I work in the business of stories and I’m familiar with the idea of making stuff up – so here goes, let’s create the perfect cut-out and keep dad.
Here’s my Top Ten.
- The perfect man whispers sweet nothings in your ear– er, that could get annoying. Looking after a child is a senses-on-high-alert kind of an affair. So no. I loved my husband most when he allowed me to sleep. (Plumping the pillow beforehand too much? Yes ok.) Sleep: a parent’s most valued and most abused commodity. Let me just sleep…
- The perfect man massages your temples, buffs your nails, pushes back your cuticles, pops on some colour…– whoops, got carried away there, that’s a morning at a spa, isn’t it? The truth is I’d much prefer my husband empty the dishwasher and make me a cup of tea. True decadence would be he makes the tea before the emptying, and I get to watch.
- The perfect man regularly wines and dines you – well yes, but no. Friday night is Steak Night, perhaps a boxset, bed at 9.30pm? I don’t think any restaurant offers service that good. The best meal my husband ever ‘made’ me was when he turned up at hospital the morning after our son was born with the local bakery’s scrambled egg on toast.That was an epic moment in our love history.
- The perfect man will run you a sweetly scented candlelit bath – the running of the bath is the easy bit, so listen up! I still remember, in crisp detail, the time my man ran me a bath and fixed me up with the ipad with the crime drama ready to play. I have never loved him more ardently than that night. (All hour and 40 mins.) Finding the time for your partner to grab a bath is your first task.
- The perfect man will shower you with compliments– yup. But these days I’m more appreciative of the other little things that make me feel loved – tea in bed (obviously), thoughtful birthday gifts – like slippers, and those classic treats: flowers, chocolates, a tasty loaf of bread, posh olives …
- The perfect man handles night-time wailings, weekend playground duty, school drop-off– sounds nice, but what kind of a mum would that leave me to be? (Oh hang on, where’s the number for that spa?) Sharing the experience of having a child together is what keeps you close. That said, I love it when my better half makes a point of getting home for our son’s bathtime. Bonus points and a kiss for making me a G&T beforehand.
- The perfect man can cook – brilliantly – and looks hot in a pinny. Yes. Though when I came home from hospital clamped to our newborn, the thing I remember was the little squares of toast loaded up with the previously forbidden paté, soft cheese, salami – and cheddar and chutney, mmmm. And no cooking involved. Clever. (Speed is essential when feeding a hungry mum.)
- The perfect man is tall, dark and handsome, with a great sense of humour – I still think a sense of humour is essential, but strong, resilient, and indefatigable are more key these days. There’s a whole lot of baby kit to cart around – as well as a whole lot of baby, so a beefy husband who can double up as carthorse is optimum. If you can serve the aforementioned eat and drinks alongside then you really are James Bond.
- The perfect man owns a sexy sports car – ah, our sports car. That we sold. Even if you can squish your child into a two-door and do up the babyseat, there’s no way you can throw in the cot, pushchair and changing mat. Allow your mind to dwell lovingly on the concept of bootspace. True, new, Idris Elba style is being able to fit the pushchair into the boot without collapsing it down. Mazeratti schmazzerati, that’s for retirement.
- The perfect man has a high-powered job – if you can get back from work to do bathtime and are a whizz at home-admin, then you are hitting career nirvana according to extensive research that I have not conducted. Being a good sounding board and someone with the patience to build the cot/ bed/ play kitchen ahead of time is so very attractive and yes, high powered.
So being the best kind of dad boils down to being present and interested. Preferably with tea in one hand, luggage over your shoulder and a plate of food in the other. (ipad under your chin.) Who knew?
Katie Blackburn is the author of Where The Wild Dads Went , £10.99 Faber & Faber