I’ll keep this intro short, since this is a bit of a long interview but so worth the read! For this month’s November Chat with a Dad, let me introduce you to Mark. He is the man behind the funny, fresh and very candid blog: The Tales of Sonny and Luca. This blog, btw belongs to my top blogs written by a Dad. If this blog isn’t on your list yet, I suggest you add this to yours too.
Tell us something about yourself.
My name’s Mark and I live with my partner Janet and our two boys Sonny (4) and Luca (3) in South Manchester.
I used to masquerade as a Sales Rep but was fortunately offered voluntary redundancy before they discovered I was a truly terrible salesman. In hindsight it was a blessing as Janet really wanted to return to work whilst I felt I was missing out on so much of our boys early years because of the long hours I was working.
Financially it was very difficult and we’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices but thankfully Janet found herself a great job as a Researcher which she really enjoys, and this allowed me to become a full-time stay at home dad, which is what I still am today.
What was your little ones birth stories like?
Sonny’s was relatively straight forward and dare I say easy (only a man could say that!)
Labour was short and without complication, and Janet being the woman she is took everything in her stride. Unfortunately some of those strides were on a tennis court with her nephew when she was 8 months pregnant, much to my contempt. She strained a muscle, or rather a few muscles, and we ended up in A&E with her being lambasted by the doctors. I said nothing. I didn’t need to, she knew in my head I was saying “I told you so!”
Luca’s on the other hand was traumatic from the very start. She fell pregnant only three months after Sonny was born. Three months later she was pretty much bedridden for the remainder of the pregnancy with high blood pressure and severe gestational diabetes. From five months we were at the hospital two or three times a week for a multitude of tests, and were never more than a couple of days away from the prospect of an emergency c-section. During this time I was under the constant threat of redundancy, struggling financially, had a newborn to look after, and a house move to organise. With Janet needing to be stress free I hid most of the problems from her, then not long after Luca was born I suffered a mental breakdown. With hindsight it’s not surprising and I should have shared the burden with others but being a typical bloke I assumed I’d cope. Clearly I didn’t but that’s a whole other story.
Thankfully Janet somehow managed to make it to full term and Luca was born a healthy yet small 6lbs; exactly the same as his brother.
After both births I went to the toilet in the delivery room and inadvertently pulled the emergency chord thinking it was the toilet flush handle. On both occasions I caused untold panic in the Maternity ward!
What you wish you knew about being a dad before becoming one?
So much. To fully appreciate every opportunity of sleep. That sometimes there is no fathomable reason for them crying. That every involvement you have no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time is priceless. That powdered milk and nappies are bloody expensive.
How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?
Luckily it’s not an issue for me now as a stay at home dad. If anything I have too much time with them, weekends can sometimes feel like unpaid overtime! With Janet working I try and make sure we all eat together at night and I take care of the dishes etc so she can spend what time she has in the evening playing with them.
How do you manage to arrange child-free time with your wife/partner? Do you have date-nights?
Until recently we’ve managed it very badly. A few months ago we both realised how little time we were spending together without the kids so decided to do something about it. Thanks to a very helpful Granny we’re now trying to have at least one or two date-nights a month, whether it be going for a meal, the cinema, or seeing a band/comedian etc.
It’s possibly more important for us as Janet first fell pregnant after we’d only been seeing each other for three months. We’d been going to see bands as ‘mates’ for a few months prior to us becoming a couple but still, our whirlwind of a honeymoon period appears to have included a weekend in Madrid, moving in together, and two babies? It’s a good job we get on!
For the last couple of years we’ve also managed a weekend away for my birthday. Janet’s sister kindly comes down from Edinburgh to look after the boys so we can have a couple of nights away. We only go up the road to Manchester but two tantrum-free nights of full sleep are wonderful. I’m not sure if when Janet’s sister first agreed to take the kids she knew it would become an annual tradition, but then if she had it possibly wouldn’t be.
Any favourite anecdotes about your little ones?
There’s a few, pretty much all of them on my blog already though. My favourite and most embarrassing ones were Sonny’s fight with a Dyson Hand-dryer and more recently our impromptu R.E. lesson in a lift. (Click here to read the Dyson Hand-dryer post).
Two weeks ago, I entered a lift with the delusion of being a religious scholar, and left a broken man.
Here follows the transcript of what broke me….
Sonny: “Why is that man hiding?”
Me: “He’s not hiding, and it’s a lady”
Luca: “I can see you!”
Sonny: “Is he playing hide and seek?”
Me: “SHE is not playing hide and seek, you’re being really rude, now quiet please.”
Sonny: “Is he wearing a costume?”
Luca: “Like Batman?”
Me: “No. It’s not a man, and SHE is not wearing a costume. Shush please, we’ll discuss this later.”
(C’mon now, why is this lift stopping, no one is getting in!)
Luca: “Is she a Power Ranger?”
Sonny: “Is it Emily?”
Me: “I’m really sorry! No she’s not a Power Ranger, she’s wearing something called a Burkha, now be quiet PLEASE!”
(Seriously, why is this lift stopping on every floor?)
Luca: “What’s a Burkha?”
Me: “It’s something people wear.”
Sonny: “Can I have a Burkha?”
Luca: “I want a Burkha too!’
Me: “You’re not having a Burkha. You’re not a girl, or a Muslim.”
Luca: “Do you want a Burkha Sonny? I want a Burkha. Daddy, can I have a Burkha?”
Me: “No one is having a Burkha, now quiet! PLEASE!”
Sonny: “Burkha’s are silly. What’s a Muslim?”
(Who the hell is pressing the buttons? Every damn floor?)
Me: “We’ll talk about this later. I’m so sorry!”
Luca: “I want to be a Muslim”
Me: “It doesn’t work like that.”
Sonny: “What’s a Muslim?”
Me: “Someone who believes in God. ”
Luca: “Granny likes God!”
Sonny: “Is Granny a Muslim?”
Me: “No … do you know what, yes, yes she is!”
Sonny: “The Wise Old Elf’s a Muslim.”
Me: “No he’s not.”
Sonny: “But you said he was!”
Me: “No I didn’t. Right, out of the lift boys!”
Sonny: “This isn’t our floor. You said we were going to the 1st floor!”
Me: “OUT! NOW!”
Click here to read full post.
What is it about fatherhood you love?
I love watching them grow, develop, and discover new things. The precious moments when they laugh uncontrollably at the strangest of things. When we’re playing on the floor and I’m lost in their weird and warped imaginations. And from a selfish point of view when they assume I know everything and then believe whatever gubbins I tell them.
If there’s anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?
Lack of sleep! I miss having the time to do my own thing, and the constant feeling that I should probably go to bed when it’s only 9pm. I’ve also had to put a temporary (I hope) halt to my love of discovering new music until I can find time to listen to it. Football! I miss being able to watch a game of football on the TV without the constant barrage of “is it finished yet?”
Wow, more than I realised, I wish you hadn’t asked now!
Is there anything about being a stay at home dad you like/dislike about?
I feel really grateful to have shared so much of their early years. We’ve been able to have days out when everywhere is wonderfully quiet. We’ve visited the zoo, museums, art galleries, playgroups, parks, the list is endless. I’ve been so lucky to have shared so many of their ‘first’ moments, and to have been able to play such an active role in their development (for better or worse?)
The only thing I dislike a little is the lack of adult interaction. I say only a little as it’s become quite apparent I’m far happier in the company of children than I am adults. It’s only when I’m offering the builders ‘fizzy pop’ I become aware of how unbalanced my child/adult time has become.
Best advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood.
I’m not sure I’ve ever received any.
I was asked recently to contribute to a light-hearted open letter to Prince William about fatherhood though, so this is some advice I gave on the subject.
Sit on the Floor and Play. Eat, drink, and play. Talk, and play. And never forget to PLAY.
If you can give yourself some advice before becoming a dad, what would it be?
It’s hard to answer this without it being riddled with clichés. Savour every minute you have with them. Don’t spend the first year or so wishing for them to reach the next stage of their development as it’ll come too soon anyway. And sleep when they sleep. NEVER miss an opportunity to sleep!
There’s clearly a theme running through all my answers and it revolves around the LACK OF SLEEP!
Thanks so much Mark!
C’mon everyone head off to his blog NOW for more tales from this funny-and ever-so-cool dad.
You can also connect with him through twitter
and don’t forget to like his FB page too!