The Casual Father: Straying into the unknown aisles brings fear

Michael Steward

Michael Steward - Credit: Archant

With the initial meet and greet activities from family and friends nearly over, the real-life issues of being a father are beginning to emerge.

Things like not getting my regulation eight hours sleep, having to change some fairly explosive nappies and walking laps of my house trying to get a little girl to sleep are all parts of the role I expected.

Some aspects, however, have been rather more unexpected.

With the wife taking on all of the night feeding duties and short of sleep during the day, I have found certain daily tasks being passed over to me.

Not difficult jobs, but things I just don’t normally do much of – like cooking and cleaning.

I know the modern man is supposed to be able to take everything in his stride and do the lot, but truth be told I’ve never really considered myself one of those.

The most challenging of these tasks has been the supermarket shop, especially with lots of new items on the shopping list as requested by the wife.

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In recent weeks, I have visited aisles in supermarkets that I didn’t even know existed.

Talk about being taken out of your comfort zone. One particular incident saw me walking around the baby section of Tesco’s for around half an hour, desperately not wanting to ask the question; “Excuse me, do you know where the nipple shields are?”

When I eventually succumbed to enquiring, the woman displayed great professionalism by barely looking at my ever-reddening face and took me immediately to the offending article. At least the wife was pleased when I got home.

She wasn’t so pleased when I returned home with a pack of incontinence pads when I was supposed to purchase a regular feminine care product. As I said, well out of my comfort zone.

I have also had to learn how to operate around the house in near silence when doing chores, as I can never be exactly sure if a) Elizabeth is sleeping, b) the wife is, or c) they both are.

For the record, awakening options B or C normally illicit the worst response.

It’s one of those strange things in life that the harder you try to be quiet, the more noise you end up creating. Simply making a cup of tea in a deathly silent house leaves me sounding like a bull in a china shop.

So the early days of fatherhood have seen me become a lot lighter on my feet and handier in the kitchen. “Could you ask for anymore?” I put to the wife.

Her response could not be printed.