Two and a half birthday parties later and our daughter is now one (phew, I can drop the days, weeks and months thing). She had a mummy party, a daddy party and a bonus trip to the local soft play on the actual day. Hats off to her dad, he outdid me on the birthday cake with a chocolate dog extravaganza! She did have the wherewithal to look confused when, at her second birthday party, she was sung happy birthday, again. Because she’s a fully fledged little person with her own rather busy weekly schedule. She has three days at nursery - we call it her ‘office’ - one with her co-parent dad and one restful, blissful and very special day with me. Am I really saying that? I’ve been up since 5am….???
Co-parenting affairs are as complex as working life avec infant. Cross-town travels, play days, weird and wonderful rendez-vouz and day trips with the odd doctor/dentist/health visitor appointment thrown in. Her best toys, naturally, live at her daddies’ house: a resplendent golden dog on wheels called Dexter - ride him or push him - leather slippers, box sets of books… Is there room for that scramble bug as well as the lunch, snooze shade, nappy bag and rain cover? The buggy can quickly get overloaded.
She’s popular at nursery because she doesn’t cry and eats ALL her food as I am told every day when I pick her up. She smiles, pleased with herself, once she’s in my arms and waving her queen’s wave in salute to her carers and playmates as we leave. She dances a casual, subtle dance from the hips, already possessed of a natural rhythm as children are apt. She applauds when you sing to her and , so I’m told, is very egalitarian in spreading her attention and playtime among the other children.
She’s also up on her feet walking. She’s really got it. And I swell with pride at my little knee-high companion that I have come to regard as an independent and fully cognisant being. An urbanite, taking life in her stride - she doesn’t need me to get stuff done these days.
Our distinctly loose co-parenting arrangement is still evolving, as we knew it would, and I am sure is working better than any firmer arrangement we may have tried to make ahead of time. Impressively, we holidayed all together for a week and n’er a cross word spoken. It was such a break for us tired old mummies to have someone else doing the re-settle in the early hours of the morning; we even managed two date-nights! Cycling round our French ile in a post-nuclear family crocodile, I noted with pleasure how happy she was riding behind her dad on his alpha-bike, the biggest of our fleet, pointing at birds and trees and babbling ‘coquelicot’ at the poppy fields. We were together for her first sea-swim - an excitable affair with squealing and giggling. There’s no sound like it.
It doesn’t seem like there was a time before her, or before our co-parenting arrangement. It’s as though we’ve always been in each other’s lives. And as for the relationship, there’s no label or instruction manual, it’s what we make it. Yes, we all have to make an extra effort to include one another and meet in the middle where we can but we made the absolute best decision for us about the life we wanted for our precious girl.