Our little girl is growing up.
From September last year to April of this, otherwise known, in my brain at least, as the Dark Ages, I looked after our daughter by myself for two and a half days a week. My wife worked four days a week, I worked two and a half and so it fell that I was in sole charge of the beast Tuesday afternoons, Wednesdays and Fridays. In April my wife gave up her job to look after N full time. So now I don’t really have any time alone with N.
Until today. My wife went out from 9-5 today, to attend a Phoenix card trader’s conference, check out the website here. She went out so it was just me and the child left in the house together. Alone. With no adult supervision. Not a responsible person within 100 yards. And the two of us had a great day, which was surprising. I have a great time playing with my daughter, but when I had to look after her by myself before, at least one of us, and occasionally both, would often be left as a frazzled mess by the end of the day, just desperate for mummy to come back, toys strewn in piles, kitchen utensils flung to the far corners of the house, and smoking holes in the walls. Today, however, neither of us ended up like that. When mummy returned she found two people serenely enjoying each other’s company calmly sitting in the lounge just taking in the latest in Thomas the Tank Engine stories. I believe I have officially graduated and I am henceforth awarding myself the coveted Dad level 2 badge, and its only taken me 18 months. I‘m so proud. You can all congratulate me later.
That is not the point of this post however. What really struck me today was how much we miss when we’re not around. Which is ridiculous coming from me. I still work part time, so I’m still around two and a half days a week, which I know is days more than the vast majority of dads. But even so, being with her all day today, just us, made me realise how much she has grown up, even in the three months since April.
Our little girl is growing up.
Looking after her today was just such a different experience, it was like looking after a completely different child. She was so much bigger and more mature, which sounds silly when we’re only talking about an 18 month old, but it’s true. It’s as though there are two phases of development. First she has all her physical changes, whilst the mental changes seem to come quite slowly. Now however she doesn’t seem to be changing physically at the breakneck speed that she was, instead she is just getting more and more mature mentally, almost in front of your eyes. I’m sure this is normal, and those of you who have had children will be rolling your eyes at me while I wonder at the blindingly obvious, but it wasn’t until today that I really cottoned on to what was happening.
Our little girl is growing up, and all of a sudden I feel like I’m missing it. There is a hole in my knowledge, a gap in my understanding of my daughter that hasn’t really been there up until this point, and in a very real sense it feels like she’s slipping away. As though there are parts of her that I can’t touch anymore, things she can do that don’t belong to me. The thing is, the really upsetting thing, is that I hadn’t even noticed this happening. I’m too close to her to really see the changes, but too far away to experience them, and it took today for me to realise.
Again, I want to make it clear that I know other dads, and mums as well, have a far worse time of it than I do and that I am truly one of the lucky ones in this regard. I get to spend so much time with her, and to share my life with this incredible, adorable, infuriating, astonishing, incomprehensible bundle of life and I can’t possibly complain at all.
Our little girl is growing up, and suddenly I find that I’m on the outside looking in, but you know, the view’s great and I’m going to enjoy every last minute. Because one day our little girl will have grown up, and flown away, perhaps then I’ll finally be able to tidy up.