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An escape into the past


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

Every time you log into Facebook you’re never sure what might be in store for you.
Sometimes they get it right, other times not so much. They might, for instance, attempt to celebrate the fifth anniversary of your Facebook friendship with ‘John Smith’, ignorant of the fact you’ve never met John in the flesh or that he’s someone you haven’t seen since national school, when he sat beside you in baby infants, before his family emigrated.
Facebook also likes to remind you of anniversaries of particular posts. Myself and Aisling went on the honeymoon of a lifetime in January 2015, spending three months seeing all that South America had to offer.
Trouble is that every year since, from January to early April, Facebook hits us in the solar plexus most mornings with a reminder of just what exotic destination we were visiting that time in 2015.
You daydream about the Galapagos, Easter Island or Rio before being brought crashing back to reality with the knowledge you have to change Éamon’s dirty nappy or try to tell Frankie that, no, we cannot ‘go walkies’, because the rain is lashing against the windows.
So, today, Facebook will undoubtedly remind me that on March 12 four years ago we were hiking through the majestic mountains of Patagonia, one of the most amazing places in the world. It will be a pleasant reminder of a very different life. And how it was great to be able to travel so widely when we had the freedom to do so.
You love the kids and they bring so much joy into every day, but it would be great to magic a situation where you had all the joys of the kids with all the freedom of earlier years. But that would indeed be magic, and that is the trade off – one we willingly pay.
But now getting as far as Castlebar seems like a more complicated operation than getting to Tierro Del Fuego.
So it was a rare event last week when, for Aisling’s birthday, myself and herself were able to go out to lunch, just the two of us, like old times.
It was the first time since Éamon’s birth six months ago that the two of us got out together alone. If we treated ourselves during those six months, it was usually a takeaway or else an expedition to a restaurant with a boot full of supplies. 
Enjoying and savouring the food is a luxury you are rarely afforded. You eat when you get a minute or two free from feeding or placating the kids. If you’re lucky you  might have grandparents or aunts, uncles and cousins there to help. It is bedlam, in a nice way, but bedlam nonetheless.
But we were able to do an amazing thing last Tuesday ... actually enjoy our food and take our time in a restaurant. To relax. Aisling never enjoyed a glass of pinot grigio as much!
So four years on from touring South America, freedom now means two hours in Keel on a Tuesday afternoon! You take what’s going with two little ones at home.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.