When the mouse is away the cat experiences an existential crisis

Dear Loinspawn,

Last night I came home, the euphoria flowing thick like custard through my veins as I climbed on the table, lit several cigarettes at once and poured whiskey in wild abandon over my face while your mother danced around in her underwear listening to inappropriately loud music.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Your mother wasn’t frolicking in her lingerie, the closest thing I had to whiskey was a glass of flat Coke, I’ve stopped smoking and I doubt whether there was actually any music. Except for in my head. There was certainly music in my head. It was the sound of a symphony waxing as it announced the arrival of our first childless weekend in….let’s just call it a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away from here.

I love you. But sometimes I hate being a parent. And this weekend I have particularly strong feelings of affection for your grandparents who have whisked you away and left your mother and I to our own devices, which is…

Shit. I don’t know. I forgot what it is you do when you are young and childless. Sorry, just childless. I think we’ll sit on the couch a lot and watch movies. Or read a book in the afternoon and take a nap. We’ll talk about things other than your snotty nose or the big shit you took this morning, we’ll go out for supper and who knows…we might even have sex…although you appeared the last time that happened, so perhaps just the movie…

For the next 48 hours we actually have options…which, truth be told, we don’t know what to do with. Do we just chill? Do we work in the garden? Do we visit all our friends? Do we go and party till three in the morning? Do we go shopping? Do we just spend some time alone? Or do we seriously spend the whole weekend just figuring out what it is that we should do with our time?

The truth is, as soon as you become a parent the front part of your brain called the Parental Autopilotus takes control, but it is unable to process the rare occasions when there is no child to look after. It starts spasming and trying to fire neurons in areas of the brain covered with the cobwebs of nostalgia. The pressure to maximise the alone time becomes debilitating and makes you feel like a confused rat in a childless maze.

It’s 7:44 am as I type this. All I can hear is the steady click-click-click of this keyboard…and your mother snoring with the kind of bliss that translates to: “I can lie in bed the whole day if I wanted to.”

Usually by now, you would have been covered in porridge from head to toe after insisting that you feed yourself. You would have cried until I let you watch an episode of Pingu (or PeePee as you prefer to call him). You would have either spilled something, dropped something, or broken something.

All the books that you are able to reach on the book shelves would have been pulled down and strewn across the floor. (You have also recently realised that you can stack them to reach the higher shelves. A ladder of literature to assist your anarchy.)

You would have thrown your Lego all over the place, chased the dogs around, cried a bit because I won’t allow you to play with the knives in the dishwasher (stupid dad!) and generally transformed the house your mother and I cleaned the night before into an apocalyptic landscape.

By now you would have been tugging at my pajama pants and pointing decisively at the door saying “Tata” to indicate that you have now decided it is time to go somewhere. This “somewhere” usually entails you and I sitting in the parked car while I make over-the-top driving noises and pretend to drive to a place where a nineteen month old toddler isn’t my boss.

It’s now 7:57 am and none of these things have happened. The salt shaker I left on the coffee table last night is still there, it’s contents intact and not poured all over the floor. Your mother hasn’t been woken up from pots and pans being bashed together in a sunrise symphony. The house is still clean…and empty…

Which makes me kind of miss you. If you want to know the truth about what parents do on their annual weekend off, well they talk about their kids. Your mother will probably wake up soon and we’ll talk about what we should do today, which will quickly divert into a conversation about some DIY project for your room and then we’ll talk about you and phone your grandmother to find out how you are and look at cute videos of you and discuss your whole future and then before you know it our 48 hours are up and you’re back again and we’re back to hating the fact that we’re parents.

But still loving you,

Dad.

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