My elderly aunt was crying the other night. Quite a lot actually. She even made herself sick at one point. I rolled her to one side while I changed the sheet underneath her as quickly as I could. I didn't speak to her, look at her, hold her or offer her a glass of water. I didn't want to get her hopes up or let her think she might be cuddled or listened to. Was that OK?
Fatherhood and motherhood should not be seen as opposing forces - both roles complement each other. An involved father reduces the stress on an overburdened mother, improves family functioning and helps to build mum's own relationships with her children. And vice versa.
The other day there were simultaneous conversations going on; one about how their child's homework was too easy and the other about how their child's homework was too hard. And they weren't just discussing it, they were getting very worked up! They seemed to think that one teacher was either too lazy to set proper homework or thought their children were idiots.
Having had my first son 10 months ago, I became suddenly aware of how little support there is available to new mums and keeping up their self-esteem. Whilst there is plenty of style advice around for expectant mums, and maternity fashion in most high street shops, once the baby is born, there is not much in the way of mum support on what to wear to help feel 'you'...
Often, we don't even realise what's at the bottom of our partner's sudden outburst, tears, anger or other strong emotional reaction - we think it's because of xyz issue (not washing the dishes, flirting, going out with mates too often...). Whereas, in reality those buttons relate to fear of abandonment, rejection, intimacy or being unlovable - part of our individual life story.
One of the weirdest things about self-employement, is that nobody teaches you how to be self-employed. You just....do it. And make a lot of mistakes along the way. Over the last 17 years at the Freelance Coalface, I've learned a few really valuable things that, had I known them at the start, might have saved me a grey hair or 50.
Setting multiple alarms is futile as the snooze button is best mates with your laziness. This friendship does not count as an excuse to your boss about your tardiness and will ruin your school reports and job references.
Our mid twenties without Google search would be a shameful series of questions to family members starting with 'I know I should know this but...' whilst gazing wearily down at our Young person railcards. Much like the deteriorative hangover, the road to 30 creeps up without warning or fan fare..
This morning my four-year-old walked in on me in the bathroom and caught me mid-diet, eyes downcast with a frown on my face. She followed my gaze and immediately took in the silver scales I was standing on in the middle of the floor, out from their usual hiding place in the cupboard. "Mum, are you measuring yourself?"
When it was 6pm and they'd both refused their dinner and watched TV instead, there you were. When it 10am and we'd missed playgroup because of tantrums and I couldn't get the timing right to leave the house, there you were.
Good news; today's teenagers are less likely to drink, smoke and take drugs than their predecessors, according to statistics from the Department of Health this week. This, it would seem, makes them the most sensible, healthy and fresh-smelling generation for a decade.
No "Well dones you donated good genes", no "How are you feeling?" and no offers of advice on how to fathom out the bewildering world of fatherhood. Instead, they are left to figure it out for themselves, hope for the best and then get themselves back to work.
My son is in Year 6, so my diary for the next few weeks is full to bursting with open mornings, open days and open evenings for the local schools we're looking at. It's a huge decision to be making, especially if this is your first child to reach secondary age - one that could impact their life (and yours) quite significantly.
I am a grown up. I guess there is no escaping that now. And I've realised that although others may look at you as being a grown up it can take quite a long time to acknowledge it yourself. And potentially there is 'the moment' when you suddenly realise that it has happened.
Surely on Sundays all parents of young children should commit gleefully to playing with their kids: sleeves rolled-up and flying kites, digging in sandpits, role-playing in the playhouse, finger painting, whatever.
Like your brothers and sister, you all are the most precious gifts that God and Life gave us. We often talk in awe (still!) about how and why we had been chosen to parent these beautiful beings. After all, we were just two ordinary people who went to the pub one evening, sat on the beach, and accidentally made a baby.