For the first 6 months or so I was pretty much redundant when it came to feeding Littlest View From a Daddy. With Mrs VFAD nursing our newest addition, it meant that I needed to take on other key roles that are essential when a little human arrives in the house: changing nappies, getting the washing sorted, taking charge of the family meals etc.
It is logical that developing pathways of support for this young man and thousands like him could change the life chances for both father and child. In turn, that would bring cost benefits to service providers like local authorities, as well as creating a positive social value in breaking the negative cycles we have seen for so many years.
Of course it isn't always easy to find the motivation, and sometimes I feel guilty dragging Sonny away from the warmth of the house and the comfort of his bouncy chair, but this little dude absolutely loves being outside and I can't deny him that pleasure just because it's got a bit chillier and I'm feeling lazy.
Our conversations at the dinner table have certainly taken a turn for the strange since my wife fell pregnant. "I wish I'd gone around licking cats' bums before we conceived," she said in earnest the other day. We were talking toxoplasmosis, a rare parasitic disease that pregnant women can transmit to their unborn babies with dire consequences.
I may be so much more conscious of this issue as a single parent, who is self-employed, runs a charity and has raised two kids 'single handedly'. My girls roll their eyes and mime at this line as it is much used, mainly in an aim to get people to see that if I can do it....anyone can, seriously, anyone can do this.
My emotions have been all over the place in the last week. It all started with a bug, our eight year old son complained of a sore tummy. This turned into sickness and diarrhoea that felt endless! My wife at this time was nine months pregnant and our focus was on getting our son better before his new little brother came along.
In answer to the question, no women do not better parents than men. There are, of course, bad dads in the world and there are also bad mothers. I just don't think society gives men the opportunities to prove what great parents they can be. This is simply because the overwhelming responsibility for raising children almost always falls on women and this starts at birth.
Time and time again research shows us that children need their fathers, their grandfathers. Where there is love there is hope and the ability to continue to have strong, positive relationships no matter what barriers are in place. I see the love and hope every week, it flows through the barred windows and the cast iron doors. There is humour, there is tension, there is opportunity for the dads to be more and be better.
One day, hopefully many decades from now, I can picture myself rocking manically in an old folks' home (or mental asylum), still haunted by the sinking realisation that the the Wheels On The Bus may never stop going round and round. Or that the Grand Old Duke of York will never stop marching his troops to the top of the hill. Or that I will be Row, Row, Rowing My Boat gently down the stream until i'm clinically insane.
The urgent need for a gift for my husband has found me in a pottery cafe, yet again, ruining perfectly good mugs with our children's painted footprints. The irony is not lost on the toddler, who notes that I am less enthused about her handprints when they adorn the TV screen, the folding doors and my white shorts.