I have no problem with being both breadwinner and parent, as long as I'm not expected to excel at either. But over the past few weeks, since the new baby was born, I have been forced out of parenting's shallow end. As acting vice-parent in charge of mornings, I am currently experiencing an entire working day before 10am, as I dress, feed and water a four-year-old and a one-year-old, before bundling them into the car for the trip to the four-year-old's nursery school. Dressing a one-year-old, as any Superdad will know, is like catching a greased pig, and then shoving it into a tiny Gap ensemble. Then, as we head for the door, my wife strokes his hair and says, "Why is he dressed as a refugee?"
Everything becomes clear at school. All the other children and parents are neatly dressed in a smart-casual fashion, while our little trio looks ready for a spot of begging outside Burger King. I am unshaven, wearing my emergency glasses and the T-shirt I slept in. Both my children are spattered with breakfast. I catch sight of my reflection in the car windscreen, and I notice that my hair looks like a bonsai elm. Most of the other parents are mothers, but there are some men there too, clean- shaven, smiling and ready for work. I suspect them of being Superdads. I avoid eye contact.
At the end of the second week, I decided to pull myself together. I wouldn't say that I'm coping exactly, but I've started to shave and clean my teeth in the mornings and a couple of times I got it together to put my contact lenses in. The children, too, are looking slightly more kempt. Although it's 30 years too late for my own teachers to appreciate it, I have finally begun to come out of my shell at school. If only Miss Sherman could see me now. I could even imagine becoming a Superdad one day, provided there was some sort of tax incentive.
I'm not entirely sure my wife wants to me to forsake the shallow end of parenting permanently. I think that, given the choice, she'd rather see me leave the shallow end of breadwinning. In the end she is simply better at parenting than I am, and the children, God bless them, have to come first.
By way of closing this week, I would like to send a personal message to my wife: TODAY IS FATHER'S DAY. That's right, today. You've forgotten, haven't you? I knew it. This is the thanks I get.Reuse content