Since becoming a widower the realisation that I relied on my wife for many things became clear.
I type clear, but they didn’t from the very outset, things were understandably misty, and many of the tasks that I required immense assistance with, weren’t even entertained as I came to terms with our new future.
Strangely parenting was not an issue, sure I hadn’t taken my son to all the playgroups that my wife had enrolled at, but they were more a task of knowing time and place to turn up.
When Max was born I was determined to be a confident parent, he was my responsibility – as much as his mom’s – and as such I wanted to be at least competent at every single aspect of caring for a baby, and child.
We had gone to four anti-natal classes together, which were interesting, and I asked plenty of stupid questions, but that was the extent of my parenting preparation.
But I was determined to learn on the job, right from the very beginning.
After we had all bonded as a new unit, with Max making his breastfeeding debut, I was charged with the task of dressing him for the first time.
This was the exact point at which I was introduced to the various baby items we had been out and purchased. And for the record, it took me a while to find a baby vest, as no ‘vest’ I have ever seen, or owned, covers your arsehole and genitals too. Baby leotard would be more accurate.
However, by this point we were joined by grandmothers, and my clumsy clambering for the right equipment enticed them right into taking-over-mode.
And when I asked for help identifying the right things, or how best to get them on, I got the ‘come hear/subtle attempt to takeover’ shit.
To which they got a firm “No, answer my question or clear off, I didn’t ask you to find/take over did I?”
Which is as polite as I get to a fuck off.
At this point I looked up to my wife who gave me her eversobeautiful that-told-them/I’m-glad-you-are-on-my-team/I-love-you look.
It was a good precedent to set, and I would advise any new father to get stuck in, and do similar, never will there be a better, and more justified opportunity to tell mothers, and mother-in-laws, to go fuck themselves.
It was something I had to re-enforce, even at times with my late wife. I actively encouraged her to leave me with our child as I find my confidence only grows with competence and experience.
Plus I actually enjoyed being with him, however unrewarding it is in the first few months of parenthood.
Conversely I am not afraid of asking for, and am grateful for, help, or a break, and I feel that all parents, wherever possible, should get time for themselves, as long as they realise that they never fully relinquish responsibility for their own.