That age-old cliché – time flies. I can’t believe it has almost been one whole year since I took up the absolute best role in the world, that of being a Stay-At-Home Dad to my amazing daughter, Sally. Where did that year go? Some of it undoubtedly and unfortunately went on my face. Damn baby crow has grown up into one massive monster bird with abnormally large feet! Don’t even get me started on the grey strands multiplying tenfold on each side of my head. Soon I’ll look like ‘Paulie’ from the Sopranos with those mad looking white wings! It’s nothing that can’t be fixed in the future though, with a few sessions of Botox and a couple of packets of ‘Just for Men’. Not a bother. Being a Stay-At-Home parent is a busy job, not a doubt about it but when I reflect on it all now, in hindsight, I wouldn’t change it in any single way.
The bond that Sally and I have developed is something I will always cherish. In fairness, that bond was there from the minute Sally was born. Maybe even before then. I’ll never forget that day in the hospital when we found out we were having a baby girl. I was over the moon and right then, Donna and I knew it was time to bring back that special name, Sally. For many years, I thought that nothing could ever come close to the ‘parent-child’ bond I was lucky enough to have with my mom until the age of 13. Little did I realise that it would take me to become a parent myself, to feel this way again. Sally…my world until 1996 and now, my entire world forever since October 2017. I know that Granny Sally would be so proud of her wonderful first Grandchild, her namesake.
It has all been such a learning curve, for both Donna and I, an acute and steep one at that and we’ve faced a fair few challenges along the way. I remember the first few days minding Sally on my own. At the time, I was working 12hr night shifts in the Acute Psychiatric Unit and would come home from work at 8am and say a quick hello and goodbye to Donna who was going off to work herself. This wasn’t easy but we got through it! I did what I still do to this very day and that is, go out. Whether it was a beach, a playground or a shopping centre, I made sure we went out every afternoon. An entertained and warn out baba is a happy baba and this is still my motto today.
Having a food allergy to contend with also gave rise to quite a number of challenges. Food allergy awareness and education is still not widespread. I studied four years to become a Nurse and I never came across any information regarding Food Allergies! To be honest, I had never even heard of Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) until April 2018, when we were dealing with a potential anaphylactic reaction having given Sally less than a teaspoon of ice cream. After this experience, Donna and I naturally became extra careful surrounding food. I would often bring Sally to Costa Coffee and prior to sitting down with her, I would always make sure to wipe down the highchair, table and surrounding area first. I’m a little less vigilant these days, but I will always ensure that I have identified all the potential nearby risks of a possible exposure to milk or egg products.
To this day, I still bring both Sally and Carlsson the poodle out on an adventure every afternoon and I have to say that, I love it. I’m so proud to show them off to the world. I think back to those evening walks when Sally was in her Phil and Teds baby carrier backpack and there I was, strutting my stuff walking around the estate, nearly causing car accidents due to all the rubbernecking going on! It was some craic. Nowadays, we walk as a pack. Dad, daughter and poodle. Never a buggy in sight and very rarely, a dog lead! It’s all fun until it starts lashing raining, and I end up running with Sally in my arms in the direction of the car while at the same time, Carlsson decides to run off in the opposite direction. It can turn to chaos in the blink of an eye! I’ll keep going though, heading out on our adventures and then throwing them up on my Instagram. Instagram has been a great way to catalogue all the good times we’ve had together and at the same time, raise awareness of (and normalise) life with food allergies. I look back at them every so often, with rose-tinted glasses on of course, and it makes me laugh. No better way to brighten up your day.
I started the Instagram journey (as the cool Instagrammers call it!) almost a year ago and this blog entry marks the beginning of dairyallergydad.com, where I intend to add a new blog at least once a week covering a variety of different topics. One thing I can guarantee is that the topics covered will be 100% honest and from personal experience. I’ve been told many times in the past that I should write a book as my life, at times, has been a ‘rollercoaster’, as good oul’ Ronan Keating would say. I can report that I’m still sitting on that rollercoaster, front row, with my hands high in the air. This blog is therefore, my book, in weekly chapters. Let’s go!
I hope that some of you will get some enjoyment from the lighthearted stuff and maybe you’ll even get something from the heavy stuff. Please feel free to comment and/or share along the way. I love the feedback and I promise I’ll respond to every question/comment (not with a bot response like ❤️or 👍 like the cool bloggers and Instagrammers do!) Thanks for reading and hope you all have a great week. Tóg go bog é.