A few months after my son was born, I quit my job to write full-time. This was great news for me, my family and my old job, as they had no idea how much stationery I’d been stealing. The result has been mostly lovely, allowing me to do freelance commissions, start my book and write the gently humorous column you now hold in your riveted gaze. It’s main benefit is that I get to spend more time with my son than most dads. With their own sons I mean… most dads don’t get to spend any time with my son at all, but I digress.
From 10am until 5pm, I work in the box room and my wife looks after the baby downstairs. Back in my office days, I’d entertain dreams of freelance life unencumbered by a set location; an intrepid reporter, wearing a trilby with PRESS stuck to the brim, calling in scalding hot scoops from a battered payphone in some dusty warzone. Failing that, I could at least see myself typing rapidly in a corner seat at my local Costa. In actual fact, neither has come to pass.
Despite all this time and space at my disposal, I find my reasons to leave the house are, like the rollerball pens, staplers and envelopes in my old office, growing mysteriously less numerous. When I’m not writing, I steal some time with the boy and, since I don’t have a day job, I quickly panic about the next deadline, put him down, and scurry back upstairs.
I tweet and text, but I don’t meet friends, or even call them. As a result, I’ve become overly fond of those social interactions I can do from the comfort of my own home. Charity knockers have stopped calling.
After an interruption in my mobile service, I talked to my phone provider for nearly two hours. His name is Jayden and he has a baby, too, and he was definitely interested in hearing about mine, so long as I let him know how he could help with my query, eventually. Jayden gave me an entire month free of charge, probably because of the bond we had developed. Certainly, he seemed to regret having to return to the “quite a lot of work to do here” he kept mentioning.
I’ve spoken before about how my social life has been fairly meagre since my son was born, and how I’m mostly OK with that but – while escapades in sweaty pubs and clubs aren’t much missed – I do need to reconnect with the outside world, or else my son will come to think of his dad as the smelly, rambling tramp who lives upstairs and keeps asking him what day it is.
Having all the time in the world to play family isn’t worth it if you disconnect yourself from that world in the process. “Stay at home dad” should, after all, be a noun, not a command.
So I shower. I shave. I walk to Morrisons. Summoning all my strength, I ring a dear friend only to find he’s busy. That’s Jayden for you, though, always burning the candle at both ends.