Dad's World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

"It’s funny. I have probably never looked after myself as well in my life as I have over the last four years."

“AND so Jonathan, is this it for you?”

It was Father’s Day and it was early. 

There I was in a radio studio sitting beside the Leinster rugby star, Isa Nacewa, and the host Colette Fitzpatrick pins me to the chair with this question. 

I was two-thirds of the way through a weekend alone with my two boys. Ciara would not be back until the following day. 

They had both woken up the night before. Luke at 3.30am and Fionn at 5am. 

Somehow, even with dawn chorus raging outside my window and the daylight beating through the curtains, I had managed to get back to sleep. 

Even more remarkably, the boys had done the same and the three of us didn’t wake up for another two hours.

Now here I was in Newstalk half in a daze. 

Before we had gone into studio, Isa had told me about a time that he had completely missed a high ball in a game against Connaught not long after his twins had been born. 

The reason? He had had no sleep the night before and his brain just didn’t know where his body was.

“Are you done? Is two enough for you?” asked Colette.

I looked at Isa; a fine specimen of a man who is expecting his fourth in October but who is a full seven years younger than me. 

“Yes,” I said. “That’s it for me. Two is enough.” There was a pause, inviting me to elaborate.

“My body,” I said. “It’s like when Brian O’Driscoll retired, he just knew his body couldn’t take it anymore.”

It’s funny. I have probably never looked after myself as well in my life as I have over the last four years. 

Two years off the smokes and nights out at a minimum have meant less rushed and readymade meals and as a result the weight, though not perfect has come off when, due to the ditching of the fags, it probably should have piled on.

My head is definitely less fuzzy and in a strange way I have more energy. 

Perhaps that’s more auto-pilot than anything else; you get on with it because you have to. 

Attitude probably has a lot to do with it too and I notice I’m actually more active now than I’ve ever been. 

There’s a lot less sitting around thinking of things to do. 

With children there is always something do and if you’re spotted doing nothing, they aren’t long in trying to rope you into something.

So in many ways I’m in a better place than I was just four short years ago but, time is time. 

My body is beginning is talk to me more than it used to and in general it’s telling me to stop doing things that I shouldn’t be doing or at least in the manner that I’m doing them. 

My back will no longer let me off for carrying the kids around and my knees let me know that they don’t like the way I lift them in and out of baths and cars and buggies as if I’m a lithe young Russian gymnast.

Aches come out of nowhere as if to remind me of my over-exuberance.

“Remember you were playing horsey half an hour ago?” asks my neck with a mafioso accent. 

“Well get a load of this,” and it stabs me several times around my shoulder.

At four, Fionn is almost too big to pick up now but therein lies the problem. Sometimes you just want to. 

You want to rage against time, against your body and, in particular, against his getting bigger. 

You want to pick him up and smell his hair and feel his squashy vulnerability pressing against you for security. 

You want to forget about the incremental strain that it’s putting on your back and knees and just say ‘to hell with it’.

However, already those ‘carry-mes’ up the stairs are happening less frequently and one day, it will happen unannounced, they will stop. 

You won’t say it or plan it. The kids won’t say it or plan it. You just won’t do it anymore. 

Their bodies will be too heavy and your body too tired.

However, sometimes you’ve got to know when enough is enough and you just move on to the next stage. ...


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