I got in yesterday evening from a conference for budding journalists, and found the house empty. Hearing the silence was blissful. I took my shoes and coat off, and went into the front room to lie on the sofa and close my eyes. My mind put my body on a sunny beach and I slowly exhaled.
About three and a half weeks had passed since child no.2 had arrived and, aside from increasingly prolonged visits to the toilet to play football on the Nintendo, this was the first waking moment on my own since his arrival. I’d managed four hours sleep the previous night, what with Bub refusing to sleep between 3.30 and 5am, and I’m sure I’d only managed an average of five hours on the nights in April as a whole. Having had my self imposed paternity leave (or was it imposed by my wife?) and returned to some kind of work, the absence of any regular and consistent dreamtime was beginning to show.
We’d been quite complacent in the nine months preceding Bub’s arrival, as our no.1, the beautiful Toots, had been – at least compared to our contemporaries – a zen-like child from birth to present. Bub also came into the world relatively easily, (although I have to confess that biology prevented me from doing any of the pushing, screaming or tearing), but I was quite unprepared for the recollection that newly born babies do very little besides screaming and limb-movement, pissing and farting (the latter with regular follow through). It doesn’t help that all of these activities are completely irrational. I was also unprepared for the increased levels of washing and ironing, for the heightened chaos in the house and for the higher demands made of the occasionally jealous older sister, who now shouts, kicks and runs around much more, like some spoiled princess.
And on my little desert island sofa, for that ten minutes or so that I had, I wished for some kind of order to return; for a routine to develop. Having been through this once before, I know I should neither wish my time away nor ignore my need to create a strong bond with my son as I have with my daughter, but God do I hope for some nice routine to shape up, so I can pick up the things again that I love to do, and I can give some proper time to my new business.
And before I have time to think again, or tell you more about that, the key is in the door, and my wife returns with Toots and Bub. “Why’s daddy in the front room?”.