Cat went back to work last week. Monday was the first day that she, The Boy, and I were all in different places for a whole day, and it felt pretty odd. I headed home early to give him his dinner, and to relieve my mum – who has generously taken on Monday childminding duties. When Cat got home, I was already in the house, getting our meal together (haddock tacos), and handing The Boy bits of omelette to throw on the floor in disgust. Everything was topsy turvy, but it felt good.
We are really lucky to have a rock-solid support network, and family have stepped in to look after The Boy three days a week. Cat has only gone back to work four days a week, so that just leaves one day with a childminder. We have saved ourselves a fortune this way, but five days and five different arrangements may prove to be our undoing. I really hope I’m wrong, but I have images of turning up to the wrong person’s house late, en route to an important meeting with a Scottish Government Minister, suddenly remembering that they are on holiday, and eventually turning up at Parliament, sweating and flustered, and having to deliver a presentation with a child under my arm as he woofs like a dog and giggles maniacally.
So far things have gone smoothly, with the exception of Friday’s drop-off where Cat’s mum and I, stood in different car parks about 50 feet apart, for 40 minutes, afraid to call the other in case they were driving. These are the hiccups one expects, and in no time it will all be second nature.
The past year has been crazy – a surreal dream (a nightmare at times) – but Cat going back to work has felt like a watershed moment. It feels like we have shifted gear, and are moving into a new phase. We are no longer new parents – we are just parents. We’re now the kind of people who have childcare arrangements – something which seems so grown up, I can’t quite believe it applies to me.
I’ve written about the emotional challenges of being a working dad here on the blog before. There have been times when I have felt like a third wheel, with little to offer. It’s hard to feel like part of the equation when you miss so much of the action. Whilst I have had to carve a new professional identity (from the sleep deprived husk of my former self) over the past year, Cat has been largely defined by her new motherhood. People would often ask me: ‘how are Cat and The Boy getting on? And how is your job?’ – as though those roles were mutually exclusive. In fairness, it is Cat who has been with The Boy all day every day since he was born – tending to his every need, whilst I have stumbled around the fringes of their shared routine at weekends. Now, for the first time, I really feel like I’m an indispensable part of it all.
In other news, The Boy learned to beatbox this week, and I couldn’t be happier! Check him out in this wee video.