"William's clothes are on the bed, I'll call you later, love you" my wife said as she left for work. This is pretty much a standard phrase first thing in the morning when she goes to work and I care for our two children. The boy was just finishing his morning milk and big sister was still asleep. I grabbed the boy and his clothes and went downstairs to put the kettle on for my morning caffeine fix, a necessity at this ungodly hour. Once that was sorted I then proceeded to change his nappy and get him dressed for the day. "Let the adventures begin" proclaimed the slogan on his t-shirt and I thought how apt this statement was. Last night when I clocked out of work I joined one of the 229,000 men in the UK who are full time care givers to their children, also known as Stay at Home Dads or SAHDs and as I swiped my card for the last time and left gainful employment I know that my life had just changed both dramatically and drastically for the better.
The industry that I have just left was in the hospitality sector, more specifically restaurants, before that I worked in pubs and retail, which when I was younger was never really a big problem for me. Late nights were usually followed by late starts which meant lay-ins, which are fine for a single man and later on even for child free couples, especially when your partner is a nurse who works shifts also. But as is the way life moves on and then changes, it gets turned completely uspide down and the lazy days and lay-ins are distant memories. Instead yours is a world filled with sleep deprivation, bodily fluids and terrible crimes against your nostrils. The majority of men, after their paternity leave ends, return to the workplace as i did, whilst their wives continue to stay at home and care for their children. This scenario is common, as it has been since the dawn of time with the men out hunter/ gathering and the women home, handling the domestic side of the operation. But we men have evolved since those prehistoric times and many of us now share the domestic side of things and can even use our opposable digits to operate complex cleaning equipment, so at least it's not been a waste of 3 million years of evolution.
And so the present, several weeks ago I was on the phone to my wife whilst on a break at work and she asked me if I liked my job. Now those of us who have worked in the hospitality industry know the job can be amazing and a fun place to work, but on the flipside it can also be an absolute arse of a place to work with crazy shifts and short, often non existent breaks and long hours. But I didn't mind as long as the people made up for the bollox, both colleagues and customers alike.
"Yes" I replied. Now her next question threw me a little "do you want to be at home with the kids?"instantly I replied "yes". "We will talk when you are home" she said before giving me her love and bidding me farewell.
Now some might question my sanity, to make a decision this big, to open myself up to quite literally a whole world of shit, without thinking about it, "he must be insane" and "poor foolish man" they will say. They may have seen the horror for themselves, heard stories of "poonamis" and projectile vomiting in almost always the most unfortunate and embarrassing of places.
Fear not though as this is not my first rodeo as they say. I have been here before and as I mentioned earlier there is a big sister who I gave up work to care for full time when She was 1 year old. It was without a doubt the most amazing time and I never thought I would have the opportunity to do it again. Hard, challenging, tiring and sometimes isolating but worth every moment.
So notice was served and seen out and here we are, me feeding porridge to an 11 month old boy who keep laughing like a pirate then dragging me closer, so he can have a cuddle...then bite me.