Friday, 31 July 2009

I am not Designed for This (S-H-I-T)

Very nearly four years ago, when my wife died, I was left devastated, in a state of shock, but really in a position that required some important decisions, and fast.

At least I thought it did, retrospectively I perhaps could have taken more time, though I know I would have come to the same conclusions and decisions in any case.

I effectively decided I would not return to work, my professional role pretty much dictated I needed to be full-time, and I had concluded that there was someone else who needed me – and me him – on that basis more.

It was not a smooth exit from my employer, not sure my side of the story will see the light of day, but in short, I never returned.

A few people chose to question my decision, and I welcomed their opinion, I was happy to hear out their arguments and thoughts. My mind was all over the place, focusing on anything other than my son was very hard work, concentration was something I gave up on very quickly. So visiting things in short bursts I was happy to have people query me, so I could question myself, and my decision.

People were genuinely concerned, and not doubting me. They were more suggestive that other solutions may suit our situation, and me, better. I was, and still am, thankful for that concern, and that people cared enough to risk falling out with me by broaching the subject.

I just knew it was the right call, and that it would suit us both.

If Samantha had earned three times what I did, rather than the other way round, I would have been more than happy to have been the one at home, no worries.

But I suppose I had never really shown form to be a good parent. And it was only after my wife had miscarried before our sole successful pregnancy, that I knew, I was ready.

I am sure it would not suit a lot of men, as it does not suit all women. We all are wired differently, get satisfaction from different things, have different philosophies and some of us actually do jobs we like, and gain greater satisfaction from.

Which was also part of my plan. 2) Get a job I want.

I did meet the odd person, and still do, that just find it difficult to accept that a single dad can do as good a job as a woman left in the same circumstance.

This is an opinion, while dismissed, that I have also constantly checked along the way. I often wonder how a woman, or indeed my wife, may handle a situation, and in general, what a woman may do ‘naturally’, that a man might not.

I think I do have a mothering instinct, and it was interesting to hear the staff from Max’s nursery suggest he really is the mother-hen of the group, perhaps it is genetic.

However, as a 6ft 2” male, built on a reasonably substantial frame, carrying a little holiday weight and with all the suppleness that suggests rigor mortis is not the sole reserve of the recently deceased, some parenting tasks take their toll.

Apparently Go-Karting, Bowling, throwing my son about in ball pits, and helping him jump waves are OK.

But contorting and bending to wipe my heir’s behind in a caravan toilet is a step too far. My gosh, it was like someone stabbed me in the back, making an already delightful job, evermore charming.

Fortunately, Grandma was on hand – very quickly – to complete the job at, errm, hand, and I was left to simply deal with the agony that was my aching first secondary curve of my back.

Having the grandparents around was actually very lucky, as I was able to rest it up, steal some strong pain killers, and alter my Excel spreadsheet to allow it another 24 hours before I had to drive again.

So perhaps I am not built perfectly, but there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

Not that I will be taking a job as a full-time bum cleaner you understand?



Jeannette said...

Glad you had a good holiday but sorry about your back. Perhaps you could get Dan to walk up and down Japanese style on it if you get to visit them. Or evan Max, Amy & Evan trampoline style, I'm sure either method would sort you out.

Catherine said...

Isn't it sad when people don't understand when you wish to priotise your child above career/money? I think I'm considered a bit weird for not going back to work, but they're only little kids once, and you don't get to go back and do it again when you've more time. That said, I do understand that many parents, Mums included, have fulfiling jobs, don't wish to be at home all the time, and/or feel they need to be paying a mortgage and so on.

I can't believe someone was thoughless enough to suggest a woman would do a better job than you! While in general I suppose women are culurally and genetically more set up to be mums I don't beleve this excludes men from being excellent, caring parents, and anyway, in practice generalisations are useless. I can't help but think of the women I saw yesterday in town pushing prams, lit fag in hand...

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. Is it wrong that i chuckled about the caravan loo?! My dad died when i was a teenager and so my sister and i were left with mum. We sometimes wonder how it would have been if it were the other way around. Mum says he wouldn't have coped, we disagree! I think you made an excellent decision and i agree with Catherine. People need to wise up and let go of these insane old fashioned notions.
Townygirl. x

Badass Geek said...

Ah, but I bet the wages for a full-time bum cleaner would be pretty high, as the job itself is pretty... low.

SciFi Dad said...

We're still trying to teach our daughter that she doesn't have to hang herself from my arm while she leans forward for the wipe, because, you know, there's nothing better than using your father as a jungle gym while he's wiping your ass.

Smitten by Britain said...

You're doing the most important job in the world (and one of the least glamourous). You could have just as easily hurt your back at work, hell, people do it just from sitting at the computer all day. And you're right, not all women are cut out to be mothers either.

Did you pop in at my place and see your award? I wish it had magical healing powers but it doesn't so I hope it at least it makes you smile (a little).

The Dotterel said...

They now reckon the best way to cure a bad back is to keep moving, Ian. So I think you should be giving Grandma the day off.

Trooper Thorn said...

Bum cleaning is only tolerable when you have the luxery of chosing who's bum, and it helps if the bum is very little.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Ian it makes me a little mad that some folks have suggested you can't do the stay at home parenting thing as well as a woman. Anyone who sees you with Max, whether in real life or on the films you've put on here can see that you two are a brilliant team and you fulfil the role perfectly, or as perfectly as any lone parent can. In your circumstances, having lost the person you love, I can't imagine a better choice for both you and Max than to be together and care for each other. Grrrrrr.

Anyway, thanks for the image of your 6'2 frame squished into a caravan toilet. The things we parents have to do. :D Hope your back is better soon gorgeous. And I love Jeannette's idea of Dan and the kids using you as a trampoline. Make sure Kerry sticks some pics on twitter.

Gabriel said...

This is a great blog, so good to discover another UK dad blog. You're priorities are spot on, keep fighting the good fight.

Debbie said...

What a great take on being a single dad. In truth as a single mom I often wonder the same..What might their dad have done! (he is not deceased...he is around..but as with most divorces we lead separate homes)..I worry that they will only get my 'feminine' take in their daily lives! And yet, I am what they have! and I love them dearly! Therefore I know 'just me' enough! Because 'just me' is the gift I can give them and the commitment to them I can make! Thanks for a great post! P.s. Sorry about your back!!:)

Not a soccer mom said...

ouch ouch ouch what an awedul way to hurt yourself so awfully!

I wonder- If you quit your job ... how is it that you can be a stay at home parent?
How do you pay the bills?!

Lisa said...

I'm a woman and I hate to clean arses too!

That being said, I think you are an amazing dad and that Max is very lucky! I hope you meet a nice lady someday, if you want to, because I think you'll make a terrific husband again. When/if you're ready.

Dan said...

I've been very lucky in that no one has ever questioned my choice to stay at home with the kids. Although to be fair I do work part time too so I suppose it's more "socially acceptable"

Smitten by Britain said...

Ian, I had a laugh today when I cruised your blog only to see a big ad for Trojan condoms. Good ol' Adsense. Makes you want to censor your keywords doesn't it?

By the way, I'm launching a personal blog where I'll be cutting loose about all kinds of cultural topics. First post coming this week said...

you are built perfectly. you're Max's dad. and you're doing a great job. one ordinarily designed for two. anybody who does it on their own and copes get a huge gold star.

Liz@Violet Posy said...

Ow! Hope you're feeling better?

LD2 said...

Hmm, how to phrase this. I think you're fine.

I'm going through a custody battle and my ex is arguing that it should be gender neutral, but I never said he's not a good parent - just that I should have equal time with my son as he does (he works from home and is arguing to have our son during the week since I work in an office). I think both parents are quite capable of taking care of a child - and believe me, being a single parent is hard work!

You're doing great and I always get enlightened when reading your blog!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

We are what we are and you showed immense capabilities in raising your son alone. Many would have just continued to work and sent the child to a child minder.

CJ xx

Mama Dawg said...

There are some days at my job that I wish I was a professional bum cleaner. It'd be a lot easier. Just a different form of sh*t.

dadwhowrites said...

OK - that explains the tweets. Ouch! Time to contemplate a gentle hatha yoga class is scheduling or support infrastructure permits?

A Modern Mother said...

You keep it up SPD, you're doing the most important job.

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