WE STRETCHED IT seven months but Caitlin is out on her own in the big, bad [child-minded] world. Her bag was packed, this morning, with several nappies, a blue monkey and two tubes of teething gel.
Cat is back in work and found it tough when putting our daughter to bed last night. Now, the schedule becomes a juggle with my mother on the speed-dial if a working day stretches too long or an additional shift crops up.
I have had more than six months of enjoying full days in Cailtlin’s presence to catching a fleeting glimpse before or after work. It will take Cat some getting used to. Add on the full delivery term and those two have been close to inseparable for almost a year and a half.
While Caitlin will see less of her mother in the coming months, I will have to start fending for myself again and re-embracing housework. I have to admit, while my wife was at home, I occasionally — weeks on end — lapsed into Don Draper mode.
Dinners were often made and the house was in great shape. D.I.Y jobs that I D.I.didn’t were checked off the list too as I languished in a 1950s-esque comfort zone. As part of her first week back in work, Cat has decided to go on house-work strike. I am being re-trained but distractions [like this column] are easy to find.
Google Maps is not accurate with a camper van and a baby
Before Cat headed back to the jobbing world, we had the opportunity to get away to the south of England on holidays. The idea was to get away from Ireland but not too far and without flying. We sorted out a camper van, had a rainy night in Rosslare and set off at 7am the next morning. The destination was St Ives in Cornwall.
When planning the trip, we were guilty of thinking as our former selves. Google Maps told us our post-ferry drive would be five hours. It turned out to be closer to eight. We knew there would be a feed or two along the way but Caitlin was often more interested in escaping her baby-seat shackles than having her bottle. Camper vans do not go 100mph too. We were shattered after the trip and felt like parents that had pushed our luck. Fish and chips tastes better than guilt so I volunteered to go scouting as Cat kicked off the peace negotiations.
Once we got settled, we enjoyed a fantastic 10 days away. The good weather helped but the time we spent together was great for Caitlin and she really flourished because of it. I swear she developed more in those days than she had in a month before but perhaps it is because I just took the time out to notice. She’s a little gem and already has the hang of peek-a-boo.
After many, many false alarms, here come the teeth
The first set of choppers are on their way and causing the odd restless night. Foreboding words had used primed for red-light emergencies but they proved false alarms. Murmurings under the surface. It is more of a gradual process and there have not been too many night and day-time screaming sessions but we think we are ready for the levee’s break. Caitlin already responds to the sight of teething gel with a glint in her eyes — ‘This’ll help’.
The strengthening of the gums and echoes of teeth have coincided with the ebbing move to solids to go with all that delicious milk. Cat is a sponge for other methods from friends, neighbours and work colleagues when it comes to what may work best. We are dabbling with baby-led weaning. Orange wedges are handy as they have a natural holder but bananas and kiwis are pure carnage. Having Caitlin eat whilst we are certainly encourages her.
What actually constitutes a first word?
Caitlin has mastered her ‘A’s’ and has moved on to the letter B. It has led to many BBbbbs, a sprinkling of Bbaaas and we were even treated to Baba a few times. As tempting as it was to get excited about our word-dropping wunderkind, I have to raise the question. Does she need to know what a Baba is for it to count or is the fact that she said it enough to celebrate?
The champagne is on ice.
@patmccarry is sports reporter and rugby correspondent for TheScore.ie. Playwright of shows that have appeared at Vicar Street, Electric Picnic, Bulmers Comedy Festival and New Zealand Comedy Festival. He is a Dubliner, living in Kildare. Happily married for 18 months and counting.