This was tested to its limits, however, when I was contacted by Louisa at Way to Blue, the PR Agency behind the new Shrek movie and asked if Archie would like to come to the gala première – and meet one of his absolute favourite characters, Shrek himself. Because the new film is about Shrek having a bit of a mid-life crisis after becoming a dad, they seemed to think the film would strike a chord with me too. I tweeted about this invitation and my friend and fellow blogger, Paula Robertson, assured me that article 18.104.22.168 of blogging ethics states that it is okay to accept invitations if it would be cruel to our kids to refuse them.
So I accepted the invitation and, sure enough, we went to Leicester Square this morning to see Shrek Forever After. And, sure enough, poor Shrek really is having a mid-life, baby-induced crisis. He seems to have had triplets and is missing all the things that any new dad would miss. You know, things like being a scary ogre, being allowed to roar loudly, being able to have a mud bath without interruption, not having to tell (and laugh at) the same story every day. When I became a dad, many days felt like groundhog day – and I would often think about what I was “missing” from my past.
It won’t be a spoiler to the ending if I tell you that Shrek works it all out in the end, albeit that he has to fight off hoards of witches and a distinctly evil Rumplestiltskin to get there.
But the message of the film is very aposite for Father’s Day today.
Firstly, be careful what you wish for. I mean, Shrek was desperate to get away from the constraints of fatherhood and yet almost lost everything in the process, including his wife and his kids (not to mention being chased by dragons and witches, chained, beaten and humiliated. Talk about a bad day at the office!).
And secondly, no matter how tough this whole fatherhood malarky is, we wouldn’t change it for the world. Yes, it would be great once in a while to step out for a day into a parallel world and come back barely a second later after we left but we’d soon miss the challenges and the roller-coaster of fatherhood.
So here’s to Shrek, for chancing his luck but remembering that home was where his heart is. And that no matter how great the past may feel (particularly through fatigued, rose-tinted glasses), nothing can replace the joy of the here-and now.
Happy Father’s Day!