Now David Beckham has given up football he seems to be publicly embracing his role of dad of four, which of course is lovely to see. Male parenting role models are always welcome.
However, let’s get a bit of perspective, people. Any time Becks is pictured in the same room as one of his offspring it seems to invite floods of gushing praise celebrating his wonderful fathering ability.
He reveals a new tattoo designed by his daughter and women all over the country swoon. He publishes a picture of himself on a woodland walk with his boys and everyone rushes to admire his commitment to family.
I don’t doubt that David Beckham is anything other than a loyal and loving father but let’s face we don’t really know, do we? Plus, isn’t he just doing what all parents do on a daily basis?
It seems that because he is a) male and b) a celebrity we expect very little from his parenting, so when he shares something that seems normal we all get a bit over-excited and carried away (although I’m not sure allowing your child to design your tattoo is all that normal).
If we are so quick to heap praise on the parenting efforts of a retired 40 yr-old multi-millionaire, then maybe we should look a little more closely at the contributions the people in our own children’s lives make on a regular basis – including ourselves, our spouses, parents, and extended family – and start appreciating that more. And let’s face it, most of us mere mortals don’t have the seemingly infinite resources available to our celebrity counterparts.
So please pat yourself on the back for this list of everyday parenting acts that make us all heroes.
- You become comfortable with handling bodily fluids
You’ve finally been handed your baby after what feels like running a marathon and back again, and you’re so overwhelmed with joy, relief and extreme exhaustion you overlook the gunky bits. You attempt a feed, snatch some sleep, only to be woken by a kindly midwife pointing out that your new baby’s nappy might need changing. You stare at her waiting for her to offer but she doesn’t. You look over your shoulder half-expecting your mother to swoop in and do the honours, but she’s not there. Nope, this is your gig. It’s a genuinely life-changing moment that will set you up for years of scooping poos out the bath, mopping up vomit at 3am and constantly eliminating the smell of wee from your bathroom.
- Night feeds disrupt your sleep
You know that Calvin Harris song, “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat”? Yeah like that but without the raving part.
- You find smudgy fingerprints on your Apple gadgets
Once upon a time, your prized Apple devices were in pristine condition. Now the screens are smudgy, and probably cracked, and all because you let your three-year-old watch Peppa Pig on it. The sacrifices we make, huh?
- Your hands go numb with cold in play parks
Your first trip to the play park with your little one is an exciting milestone, a real parenting rite of passage. But when you start to repeat said trip every single day, it becomes slightly less appealing, particularly when you can’t drag them away from climbing up the same bit of climbing frame 20 times. At least in the summer you can do a bit of sunbathing, but in the harsh Scottish winters, this becomes quite the repetitive chore. Still, you keep on keeping on.
- You compromise your taste in music
You used to have a modicum of musical taste, and when your offspring came along you visualised sharing your carefully selected record collection to them, enthusing to them the pleasure to be gained from listening to Lou Reed or the Rolling Stones or Neil Young. Except they really, really don’t like your music, preferring instead to dance round the room to “Gangnam Style” or “What Does the Fox Say”. And do you know what? You actually let them. In fact sometimes you even join in. However, you’ll turn the volume down any time any of your cool childless friends call.
- You put up with their friends
Play dates can be an excellent way to part company with your beloved child for a couple of hours, while you have a well-deserved bit of “me-time”. In return, of course, you do have to invite their friends into your home. Loving your kids also means loving their friends, even when they’re sometimes difficult to love.
- You replace all your interests for theirs
Parenting leaves little time to pursue hobbies, especially when your kids’ hobbies begin to dominate family life. Thank goodness for Google, though. At the click of the mouse you can become an expert on Minecraft, Chelsea FC, the world’s top 10 goalkeepers, or whatever else tickles your children’s fancy at any given time, just to keep them talking to you. You don’t just accumulate new knowledge, you also turn into a free taxi service, and hang around a lot of community car parks, just to allow your child to live out their dreams.
- You spend a lot of hung-over Sundays in municipal swimming pools
Think of the worst possible place you could be with a hangover and you’ll find yourself there when you have children. Yes, you got it, your local swimming pool. A hangover headache will become much worse thanks to those special acoustics that somehow amplify children’s shouting to a volume you didn’t think was achievable. Plus, those showers only ever seem to operate at freezing or scalding. And there’s always the risk of discovering a used plaster, pubic hair or toenail in the cramped changing cubicles. The swimming pool is rivalled only by the soft play centre for the title of worst place to be with a hangover when you have children.
- You allow yourself to be experimented on
If you live with a wannabe footballer, you’ll have had the pleasure of having balls pelted at you just so they can perfect their free kicks from various angles. How many times have you had to go into work with multi-coloured nails, just because your dearly beloved has wanted to play with nail polish? And there may be video evidence of the time the kids dressed dad up as a girl.
- You still love them when they’re quite frankly horrible
But the most important role for a parent is to love them unconditionally. For us they save their worst behaviour. We get “I hate you’s,” the “I want a new mummy/daddy,” the slamming doors, the tear and the tantrums. They test us, push us, frustrate us intensely but we’re still there in the morning, and will be the next day, and the day after that, and even after they’re long gone, starting families of their own, we’ll be there then too.