Toby has had quite a bad cold and as a result hasn't been sleeping, thus Phil and I haven't been sleeping either, but that doesn't mean that the responsibilities are on hold for the day. There are no sick days as a parent no matter how cruddy or sleep-deprived or manic you may feel. In said state of cruddy, sleep-deprived mania, I decided that being a parent is like being a one-man circus for both mums and dads. Here's why:
I'll start with the most obvious comparison. I wrote a post a while back about juggling my responsibilities and it's never more true than when you have a poorly/clingy/teething child who doesn't understand that although you desperately want to take away their pain and upset, you simply can't. Whilst you feel terrible about your lack of superhuman abilities to heal the sick, you still have to try and keep yourself, your child/ren, your house and your work clean, tidy, dressed, fed and up-do-date. Not easy when your gorgeous, darling, snot-infested little love screams the moment you move further than a metre away (Toby has tape-measure eyesight, I'm sure of it) So you juggle, balancing your baby on your hip while you schedule a blog post, reply to emails, make sandwiches and wash the dishes. Oh to own a dishwasher...
2. Walking the Tightrope
We live in a 200-year-old cottage, so balance and accuracy is necessary in order to creep stealthily out of Toby's room without stepping on a toy, loose floorboard, the cat, my own foot or stray carrot from tea. It is like having a thin tightrope upon which I have to balance precariously if I am to stand any chance to putting down my Toby-shaped juggling ball for half an hour during naptime. Half an hour, I mean come on kiddo, can't I get a good solid hour?
3. Lion Taming
Don't pretend you don't get this reference. I refer once again to the snotty, clingy child who won't let you move too far away yet get too close with a medicine spoon or syringe and you're at risk of serious injury from tiny, cute, vicious nails clawing your eyes out. Have I got the only child in the world who will fight me until the bitter end to avoid a dose of Calpol?! I'd drink it for him if it'd do any good because it's lovely. NB I most certainly do not, under any circumstances, have what's left on the spoon. Often.
4. Clowning Around
What is it that changes in your head when you give birth which makes singing, dancing, pulling faces, making silly noises and generally humiliating yourself in public acceptable for the sake of entertaining your child? I'm a shy person, or at least I was until the day I found myself singing and signing the 'Hello' song from Something Special to Toby as we wandered through town. Damn you Mr Tumble!
Your baby is trying to launch himself off of the changing table and you have to keep him up there whilst also reaching for the wipes he threw on the floor and using your third hand to stop him from planting his foot into the dirty nappy. Oh, that's right, there is no third hand. Wishful thinking...
6. Human Cannonball
The only way to get across the room fast enough to stop your little one from falling, eating pet food, climbing into the bin, pulling cables out of the TV or putting their hand into the dog's mouth. Even once you've launched yourself across the room to save them, they simply don't learn and move on to the next thing as soon as your back is turned.
7. Bearded Lady
Okay, so maybe not quite a beard, but who has time to shave their legs these days?
8. Fire Eating
If you get the chance to eat a hot meal, you grab that plate and shovel the food down your neck without hesitation, even if it is piping hot. You have a matter of seconds before your children will notice you have food and want to share. Even if they were asleep, they can smell it, they will wake up for a bite.
You've hopped, skipped and jumped around the house to get everything and everyone ready for a trip out then as you run to the car to usher the children in, someone's forgotten their teddy, someone wants a wee, someone doesn't want to go. You backflip, somersault and leap your way between the teddy hunt, toilet and crying toddler stubbornly refusing to move until everyone is back in the car and you're on the move.
Story time requires many different voices for each character and if you're really on the ball, sometimes even props too. Absolutely fantastic ways to engage your child in literary activities, but an eagle-eyed toddler may not be happy to see your mouth moving at the same time as the puppet's who is telling the story. Keep the magic alive; learn ventriloquism!
So there we have it. I think the evidence is conclusive that whatever job you thought you had being a parent means that above all else you are, without a doubt, a circus. Would you take a career change? No, me either.