In the division of labour that occurs within any long term relationship, there is a quiet but brutal skills assessment of each partner.
In our case, tasks involving organisation, intelligence and finesse are allocated to my wife Rachel, while jobs which could otherwise be performed by a poorly trained labrador are entrusted to me.
Together, we arrived at this allocation naturally and organically based on a need for our partnership to put its best foot forward, and for our lives to be mostly functional.
But occasionally, circumstances conspire to keep your best player off the field, and the loyal foot soldier is allowed to dream of, amounting to something greater.
So it was that on one weekend work pressure took Rachel from the family and I decided, uninvited, to attempt the fortnightly family shop. With unbridled enthusiasm and unreasonable confidence, I took three of the kids, entered the supermarket and began shopping. I carried no list, instead picking items from the shelves by instinct.
As every choice of product was made, my sense of empowerment grew. As every packet landed in the trolley, I could feel a shackle break from my soul. The next 90 minutes became a heady skip through a brave new world of quick-fire decision-making amidst an intoxicating sea of retail brands that represent the greatest achievement of modern advertising.
As we unloaded our trolley at the check-out, there was flavoured milk and Coco Pops, blue cheese and cabana, patterned toilet rolls and squeaky toys for the dogs. We even purchased a giant birdseed bell for the parrots we didn’t own because none of us had ever seen anything like it.
In the certain belief of having completed a feat that all viewed as being beyond me, I was in a transcendental state of ecstasy.
The cost of this expedition was breathtaking, yielding a bottom line figure that I was surprised could be calculated without the aid of a super-computer. I swore my children to secrecy, arguing that revealing this information to mum could be very counter-productive. As they scoffed their Milky Bars, they readily agreed.
Only Bella retained an air of concern. Like the other kids, she was enjoying the lack of restraint combined with the sugar. Yet at the same time, her nine-year-old brain knew that something was very wrong and that this endeavour would likely end in tears.
We returned home, put away our bounty, and I collapsed on the couch hoping that the relief of an onerous chore having been lifted from my beloved’s shoulders would distract her from a closer inspection of the details.