14/08/2014 16:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Three Into Four: In Praise Of Da-Da


Having never grown up or lived with my father, I am able to have an idealised vision of what a father should be like, without it being tainted by reality.

(This isn't to say the things I know about my father are good. He's a disaster. But, living 4,000 miles away, he wasn't a disaster under my roof.) So I had lots of opportunities to console myself with my vision of the 'dream dad'.

This, as you can imagine, is terrible news for the father of my children. Not only does he have to deal with my years of repressed resentment towards men, he also has to compete with an idealised fantasy. And eat my cooking. Eek.

It's no surprise that sometimes, he doesn't live up to the 'dream' vision. (He's human after all, and the 'dream' never fell asleep on the phone to me in a taxicab on a drunken night out.)

So despite being my favourite person ever (other than two I produced), it's easy for him to become a target of random sniping, exhausted bitterness or a scapegoat for a misbehaving child (all true vice-versa for me, too). Isn't that one of the realities that happens to all parents of young children?

There's a lot of frustration, a lot of arguing for no reason and while the "I'm grateful to you for helping me to survive, enjoy and laugh on yet another day" sentiment is often there, it's rarely vocalised.

Since Daddy doesn't get snuggles like Bolshy the bulldog (and then told repeatedly that he's the handsomest guy on the planet while he slobbers all over me), I want to give him a little mini-tribute, because really, behind the cricket obsession and inability to put clothes anywhere other than floor, he's really a rather fabulous father (and husband).

But maybe I don't need to tell him that - his current status in our household as rock god is undisputed. Da-da - Liv's new name for Daddy, which is usually sputtered out of her mouth while hyperventilating since she's so excited about the prospect of a glimpse, touch or cuddle with her idol - cannot walk through the door without being mobbed by both girls.

If D sits on his lap, Liv freaks out until she is able to clamber up there, whereupon he turns to me, beaming, and asks if there is this kind of devotional ceremony made in tribute to me every time I plop myself down on the couch.

Of course, the answer is no. But that may be because I am unable to have a seat on the sofa at any point during the day?

Liv waddles around (yes, I have a waddler now - it's divine), arms outstretched, waiting to get a cuddle from her beloved. She steals phones, screaming "Da-da? Da-da!" into them (after a week away for work with only phone communication, Liv came to the conclusion that Da-da lives in phones and will always answer one if you yell into it, even if he's sitting next to you), and she hasn't bothered to say "Ma-ma" for about a month. In fact, her word for pretty much everything is "Da-da," (the only other word she consistently uses is "wa-wa," short for "water" and code for milk).

Meanwhile, D brings home paintings she made for him at nursery and picks out "presents" for him every time we leave the house (usually marketing materials from the bank, but it's the thought, right?) Da-da is used to growing up in a mostly male environment, where neglecting someone's birthday is probably less offensive than actually splashing out on a present. He's loving this VIP treatment.

Another reason he's deserving? While we may not have the most feminist-y of arrangements (he works long hours, in an office; I work part-time from home and mostly look after the girls - no one's complaining, but that's the way it is), when it comes to middle-of-the-night wake-ups (which, with one girl or the other, happens at least twice a week these days), it's Da-da who gets up, despite needing to be awake at 5:30am for work. Granted, this is because (when not breastfeeding), I sleep like one of D's princess heroines, but I still think it's pretty wonderful. And definitely an innovative way to split childcare duties...

When D woke up in the night last week and spent the next hour throwing up, Da-da was at the scene, calming D down and cleaning up the floor where she had thrown up in between giving her kisses, cuddles and pats on the back for being brave, while I changed the sheets (Wondering how I woke up? It was 11pm so I hadn't technically fallen asleep yet). He was completely calm, cool and collected, inspiring the same behaviour in me (I usually veer towards the hysterical) and Diana was able to go back to sleep without issue.

Cute. I guess sometimes it takes seeing the person you love covered in vomit to want to declare your undying love to them.

Looks like the celeb of the house has another female fan.