Guest Post: Division of Love’s Labour

Here’s another guest post from the husband:

For my second guest post, (thank you Amelia ) I would like to talk about parenting from two perspectives, a stay at home mother and a working father.  Boo sexist! Well, no.

Yes, it could be that Mummy goes to work and Daddy stays at home, and we considered this when Pip was just a belly-bound bundle, but in our situation it was more appropriate for me to earn while Amelia stays at home. I’ll talk from my perspective because it’s the only one I know but I don’t feel gender makes a difference to the overall themes.

I think this is an awesome responsibility on both parts.  While I am at work Amelia has to be the sole carer of a small, often loud and always unpredictable, for want of a better word, idiot.  It’s not Pip’s fault she started life ignorant to everything around her as I, and I dare say you, did but it is the case that no matter how “child proof” you make a home, they are dangerous places to children at that age where they seem to go from sitting to running over night and their key method of identifying objects appears to be to run into it at high speed or lick it. Sort of like Miley Cyrus but with more dignity.

It’s true that as I had the ultimate get out (work in the morning , I have a meeting, the trains are busy and I’m tired) I escaped most of the late night baby and toddler related upsets and this meant that Amelia had to be the zombie on call 24 hours a day.  I know this isn’t easy on stay at home parents, especially as you have very little grown up conversation during the day and when you do 99% of conversations are about the baby (certainly in the first 9-12 months).  I know that my social life has been comparatively easy since Pip came along, in comparison, I go to work daily with, for the most part, adults and that helps.

I know that as children are unpredictable, fitting in the daily chores (my god the laundry is extensive) often gets waylaid by Pip asking Amelia how electricity works, or how much shadows weigh, to the extent where it’s now seemingly a bad idea that we have a policy of answering all questions honestly and fully.

I’m aware that as Pip is now four and preparing for school, Amelia spends hours each day on education (reading , maths, Welsh and French language,  geography and, most often due to Pip’s wishes, dinosaurs) and in contrast I get the fun bits; games, cuddles and Pip’s round up of the day when I get home, even if I don’t ask for it.

But there are downsides to my lot. I miss Pip when I’m at work, a lot. Sometimes I have to go away for a day or two and then it’s worse. I know that’s soppy, but it is a shame to hear second hand about a lot of her milestones, and get told by text the cute thing she just said while looking at her books.

During my days I can text my wife or email, but Pip is four so texting isn’t really an option. I don’t get to do many day trips to the museum during half term (as it is now in Wales) and the like. It was worst when she was a newborn and on one night in particular.

We were living elsewhere when Pip was born and we were very pleased that in our area there was fantastic midwifery-led antenatal care. After the little one joined the family we were visited at home by a very supportive midwife  for all the usual post natal checks for mummy and baby, but after 5 days told us she wasn’t happy with Pip’s weight gain. She recommended the girls be admitted into hospital to observe the little ones ” imports and exports” – how much she ate and how much her nappies weighed.  Don’t panic Dear Reader, 24 hours later they came home all fine and she was just a small baby. She is very healthy now and just a little shorter than average for her age.

That night, however, was terrifying. Visiting hours on the very secluded ward ended at nine, and at almost 12:30 the sister eventually recommended I go home and rest, leaving the girls there.  I left the hospital and walked around it in a large ring before I called my own father who lived minutes away.  Now I know all was fine and it seems silly now but at the time I was tired, ignorant and a little afraid so I did eject a few very butch and masculine tears before I called.

I called my father and naturally he told me to head to his house, the home I grew up in, a mere 20 minutes walk away. Now the exact nature of the conversation that followed is irrelevant but I eventually took a room to rest at about 3am and can honestly say that that man was my hero that night. My first problem as a father, who else but my father would understand the very specific feeling?

I was back at the hospital very early, 9 am I would say seems to fit the memory, to sit slightly closer and still not be able to do anything useful.

When Pip is older she will likely get to see this, and in case I forget along the line I’ll say it here, the horrible beautiful truth of what was explained by my own progenitor while I was impotently awaiting the morning.  I was told to “get used to worrying , because you’ll spend a lot more time worrying in the years to come, that’s what being a Dad is, I still worry about you”.

Of course he is right, and I’m sure it’s the same for Mums too.

It seems agreeable that parents should make the most of the time spent being your child’s hero, or keeper, or play thing or whatever they need you to be, and even more so if you have to spend your days apart.

Still, at least I don’t have to watch Cbeebies all day.


One thought on “Guest Post: Division of Love’s Labour

  1. Pingback: Mummy Gets A Bit Sad - Parenting And Mental Health

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