Today is Father’s Day. We don’t celebrate this anymore than we do Mother’s Day. We have been doing some low level celebration today, but that is because it also happens to be our sixth wedding anniversary.
For the first time ever, on our anniversary we’ve had a babysitter (my lovely mother) whilst we went out for lunch, child free. Our favourite restaurant turned out to be closed so we ended up thoroughly enjoying a Pizza Express!
Social media is utterly awash with every single person clamouring to say how stupendous their fathers and children’s fathers are. I will not be doing that. I have seen posts honouring single mums and fathers who have died. I felt moved to post about fathers who are a bit rubbish, fathers who are not what you need. Surely I am not the only person to have a father who they don’t get on with, who they have a persistently challenging, disappointing and upsetting relationship with? Well here’s to those people, who managed to become great in spite of their fathers. Big up to us.
I also won’t be doing a big public shout out to my ‘Baby-Daddy’. My husband is hugely supportive of my decision to write this blog, as he always is of me generally. But he himself is not on social media, and prefers for his life and picture not to be splashed all over the place. Fair enough. So I won’t tell you how great he is, how he is all the things that my father has never managed to be. He is though.
Instead I will talk a little about my perception of stay at home Dads. It is becoming more common though it is still a relative rarity. It was something we had discussed before ever trying for a baby. It seemed like the sensible option, considering I had a well paid job, with totally antisocial, irregular shifts, which I loved. He had never really found the right job for him, particularly living in a part of the country with a very limited job market. Once my year’s maternity leave had run out, he finished his job, and took over the reins as the main parent.
I think that being a stay at home mum sounds like a bloody hard job, one that I know I would really struggle to do. It involves extremely long hours, doing almost entirely thankless, menial work, with absolutely no annual leave or sick leave, and no lunch hour. Also your colleagues are completely irrational, dictatorial, and emotionally unstable. They also have a tendency for incontinence and bad table manners.
I do joke slightly, all parents know that at times being with our children can be the most beautiful, joyful, wondrous experience, but it certainly isn’t easy.
I think that being a stay at home Dad, a good one at least, involves all the hardship of the stay at home Mum, plus a load of extras for luck. It is hugely socially isolating. There is no network of stay at home Dads, not where we live at least. There’s a whole load of stereotypical issues about loss of status and not being the breadwinner etc, which I think my husband is normally able to brush off. In our house at least, his inability to lactate has definitely been an issue, the fact that they still want me, a lot of the time. The fact that, due to me having the boobs and the womb, I sometimes feel like I deserve top trumps in this parenting game when it comes to decisions on how to raise our children.
So, our Not Father’s Day has been very nice, with time away from the children, with Pizza Express dough balls and garlic butter, and with him getting them all hyped up at bedtime as he chases them with the hairdryer. And it’s not perfect, none of it is. My husband isn’t the “best father in the entire world, gush gush” and my father most certainly isn’t, but when my boy woke in the night and cried out for his Dada, he was there for him.