Rubbish Dads Pt 2, or Mother’s Guilt.

Strategic Incompetence

This was brought to my attention yesterday after my initial post on “Rubbish Dads…”

Simply put, men, or some men, want to do as little as possible. In order to achieve this lofty aim, they either pretend they have no clue what you’re talking about, or proceed to complete whatever the task is with such awful results that they wont be asked again.

My question remains the same, how does this work when it comes to your children? I dont mean literally how, I’ve seen many examples. I mean HOW do you actually see it through? How can you not care?

Maybe I’m a huge control freak, maybe I’m a mother, but I cannot let anything vaguely important go without my input.

When I’m out and about, and R is with a babysitter, I can’t ever fully get him off my mind. C says that’s not the case for him. Once R is asleep, or not with him, he may get the odd twinge of ‘Oh how cute my son is’ or ‘maybe i’ll go in and look at him’ but apart from that, he isnt really thinking about him. How weird. My days without my baby are full of “I wonder if he ate his lunch” and “what do I need to pack for him for our trip next weekend?”

I need to know what he’s eaten today, how well he has slept, if he did anything einstein-worthy (eg: clap in time to the music) otherwise I’m lost in my world of routines and planning and well.. being mum. Men just dont have this frame of mind. Baby isnt crying = Baby isnt hungry/tired/wet = Great. But what if he secretly IS hungry/tired/wet and you dont know it because you’re blessed with such a happy tot? Answer from the male camp.. “Er.. who cares?”

Maybe this difference is, I understand the consequences. Get supper wrong, and I’m the one blearily walking into the doorframe at 3am when someone wakes up hungry. Forget to change a nappy, I’m changing not only the nappy, but the clothes and sheets also.

Or maybe not. Maybe the menfolk have it right. From day 1, we mothers (and especially the jewish ones) spend our time doling out serious amounts of guilt to ourselves. Are we breastfeeding right? Are we weaning correctly? Is she walking on time? Am I spending enough time with him? Should I be blogging while he’s chewing on the telephone wires? ūüėČ

Perhaps it’s all a bit too much. I’m not suggesting we move into the men’s camp altogether, or the future of civilisation may be at risk. And I’m certainly not advocating strategic incompetence. But who knows? We could learn a thing or two by shutting off from time to time and assuming that if the kid seems fine.. theyre probably fine.

Oops, I’m 7 minutes off sched for naptime, and then there’s lunch to make.. and the bag to pack…

Rubbish dads? Get over it.

I seriously dont get it. You clear the table, you take the rubbish out, you vacuum and tidy and have been even known to dust from time to time. What happens to you when we pass you your children?

I’m not talking about the all round useless men. We all know a few, and ladies (or doormats) married to them, and that’s a whole¬†different blog. Or novel really.

I’m discussing the ones who seem like fully functional males, are able to make polite and amusing conversation at a dinner party, can be given a simple list of tasks to do around the home, and yet have issues when the word offspring isnt attached to a shiny disc in a plastic case. (For readers under 15.. shiny discs called CD’s came before MP3’s.. and the offspring were a popular 90’s band. “No way right?”)

I’ve seen you in your homes, we all have. You ask 50 questions when making up a bottle of formula, in the hope you wont be asked again. You refuse to be left alone with your baby for more than the time it takes us to nip to the bathroom and back, and even then you knock on the door casually wondering what might happen if Bobby was found eating the pot plant. You wrinkle up your face when you smell a dirty nappy and pass the offending child to your better (and I do mean that) half. Because actually menfolk, well done, you’ve cracked it. Whilst you dislike this chore,¬†we simply LOVE nappy changing.

What’s this about? Is it because you’re out of the house more? Is it because you’ve honed in on some caveman stereotype of hunter gatherer and are worried that one bath time and you’ll be at home all day while we go out and club furry animals over the head for sustenance?

Or is it expectations? All I know is what we’ve done as a couple and my own experiences. The morning after R was born, C came to visit his former wife, current hysterical zombie, in hospital, and to a chorus of “why wont he stop crying? why wont he EAT?” he changed his very first nappy. He then sat with our newborn blob (I wont say baby-it’s an insult to babies ;)) and watched him and held him while I had the best shower ever and a bowl of cornflakes which I can only assume were spiked, as they may have changed my life. He didnt get a choice is my point. Aside from the fact that he wanted to help his wife and bond with his son,¬†if he’d have started a conversation on what jobs he was willing to take part in at that point, he would have been hit over the head with a lactation specialists useless doll, on the offchance that i’d have heard him in the first place.

By the time we got home, we were full into “figuring it out together” mode, and there (Thank G-d) we have stayed.

So I have a new tribe of women to salute, the “I’m married to a great husband/useless father” ladies. Well done indeed, but may I offer a bit of advice, from someone who knows absolutely nothing about your situation and has very little idea what she’s talking about? Leave a note with clear details, turn off your phone, and head out for the afternoon. You deserve it. Of that¬†I am sure.

Hello, I miss you

Three words with so much meaning. I dont want to be melodramatic about it, and let me be clear, I dont think about you all the time, or even every day. But it’s there. It’s noticeable.

I almost wish there had been a huge incident. Shouting, anger, tears. Recriminations, grude-bearing,¬†ignoring each other for days or weeks at a time. But those days are past. We dont have that teenage anger, that ability for what you’re going through to be the most painful feeling anyone has ever experienced outside of the two of you. That drama that you wouldnt bring up anymore for fear of ruining how special it secretly is to you, the tears and the cant breathe cant think pain. If we brought it up now we’d end up justifying it and making excuses for ourselves, and I’d hate that.

Instead it’s all a bit…wet. Losing a friendship. Oh, we dont talk as much anymore, life got in the way, everything sort of…fizzled.

So instead here I am, writing this down. I’m not angry, I’m not hurting, I dont even want anything to change, not really. I just thought I’d mention it, in a very grown up way-I do miss you. Sometimes I hear something I know only you’l appreciate, or have a rubbish day and want to vent before I go home, or tell a joke that gets recieved blankly and wish you were there to get it and laugh with me. And hey, I could tell you, no one is stopping me.. But it wouldnt be the same. I think you know that too.

None of this is life-changing, mind altering stuff. None of this is even that necessary, and we’re both doing really well without it to be honest. But I still like to think you feel that way too sometimes. That although our lives have moved so far apart that what was once a constant presence is now barely acknowledged, it would be nice if we’d managed to stay friends.

But life goes on.

Dads

I know this may be an unfair request to make, but ladies of London, please stop staring at my husband like that.

I know, he is holding a baby. I know, he has this baby on his shoulders and I know, the baby is laughing. But seriously, I am two steps away from not letting C hold R when we are out and about.

Add to this the double standard of how when I hold R upside down by his ankles in a crowded shopping street, I am given the ‘irresponsible’ glare. Oh dear I do hope that mother knows what she is doing. That is so very dangerous. C doing the exact same thing? oh would you look at that father with his child? How precious. Oh it is so lovely to see a dad bonding with his baby.

Dont get me wrong, I agree with you. A dad and his baby is truly one of the cutest things you can see, and one of the most likely things to make your womb skip a beat outside of a maternity ward, but everything in moderation ladies. You dont see me gazing lovingly at your hubby just because he’s playing kickabout with your toddler, or being just that bit over-enthused at the unposed photo of him cuddling your daughter. I’m not saying I dont look, I’m saying you dont see me.

So do me the same favour that I do other mums, pretend. Wait until I’m looking away, be discreet, train your face out of the obvious ‘aww’ that you’re dying to let out. Any of the above really, I may be a little insane, but I’m not fussy.

Addict.

My name is Elisheva, and I’m an addict. Slightly ashamedly, I admit it, I am obsessed with BBC3 documentaries about dysfunctional parents. I crave Underage and Pregnant. I talk about Fast Food Baby to anyone who will listen. I could eat, sleep and drink The World’s Strictest Parents. So, loyal readers, on the menu today, Cherry’s Parenting Dilemma’s.

Cherry is in all kinds of quandaries about how to raise her baby daughter, Coco. (Should I point you in the direction of your first mistake mum? Clue- is your daughter in fact the face of a popular breakfast cereal?)

In order to help her with her struggle, she visits a bunch of mums, all helpfully tagged with superhero names.

I wont talk you through the whole show, as I dont want to ruin it for you, (she says hopefully, knowing you dont care) but some highlights for me, were overprotective mum, who warns her girls not to “talk to strangers, especially if¬†you dont know them.” Great parenting and great grasp of the english language there mum. While watching her, I wondered how many strangers¬†her girls¬†tend to meet in the confines of their living room, which appeared to be the only place they were allowed to roam. Hearing her 8 year old daughter talk of her fear of being murdered and/or stabbed and kidnapped “like Maddie Mccan” truly shocked me. Overprotective I can forgive, showing your little girls newspaper articles of mauled teenagers to encite fear? -Oh hello, I wonder if you could help me.. is that social services?-

Workaholic mum¬†is out¬†from 7am to 5am in order to give her kids all the things they want. I say want, because the word need cannot be used to describe the endless stacks of video games and toys these poor love-starved children own. (They also have names like Kemeiya… seriously, tip of the iceberg.) Mum is extremely resourceful, and given that she has no formal training or qualifications, and needs ¬£300 a day to provide for her childrens ever growing wants… I think you can probably fill in the blanks as to what kind of ‘work’ she¬†spends¬†her time employed in. I’d like to speak for us all when i say we are happy to have been without that pony we always dreamed of, if that is in fact the cost. Workaholic mum? A euphemism if ever I heard one.

Cue the Jewish mother, dubbed, wait for it, Pushy Mum. and her soundbite? Dear Emily, on behalf of jewish mums everywhere, we would like to thank you for,

“I would be willing to trade some of their happiness for good grades.”

Now far be it for me to say the BBC waste money, and maybe I’ll be thanking Cherry for her pearls of wisdom at some point in the future, but I’m not entirely sure we need a documentary in order to teach us the lessons she has taken away from her experience. To summarise:

  • Dont become a stripper to buy your 5 year old his own Nintendo Wii, when you already have a family one.
  • Dont make your 4 year old go to school 7 days a week, 9 hours a day.
  • Dont let your 14 year old go to a rave when she has an alchohol abuse problem.
  • Dont tell your kids that if you’d known ten years ago what the world would be like today you wouldnt have had them in the first place.

Glad I’ve written those down for future reference. For my final shout out of the day, one very big hats off to Hippy or “Liberal” Mum, who home-schools her kids and has somehow got away with convincing them that Washing Up comes right between Maths and Science in the school day.