Well the time has come, the end is nigh. It's been 8 months since I took on the title of full time parent, but tomorrow I can no longer call myself that as I have to re-enter the 'real' world. To say I'm unhappy about that is an understatement.
The last 8 months have been the best, most fulfilling, rewarding and wonderful period in my entire life. I don't think I can articulate exactly how special a time it has been. Being solely responsible (in the daylight hours anyway) for a baby, and then watching her grow to be a 16 month old toddler and sharing that experience with her is something I'll cherish forever. And I know she and I will share a special bond because of it.
Of course only time will tell whether I did a good job. So far she's very happy, and seems to be doing all the things she's supposed to, but really its only in later years where I'll be able to see whether my influence on her was good, bad or otherwise. But then again, how much can you determine your influence in bringing up a baby? I mean each child, each person, is different, and as parents, we're really laying foundations for learning and behaviour, but she is still her own person, in the same way now that we can tell she is different to the other two kids.
As for me, I've learned an awful lot, not only about being a full time parent, and cooking, cleaning, and of course time management, but about myself. I think I've become a more rounded, less selfish individual. I've become more patient and more understanding and most definitely more appreciative of everything Lord Vader has done for so many years.
Which is a nice lead in to the experiment. Remember that, the one postulated by a good friend?Well being a full time parent was really hard, for a week or so. I didn't know what I was doing, I was hectic, unorganised, and barely getting food on the table but then I learned to manage my time, concentrate on the essentials, and not worry about being Super Dad (or more pointedly Lord Vader because I was never going to be able to live up to that). Full time parenting is about doing what you need to do, and using your time wisely. Do that, and its a sheer joy. I mean what could be better than participating in your little one's early days? Nothing that I can think of. Sure there are times when things get chaotic because kids are sick or you forgot to do this or that, but its all manageable. Is it all latte's and gossiping? Well no, but probably because I don't drink coffee, I only went out for my first hot choccy in November, and gossiping is something I've never really been interested in. But the point is that whilst there are plenty of responsibilities there is also time to do things for yourself (like coffees with friends if that is what you want to do). Once again, it's all about being organised and understanding priorities.
I mentioned earlier that I wasn't happy about rejoining the real world. Why would I be? I am going from the best job in the world to sitting behind a desk and a computer for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Look, I'm resigned to the fact that I'm about to re-enter the paid workforce (hmm resigned, good word that) and I appreciate that it's a fiscal necessity, but it doesn't mean I'm looking forward to it. Yes it will have it's own challenges, and its own rewards, but they pale into insignificance when compared to what I've been doing for last 8 months of my life. In this case the grass isn't greener on the other side, trust me. However, life will go on, the cutest one will survive and flourish without me, Lord Vader will drop to part time and be able to spend more time with the cutest one and they'll both love that (even if I'll be jealous). And in the end, I'll always have the best 8 months I've ever experienced, and I wouldn't trade those experiences and memories for anything. It is without doubt the best thing I've ever done in my life.
If you're a Dad and you're thinking about taking parental leave and being a full time parent, don't think, just do. You won't regret it.