Dear Father Hood: is it natural to be jealous of your single friends?
Jealous? Of your single friends? Why would you be envious of their Saturday lie-ins, their spontaneous social lives, their vomit-free car journeys, their sofa sessions, their regular gym routines, their off the beaten track holidays, their stain-free clothes, their ability to get their haircut when it needs to be cut, their knowledge of the latest fashion, restaurant and entertainment trends, their clean finger nails, their dinners that haven’t been planned a week in advance, their laptops without teeth marks on the keypad… I could go on, but you get the picture. Of course it’s natural for a new parent to be jealous of their single friends.
But here’s the weird thing. Whenever I tell one of my single friends that I covet their life, they look at me as if I am about to be carted off by a group of muscular health professionals sporting white coats. “You’re jealous of me?” they laugh. “That’s ridiculous. Why on earth would you be jealous of me?”
So I tell them all of the above, plus some stuff about how I haven’t slept properly for over a year, am constantly worried about cash, have endless conversations about Dulux paint colours, spend at least five minutes a day picking wet wipes off the floor and get drunk after two beers so have no idea what I am going to do on my best mate’s upcoming stag do. “That’s why I am jealous of you,” I state in the triumphant manner of someone who has just categorically proved that their life stinks in comparison with everyone else’s. And do you know what happens next? Laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. And then they hit me.
The flip reverse
Not with their fists, silly. With a list of their own that says stuff like: my incredible wife, my wonderful son, the fact that they’re still renting a single bedroom, the fear they may never find someone and/or have kids, the self-loathing you feel when you wake up hungover next to a half-eaten pizza, the number of time wasters on Tinder and Happn, the pressure from their parents, the late nights at work, the text games, the nightclub queues, the need to always look pristine, the rejection, the meals for one etc. etc. etc. And that’s when the lightbulb comes on.
Not in the hall, silly. In my head. It shines brightly and reveals all the positive parts of parenting life that we tend to ignore in favour of moaning about nappies. And colds. And coughs. And vomit. And urine. And tantrums. Like? Like the developments, the smiles, the breakthroughs, the interactions, the family hugs, the sing songs, the attempts to communicate, the dimply cheeks, the laughing fits, the team work, the naps on your shoulder, the nursery rhymes, the new friends… I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture.
When push comes to shove, being a new parent is awesome. So even though there are occasions when I get really jealous of my single friends, I wouldn’t want to swap my life with any of them. Got that? Good, because my wife’s due home in five minutes and I’ve still not finished the tasks I said I’d do this morning. Wish me luck…