I adore my kids. Like any parent believes of their progeny, I’m convinced my four are the best-behaved, most advanced, prettiest kids around and they smell like angel’s breath all the time.
They aren’t, by the way, and they don’t. They are capable of immensely poor decision making, hilarious stupidity and, mostly, they smell of stale rice cakes and a faint aroma of poo.
Having kids, without a doubt, is the best thing that Tracy and I have ever done and we wouldn’t change our situation for the world. We’ve been blessed with four beautiful, bouncing, healthy children and don’t take our good fortune for granted.
Having said that, I think there are some things that those without children should know. Once you become child-rich, you become other-things-poor. You lose stuff. I’ve outlined some of them below:
Kids possess an innate homing instinct. It kicks in if a wrapper on anything sweet makes the tiniest noise. BANG! They’re right beside you. “What’re you eating, Daddy? Can I have some?” You will also never wee alone again. Silently close the door of the downstairs toilet, gingerly slide the latch across and delicately undo your belt buckle. BANG! BANG! BANG! “Daddy! Let me in! I have to go to the toilet! No, I don’t like the one upstairs! What are you doing in there? Is it a poo? Daddy!”
2. Finished Conversations
Children are knowledge sponges. They say that the brain develops more in the first five years of a person’s life than it does for the remainder of their lives. This means questions. So. Many. Questions. Quite probably the same questions you answered yesterday. And this morning. And just now. Like, five minutes ago.
“Why do you have shoes on, Daddy?”
“Is Mammy a lady?”
“Why do the girlies have heads, Daddy?”
“Who is your Daddy, Daddy?”
Over and over and over again. They do it almost absentmindedly but they won’t let one slide. They’ll never let one slide. Try to ignore one question in a run of 17 and you’ll be hounded into an answer. This happened tonight when I prioritised a burning dinner over my three-year-old’s impersonation of Chris Tarrant on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire for six seconds:
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Is it? Daddy! Is it? Is It? Daddy, is it? Daddy! DADDY!”
“What? Is what? Is it what, Sam?”
“Is a dog a cat’s Daddy, Daddy?”
“What’ll we do tonight? Wanna go see a movie?”
“Dunno. We could go bowling first?”
“Yeah, let’s do that and then grab a bite to eat before the movie.”
“And, afterwards, we can head over to Danny’s house and hang out there for a bit.”
HA! HA! HA! HA!
Once there are children involved, you will find yourself using military organizational techniques, spreadsheets and hostage negotiation skills just to go to Spar for bread.
Someone asked me whether I was going in for “the snip”, now that we have four kids. I laughed. It’s not that I’m blasé about such things because I don’t think we could cope with another baby, but I don’t need the snip. I don’t need it BECAUSE we have four kids! I haven’t touched my wife since the twins were born. Wait, no, I wiped baby puke off her shoulder in May. It was quite sensual, actually. I spend more time in the spare bedroom, comforting whichever of them has had a bad dream/wet the bed/wants a bottle (delete as appropriate) and praying I’ll get at least two hours sleep before work. Oh, speaking of which…
This goes without saying but the extent to which it disappears is inexplicable to people without kids. I used to do breakfast radio. For eight years, I got up at 4:25am. I went to bed at 10pm every night. Even in the summer, when it was still bright outside. I was under the most pressure, workwise, of my life. I did a nine-hour work day that began at 5am. I avoided any normal evening activity; Champions League matches on the telly, going to the cinema, meeting up for a drink after work. FOR EIGHT YEARS! This was all because of the spectre of sheer, unadulterated exhaustion that comes with that shift.
And guess what.
I was less tired then than I am now. By a country mile.
I am typing this on my Apple MacBook. I use it to make music, edit videos and pictures and write articles for HerFamily.ie. Just a few short years ago, the aluminium wonder was prized above all else. It was put carefully away in a zipped, padded sleeve case, on a high shelf. The power cable was unplugged, wrapped precisely and placed beside the case. Now, there is a smear of yoghurt across the screen so that every time I get to the end of a line of typed text, I can’t actually see what the last eight letters are. There is some kind of brown spatter stuck to the underside of the computer. I’m hoping it’s dinner. I’m REALLY hoping it’s dinner. Oh, and it’s bent, dented and has no storage space left on it for any of the above-mentioned media projects because it’s full of pictures of the four kids and terabytes of Peppa Pig episodes.
Forget it. Unless you have a team of maids, who live with you and actively follow you and your brood around from dawn to dusk, you are living in squalor. You’re tolerating broke student bed-sit levels of skank because you’re too tired to do anything about it once the little feckers have eventually gone to sleep. (See No. 5) Right now, in our sitting room, which I think is quite tidy, I can see an overturned box of Lego, two baby bottles, two dirty nappies (my fault, I was supposed to bin them before I started this article), a solitary goalie glove, six shoes but only two make up a matching pair, two apple cores and Jake the Pirate’s ship, Bucky. Bucky is covered in this morning’s porridge that was thrown in a tantrum because somebody couldn’t taste their cinnamon. And, like I said, this looks like a room I’d happily have friends sit down in, if they dropped over unannounced. Not that that’s ever going to happen again! (See No. 3)
I know. I know. I’ve brought it back around to something romantic and mushy but it’s true. I’ve found that losing all of the above things that Tracy and I would have prized as a childless couple hasn’t mattered that much at all. Yes, we miss each other, the ability to go anywhere, anytime, a tidy house and the pure joy of a solitary wee, but none of that comes anywhere close to the joy the crazy, miniature versions of ourselves give us.
We don’t mind losing out on all of these things because it means we have the best things in the world: Andrew, Samuel, Nina and Anna.
I am David Zachary John Moore. I am married to Tracy (who used to be Velcro Girl on 2Phat). We have four kids. We have a dog called Lorna, a lurcher we rescued in 2005. She can leap a nine-foot wall in one go. I am tired.