THE ONE ANNOYING THING ABOUT HAVING A HANDS-ON PARTNER
Claire Spreadbury is all for equal parenting but...
My other half is something of a ‘modern man’ – so say many people of my parents’ generation. A bloke who doesn’t come home from work, put his feet up and wait to be fed and watered, but who tends to come home and do most of the feeding and watering himself. And he cleans (bathrooms and floors are most definitely his forte) and parents too - it’s a brilliant quality in a dad.
I’m one of these ‘must do it all’ flexible working mothers, who crams full-time hours into a four-day week, so I have some time to prioritise school and nursery, without having to give up on my career.
So being that we’re both pretty busy on the work front, it makes sense to be completely equal when it comes to parenting. And what’s more, it’s fair.
In social set-ups, he’s more likely to take the brunt so, while I guzzle a glass of wine and chat shit, he’ll (hopefully) be checking WeenyOne hasn’t toddled off in the direction of a stranger. Meanwhile I’m the one ensuring every little thing is sorted for LittleMadam’s school week; that she’s done her homework and is almost ready for the godawful Sats, and that the numerous clubs are booked and paid for. And when it comes to dropping off and picking up, we have a strict rota in place to ensure we can both be at our individual places of work for as long as is humanly possible.
But instead of us both being congratulated on our spreadsheet approach to surviving family life, all eyes gaze at Husband with affection, while I suck up a chorus of praise on his behalf. ‘He’s so hands-on,’ they tell me. ‘He’s brilliant, isn’t he? He’s so involved with the kids.’ Yes, yes, right on all accounts.
But isn’t that how it should be? Shouldn’t children be ‘parented’ by their dads just as much as their mums? Not just for the sake of sanity but also so fathers can be a positive influence on their offspring and bring them up the way they believe is right.
I’m sure there are many times when Husband would much prefer to ignore our little ones, go to the pub, pound the pavements or watch the rugby, rather than attempting to explain, for the umpteenth time, how fractions work to a six-year-old, but that’s the way life is for parents - no matter which one you are.
And if you’re clever - which he is - you can encourage them into whatever you feel like doing. So if he fancies a bike ride, he can take LittleMadam out on hers. OK, it won’t be as fast or as far, but it’s a happy compromise. And if he feels like lolling about watching a film, that’s what happens, it’s just that he’ll end up watching Inside Out instead of Deadpool. Doesn’t sound so bad to me.
So, yes, Husband is fabulously amazing. But so am I, sometimes, by the way.