It had to happen sooner or later.
Alright, it was only a day. Well half a day actually but who’s counting, the point is, I was suddenly alone. Alone and scared.
It might help if I give you a quick whistle stop tour of the last six years to bring you up to speed. My name is Ben Hull. I’m an Actor and Presenter, who spent their twenties in a U.K Soap Opera called ‘Hollyoaks’.
I met my wife, Anna, in a different Soap Opera (old habits etc.) called ‘Family Affairs’ and after no little wooing and greasing of palms, she finally agreed to marry me. Two years later we had our first daughter, Grace and two years after that, we had our second, Lana.
At time of writing, Lana is twelve weeks old and exclusively breast-fed. Grace is two and a bit and I was feeling every second of my thirty-nine years on the planet as I was literally pushed, clutching both girls, a list of instructions, and about six gallons of frozen breast milk out into the early morning sunlight.
Gripping tightly to our gleaming phil&teds Verve buggy, I felt like an explorer making my way out into the wilderness of lone parenting. One thing’s for certain, it was going to be new territory from here on in.
When it became apparent that the dreaded day was imminent, when my superhuman, apparently six armed wife, took a break from breast feeding one child, clothing another, cooking tea for all of us and repainting the house, and decided to go back to work, I naturally looked to the Net for help.
The Net is great, it’s marvelous in fact, but never look up a sick child’s symptoms online (a runny nose and dry cough will be diagnosed as anything from Swine Flu to The Black Death) and don’t bother looking up anything if you’re a Dad needing some manly advise- you won’t find anything.
I needn’t have worried though. My wife is a big fan of Gina Ford, (who, if you didn’t know is a childcare expert that believes in strict routine,) and I had a list of to-the-second instructions that would have made the plans for Desert Storm look slap dash. Whatever you think of Ms Ford, and loads of people simply don’t like her, for us, the routines work. We sleep at night, have two cracking kids by day, and everyone seems happy.
Nature however, is a fickle mistress. Just as she removes the painful memory of childbirth from the Mother, she seemingly obliterate all memory of how to cope with a baby at all from the Father and this was the cold fear I felt as I wheeled my children towards their first ‘Day out with Dad’.
Clutching my wife’s handwritten manoeuvres manual I repeated her last instruction ‘Just don’t break the routine, whatever you do. And phone me if you can’t cope.’ Can’t cope? As if! I’d done this before, right?
The problem is of course, that with two kids, things don’t always go so smoothly.
My eldest is full of fun and mischief, and demanded ‘Daddy’s phone’ literally seconds after I bribed her obedience with a mini milk ice cream. My youngest seemed to be relentlessly hungry. Or was she tired? Or maybe needed winding? Or was it, god forbid, her nappy? But it couldn’t be her nappy as I changed it thirty seconds ago! How was that possible? No, please don’t use the mini milk as a stylus! Why is she crying damnit?! Help Daddy please! Stick to the routine! Stick to the routine! Will everybody please stick to the routine! Make the call, admit defeat, give me ‘Daddy’s phone’ back NOW please! Is ‘Ice cream damage’ covered under my insurance? Is a ‘broken baby’ covered under my Insurance? Do I even have insurance?
The secret, it would appear, is not to panic.
Everything works out in the end, even if you do suffer irreparable mental trauma and a knackered phone in the process.
I got my girls home to their Mum. Had a little cry, drank a lot of wine and managed to do it all over again the next day. Only this time, it was a little easier.
The point of this blog is to make Dads out there feel like they’re not alone and also so we can help each other out. It’d be great to hear about your experiences and share them on this blog – feel free to comment below.
Remember men – Adapt and Survive.