entertain or care for the wee mite.

In fact when close friends of ours became parents a week before my due date himself even refused to hold their newborn when we visited the hospital. He said at that time he didn't know how. The argument that a week before becoming a father yourself is as good a time as any to learn didn't wash with him.
So it was safe to say when he was finally handed his own bundle of joy his nerves were somewhat wrecked. He has since confided in me that those few seconds were the scariest of his life. (My heart bled, after what I'd just been through). While I'd had nine months of feeling kicks, feeling sick and growing to the size of a not-so-small African country to get used to the notion of impending motherhood, himself had adopted his usual tack of burying his head in the sand and pretending life would continue as was for as long as possible.

The gig was well and truly up though when our son was born. There was no escaping the emotional, financial, physical and mental impact of fatherhood. Himself was about to get a huge shock to the system; but he took it remarkably well.
While in the early days he paled at the notion of nappy changing and was over cautious when dressing all 6lb 9oz of our son, he soon found he had no problem with making up bottles, feeding, burping and generally looking on adoringly at his new family.

His one glitch on his road to parenthood was when he signed a card to our son from "Neil" and not from daddy. Even as I explained to him that there was a slight problem with the card it took a few minutes for the penny to drop before he looked at me with a mixture of pure joy and pure terror that he was now, officially, a parent.

In the months that have followed he has excelled himself in certain parenting skills. While I have a pathological fear of throwing the wee man into the air and catching him again to squeals of delight, himself has no such qualms.
Being an early bird, he's not the worst at letting me have an extra hour or two in bed at the weekend and he is now adept at getting the wee man fed, dressed (not necessarily in combination the average sane woman would choose, admittedly) and out the door while I get to be all girly and put my make up on.
Now I'm not saying he is perfect. Where he has improved in parenting skills he has definitely nose-dived in general helping around the house skills. While I can rest assured Joseph can be dressed before we head out the door I can quite often discover some encrusted Weetabix under his chin or that he is wearing odd socks just as I'm bumping into someone I want to show my baby off to.

But odd socks are something we can all live with if, at the end of the day, the wee man is happy and secure. My own daddy was famous for his quirky ways when we were wee. From his attempts to cut our hair, to dressing us when mammy was in hospital to preparing his own weird and wonderful versions of a Sunday dinner. It wasn't always conventional and from talks with my beloved mammy, Daddy's attempts at helping out around the house when we were wee was not exactly breath taking- but we were happy, secure and loved.

So for one day I'm going to put aside my gripes and complaints about what doesn't get done and think about the bigger picture. Dishes will always need doing, floors will always need mopping; but babies don't stay babies forever. So to my other half, and my own dearest daddy- for today do what you do best and continue to make your children smile!

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