Friday, 4 September 2015

Goodbye to All That

Last day at work today. One more day before I become official, de-facto resident MD of Household Do-little. Previously, the family was somewhere I merely visited but now, after today, it'll be my new full-time post. Daddy Do-little, DG, the stay-at-home-dad. And, no, in this case the DG doesn't stand for 'Driven Genius' - it's an acronym for 'Dogsbody, General'.

The last day, the last shift, the last time I'll have to make my sandwiches, the last last-minute dash to the car, the last fuel-burning race through the country lanes. And it's an early finish today; yesterday (this morning?) I didn't leave work until midnight but we get it easy on a Friday and I ought to be out by ten o'clock at the latest. Eight hours. A closing gesture; a gentle slackening of the ties of remunerated toil before the final release into the land of unpaid fatherhood.

I'm feeding Isaac his breakfast when I hear a text message come through on my phone and I make sure he's finished before I wander upstairs to check it out. It's a long message. "Good morning. I'm sorry but todays shift has been cancelled..."  There's more to read but the most important details are in those first two sentences. Briefly, work is off.

So, for now, that's it. My time as an employed citizen is, temporarily at least, at an end. I've been counting the days until this moment, the time when I become a stay-at-home dad, "every father's dream" as a friend described it to me recently, but now that the moment has arrived my first reaction is, strangely, one of despondency. I stare dumbly out of the window. It wasn't supposed to be like this; I was supposed to have that one more shift to get all that 'employed' feeling out of my system so that I hit 'stay-at-home' softly and logically. This, this is like being dropped off the end of a rope without your feet touching the ground and, bump!, it's a hard landing.

Perhaps the most difficult thing to get used to about leaving work is the sudden loss of belonging. However tentatively, however awkwardly, however artificially, people at any company are all part of a team. It's the same sort of mindset that makes ex-scholars look back with misty-eyed affection at their schooldays, when they were simply a cog fitted neatly into a machine. Suddenly, it feels to me as if my little cog is out of place.

My first duty as a 'home' parent is changing a dirty nappy. Symptomatic of things to come, I think wryly. The morning sky is grey; it mirrors my mood.

Of course, the mood doesn't last. It's nearly autumn. The apple trees are heavy with fruit and the blackberries are ripening in the hedgerows. The days are getting shorter, the mornings are getting darker but nature is still working. And so am I. I have a different 'belonging' now. My tiny cog is part of a new mechanism; a machine that's going to be run mostly by two small children. Inevitably, some crazy days lie ahead but it's what we make of them that counts. Every day is new. And let's rejoice in that. 

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