When I saw my wife handle 10 months of pregnancy with grace and humour, I wanted to give her a standing ovation. When I saw her give birth I wanted to pin a medal on her chest. But when I watch her now as a wonderful mother to my baby daughter, I want to build a statue of her in Trafalgar Square, give her the Nobel Peace Prize and name a planet after her.
To be perfectly honest, most dads don’t have a clue what’s going on with the day-to-day routine of our babies. Yes, we can change a nappy, we can crawl around on all fours and pretend to be a dog (I do an excellent woof), and we can pretty much handle bath time but, beyond that, we're in the dark. It’s the mothers who drive the baby bus, as the fathers - slack-jawed in admiration - bounce around on the back seat, happy to be taken along for the ride.
Jade is head and shoulders above me in every department of parenthood – apart from animal noises, I’m claiming that one. Firstly, there’s the research. If there was a University of Motherhood, it should award my wife with a PhD, a Masters and a BA – in fact, just make her the Dean and be done with it. She’s a walking baby handbook. When I blindly suggest a theory about why baby G might be waking in the night or why she should eat more omelette, Jade will access the chapters of baby knowledge in her head, accumulated from hours of reading, and shoot down my half-baked theory, offering scientific research and a string of anecdotes from other mothers as to why I am wrong.
Then there’s the patience. The phrase ‘patience of a saint’ should be amended to ‘patience of a mother.’ My wife could be standing in the dark at 3am with baby sick down her arm, gently shushing our screaming, angelic baby while simultaneously reaching for a dummy and her heart rate won’t rise one beat. While she demonstrates cyborg-like levels of calm, I stumble around in the darkness, stubbing my toe, yanking 14 baby wipes out of their stupidly fiddly packet to mop up the vomit, while looking for the dummy that Jade already spotted in 2.5 seconds with her freakishly accurate night vision.
When it comes to tasks, again, I am crushed every time. The thought of taking my daughter to the mall ON MY OWN to buy a pack of nappies, pick up the dry cleaning and get some cash from the ATM transforms me into an army colonel who’s about to mount a major military manoeuvre in challenging terrain against a hostile enemy. Routes are Google mapped; keys, debit cards, shopping bags and phones are gathered; lists are written even if it’s only three things because now I’m a father I have the memory of a goldfish. Locked and loaded, I’m ready to execute my objective. "Bye!" I call out, as I bumble my way out the door, while Jade sighs and gently informs me I’ve forgotten the baby.
My wife, however, handles these daytime raids at the drop of a hat, effortlessly swishing from apartment to elevator to car to pharmacy to supermarket and home again, with a stop-off for a kale smoothie and a spot of breastfeeding on a sunlit park bench. She’ll probably have time to try on a dress and buy that too. Me? I return home and crash through the door like a bloodied war hero. Yes, I may have forgotten to pick up the dry cleaning and I left my wallet in the car so I couldn’t use the ATM but, hey, I have the nappies (in the wrong size) and Greta and I are still alive, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s mission accomplished.
Final point here. Not only is Jade nailing it as a mother, I also think she has never looked more beautiful (she’ll be curled into a ball of embarrassment reading this). I suspect it has something to do with a primeval instinct that says (adopts caveman voice) "my woman has baby, she fertile, I stay near to reproduce again." I’m sure an anthropologist could provide some hard evidence on why I think this, but I’m pretty sure I remember reading something about it in a biology text book when I was 15. Whatever the reason behind it, I am far more attracted to my wife these days, now that she’s the mother of my child. All of which is ironic because she believes she’s untoned and has bad hair. Baby, trust me, you’ve never looked better.
But where Jade really produces the goods is her unique and deeply special bond with Greta. Jade is the one Greta wants and needs when she’s upset. I visualise them, years from now, walking along beaches, sipping tea together, giggling in the cinema, and my heart bursts with excitement. Watching them grow up together will be the best movie I’ve ever seen. I’m doing ok as a dad, but my wife is flying high at the top of the Parenthood Premier League, like the mama most extraordinary that she is. Kudos to you, Jade.
My dog woof is still better than yours, though.