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Post no. 21 (Parenting Skills, Lack thereof)

December 8, 2008

A few weeks ago we (my baby son, my wife and I) went to Gozo, to visit her relatives. As it happened, a friend of hers had just had a baby girl and  the friend’s mother insisted that we visit her.

We were reluctant, at first, because having just been through the experience ourselves, we knew that “other people” is the last thing you’d want to see in your house in those first few days of struggling with nappies and aiming breasts at your baby’s face… but I digress. To stop the nagging, we went.

Her friend and her husband are two of the friendliest people you’d want to meet. Never a frown or a harsh word. (Just to give you an example: He sides with Milan AC and I side with Liverpool FC. Remember Istanbul 2005. He still speaks to me and offers me beer. Can you be nicer than that? I think not). They welcomed us as though they had been expecting this moment all week… I mean … they were smiling. Incredible.

We chatted a bit about this and that when the doorbell rang. It was the priest who wed them. He came to congratulate them on their baby.

“Hmm, there’s something in the air I must say, what with all these babies around,” he said after congratulating us on 2 jobs well done 😉 “Don’t they bring joy and unity to a family?”


“Yes, on TV, they do.”

He spun round on his sofa, his facial muscles fighting among themselves about whether to reorganise themselves into a look of shock and horror or remain frozen in a photo-op grin.

“How do you mean?”

“Well, you know … you come home after a day’s work … all that crying …”

“But it’s what babies do, my son”

“No, I was talking about myself.”


“It takes all my self control not to join in.”

Patronising nod.

“You get sleepless nights, dirty clothes, you end up washing the floor at 3 am because that’s when baby decides to bring up the milk …”

He looked at the other pair of new parents for support.

“But when I cradle her, I forget everything and everybody.”

“There, see?”

“It’s all very true, but it’s the bits in between I’m talking about”

“How do you mean?”

Back to square one.

“Babies require a mental and physical stamina the likes of which I would never have thought possible. You’ll have pick yourself up and go on, even when you don’t have the strength for it.”

“Yes, there’s that too.”

“You’ve got to support your wife in her most important job to date. You’ve got to keep a stiff upper lip when you know it wants to wobble all over the place … you’ve got to be there when you’re not and pretend you’re not there when you are …”

“Yes … yes … but …”

“A baby is THE test of the strength of a marriage. It breaks you and her. It’s only pigheaded determination that pulls you through…”

“Yes, yes … we call it love, where I come from.”


It was my turn to look at him with my mouth open.

“You know you’re right?”

Patronising nod no. 2.

“Why do you think we bang on so much about love? Don’t you know we’ve heard all this a trillion times already? All you need is love, love, love. Love is all you need… Now let’s drink to that. Cheers.”

I was speechless. He was right. You only persist in all this because you love your wife and your incipient  family. For no other reason. I’d like to thank him again for reminding me.

It’s so easy to miss the wood for the trees.


From → Misfires

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