Sunday, March 2, 2014


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favourite things

Well, not mine. Maria von Trapp’s. They don’t really sound all that great to me, but then I have the advantage of not living in a country which has been invaded by Nazis. I suppose most things which aren’t wearing a swastika seem pretty awesome in those circumstances. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that favourite things are very personal.

If Cam had written that song in the last week, it would have gone something like this:

Milk in a bottle and painting on easels
Watching cBeebies, being whiny and tearful
Throwing my Playdoh and having a paddy
Plenty of mummy but NO! NOT DADDY!
Those three little words are all I’m hearing from my son at the moment. If it’s me who goes into his room first thing in the morning: “No. Not daddy.” When I come into the house after work and say hello: “No. Not daddy.” When I try to read him his bedtime stories: “No. Not Daddy.” You get the idea. I’m definitely not on Cam’s favourite things list just now. I’m a little worried by the timing. Since starting my new job I’ve seen considerably less of Cam. I don’t have a day at home with him anymore, and my day finishes an hour later than in my previous job. I also have a longer commute. I am also, now, always the one who drops him off at childcare, but never the one who picks him up. Does that mean he’s learning to associate me with abandonment?

The whole thing’s a bit rubbish.

Cam’s always been very loving toward both me and his mum, and I’m an over sensitive bundle of emotions masquerading as an actual human man, so this development has given me a big old dose of feeling sad.

I shrugged it off for a while, after all, toddlers are adept at latching onto phrases and repeating them ad nauseum. Before “No. Not Daddy.” came on the scene he could regularly be heard saying “no grandma, not the knife!” Out of context, that’s quite an unfortunate choice.

But “No. Not Daddy.” is more than just words. It’s deliberately avoiding eye contact for prolonged periods of time. It’s making do-or-die lunges from my arms towards someone else.

So, what to do? I’m hoping it’s just a brief phase, that one day soon I will walk into a room and be greeted with a friendly hug, or at least a cheery hello. But in the meantime do I ignore what he says and continue trying to hug him, play with him, read to him? Or should I let him spend a few days with (even more) minimal daddy input? Let him work out, hopefully, that I’m actually quite nice and he should want me to be part of his day?

Answers on a postcard. Or, more usefully, in the comments below.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


When I was made redundant in October I said, on this very blog, that I thought I’d be okay and find another job reasonably quickly. Thankfully, I was right. I start that new job in four days, and I’m excited.

I won’t go into too much detail about it, but it’s the type of work I’ve always thought I ought to be doing, but never quite managed to get into before now. There’s a lot of optimism in my mind at the moment, which is especially amazing when the job I left had done a pretty good job of grinding all that out of me.

But. There’s always a but. It’s the law.

I’m going back to work full time. My previous job allowed me to reduce my hours so that I could share in the childcare duties with Mrs L when she finished her maternity leave. That meant spending a whole day each week with Cam. Just me and him, father and son time. I’ve had that privilege for almost exactly a year, and I have loved it.

As of next Thursday, he’ll have an extra day at nursery, and I will re-join the full time working parent population. I will see him briefly in the morning, briefly in the evening, and at weekends. I will, I think, be quite sad about missing the developments he makes, and the things we get to do, and all the hugs and affection.

I realise that the time I have been able to spend as a part-time SAHD marks me out as one of the lucky ones. Most men don’t seem to have the chance to spend time with their children as they’re growing up. It’s a massive shame. As far as I’m concerned, the more equally shared the parental responsibilities are the better it is for all parties. I’d love to think part time work will be an option for me again sometime in the future.

Still, mortgages need paying; it probably wouldn’t be much fun having lots of time with Cam if we didn’t have a house to spend it in.

I’m immensely grateful for the time I spent as a part-timer, and to any other dad reading this who is considering it as a possibility I say this: DO IT.