Confession Time

There are an increasing number of stay-at-home & hands-on Dads – more power to them! There are many Dads of twins. And of course older Dads. But there can’t be too many who are all 3. That was one of the reasons I started this blog; in the hope that whatever experiences I had might be of interest to others: Dads, Mums, or those just looking.

How this all began.

It was supposed to be about me, me as a Dad, an unusual Dad, and how the experience affected and changed my life. I intended this to be a chronicle of an unusual parenting situation from an unusual perspective: my perspective, a bloke’s perspective. That’s actually what gave this blog its strange name. 1-DSCF3705

Best laid plans, and all that eh?

It turned out that it wasn’t about me – it never was, really – it was always about them: Jake and Ellie, my wonderful – now 8-year-old – twins.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I haven’t been too personal here over the years: not much writing about how I’ve been, how I feel, how all this has been affecting me, despite my blog’s stated aims.

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Another reason of course is that I am a bloke, and generally we blokes aren’t too good at that sort of thing: opening up about ‘feelings’, and ’emotions’ – or at least ones that don’t involve shouting at a bunch of other blokes as they run around after variously shaped balls.  In that way at least I’m what you could describe as a ‘typical bloke’.

And I haven’t posted much here, for a few years now; certainly nowhere near as much as I used to. In this blog’s heyday I was posting daily.  A lot of that of course is just due to the twins just growing up. They’re 8 and in school, and are very active in out of school groups and activities: I just don’t see them as much or spend as much time with them as I used to, so there’s just less to write about.

DSCF5334There’s another reason however that I don’t spend as much time with them as I used to, and as much as I’d like to. I’ve alluded to it here a few times but have never written explicitly about it. I’ve always meant to, but there never seemed to be a ‘right time’ for it. There probably never is. Also I’ve always tried to be positive here, and present my experience of parenthood as a positive one, which it largely has been, and this particular aspect hasn’t been positive. In fact it’s been bloody difficult.

“C’mon, spill it man: out with it then!”. Alright; OK then! That sergeant-major is still in my head it seems: more about that another time maybe…

OK, so (deep breath): we’re separated, my wife and I. Have been for over 4 years now,  since Christmas 2013, about a year & a half after we moved here to Wales, soon after the twins started school, just as we were all set to move into the new family home – which I’d selected mainly as it’s almost literally over the fence from their school.

I’m not going to lie: it’s been, and is, difficult. Any readers of this blog will probably know that the twins were, and in many ways still are, my life. They’re the only thing in my life that has ever given it any meaning, really.

The reasons behind it? I’m not sure I will or even should go into that here. And that’s partly because I’m not really sure. I do know that statistically there is a higher than average divorce rate amongst parents of twins: it can be very stressful! “Double the trouble, double the fun.”

As for the future: who knows? We’re still officially married, and we even actually talk sometimes: amicably, mostly. We should probably do more of that sort of thing.

So, anyway, that’s my News. It’s out of the way, it’s off my chest. It’s not before time that I ‘came clean’ here; I probably should have a long time ago.

I’ve gone on long enough already; I’ll write more another time.

Thank you for reading, if you’ve stuck with me this far. More later 🙂

 

 

 

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More Words to Warm a Father’s Heart

It was Jake’s turn to say the magic words that can make this here Daddy very happy.

The Mummy had cooked dinner & I was in the kitchen clearing up, as is my wont.

She & Jake & Ellie were all in the lounge watching TV together.

Suddenly there was the sound of rapidly approaching quick little footsteps…

Then a little voice, shouting

Wait for it…

“DADDY, COME AND WATCH FOOTBALL WITH US!!”

Yes, they were all watching football. Without me.

And they wanted me to watch it with them!

I was sorely tempted, and as much as I would have loved to accept the gracious invitation as a dutiful Daddy I carried on clearing up after dinner.

I did though get in to the lounge as soon as I could!

To find that they were all now watching Sooty. Apparently the match was very dull.

And anyway my first (sporting) love has always been rugby: I hope to introduce Jake & Ellie to its joys as soon as I can!

So, “Izzy Wizzy let’s get busy!”

 

For more posts like this just click the pic:

Wot So Funee?
Like this? Read this! Words to Warm a Father’s Heart

How to Get Through a Car Breakdown With Young Children

I’m speaking from experience here! I had the great misfortune of breaking down 3x in 2 weeks at Christmas, each time having to be rescued by the AA.

The 3rd time was the most concerning as I had Jake & Ellie with me. We were heading off to soft play in the Astra, & it just didn’t feel right: its usual acceleration just wasn’t there. It felt suspiciously like the little car did before its clutch failed (breakdown #1). Unfortunately I was right.

They’d fallen asleep anyway, & I decided to turn around & go back home. There was a hill though;  a long one. Try as we might the car just wouldn’t make it! The best I could do was to stop on the hard shoulder of a dual carriageway, just past the slip road. Hazard lights on, of course.

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Well, I guess it depends what’s in it…

At 3 3/4 Jake & Ellie are already at a point, & have been for some time, where – despite my best efforts – it’s become increasingly difficult to ensure that they eat well & that they avoid too much ‘junk food’.

We were having a little chat about this, as we parents sometimes do: you know, to help them along life’s little highway. Which at the moment often seems paved with chocolate, crisps, sugar & E numbers.

I’m sure you know the drill: we were trying really hard to distinguish between healthy ‘food’ that’s good for you (“Like Sports Candy!”; “Yes, that’s right, Ellie”, breathing a silent prayer to Sportacus & co.), & snacks that might taste good but can be bad for you, aka ‘treats’. 

They seemed to understand.

Then Ellie had a question:
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Tired, scared, sore, smelly & frozen!

I’ve had an eventful December, especially the last couple of weeks! I’m just now finding the time to write about it.

In less than 2 weeks  I’ve been in 3 car breakdowns, having to be towed each time. The last one  – Saturday – was on the hard shoulder of a busy dual carriageway just ahead of a slip road, in the dark & the cold.

With Jake & Ellie.
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It will be Christmas soon…

Christmas in the post-War United States

Photo credit: Wikipedia

It will soon be Christmas!

You may have noticed.

As I think so many of us are, I’m very mixed about Christmas.

There are things I love – especially since becoming a Dad – but there are also

Things I Hate: 
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Why we’re not eating at the table much at the moment

1-DSC00454-001 Have I mentioned that our house is too small? Also, it’s possible that I may be a little disorganised, sometimes.

Although, to be fair, the ‘Bella’ magazine isn’t mine. Nor are the drawings, the clock puzzle & the pot of hairslides. And I don’t even know what that other pot is doing there: it’s empty. And the toy xylophone: also not mine. Although I do play it; quite well, actually.

We hope to be moving soon…

Memories

When I’ve spent time at the old house* I usually come back in a somewhat reflective frame of mind.

Take this picture, for instance, which I posted back in June & meant to explain but never did:

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I was working really hard: clearing, cleaning, supervising tradesmen, sorting, throwing out rubbish, organising storage & removals, trying to get leaking roofs fixed or replaced in torrential rain, sanding & revarnishing the 100-year-old wooden floorboards: that was a nightmare! I was desperately trying to get the place ready to go onto the market as soon as possible. I needn’t have bothered, as it turned out: despite dropping the price a lot – too much, I think – we still haven’t sold it.

One of the jobs then was cleaning the chalk off the back wall. This wall. It was some of Jake’s & Ellie’s first attempts at art, at making shapes. It will eventually lead to writing, drawing, who knows what else.

To wipe it all off, to erase it from existence, to remove their precious scribblings: it  just seemed wrong. I really didn’t want to do it. But I had to.

1-DSC00326Everywhere I go there I see memories. The big garden I loved so much: we had so much fun there, especially in their second year when they were more mobile & playful & I was their main carer. They loved messing about with sand & water with the play-tables, & playing with the hose. Jake never ceased to amaze me with his ability to find & pick the ripest & juiciest blackberries from the vines which were threatening to dominate all else there. Sometimes we’d just sit on the seats & watch our world go by. Other times we’d climb around & explore, & be fascinated by the insects, birds & frogs we might find. We weaned them in that garden, & would eat outside as much we could in the warmer months. In the house there are toys still there that we haven’t had room for in our little, supposedly temporary house.

1-DSC00325So many memories! They’ll never leave us, of course, but the house feels empty; just memories there now. I feel like it should be full of the sounds of laughing, running children – but it’s still, & quiet. Too quiet.

And it got me thinking : some of the most precious moments that we as parents will carry with us will be from these times: when our young loved ones were 2 or younger.

The age up until which we human beings are meant to have little or no memory of anything that happens to us.

So things that we’ll carry with us & that will be some of our most treasured memories will be things they’ll know nothing about?

I can already see myself reminiscing with Jake the teenager about the blackberries, & getting: “Oh Dad, stop being so soppy!”, before he runs off to his room to play some very loud music. Via his Ninsamyo Holodeck, probably.

Just one more of parenting’s, & life’s, ironies I guess.

I wonder what else this Daddying lark has lined up for me?

Now, if I could just remember where I put my keys…

* A year ago we reluctantly moved from our home in the Midlands to Wales because of work. We had a little place there which we had been renting out, & the plan was to move in there for a few weeks while we sold the old place, then buy a new family home in Wales. But we haven’t been able to sell & we’re still living in a house which just isn’t big enough for 2 adults & active twin toddlers. So we’re stuck. But we do have a Plan B.

Toy Story

Ellie has a bad habit of tipping the contents of toy boxes on the floor then walking away without having played with the toys much, if at all. It’s a particular problem here as we have so little space. If we let stuff pile up we’ll start tripping over it. Then, as the teddies & toy trains pile higher & higher, we’ll end up not being able to move & will find ourselves walled up inside. Again.

We’ve been trying to get her to tidy up afterwards, to put the toys back in the box. She’s nearly 3 so she should be able to do that now, right?

We haven’t had much success.

“Ellie, will you pick the <play> food up please?”

“No”

She’s a good girl – as she’ll tell you herself – but, like any 2-year-old, she has her moments

“Ellie, please pick the food up”

“No. I don’t want to!”

“Ellie, you tipped it on the floor; you should put it back”

Appealing to logic to a 2-year-old. Yeah, that’s going to work…

“No. You do it!”

Then she goes upstairs to get ready for bed with Jake & the Mummy, while I clear up after dinner. And tidy up Ellie’s toys.

But no more! We’ve decided to get stroppy!

So next time we added:

“Ellie, if you don’t clear up your food we’re going to take it away”

“No!”

“Ellie, Daddy will take it away” (Daddy shoots the Mummy a look that says: “Thanks!” Sarcastically) “& you won’t be able to play with it any more. Isn’t that right, Daddy?”

I understand cabinet collective responsibility & the need for parental unity & all that, although I can’t help feeling a bit like Nick Clegg.

“Yes, that’s right. I will take your food away”

“OK”

Er…what?

“Ellie, do you understand that we will take those toys away & you won’t be able to play with them any more?”

“Yes. That’s OK”.

She called our bluff! She’s only 2, for crying out loud!

Note To Self: Never play poker with Ellie. Unless she’s on my team…

Then they all trotted off upstairs as usual & I wore some more holes in my jeans clearing up toys. As usual.  Although I did take the food away. For a few days

You see what we’re up against here?

The priorities of a 2-year-old

I’ve been a bit blocked – lost my Mojo, if you like – pretty much since back in April when we moved to our little house here in Wales. Things haven’t gone according to plan, & as time passed & it became darker & colder I had become increasingly disheartened. I wrote about it a bit here & will probably post more soon. 

But: new year, new start & all that. I’m trying to get myself together & be more positive & productive.

So this is a post which I probably should have made at the time, back when that strange stuff called ‘Sunshine’ was about & we were all a little bit warmer. It’s a good story I think & so should be told…

Our tiny little Welsh house (which I don’t like) is in a tiny little Welsh town (which I do).

Having spent the first half of my life in New Zealand I especially like the fact that it’s on the coast. It’s a 5 minute walk from the house over grassy dunes to a stony beach, & there are other beaches & bays within easy driving distance.

bay1We had driven to a bay we hadn’t visited before & were out on the beach running around & exploring. The beach was sandy but punctuated with rocks & pools.

Ellie was really enjoying jumping in the shallow pools (aka “muddy puddles!”). She was lining up a good one, ready to jump…

You know that scene in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’? With the puddle?

Yep.

We tried to warn her but we were too late! I don’t think she was listening anyway.

She wasn’t happy. And quite wet. I blame Peppa Pig!

Meanwhile Jake grabbed my hand & indicated that he wanted me to walk with him, somewhere. Ellie seemed OK & drying out, so we left her pootling about with Mummy.

But where were we going? Jake was a Man on a Mission. He led me back up the beach: over the sand & past the rock-pools. Up the ramp. Back up the winding approach road. Over the little grassy field. Up the hill.  Into the car-park. Past the car. To the car-park’s ticket machine – and there we stopped.

He wanted to push its buttons. He hadn’t done it when we were first there, so he took me all the way back just to do so.

He’d passed up sun, sand, sea & rock-pools for a grotty old car-park, all because he wanted to push some buttons. I think that’s when I finally realised that what’s really important to a 2-year-old isn’t always what we expect!