We all know that our job title never tells the whole story and there is far more to what we do than the words used to describe it.
It’s the same for a parent. How can one word describe everything that’s involved with being in charge of a human life?
The slightest little thing can create a war zone in the Hayden household, such as which chair they sit on at the breakfast table
Along with a supermarket shelf-stacker, cinema popcorn-seller and radio station presenter, I have a sub-job that I can add to my life CV that sits underneath the word ‘parent’.
I haven’t got any qualifications with my new role, but I do have almost seven years’ experience.
It’s an around-the-clock job that starts from the moment my eyes open in the morning and sometimes lasts for the entire day, so I feel like an expert in the field.
My job is extremely rewarding, but at the same time very hard work and sadly doesn’t include any perks of a normal job like a pension, holiday allowance and a monthly wage paid into my bank account.
So what is my new job, which sometimes causes me to break out in a sweat, leaves me feeling like I need to head straight to the airport for an unplanned, relaxing holiday, but doesn’t give me a pay slip to open?
The answer? Referee. This role also includes sub-jobs such as mediator, negotiator and peacemaker. My duties in this role include ensuring fair play at all times with a neutral point of view; addressing frustration and intervening early with a calming influence; solving conflicts that arise and showing the red card to anyone displaying unacceptable behaviour.
But in my role of authority, I’m not working with two rival football teams and I don’t even own a whistle or a stopwatch.
I am refereeing two opposing teams though. They are Team Caitlin and Team Alyssa.
Both teams consist of one player and there is rivalry similar to that between Pompey and Saints.
Like most siblings, my five-year-old and six-year-old daughters don’t see eye-to-eye. The slightest little thing can create a war zone in the Hayden household, such as which chair they sit on at the breakfast table.
Even though both chairs are exactly the same and both will give exactly the same breakfast experience, it can cause a squabble.
Sometimes a book can be the cause of discontent, with both girls pulling on each side of the book with cries of ‘I had it first’.
This is where I come in to try to restore calm to the situation. Sometimes it’s better to leave them to it so they can work it out for themselves, but on other occasions it’s better to sit down and chat with them to see who instigated the argument.
And that reminds me, there is another sub-job: I’m also a detective.
IS IT ME, OR HAVE THEY GOT SMALLER?
There is a certain amount of satisfaction for any parent when they see their kids enjoying something that they enjoyed when they were children.
It can be a place, such as when I see my girls running into the pool at the Pyramids in Southsea, just like I did when I was young.
It can be a film, like when we sat down to watch the classic kids’ flick Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin and my kids laughed at it just like I did back in the 1990s.
It can also be food. I was in the supermarket, pushing my trolley and filling it up with all the essentials,when I noticed a pack of Wagon Wheels, a favourite of mine from the biscuit aisle ever since I was a child.
Without much thought, they landed in my shopping trolley and I brought them home with me. I introduced them to my daughters, who thought they were delicious and have asked me to buy them again.
But I have one question: has this trusty snack got smaller, or does it feel that way because I’ve got bigger?