This article should be read, in the knowledge that it’s been written by a man. Men, as we all know, sometimes don’t think. And when my breed does think, it’s not always in the way you might expect. Occasionally we can be profound, loving, amusing and insightful. Sometimes these things manage to happen all at the same time. I’ve yet to decide which one of these will come across in this article; but, here goes…
When MuMum (and MuMag editor-in-chief) first approached me about this month’s topic Bizarre things that happen to you after you have kids, I wasn’t entirely sure that anything bizarre had happened to me since the twinkles arrived. But the longer I paused to think about it, the more things started to spring to mind. I’ll present them to you here in no particular order (apart from #1):
#1 My bits work!
This wasn’t so much a bizarre thing that happened to me, as a statement I made to other people. I’ve seen and heard about plenty of people who have taken a while to conceive, some people who have had to go down the IVF route and some who haven’t been able to conceive at all.
But this child making business is easy, isn’t it? After all, everyone’s parents have managed to do it! MuMum and I made a conscious decision about when to start trying to make our little tribe. The line had been drawn in the sand. We couldn’t wait to get going and start on this parenting journey.
Month 1: we’ve only gone and done it! All the right symptoms were there; tingly bits, tirednes and sicky thoughts. But by the start of month 2, it was clear we hadn’t. Never mind, we’re in no rush.
Month 2-6: we’ve still not cracked it. Sad face. But at least the trying is good fun.
Month 7: YES! Back slapping all round. Hoorah!
And this is where it gets a bit bizarre: on being asked how I was feeling about our good news, I distinctly remember telling a number of people (close friends and acquaintances (NB: never strangers!)) that I was delighted because it meant that my bits worked! Granted, it’s not perhaps the kind of information that you’d usually share, but until you know for sure that your tackle works, you really don’t know that it does.
#2 I’m really not into kids’ TV
Our kids have so far had a penchant for Big Cook, Little Cook; In the night Garden and The Twirly Woos. None of these do I have time for. Nelly and Nora on the other hand is the exception to this rule. I think it has something to do with seeing (and hearing) Father Dougal walking round in purple wellies and shorts. If they’re watching something and they want me with them, I busy myself inspecting the inside of my eyelids.
#3 I’m really pleased we had girls
For some reason, and I’ve never been able to put my finger on it, I’m pleased we had girl twins and not boys. To some degree I’ve always found females easier to relate to than blokes. So I sometimes worry that if we’d have had boys, I’d somehow have been less able as a father. I’ve got no solid reason for basing this feeling on; it’s just how it is. I think I would have done OK with b/g twins though. Funny, isn’t it?!
#4 I’ve become super protective
From the minute the girls were born, I’ve been super protective of them. It’s not something I’ve been particularly aware of in my 32 years of life BT (before twins) but the instinct kicked in very definitely, especially when we got home from hospital. It’s more to do with me being hyper aware of other people who are in the physical vicinity of the girls, rather than wrapping them up in cotton wool so they don’t hurt themselves: they’ve done their fair share of roller skating and windsurfing in their short lives so far! But something in me has become like a radar scanning for potential weirdos making a bee line for them. Of course, being twins, they attract a fair bit of attention and I remember that during their first year in particular, [old] people would walk up to the buggy and put a hand in to squish a chubby cheek and these people were strangers! But as quick as it had happened, they’d be off again, not allowing you the chance to ask what on earth they thought they were doing.
#5 If it’s blue or yellow, has princesses on it or it’s sparkly; we’ll have it
I can’t remember how the girls settled on their favourite colours but they’re blue and yellow; we also happen to love Disney princesses. This has worked out quite well in many respects as Cinderella, as you all know, is predominantly depicted in blue, and Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) is dressed in yellow.
Then there’s the sparkles. There’s no way that our girls were getting away without any sparkles on them; MuMum is the sparkliest person I know (I think this is another reason I’m glad we had girls and not boys – see #3, above). Most things in our house are sparkly: mirror frames, shoes, wine glasses; nothing escapes the twinkly-treatment. The girls, as luck would have it, have followed enthusiastically in MuMum’s footsteps and love a sparkly… anything! There’s been occasion where I’ve been saturated with sparkly-puffer-foundationy-make-up-stuff and not been able to clean it all off before we’ve had to leave the house. Inside, I feel like a total plonker but as I’m stuck looking like the Strictly Glitter Ball Trophy, I tend to embrace it and just get on with it.
#6 Grey days
Since the arrival of the girls, I’ve started going noticeably grey, mainly in my beard. It’s hard to tell how my hair is faring, seeing as it took an extended holiday in 2001 and hasn’t been seen since. I’m fairly sure that this is coincidence though and not related to having had the girls and becoming a father, with all the challenges and stresses that comes with it. There’s plenty of follicular research to support the theory that going grey is not related to stress, or age but instead to genetic factors, pre-determined by the generations that have gone before (thanks for the legacy chaps!). I’m sure that if there was a direct correlation between going grey and child-related stress/worry, I’d have more than the 57 grey hairs I currently have.
So, there’s plenty of odd stuff that’s happened since I’ve become a dad, which I hadn’t foreseen. These are just six of what are probably hundreds of things that have happened to me, or I’ve done. The real question is, what has the rest of parenthood got lined up for me?