I love watching my husband be a father. I suspect my subconscious always knew he would be a wonderful father from seeing the care he took with his much younger cousins, and how much these little six and seven year old girls adored him, and they were right. He is the Daddy that throws himself into a Baby Ballet class with a complete lack of self consciousness; that will sit for hours painstakingly cutting out a card print out of Cinderella’s castle because he promised his girl a trip to the “castle” (church) and she fell asleep and missed the service; and that will always make space in our bed for a sleepy little toddler, even while telling anyone else who’s awake enough to listen that he really ought to have put his cricket pads on for protection against her kicking.
He has embraced hair ties, pink Duplo, princesses and fairy wands; and taught an equal appreciation for Brio and Hornby, even at the cost of a pink BigJigs train to match his Flying Scotsman.
Since Elma arrived he and Kitty have become even closer; partly from daily practicalities and partly I suspect from a similarity in personality that can only mean that I’m signed up to a lifetime of well planned mischief.
But there is something wonderful in sitting back a little and just watching a relationship that is independent of our family dynamic, and separate from the bonds I have with each of them.
When babies first arrive I think as their mother you tend to continue to think of them as an extension of yourself, not in an overly possessive way, and not even usually by conscious design, it’s just habit after nine months (and in my case, a couple weeks more) of being their entire world. And if you’re nursing it’s often literally true, at least in the early days. The privilege as their Mama is to watch them blossom and grow; not away from that early connection, but opening up to reciprocate not only the love poured over them by their father, but also the cherishing they receive from extended family and friends.
There are special things that Kitty only does with Daddy; snuggling up in his arms just before dinner to put stickers in her Princess album, or can only do with Daddy, in the case of her inaugural trip down the slide at the swimming pool while Elma and I bobbed about below.
The Big Fish is probably a bit of both.
It’s part of our bathtime routine; the girls splash and play together and when they’re all clean or we’re soaked through, whichever is the sooner, I whisk Elma away to be cuddled dry and tucked up in cozyness, while H is in charge of getting Kitty ready.
She’ll have a little splash about by herself and then ask “Daddy! Do big fish now?!”, well it’s less of a request and more a command, and I know that moments later, H will appear in the door of Elma’s room, holding a big bath towel by four corners, with a suspiciously daughter-shaped wiggling giggling bump in the middle:
“Look Mummy, I’ve caught a really big fish!”
Cue more giggles from the fluffy blue bundle.
“But I appear to have lost Kitty! Have you seen her?”
A fresh peal of laughter, and a little extra wiggling.
Eventually of course some dedicated searching high and low around her bedroom reveals our little girl and after the mandatory toddler objections to bedtime have been acknowledged and overruled, one small, slightly damp, pyjama-clad little girl is delivered into my lap next to her sister for stories.
It’s Kitty and H’s special moment at bedtime, something that only they share. But more than that, there is a tranquillity that comes from all four of us being united at the end of another day, sharing in the winding down before sleep (or in our case, a little gentle peace to say hi to each other). The best nights, are the nights with the Big Fish.
I so enjoyed reading the lovely everyday ordinary moments in Katie’s linky last week so I’m joining in again – hope to see you there.