The House Dad Chronicles: Are all mums like my school's Supermum?
On Monday morning this week I saw a mum called Louise on the school run, dropping off her girls.
Nothing unusual about that.
And nothing particularly unusual about the fact that she has a daughter in Year One, another in Reception, and a third in nursery. Nor the fact that she has another daughter, in a buggy, who is just over a year old.
Nope nothing unusual about that at all.
What is undeniably unusual, though, is that she also had a babe-in-arms – a baby that was born THE DAY BEFORE, on the Sunday. And yes, you guessed it, another girl.
Now as a House Dad to three kids aged 10, seven and four, I am prone to the occasional (oh, OK, very frequent) complaint about how hard I work taking care of their various needs, from packing schoolbags to facilitating play dates to cleaning the toilet several times a day after – the youngest, especially – fails to, er, bomb the target.
But this mum of FIVE GIRLS puts me to shame. I've followed her pregnancy almost (not quite) from conception through to birth and not only has she never once flagged, or complained, she seemed to barely put on any extra baby weight to the point where I joked she was merely hiding a cushion under her baggy jumper.
These jokes seemed worryingly inappropriate when 40 weeks came and went; then 41; then 42; and then even several days after what I believe is called a 'sweep'.
Her apparent reluctance to release her fifth child into the outside world and the astonishingly blasé way she dealt with it became both a source of wonder and bemusement to us other parents whose kids share classrooms with her mega-brood.
"Just seen Louise," one mum texted me last week. "Riding a bike!"
That was the day before Baby Number 5 finally entered stage left.
Her husband – a good friend of mine – was just as nonchalant. On Friday, he told me he was THINKING of cancelling the boys' weekend away he'd planned for THAT weekend, "just in case the baby comes".
"But she's three weeks' late: surely it can't stay in there any longer? Surely you can't go away?" I asked.
"Oh, she'd be fine with it," he said. "I just don't want to miss the moment."
This is a couple who are super-human on every level. They're both working, yet she runs a part-time business from home, too. He not only holds down a full-time job, but gets up at 5am every morning to cycle for two hours. He enters Iron Man Quadrathons – and wins them!
As a House Dad who has to go for a lie-down after emptying the dishwasher, I observe all this with fascination and a certain amount of envy.
If I had that kind of energy, I wouldn't be a House Dad, I'd be running the country.
But the pick of the awe-inspiring bunch came on Sunday morning.
The dad texted me at 8am to announce the arrival of the latest addition to his flock. There were no details about method, or pain-relievers or the baby's weight, so I decided to give him a call.
A woman's voice answered. "Er, hello, is Simon around?"
"Oh, Hi Keith. It's Louise. He's just left and he's taken my phone by accident. I've got his."
"But...but...haven't you just had a baby like, er, a few minutes ago?"
"Yes, yes, all fine. No big deal. Nearly 8lbs. Happy and healthy. We should be leaving hospital soon."
And then: "See you on the school run tomorrow!"
Nothing unusual about that, eh?
Not in Super-Mum World, anyway! Yes, I know, I know: all mums are super!