The Casual Father: Two words lead to Isle of Wight forgiveness

Casual Father

Casual Father - Credit: Archant

Setting off on our first holiday as parents, the wife and I were under no illusions that things would be different.

Elizabeth Steward on holiday.

Elizabeth Steward on holiday. - Credit: Archant

Not in a bad way, but just in a way that nearly all exploits enjoyed on previous holidays are now off limits.

Things such as romantic meals for two, night time strolls along the beach, and my own personal favourite - drinking to excess - are completely out of the question with a baby in tow.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m well aware that holidays evolve as you get older, tastes change and circumstances dictate.

But as I placed our suitcases into the boot for a week on the Isle of Wight, I was slightly apprehensive about how often we’d be able to get out of the holiday cottage. And what exactly we would do when we did.

There are only so many walks with a whinging baby I can take after all.

“I couldn’t think of anything worse than partying in Ibiza these days,” says the wife on the ferry crossing over.

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I nod wholeheartedly, with an air of snobbery reserved only for 30-somethings, while hedonistic images flash through my mind.

“It’ll be great, lots of walks, pub lunches, that type of thing,” she says.

“Umm ... yeah,” I reply, my head still firmly fixed in Magaluf in 1998.

But two things are already going for us on arrival. The weather is glorious and the holiday cottage isn’t bad either.

Elizabeth is also in pretty good form and I even agree to sport the baby sling, on the basis that I won’t see anyone I know on the island while I’m wearing it.

Fortunately, that is the case.

The trouble starts when Elizabeth struggles to adapt to her new surroundings overnight, and ends up having to sleep next to the wife in the main bed.

This decision means I am forced to sleep on the not-so-comfy pull-out sofa in the lounge. From this point on, the holiday begins to take a rather exhausting turn.

The poor night’s sleep is compounded by another one, and the long walks mean I’m nearly ready to pass out alongside Elizabeth at about 6pm.

I’m just not used to the 24/7 care, but I know I can’t let on to the wife about my struggles because the last thing I want to hear is, “This is what I do every day.”

The toilet is the only place I can find solace, but the wife quickly cottons on to that when she catches me taking my book to the loo.

In the end, after four nights on the pull-out, I have to submit. “I need a 20-minute nap,” I groan to the wife.

I can’t really describe her face, but it looked like someone who had won the World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Grand National all at the same time.

“Okay.” she says.

We do enjoy some nice days out in the sunshine, and Elizabeth plays on the beach for the first time, but I just can’t shake the overriding feeling of tiredness.

Just as I’m beginning to wonder if children were a good idea, the immortal words come out of Elizabeth’s mouth.

“Da da?”

All was instantly forgiven.