After dinner on Thursday night, I sloped off to the sofa to treat myself to a hot ten minutes.
After the bruising day I’d had at work, my head felt like someone had been slapping it with a fish all day, and even though I’d logged off and the persistent slapping had stopped, I was now left with a pungent, mental fishy residue to see me through the remainder of my day.
In short, I needed a rest.
When my five year old wasn’t looking, I grabbed two blankets and covered myself completely, thinking this would be enough to buy me some time. And I guess it did. For about three minutes.
But as soon as she realised where I was, she was on me. I mean, physically on top of me, pulling at the covers with a maniacal laugh any B-movie villain would have been rather impressed with. She managed to wriggle one away from me. She came for the other. I grabbed at the cushions and used them as additional cover, determined to get that extra five.
But who was I kidding? She wasn’t going to give up that easily.
I thought back a couple of weeks, when we were in Texas on holiday and relaxing to the maxing. There was a specific moment during our stay when I woke up early, brewed a cup of tea, grabbed a National Geographic magazine and went out to sit by the pool when all was still quiet.
And it was lush.
Before picking up the magazine, I sat there clutching the brew. I became very aware of my surroundings, the way my body felt, the pace of my breathing and the smell of the morning air. Barely a ripple skimmed across the surface of the pool, and the rhythmic song of the bugs giving their legs a good rub was all that could be heard.
But one thing I really noticed was, there were no demands being made of me. No-one expecting me to make that fifth cup of squash within a half an hour time span or having to respond to cries of anguish when the router drops its internet connection. No-one telling me there’s a fresh, slippery turd laying next to the toilet instead of in it.
Amidst the calm is a very rare place to be these days. And when these demands come, for the most part, I chuck on my big boy pants and get on with it. That’s just dad life.
But it did make me think.
Before the kids were born and I had more time to myself, how often did I have these pockets of quiet where I would slow down to really be in the moment? To see the sights, smell the smells. Immerse all the senses. Can’t think of many specific examples. What the hell did I used to do with my time and focus before the kids came along?
Anyway, I didn’t get much time to think about it. I started to leaf through the magazine and had maybe ten or fifteen minutes before a mosquito buzzed by and peeped over the fence, spied the all-you-can-eat buffet that is my leg and called his buddies; who were soon incoming, smacking their lips and tying bibs around their necks.
That was my cue to get back inside to find some spray, and by then, two of the kids were up and ready for some tea. That was fine. Back into dad mode.
I was ready for a chaser brew anyway.