Yes, I’m alive and well and still writing. Here’s another of my articles from the Irish Examiner’s Feelgood. Hopefully it’s a mildly amusing observation of our marriage.
If you’ve ever watched David Attenborough, you’ll have witnessed Nature’s amazing ability to adapt to the world around it. Recently, watching one such a programme, I was interrupted by yer man bringing me in a cup of tea. Tea made exactly the way I like it, accompanied by the very biscuit I would have chosen myself.
It was then I realised that closer to home I had witnessed nature adapting.
Before we ever had children, we knew we’d be perfect parents. As others spoke of the challenges of sleepless nights and babies crying, we laughed, in no doubt we’d adapt to our children’s needs as required.
Looking back on twenty-five years of parenting I don’t believe we had any idea of the challenges that lay ahead for us. Yet, it’s interesting to note, that although we both faced the same challenges, we seem to have adapted rather differently.
In the early days I tuned in to each new baby as they arrived, logging their every twist and turn. I watched the way they ran and played, attuned to what made them laugh or cry. Even the smallest deviation from the norm caused a bell to ring within me, insisting I investigate further in case there was something wrong.
Yer man on the other hand found no need to develop such a baby alarm. Why have two of us on high alert? Instead, he developed an alarm triggered by not so subtle changes in my behaviour.
This alarm system of his was not so finely tuned as my own, but over time it has learned to sense danger, often triggered by seemingly unexplained moods on my part. During such moments he’s learned to stand well back, say little and never suggest a solution, no matter how right he is.
While on sleep mode his alarm was oblivious to a baby crying on and off for hours, but could be activated by my foot making sharp contact with his body as I reached breaking point. He would then leap into action soothing the baby and ensuring survival of the species.
By the time we had our fourth child both our alarm systems were well established. If, on returning from work he were to find me catatonic in the kitchen, he’d know the day had been a little challenging and not to ask, even in jest, “What’s for dinner?” Equally, I would know that when he asked how my day was he was seeking a one word answer and vice verse.
We continued to adapt throughout the teenage years until I became a finely tuned machine, able to hear all that my children might wish me not to.
From several rooms away, despite a television or radio blasting, I could hear the beginnings of an argument between siblings and knew when to intervene before there was a murder. The slightest footstep on the stairs at night was no match for me despite efforts made to avoid a squeaky stair. I could spot a secret at one glance and smell a lie before it was even uttered.
Yer man on the other hand adapted different powers. He learned to sleep soundly, deaf to all night time activity. His default setting was to always believe each of his children were ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ This allowed him to remain calm in a crisis and be more measured when faced with my prosecution which often involved irrefutable proof such as, ‘I’ve a hunch, just trust me.’ It has also ensured he will be forever loved by his ‘always perfect in his eyes,’ children.
Yes, nature is indeed amazing. There’s just one problem. Our children too have adapted over time and now that they are older, regularly out manoeuvre our alarms.
But we are working on that.