from here to paternity (leave)

From Here To Paternity (Leave) – Week 3

Catch up on Week 1 and Week 2

Week Three of the Great Life Swap, and I think we’re finally getting into the swing of things. Actually, I’m starting to panic about how much I still have to fit into the next two weeks. The husband, meanwhile, appears to be taking everything in his stride.

Even when this week turned out to be the week of tummy bugs at Pembroke Cottage.

Here’s how the week went down:

from here to paternity (leave)

Monday:

Baby Boy starts with an upset tummy on Sunday night. On Monday morning, as I put on my lipstick and prepared to run to the station to catch the train to London for research, editor meetings and a writer catch up, I check in on him.

“This is the third dirty nappy this morning,” the husband says, changing said nappy.

“Do you want me to stay?” I ask, even though I knew I shouldn’t. If he had a work trip, I wouldn’t ask him to skip it and stay home to change dirty nappies. But part of me still feels incredibly bad about leaving my little boy when he’s unwell.

“No. Go to London, we’ll be fine,” the husband says. Because he is awesome.

I go, but only once he promises to send regular text updates.

Apparently our idea of ‘regular’ is somewhat different, but still, we both make it through the day and I only call in a panic once when he fails to respond to a text asking how the baby is for 2 hours.

 

Tuesday:

The weird thing about having the husband at home all day is that it’s sort of like having a boss again. Normally, after a long day in London (and maybe a glass or two of wine) my to do list the next day might be rather less ambitious than normal. For instance, instead of saying ‘Write All The Words!’ it might say, ‘Write some words, then maybe have a nap on the sofa watching Gilmore Girls.’

But not this month. This month, when I emerge from the study for my third cup of tea in an hour and a half, the husband smiles and asks me how it’s going.

“Great!” I lie.

He doesn’t need to know that I’ve been staring at a blank screen for fifteen minutes, right?

 

Wednesday:

The husband has a new favourite song, and is singing it constantly. It goes:

Twinkle, twinkle little Sam

Why do your feet smell of spam?

Why does your nose smell of pears?

Why do your ears smell of bears?

Twinkle, twinkle little Sam

Why do your feet smell of spam?

I decide it’s probably just as well that he’s going back to work as a scientist next month, not as a writer.

 

Thursday:

The tummy bug hits the daughter. The husband, who spent the previous evening out in London and didn’t get home until midnight, is now sleep deprived and in charge of a sick six year old and a grumpy five month old.

I vow not to leave the study. This is the true test.

The daughter is distraught because it’s supposed to be her last class with Carla, her beloved ballet teacher, before she leaves to teach at a new school. The husband wins at parenting by acquiring a ‘Sorry You’re Leaving’ card and driving down to the ballet studio to present it to Carla. Unfortunately for him, it transpires that the Ballet Show DVDs are now in, and he returns home with ours, destined to watch it on repeat with the daughter for the rest of the day.

I stay in the study and write 5,000 words. Clearly staying out of the way is good for me.

 

Friday:

The daughter is off sick again and the baby is still grumpy. I, meanwhile, have a meeting with my agent, the fabulous Gemma.

Gemma arrives to find us in our usual state of chaos; the husband is hunting down batteries for my trackpad, the baby is whinging and the daughter is on the sofa with a duvet, still in her pyjamas, playing Minecraft on her tablet. Fortunately Gemma is used to this.

After the obligatory baby cuddles and tea making, we retreat to the study to talk business, achieving more in an hour of face time than we ever do by email.

When we emerge, a wonderful aroma is emanating from the kitchen.

“What’s cooking?” I ask, after bidding Gemma goodbye.

“Lunch,” the husband replies. “I’ve made us salmon and asparagus quiche with salad.”

You know, I’m really not looking forward to him going back to work…

 

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