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Column: Fathers, appreciate time with your kids before they grow up

Parenting isn’t always easy but don’t forget to savour the time you have with your children when you have the chance, writes Adrian Millar.

Adrian Millar

“I NEVER NOTICED the glory” the workaholic father in the movie The Tree of Life says when he realises that he has missed out on his children’s lives.

Well, I have (noticed the glory), though it hasn’t always been pretty.

I have been there all along the way with my children.


There, when the three of them were born –  so anxious about my first daughter’s heart pressure, which rose like the Himalayas and fell like the deepest ocean in her mother’s womb, and mine with it, that I never thought to ask the sex of the child until five minutes after she was born.

There, when each of the children took their first roll on the floor, and I danced with joy, even though my second daughter knocked her head off the settee in the process.

There, when I set my eldest daughter on the seat opposite me on the Belfast train and she promptly rolled over onto the ground. (Yes, I have kissed more bumps better than I wish to remember, and called out “Bold table! Bold table!” more times than I wish to think.)

There, when my eldest daughter, having just learned to crawl, disappeared out the front door on a dark November’s evening, only to be found ten minutes later on the main road. My fault.

There, when they cut their fingers, and I screamed “Mummy! Mummy!”primordially, my mother a hundred miles away in Belfast.

There, when they had dinner in front of the television one particular day – only to discover two weeks later that the unidentifiable smell in the room was maggoty broccoli that they had buried behind the bookshelf along with a host of stolen sweetie papers.

There, when my eldest daughter danced for the first time, in the heart of Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, with hundreds of shoppers passing by, wriggling her hips in her nappy to the sound of George Michael blasting out from HMV. And there when she got The Most Promising Dancer prize for Irish dancing four years later and my heart flooded, and I went to throw my arms around her, and she threw me a punch, embarrassed by her effusive father.

The glory of it all

There, as they fought with me day after day, defying me, like now, as I write this article – one of them begging me to leave the computer in order to check her home-work, another arguing with me about not getting into the bath.

There, when they drove each other spare with “Tell her to stop looking at me!”, and drove me spare into the bargain.

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“No one gets training for the job of parenting,” a friend said to me recently.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” I said. “I got a PhD in Japanese and a PhD in politics, and I trained to be a Catholic priest, so, if you ask me, I think I am pretty well qualified for the job of child-rearing, involving as it does an awful lot of politics, a wing and prayer, and what seems to me like a lot of Japanese, for all the listening my kids ever do to me.”

The glory of it all! Happy Father’s Day to all you dads!

Adrian Millar is a stay-at-home father of three daughters – who holds two PhDs (one in Politics and one in Japanese) – and a passion for the beauty of everyday life. Follow Adrian Millar’s various shenanigans on FacebookTwitter, in Dad’s World in The Irish Examiner’s Feelgood section (on Fridays), Linkedin, and adrianmillar.ie. Millar is the author of The Quiet Life (available at Lulu.com), Socio-ideological Fantasy and The Northern Ireland Conflict, and TomaYto, TomaHto, the story of a husband and wife whose marriage is on the rocks, and who swap roles for a week and come to see the world completely differently.

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