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Giving up appearances

March 22, 2010

Parents will be familiar with the sacrifices we have to make for our little ones – from much alcohol during the pregnany (and breastfeeding) for mothers; to scaling back financial plans to buy enough nappies.

Most of these things I’d expected.

A male model i.e. not me...

A male model i.e. not me...

One I hadn’t quite thought about was my appearance.  Now, I’m no strutting peacock of a guy, who spends more time in front of the mirror than my other half (not that she over does it either you understand) but I do like to take pride in my appearance – or at least, I did.

Then I had a child.

The first few months, nay, even the first year or so – the impact on appearance is minimal.  The dried pale stains of puked up milk on your shoulder, arm, face – they’re almost endearing.  They’re practically a badge of honour.

Now ‘B’, my son, is past his second birthday the size of the hurricane he causes has increased in proportion to his size – as has the wreckage it leaves behind.

I noticed it the other day when I put on my coat to go to work.  I’m not one of these people that has a wide selection of coats.  My coats fall into two categories: ‘Chilly’ and ‘Damned cold’.  There is one coat in each category.

It was a ‘damned cold’ day and as I pulled on my winter coat I noticed the front was covered in a brown powder.  On closer inspection this turned out to be dried mud.  It was around mid-chest height, just above my bellybutton and, as I walked to work, trying to brush myself down I tried to remember how it got there.

The answer was, of course, from ‘B’.  We’d spent a lovely weekend day tramping around our local woods, both of us getting a healthy amount of mud on our shoes.  Note, on our shoes where mud is supposed to go; hence leaving said shoes at the door when you get in.

A child's muddy shoes

Guess where these a going Daddy!

However, half way around the woods B got tired and the refrain of ‘Daddy carry!’ soon had me buckling and lugging him around the rest of ‘our’ walk.  Merrily swinging his legs, chatting and singing away to us as we pointed out birds, trees and the like my grubby little urchin’s shoes were leaving their imprint on the one coat I have to wear when the temperature drops.

So, wearing an otherwise clean outfit, suit and tie no less, (these are stored away from jammy fingers, in a wardrobe) I was wearing a coat which gave the impression I’d spent the night on a park bench.  A dirty park bench.

The best thing is, I didn’t care.  I’d have swapped a hundred coats to be back in the woods with my son at that moment – or any moment.  But it made me think.  When had this transformation taken place?  I hadn’t noticed it.

I’d gone from being a fairly well-dressed, moderately fashionable guy in my late 20s, to being a Dad in my early 30s who wore whatever came to hand and whose first thought when dressing in the morning wasn’t: ‘Which t-shirt/jumper/shirt goes best with these trousers?’ but ‘Which t-shirt/jumper/shirt will show the fewest stains?’

The things that are important to us change pretty often during our lives, none more so than when we have children.  It’s just so many things change, sometimes you don’t even notice.

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