Recently my other half went out for an hour one evening, leaving me in charge. The Bear Cub was tucked up in bed and the Little Boofuls had been fed in preparation. What could go wrong?
Well, quite a lot actually. By the time she returned, I was a frazzled, frustrated mess of a man; bewildered and confused as to how one hour of my life could be that stressful!
The Little Boofuls turned into a little demon shortly after the other half’s departure, screaming relentlessly. At this early stage, a feeling of dread starts to rise but is kept at bay by the fact that you have a number of options available to settle her. For instance, there may be songs she likes, you could tell a story or you could move around rocking your child. I opt for a variation of the latter, which in our house we term ‘bobbling’
For those of you not familiar with the ‘bobble’, it involves walking around and bouncing up and down on the front part of your feet. This starts gently but inevitably gets more pronounced as the situation escalates and time passes without respite from the ear splitting shrieking coming from your little angel.
I wonder what it is about a baby’s scream that just pushes your buttons – bringing about all sorts of stress and pressure to the situation. The theory is that it’s designed to be at a pitch that can be clearly heard and impossible to ignore. It’s safe to say that there was no design flaw when they put the lungs in this baby; she definitely gets your attention and boy is it tough to focus on anything!
At this point I realise that bobbling ain’t cutting it. Reassessing the options starts to reveal a terrible truth – I don’t have much else to try. I can’t put her in the car or her pram as there is a sleeping child upstairs – and as for the ultimate last resort of calling the other half…
Think man, think!!
I could try a bottle but as she’s fed recently I’m at risk of filling her with too much milk and a load of wind. Add this to her reflux and it could be a case of ‘thar she blows!’
I got nothing.
So I’m helpless. Stuck with a screaming child and out of ideas. I’m at my wits end when suddenly and without warning, I feel a little head nuzzle into my shoulder before there is beautiful, wonderful silence, punctuated by the odd murmur. Exhaustion has won this battle, not me.
The other half gets back shortly after this miracle and asks me how she’s been. I relay everything that has happened to me that evening and as I do, it hits me. It was only an hour. 60 minutes. 3600 seconds. Essentially nothing to someone who has to handle both children for the whole day on a regular basis.
Which brings me to the question posed in the title of this post; am I good enough? I question my abilities as a dad endlessly and ultimately I can’t answer it.
I like to think of fatherhood as being like playing a really tricky computer game. At first it’s exciting cos it’s new – some will dive straight in and have a go whilst others will sit back and watch someone else a few times before trying it out. You soon realise a few things; it’s challenging and you’re going to have to dedicate a lot of time to getting great at it. And no matter how good you get, there is always someone out there making it look easy, leaving you feeling inferior.
Unlike the game, there is no option to put it down and walk away, which is where this analogy falls down. But if you practice, stay positive and stick with it even when things get tough, you’ll get a sense of achievement from even the smallest of victories.
I stuck with it – and whilst we still have the odd occasion where a full scale nuclear meltdown kicks in (the child, not me…) I’m starting to feel a little more in control. I even managed two full evenings without any major incidents. I rank this up there with any of my life achievements.
Don’t get disheartened – just keep trying. Maybe perseverance is what makes us good enough in the end.