When I leave the office on an evening I usually try to call home – to see if I need to pick anything up from the supermarket along the way. This evening I got no answer – on land line or mobiles – and even got as far as checking the shared family calendar, or the mobile phone locator app – to see if something might be going on. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. What to do? I decided to go to the supermarket anyway, and buy food for dinner – given the clear skies, a barbecue seemed like a good idea
After cycling slowly into town, I locked my bike outside the supermarket and made my way around the various aisles, filling my basket with burgers, sausages, veggie sausages, wine, fizzy drinks, and so on. While looking through the bread rolls in the bakery section somebody tugged on my sleeve.
I pulled my earphones from my ears, and looked sideway. At my other half. She was grinning at me. Moments later two of our children appeared. In something of a miracle, we had not picked up the same items as each other – they had bought pizzas – I had bought barbecue food. I handed them my basket, and continued on my way home – wondering if I might clear the house up before they arrived (I did).
A couple of hours later – after our eldest had returned home from work, and we had all eaten ourselves to a standstill around the barbecue – I found myself snuggled on the couch with our eldest daughter, half-watching a streaming movie. She fell asleep with her head on my lap, and slowly fidgeted herself into a position where I was trapped beneath her – unable to stop the movie, or move at all really.
While sitting there, wondering what to do next, I gazed down at her peaceful face, and listened to her deep breaths – and realised that no matter what happens, I’m always going to be her Dad. It sounds like a funny thing to say, and a strange thing to realise – but I’ve never really thought about it before. I’m always going to be the one she comes to when unsure, laughs at stupid jokes with, and that stays up all night when she’s drunk too much.
None of this was in an instruction book, and just like any other parent, I kind of make it up as I go along. I hope I get something right – I certainly get a lot of things wrong – but this isn’t one of those things where you decide you don’t like doing it much, and decide not to, is it – it’s kind of an “always” thing.