I once heard of a wise woman who wrote this has been “the longest but quickest year ever”. Surely that makes no sense at all longest, and quickest are mutually exclusive surely?
Well yes and no. Yes because technically they are, but if you have happened to spend the past year living with Team Fun, you would realise that actually, this is exactly how it has been. This weekend was Jojo’s first birthday, and whilst, in retrospect, the year has flown by, it has at the same time been incredibly gruelling. Within the past few weeks he has on rare occasions started sleeping through the night. I can’t honestly pretend that it has been anywhere near as bad for me as it has for Mrs L, who has probably forgotten what it is to sleep eight consecutive hours. Never-the-less I have spent more time up at stupid times in the morning this year, than any other time in my life, and that includes those halcyon days of my teenage years and early twenties. Unlike those days, I have found that I can’t function on less than two or three hours sleep, and I have also discovered that it is possible to replicate the symptoms of a particularly nasty hangover, without the need for any alcohol.
And to congratulate him on the tremendous achievement of aging his parents a decade in a mere 365 days, we threw the little lad a party. He had a great time, although like one year olds the world over, he had absolutely no idea what the fuss was about. As far as I can work out, all he cared about was that there was lots of different food with flavours and colours which simply begged to be worn.
I’ve never really enjoyed parties and the first birthday variety seem to be particularly daft to me as the focus of attention has no idea what is going on, and in reality is unlikely to remember any of the events which occurred. Much like eighteenths and twenty-firsts then. For Fraboo’s first birthday I think we dodged a bit of a bullet as we were on holiday with our family at the time and so an intimate gathering of Grandparents, Uncles, Aunties and cousins, none of whom had spent any great amount of time with her, was easily arranged.
When Boy-Boy’s first birthday rolled around, we visited a local transport museum (lucky boy), and so it seemed that we had to do something of reasonable note for Jojo’s.
As usual, Mrs L. took care of all aspects of the event which required actual thought, whilst the children’s entertainment was left to me. I’m not fishing for compliments here but whilst I may not be the world’s greatest Dad (I heard that there is someone in Quebec who is slightly better), the one day when you really want to be a Longdon kid is when it’s your birthday party.
And so it was, that last weekend I was running around the garden, being pursued by a bunch of unruly three to six year olds, who were armed to the teeth with water pistols and water bombs. I’d also purchased a 10 m length of plastic sheeting which the kids slid down for a good half an hour.
What was intriguing about the whole affair, is that Jojo only had a few goes down the slip and slide. He didn’t get to even hold a water bomb! Up on the deck Mrs L. was chatting with some of the other mum’s and quaffing the latest offerings from the vineyards of Lindauer (a delightfully spirited nose with an explosion of effervescence on the tongue, followed by a fruity finish, surely the taste of summer!).
I had a sort of epiphany then. The first birthday (and perhaps every subsequent one), isn’t just a celebration for the child, but also for the parents who have survived another year. For those of you without children, this might seem like a nonsense, but it’s true.
There have been times over the course of this year when both Mrs L. and I have just been so tired that we wished the earth could swallow us whole, or that we could just have 10 minutes of peace and quiet.
I would like to re-emphasise how my contribution to child rearing this year has been far outweighed by my wife’s, but at least I have had some workmates who I could bore with tales of 3 am trips to Maccas.
As a stay-at-home Mum, Mrs L. has not had that release. She may catch up with some other Mums once or twice a week, and perhaps have a brief opportunity to converse with someone who doesn’t wear disposable underwear at the school gate, but the overwhelming majority of her life this year has been spent with a grizzling infant. This has really not been a terribly happy year for her.
The amazing thing is, is that I think perhaps only twice over the course of the past twelve months, have I heard anything which is approaching a complaint from her lips, and even those have been exceedingly oblique. Not only this, but she has managed (in my eyes at least), to remain the most beautiful woman in the world, and take primary responsibility for raising Fraboo and Boy-Boy. All of this has been accomplished with so much dignity and good grace that I sometimes wonder if I am married to some sort of supernatural being.
In her darker moments (she does have them), Mrs L. will be glad that this 12 months is behind us, and that was the purpose of our little gathering. That and another opportunity for me to act like a big kid again!
Oh and two more things.
One; that wise woman, that quote can be attributed to the wonderful Mrs L.
And finally and I hate to labour a point; but I really do have the best wife in the world!