So this morning, we pretty much failed at Father’s Day.
As per usual, Tiny had just about settled back down to sleep after a night feed, when Toddler burst into the room full of the light and life that neither we, nor the sky, were quite ready to see yet. No sooner was he resettled, however, when Tinker grabbed the baton and made her dramatic entrance; giggling like an actual maniac in her swimming costume, goggles and armbands.
“Look at me!” She squealed, wiggling around like something that ought to be banned on YouTube.
Toddler followed closely behind, (don’t they always?), complete with swimming trunks and a coat-hanger smile that said, “this is the best day of my life so far!” But actually translated something more like, “heeeeswimmeeeswimmeeeMEEEEE!!!” In real life.
A third squeal of joy joined the commotion and I realised that, on this occassion, we were undeniably and indefensibly outnumbered.
Tiny was also now awake; which means, in our rather haphazard book of turn-taking, so is Mummy.
I followed the swimmers back to their changing room and was more than a little bit splashed off to see that they had emptied absolutely every chock-a-block drawer of clothes, costumes and toys into a giant pool on the floor and covered it with their bed sheets.
I mean, you’ve gotta hand it to these kids: they have some wicked imagination. It’s just, you know, a little bit much to take in at 5.45am! And so I sat, with Tiny on my lap, attempting to keep a straight and stern face, whilst directing the grand clean-up operation; wondering all the while how I was going to get us all ready and out single-handedly again this Sunday- for a special service that started an hour earlier than usual- if this was what I had to work with!
It was at just this point that he appeared.
“You may as well go back to bed, babe,” Husband yawns. “I have to be up for work soon anyway… nap while you can.”
I mean obviously I could have said, “no, darling, it’s Father’s Day!” Or, “bless you, love, you need your energy to serve the Lord!”
But… I’m not a Stepford Wife.
I was snoring before he had time to change his mind!
Two hours- yes two hours!- later, he woke me up from some kind of drooling coma; handed me a hungry Tiny and announced that he was off to work… but that everyone was dressed.
“Yup!” He said, with a smugness I can’t even pretend to find irritating these days: that is flippin’ impressive!
“That’s like the hardest part of my morning… ” I start.
“I know, but it’s an early service, so I thought it would help.”
He even had time for thoughts this morning?! The guy is a machine!
“Oh and I’ve made you a cup of tea,” he adds before leaving.
Oh now, just stop it!
(If it makes you feel any better, he also left me some fresh skidders in the toilet… see, nobody’s perfect.)
Anyway, worst of all of this is that, despite the near-perfection and my profound gratitude for it… I completely and utterly forgot that it was Father’s Day! Didn’t even say it! And he didn’t mention it either.
That wouldn’t fly on Mother’s Day now, would it?!
But there you go.
Fab Dad strikes again. And he completely deserved the roast dinner and cupboard full of early-morning-coffee that he got to make up for it later!
But it got me thinking.
Even as the morning progressed, ten times easier than usual… how do people do it?! As I breastfed Tiny with one hand and attempted to feed myself the other; fastened Tinker’s tenth fancy dress costume of the day- (upon the tenth time of asking!); sorted the nappy bag; pulled Toddler down from the window sill again, hunted Tiny’s teether/Toddler’s shoes/ Tinker’s hairbrush/ my keys/my phone/my keys again…. with… hang on, I haven’t got another hand!…
How on earth do people do this?!
All the time?!
And not just do it, but get places and do things- on time- like normal functional human beings? Without any help or support or back up or turn-taking… never mind cups of tea?!
But they do.
Maybe even you?
If so, you’ve got to know…
If you’re father and mother, without a significant other…
Yes. You are.
To the mother of the kids with the absent father;
Or the father with the kids whose mother didn’t stay either;
To the widows, the carers, single adopters and work-widows too;
To all the ones who read this thinking:
She hasn’t got a clue.
You’re right. I haven’t;
He goes away a week and I lose the plot!
You’re hands down, single-handed heroes.
Even when you feel like you’re not.
I honestly can’t imagine how you do it every single day;
Except to guess that when it comes to it…
Where there’s sheer will,
There’s always a way!
If you’ll accept it from an ignorant stranger…
Then “well done”,
And, if you’ll let me pray…
Then “God bless you and yours-
But most especially, today.”