What to do if daddy gets too preoccupied with sport


As a mum birthday organising is one big arrow to your bow. Nothing beats my five-year-old giving me a bear hug me and saying, “ thank you mummy for the best Batman Superman party ever.”

All I’d done was almost taken out a new mortgage to invite all his new class friends to a bowling alley where they got two games, fried food and a party bag.

I also bought a nice looking Batman vs Superman cake in Asda and was relieved because it looked like I’d actually commissioned a bespoke baker for one of those fifty pound plus jobs.

But I’d still spent all weekend thinking, if I’d spent a bit more we could have hired one of those fire- breathing entertainers who I actually find pretty funny and the kids adore.

As a mum you never think it’s good enough. And as a mum when people ask what you want for your own birthday all you have the energy to think of is a lie in.

When our son was two and settled into nursery three days a week, my husband said, “d’you mind if I do a marathon next year?

“Sure I said, as long as you don’t disappear every weekend.”

“Nope he assured me, I’ll run when H sleeps.”

Except, as first time parents little did we know he was coming to the end of his daytime sleeps.

Days without a nap are full on, especially when you fall pregnant with full blown nausea.. And yes he disappeared for most of every weekend.

I worked three days a week, was expected to spend two days spending quality time with H on the days that I didn’t, while keeping our home sparkling with the usual work worries ticking over in the background.

Not possible. Not even with one child.

The place became a bit of a pit. No matching socks, always running out of milk, bobbly carpets and dusty blinds.

We had a couple of rows as the training intensified to break six minute miles, or something like that.

He’d had to miss a marathon when H was born as it was on his due date, then the next two because of his birthday, so he seized the chance when it fell a week later.

“I’ll stick to shorter distances in the future,” he vowed after admitting he felt like he was going to die at the finish line.

But six months later he was getting itchy feet once more. Records still needed to be broken. One sunny Saturday and another baby later I said, “hope it’s nice tomorrow.”

Husband: “Why what’s happening tomorrow?”

Me: “It’s my birthday…” Cue quick dash to Fatface to buy me some gifts. Generous spree noted.

“Shall we just go for lunch at The Nag’s Head, (local gastro pub)?”

“No I’d quite like a day out as it’s a Sunday. And it’s my birthday. I was thinking Brighton.”

Bearing in mind my social life is pretty lacking these days, most of the time I had the baby on my boob while playing dinosaurs. All lovely and idyllic. But I was in dire need to kick back by the seaside once in a while and watch my kids play with pebbles.

The journey to Sussex began.

Husband: “I don’t want to get back late ‘cause I want to go for a run later.”

Me: “Oh.” (Inwardly seething)

One of his devoted Scottish running friends apparently repeated a mantra when they sprinted past happy people outside pubs, “you booze you lose.”

We approached Brighton and the traffic was heavy. How strange for a Sunday.

Husband: “Oh it’s the Brighton marathon.” Jeez Louise.
“Quick, quick, quick, let’s park up and catch the Kenyans finishing.”

After taking two hours to find a space on the very top of an extortionate NCP car park and various volunteers warning we’d never make it into the town centre, the boys needed lunch fast.

And so as often happens in the sun with stressed parents, my husband immediately caved in and ordered an ice cold beer in the Lanes. “I don’t think I’ll bother with the run later, there’s not really time.”

“No, well I’d quite like to relax anyway and make a day of it. That sort of thing.”

“Me too.”

And the moral of the story is just factor in the alcohol… an ice cold pint wins every time.

Every time.

Denise Marshall

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