As the clock ticked towards 3.20pm on Friday and the storm clouds started to gather, it struck me that my 6 weeks of paternity leave and “full-time Daddy” work was over.
It had been 42 days since I’d walked out of school to become a stay-at-home Dad and I have absolutely loved (almost) every moment of it.
However, now it’s back to reality and normality as I will be heading into work on Monday to carry on the life I pressed pause on six weeks ago.
It’s worth reflecting then on the leave period I’ve experienced. Was it what I expected? Do I feel as satisfied with how I’ve used it as to how excited I was as I began it? What next for my relationship with Sophie?
1. Did it live up to expectations?
When I wrote this post on February 2nd (my first day), there was so much to look forward to. Firstly, it’s been an privilege to be totally responsible for Sophie’s wellbeing. I’ve been so blessed and I’m really grateful to my work for agreeing to it. Looking after Sophie is awesome – she’s so quirky and interesting – and this time will never come again.
Also, I’ve not at all felt like a token Dad and, even though this may be considered extreme cross-culturalism, I have made some new friends who are Mums! It’s not been a tale of shopping centres either – in fact, we’ve had such a fantastic time visiting museums, wildlife centres and farms as well as swimming and playing in the park. I’ve been able to go out with her at any time to have mini adventures.
2. Do I feel satisfied with how I’ve used it or have there been frustrations?
Having a six week period to refocus doesn’t come round very often and I can feel really pleased with how it has gone. I’ve become much more respectful of the things full time parents do and am in awe of my wife’s efforts over the past year. Personally, this has been a great time to evaluate things that I am involved in, start out on new projects and think about the future. As for Sophie, watching her develop the ability to pull herself up and walk along with a walker has been remarkable, as has climbing the stairs with her for the first time.
Yet, I’ve also realised how incredibly frustrating small children can be. Sophie is in a stage of life where she knows what she wants but she can’t communicate it effectively and so her only solution is to whinge about it. On an incessant, day-to-day basis this can be very annoying. Equally, playing the same games with the same toys can be demotivating, even though for her every day is new, exciting and fresh. It’s so easy to forget that!
3. What next for my relationship with Sophie?
I’m confident and hopeful that having had this time off with her we will now be much closer. I know more about what makes her happy (and what does not!) and how to teach her new things. Being the first person she sees has been really special and knowing I’m fulfilling her key needs has been important. I’ve even been able to choose clothes combinations which work. Baby fashion?? Perhaps a new area of expertise!
As she goes to nursery, our prayer is that she will continue to learn about the world, develop her burgeoning personality and have a safe, happy time. She will discover so many new things , make friends and start standing on her own two feet – probably quite literally! Having been spoiled with 24/7 Sophie time, I will know not to take the end of each day and weekends with her for granted. Family time is transient and precious – a real gift from God. I need to be making the most of it.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has read my blog over the past six weeks – I’ve been able to update it more regularly. This will change, but I’ll try and keep it going as much as I can!