Daddy Travels Firstborn

You know that feeling – the one which you had as a kid, when your mom tells you “not to do” this / that / those; things like “don’t jump into the pool with your stomach full” or “don’t hang your baby sister upside down from that tree” or for some, “stop eating your booger” (for the record, I never did the last bit).

For those with the luxury of grandparents (which my soon to be born child shall have), they could probably have run rings around their parents – just like the T-shirt my wife and I bought for the little monster that says “If mummy says no, ask grandma”.

To think about it, we had also bought a T-shirt that says “Mummy’s little monster”. Come to think of it further, the moment we found out we were in the second trimester, we bought all those T-shirts with “quippy” slogans – trying to be the cool parents our parents almost were.

The operative term here is “over compensating”. We’re trying to be as hip and as cool as possible to the future addition to our family because daddy’s not telecommuting. Why isn’t Daddy telecommuting, you ask? Well given the recent downturn in the economy (no thanks to the Lehman brothers) – the short and sweet of it being Daddy, the oft-sarcastic future father, is a bugger; and buggers, as the British put it, can’t be choosers (for the record, I am neither British nor American – but am constantly caught in the trench of differences between two nations that speak a common language.

Let’s get this straight, I am a father to-be. Not yet there. Unlike some other geeks who would proudly call themselves fathers when the foetus is about the size of a peanut, quarter, orange, baseball… well you get the idea. I am of the school of thought that believes firmly that until the baby is crying its heart out in sharp, skin-peeling tones, you’re the proud owner of a brand new lump.

I am digressing here. Quite to the contrary, I enjoy our newfound lump. To be honest, I call the lump “bumpy”, and I encourage it to call me daddy. Regardless the fact that before the last ten weeks of pregnancy, my baby probably wouldn’t know the difference between daddy and barney.

The point that I am trying to make amidst this newly found glee (and exasperation over the fact that at 25 weeks, bumpy has yet to start kicking), is that even as a would-be parent I find it difficult to part with my family each and every time an assignment comes along that requires me to travel for anything between a few days to a few weeks. It would definitely be easier to be posted somewhere permanently. It is another thing altogether to have to regularly and frequently exit the door and not be around for almost weeks at a time.

Honestly, I tried to be a man about it, I try (I shall emphasise the word try here) to reassure my wife that I would be fine and that I would check in with her and bumpy as regularly as I can.

So each trip is preluded by a mad dash for my luggage, clothes and personal effects (which often takes less than 20 minutes); but somehow I manage to squeeze in two webcams, a microphone and headset (I am after all a full time geek). I would be worrying about credit balances in the Skype account, about my better half’s Skype account balance – well you get the picture, from home to wherever it is that I have to head to – a whole load of worrying.

Only of course, to find that once I land, I am in Timbuktu – no Internet.

Then comes the inevitable web withdrawal syndrome. The twitchy fingers, the restless index finger and the sweaty palms – all aching for a moment’s access on the world wide web. You try almost everything – dialling up through long distance phone trunks just to get through that ancient dial-up account you had stashed somewhere (and swore never to give up just in case World War III happened). You try to get a decent mobile phone signal to get to 3.5G, 3G, 2G – any G’s at all.

And after all that worrying, you seem to forget the very reason why you are all thumbs in the first place – family (you know, wife, kid the works).

How did I get here in the first place? (A busted contraceptive device, a defective birth control pill, an condom two sizes two small?)

No, I realise that I am perpetuating the same thing my father did as a sailor (he was very much in, out, then in again). But I doubt he ever worried if a dual-band phone works in Timbuktu, or if Skype credits were sufficient. But my biggest fear is that when my better half and I both grow old, with our minds beaten and seen better days, our kid would be a globe trotting peekaboo parent.