Tuesday, January 29, 2013


If you follow me on Twitter you'll have heard me banging on and on about how tired I am today. Oh, lordy I'm tired. Tired as a very tired thing. Tired as a man who's only had a couple of hours sleep and now can't think well enough to come up with a decent analogy. Or simile. Or anything else.

I'm typing this on Word, and there's a big squiggly green line under pretty much that entire opening paragraph. Usually, I'd treat that squiggly line with utter contempt. Ha! Word. You think you know better than me? Piss off Word, piss off.  But today I'm tired, so I look at the green squiggly line and I believe it. That's how tired I am.

I'm this tired because my son decided last night that sleep was an optional activity. Usually amenable to a bit of shut eye, bed at seven, up at around half five. Usually one brief wake up sometime in the hours which are usually reserved for people who use Class A drugs to stay awake.

We're lucky. I know this. He's always been a pretty good sleeper. I like to think he got that from me.

Last night we got a taste of how different it could be.

Bed at seven. Up at eight. Inconsolable until well after midnight. Awake again less than twenty minutes later. It's all a bit hazy past there, but I reckon I can recall at least four separate periods of pacing his room, praying to a higher being I don't even believe in, willing him to let the sandman in to his tiny body.

But the point of all this is not just that he wouldn't sleep, or that I'm tired. We've all been there with babies, it's part and parcel. Everyone knows you trade in the right to sleep for as long as you want the moment that little genetic portmanteau of you and the baby's co-creator.

The point of this is that losing those precious hours of down time for your body makes you irritable. Maybe even angry.

Why, when all I'm trying to do is cuddle and comfort you, do you insist on bucking, writhing, kicking at my torso?

What do you want me to do?

What do you want me to not do?

Why can't you just give in, relax, drop off?

All these questions and more actually left my lips last night. In tones that were probably anything but soothing for the poor little mite. Not shouting. Tense. Bristling with barely restrained annoyance.

A baby which won't sleep puts you at war with yourself. All you want is to go to sleep yourself. Your body knows it's tired, even if the baby's doesn't.

In those moments, those minutes, those hours of wailing, sobbing, tears and tantrums there is an internal conflict being played out. I never, not even for the tiniest fraction of a moment, doubt my unconditional love for Cam, but I also know that if he had been anyone's baby but my own I would have shut the door to his room, stuffed cotton wool in my ears, and ignored him.

Those questions, uttered through gritted teeth, were the physical manifestation of a desire to give up. To find a way to get my own sleep. Of an underlying selfishness and weakness. A doubt in my ability to carry one caring.

But I did carry on. Of course I did. How could I not? I carried on. I rocked, I jogged, I wore an imperceptible groove into the carpet of his room as I trudged back and forth, up and down, bouncing, whispering, soothing, hoping, wishing. When I wasn't doing those things, my wife was. We both greeted today feeling leaden, achy and wretched.

Of course, I hope that tonight will see an improvement. But, if it doesn't, at least I can be almost certain it won't be worse, and now I know that I can cope, it should be easier, right?

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


A few years ago I was employed by one of the many subsidiary companies of one of the big banks. I was in the Small Change Team. Contrary to how that sounds, I didn't spend my days counting coppers, though it may have been more use if I had. Alas, no. The Small Change Team was supposed to implement process improvements and whatnot, to make the business more efficient and cost less to run.

Eventually, the powers that be decided that the best change they could make was to make eighteen of the twenty-two members of the Change Department redundant. Including me.

No worries, it was a terrible job, and I miss it not one iota.

But it did introduce me, formally, to people's perceptions of change, which is sort of interesting.

Change is inevitable. We all know that, no matter how much we may dislike it (and some people dislike it a lot), change will happen and we are largely powerless to do anything about it.

Next week will see a big change for me, my wife and my baby.

My baby, who is already over nine months old. How did that happen? I have a photo blu-tacked to the cupboard next to my desk at work. It's Cam, just hours after he was born, wrapped in hospital blankets, cradled in the bend of my arm, tiny and screaming. I am looking down at him and smiling. It's a dangerous photo to have in the office, because every time I look at it I remember the swell of emotion fuelling that smile on my face, and it makes my eyes well up with tears.

My life changed that day, and it has changed every day since.

But, next week is a biggy.

Mrs L returns to work, part time. I reduce my hours at work, meaning a day at home with Cam each week. Mrs L's parents will look after him for two full days each week. The final day of care will be taken care of by a local nursery.

For me, this is a positive change. I'm not a great fan of my job, but I am a great fan of spending time with my son.

For my wife, I suspect, it will be harder to get used to the idea. Maternity leave hasn't been the soft-focus, warm and fuzzy utopia she may have liked it to be, but she's happy and comfortable being at home now.

We are immensely lucky to have Cam's grandparents close at hand. He loves them and they love him. They will provide him with the same care and attention as we would. Plus, they're a whole lot cheaper than a nursery.

The most important person in all of this is the cheeky faced little boy who now welcomes me home from work every day with a beautiful chuckle and an excited wave. Somewhere in that little head he'll be processing the changes and deciding how to deal with them. Will he feel it's acceptable for both me and my wife to leave him with other people on a regular basis? Will he still feel as loved, as cherished, as central to everything that we think, feel and do?

Nine months old and he'll be going through his first big change (well, there was a pretty major one when he was born, but he seems to have coped alright with that), and we're the ones putting him through it.

I'm nervous. I think we all are. Next week feels important and exceptional. But, soon enough, it will just feel normal.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


If you have met me you will know that I’m not at all scary. I’m generally possessed of a fairly cheery disposition, I like a chat and a hug and a laugh. I dislike confrontation and being made to feel uncomfortable.

It takes a lot to make me genuinely angry, and when it does happen it is usually a fleeting moment of rage.

I’ve never been in a fight, which is perhaps fairly unusual for a man. I did, once, get sufficiently consumed by the red mist that my brain fired the following message to my left arm: “throw a punch at that guy”. That message was immediately followed by another: “oh fuckshitballs, what are you doing, no, abort! Abort!”

Momentum carried the punch into the cheek of the person who’d riled me, but without the force of anger behind it I suspect the recipient thought I had intended to give them a gentle caress, not a knockout blow.

Actually, I know he didn’t, because he spent the next ten minutes taking the piss out of me for having such a feeble punch. The fourteen year old me happily accepted that he was right.

To adopt a cliché, I’m definitely a lover not a fighter.

Recent events are making me think Cam has managed to inherit my sensitivity and general wussiness.

Cam has a friend (well, Mrs L and I have some friends, and they happen to have a baby). She is about six weeks younger than Cam. She is a fair bit smaller than Cam. She is a mild mannered and contented baby.

Every time Cam spends any time with her, he cries.

Proper crying too, not just a bit of gentle whimpering. Full on, bottom lip curled out, streams of tears, bawling.


Because she shouts at him.

When this little girl gets excited she shouts. To the adult observer, it is cute. It’s a small explosion of noise which she seems unable to suppress. A verbal expression of joy which bursts from her mouth without much warning. It’s actually really lovely.

But Cam doesn’t like it.

Which, considering he’s off to nursery in three weeks time, is giving us a bit of cause for concern. What if our beautiful baby boy isn’t cut out for the dog eat dog world of Happy Hours Nursery? Will I be coming home from work to collect a tiny human exhausted and dehydrated from ten hours of uncontrollable sobbing?

Or, perhaps, like a stint in the army, nursery will be like baby boot camp for the little mite? He’ll go in a meek, easily upset cuddlebug and come out a finely tuned killing machine little bit less tearful.

Either way, we’ll soon find out, because there’s no alternative available to us at the moment. I just hope the other babies at nursery are nice and quiet………