Released On 9th Mar 2020
Freddy's blog: Role models
We’re coming up for 5 years of parenthood and 10 years of being a couple. Or can you add the age of the second child to the first and say you’ve been a parent for 6 1/2 years? Then when we have 15 and 11, it’ll be 26 years. It might look it.
I look in the mirror and say gosh haven’t you grown, trying to look through the mirror and into my own soul.
Today is International Women’s Day. We haven’t marked it specifically at home, but we do read and talk a lot about the achievements and potential of girls. We want to make sure our sons know their place.
Just kidding, we have two girls, and the younger one can fall off dining tables with the best of them and the older one loves to hear about Pocahontas and Mary Shelley and Emily Davison and Mary Read and Boudicca.
Of course I would say this, but the real role model woman is my wife who can do everything: win her clients’ trust and hearts, help them manage their tax efficiently, work out how much we’ve been overcharged in school fees, make the girls laugh, keep them healthy.
According to her I do 10% of the work (well below the average 30% for a man according to someone interviewed about International Women’s Day). This is not true but let’s not talk about percentages here darling.
One of my helpful domestic roles is the entirely masculine concept of Kit Man. This means I make sure the school uniform and swimming kit is all ready to go (btw sweetheart if you’re reading this I left a wash in the machine).
After my wife showed me a faster way to iron school dresses (the pleats were taking me ages) I really grew into this role and I have positive visions of myself in say 10 years’ time running up to Big School wearing a tracksuit with my initials on it, studs scraping on the pavement, taking a knee and presenting a daughter with some crucial piece of hockey kit pulled from a large hold-all. Then after the win I get on the team bus for a Capri Sun. We couldn’t have done it without you Kit Man.
Another one is Bin Man, famously also adopted by Theresa May’s husband (what was his name again?) and probably many other men. Bin Man is good because for a treat you get to go to the household recycling centre, which is more physical. Like the poster on the tube says: when your body is working, your mind isn’t. Although this is not entirely true because you’re thinking “scrap metal number 14, cardboard number 7, woman-made wood number 2, shall I buy some beers in Tesco on the way home.” I do see women at the tip too. Last time there was one in her dressing gown and pool sliders unloading a van. The duality of modern woman.
My main role is Daddy Man. This involves trying to role model how a man should treat himself and others so if the girls want to marry one, they choose well. This one’s even harder than school dresses because even if I got it 99% right I would feel I failed quite badly, and I know I don’t get anywhere near close to that. Recently I’ve been influenced in this regard by Scott of the Antarctic and his team (I’ve become quite obsessed with his last expedition), who were exhibitors of an Edwardian male kind of stiff-upper-lip and a sense of duty towards their roles and their companions’ wellbeing and their families (and a sense of their own strengths and failings), which has sadly fallen by the wayside along with the far less pleasant aspects of male and upper class dominated Edwardian society. So men perhaps behaved better (I know this is highly debatable) 108 years ago before Emily Davison and others won women freedom and choices that they still don’t even get enough of, which is hard to compute.
Why am I joking on about male roles on International Women’s Day? Partly because I’m rushing this and so thinking of mundane things and trying to make them sound interesting. More importantly I’m looking into my own soul and trying to work out what I should give the women on their day, trying to grow as a man, trying to know my place so I can help them take theirs.
I don’t have an ending. There probably isn’t one.
Freddy works in marketing for an association in the City and is the proud father of two very clever, determined and funny little girls.