Dad raised 11 kids alone. How will I cope with one?
Seamas O’Reilly’s father brought up a huge brood of children on his own. He also built their house and filled it with love, laughter and DIY catalogues. So how does that make Seamas feel now that he’s about to become a dad? Many’s the Father’s Day my dad awoke to the sound of soft padding at the carpet outside his room, and the doorknob stiffly turning as we emerged. In actual fact, no; he would have woken one hour earlier, to small, quick feet scurrying through the hall and to the kitchen, where his special breakfast was prepared. In that thick way of children, we had mastered the art of whispering louder than we spoke, and a cacophony of hushed screams, frantic scribbling and battered saucepans resounded through the building, masked only by the steady clatter of moderately serious trips and falls, themselves so common in our house as to have become white noise. I imagine my father sitting up in bed with a book set aside for the purpose, studiously ignoring the fights breaking out among the grubby little servers now traipsing down the hall, pushing a battered little tea trolley towards his door. This last contraption, dating from the mid-Triassic, was three turns of a screw away from being shrapnel, and sported thick brass wheels which, even on the plush, brown carpet of our hall, made a noise like the Eiffel Tower being folded into a quarry. The children unloaded like the freckled contents of a rural Irish clown car Like