It's always nice when your blog gets a mention in the press. The other day mine was written about briefly in the Sunday Times' Style magazine; apparently I have a 'huge female following', something which I was previously unware of. They didn't specify whether the following itself was huge, or whether I had just one huge female following me about.
Elsewhere in the article, another 'daddy blog' is mentioned. The father in question has chosen to remain anonymous.
"In my professional life I have been shot at, bombed, caught in massive earthquakes and attacked by wild animals," he says. "However, being a father is the hardest and most stressful thing I have ever done."
What a load of rubbish.
Yes, parenting is exhausting, and often stressful. But more stressful than being shot at? Really? Am I meant to believe that there are soldiers fighting in Afghanistan who count themselves lucky that they're in a mere deadly firefight with terrorists? After all, it could be worse...they could be changing a dirty nappy, or - perish the thought - mopping up a torrent of projectile vomiting.Nowadays, we think too much about parenting. We over-analyse it, constantly comparing ourselves against other parents, or against milestones. Our one-year-old daughter, Jemima, can't yet crawl. (It's not a physiological thing, she's just really lazy.) The health visitor who came to assess her progress at her nine-month checkup pretty much freaked out. She should be crawling by now, she said. She's falling behind.
But we're not bothered - not because we don't care, but because every child progresses at a different rate. Our second son, Noah, was about sixteen months old when he started crawling, and now you can't stop him from running around. He's like a constant blur of smiles and shrieking. So why should we worry about Jemima? She will crawl one day, in her own sweet time.
We could easily get stressed about it, but we're not, because parenting is only as difficult as you - the parent - decides it needs to be. You could fret about progress, or spend every spare minute trying to educate them, teach them new things, but all that happens is you end up frazzled and upset when things don't go exactly how you imagine they would.
We love our children very much, and want them to be happy. And, sometimes, you just need to let children be children and progress at their own rate. As long as they're fed, clean and happy, then we can consider ourselves to have done a good job. Remember those Tamagotchis, the virtual pets that were a craze in the 90s? Having a baby is just like having a Tamagotchi, apart from it costs you a fortune and you can't lose it down the back of the sofa.
Parenting doesn't have to be stressful, it doesn't have to be a chore. But it can be fun, a joy, a wonderful experience. It's all about how you approach it.
You can read Ben's previous columns here.