Being a ‘stay-at-home Dad’ (is ‘househusband’ passé already?) was quite easy when my wife was on maternity leave. She was always on hand to help out if I needed to pop out for milk, do a quick bit of Googling upstairs or even just take five minutes to br-ea-the and get a little perspective. However, a few short months ago this cosy little set-up, along with my deluded ‘this being a dad malarkey is a cinch’ notion was completely shattered when my darling wife ventured beyond the confines of the house once more and returned to work. I suddenly found myself with complete responsibility for a totally helpless, totally dependent human being. I was on my own…
Our dear son has never been much of a sleeper. Ever. From the get-go, he displayed a firm reluctance to have shut-eye. He seemed to regard it as something of a waste of time, time which could be better spent on secretions, excretions and any other type of biological essentials. I, on the other hand, am very fond of it, and I realised early on that this clash of opinion on the subject of somnolence could cause us (specifically, me) some issues.
Mrs. W. had no such problems. Our boy was still being breast fed, and the magic Mummy milk rarely failed to send the little one straight into slumber. I prided myself on being astute enough to realise that I was somewhat lacking the necessary equipment for this task. Bottle feeding was out of the question (for me or him), so what was a body to do? How was I, an anxious, non-lactating first-time father, to coax my son to sleep, and avoid the mutual exhaustion that I knew would otherwise ensue.
After much trial and error, including, singing, chanting, radio, reading, television, rocking, traipsing around the estate with the pram, cuddling and mindlessly driving around in the car, I experienced an epiphany. Salvation came in the form of the Rose and Rebellion baby carrier. I had previously regarded this as a rather unnecessary accessory whose only use was to help its wearer look ‘alternative’ and get to places with a baby that a pram refused to go.
How wrong I was! As a last resort I succumbed and decided to give it a try. It was an instant hit. Once I’d mastered placing the little lad in the right way up and made sure he wasn’t likely to end up sliding down my legs as I walked, I never looked back. It was as if it contained some mysterious sleeping dust. Just three simple clips to secure, three straps to tighten and you’re on your merry way. On the vast majority of occasions, the offspring was safely ensconced and snoozing peacefully within five minutes of me setting out for the corner shop, or even just pacing around the living room. The other feature I love about the R And R carrier is that it’s reversible, so with ultimate gender role stereotyping, Mrs. W. can wear it with the flowery side facing outwards, while I wear it with the plain black side on show. Masculinity reinforced, thank you!
It soon became apparent that both myself and junior loved the feeling of closeness and comfort, of being able to hear each other breathing steadily. I was now able to do household chores with two hands, rather than leaving everything until the one mad hour I had free before collapsing into bed. And the best part of course, was that I was able to get forty daytime winks myself, sat on the settee of an afternoon, beautiful baby boy secure and serene in the carrier on my chest, as I wondered how on earth I’d have managed without it.