Freddy's blog: Events did not rhyme quite as he had thought

I write from work, where I’m under pressure after taking responsibility for a major project that has been failing because nobody understands it (and I don’t either) as well as on the usual dash to be a good boy and finish everything before Santa comes. 

Meanwhile my wife is at home with our month-old second child, with home help from our three-year old in the afternoons. She’s an expert at caring for babies, and also a ‘doctor for burns’ she told me this morning.

Mother and baby are unwell and the only time they’ve been outside all week has been to see the real doctor. When I get home about 7 I catch the end of story and bedtime with the eldest and then I usually spend a few hours doing jobs and housework and settling the baby. Then when the girls are all in bed I’ll stay up until midnight or later because without some time to myself I go nuts. So the morning is a bit of a rush when I’m struggling to get out of bed. Plus I’m late for work all the time anyway because I’m trying to do the school run. And the dog, I forgot about the dog; we keep forgetting about the dog.

None of this is a problem because we all love each other, I really like being useful and domestically we’re kind of better off than the first week home with the baby, which was the end of a month-long period without a functioning kitchen or washing machine. Washing up in the bath causes worse backache than dancing round with a crying baby.

The hard thing is not having many people to talk to about the quotidian struggles of parenthood and husband-hood. Mates with babies and toddlers are strewn across London and beyond so it’s difficult to meet up. And I don’t know if you know this but when men meet up in the pub we often escape from our ordinary lives by talking rubbish, instead of telling each other all our news or feelings.

Friends without children can be sympathetic, but who wants to hear about my evening routine? (Just my readers, I hope. If I have any.) And I don’t want to put them off children and all the wonderful things that make up for the hard parts a hundred times over.

As a man (or as the parent not on leave; usually a man) you also feel like you have to keep it in. Women at home with babies have physical, mental and social challenges on a much larger scale and understandably don’t really want to hear it. Parents (by which I mean grandparents) will say “yes, it’s hard” or “you think that’s hard? When you were a kid you didn’t go to sleep for one minute until you were 5, the house was burning down, the dog was dead and we didn’t notice, interest rates were 20% and blah blah blah.” So who do you talk to? And who do you talk to when like me you’re not very good at talking? And what am I going to say – “I feel a bit sad because I haven’t been to the pub for a bit”? It’s not exactly Jude the Obscure. It’s not even as bad as I’m making it sound.

I’m hoping to meet my best mate for a drink after work tonight but for obvious reasons that might not happen and of course I wouldn’t resent that. He just got engaged, so I’d prefer to talk about that anyway and worry inside about how I will make the wedding, which will be far away enough to make it a solo mission. And if I go home straight after work I’m going to do my jobs and hold my beautiful children and look after my beautiful wife and stay up late on my own and try to give the dog some attention and be more understanding when he comes in from the garden and gets mud on my shirt.

It will all be ok. Even quite nice. I just wanted to tell you about it.

Freddy works in communications at trade association in the City, except on Friday afternoons when he takes his three-year old daughter swimming.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

Comments
Kate Annett - 11/12/2018 - 17:21
Thank you for sharing this Freddy. I think it is what a lot of us are feeling. We feel we shouldn’t complain as we know we don’t really have a bad life in comparison to many in the world & even this country. But still the pressure is pretty relentless especially in these dark cold days. And I do worry that my husband is similar to you in not really having a forum to let off steam about these worries.  I hope things get easier for you soon. 
Ian Dinwiddy - 12/12/2018 - 13:13
Freddie, you're the first blog post I've read here, thanks for sharing. How and why working dads are struggling is becoming better and better understood. Personally I'm on a mission to help fix - not sure i'm allowed to share (I'll have to check self promotion rules!) 
Sally Tanner - 13/12/2018 - 11:12
Hi Freddy - thanks for your blog, it took me right back to those days shortly after having my second child! My husband was working 16 hour days at the time, I had a two year old, a refluxy newborn, and ongoing health issues from a difficult pregnancy. It is a very hard time, and finding ways to support yourself is very important, so you can continue to support everyone else - I think sharing what you're going through and your current difficult situation being heard and appreciated is a big part of that, even if no-one can fix it for you. I hope you got to make your drinks, and wish you and your family all the best.
Jen Hazelton - 13/12/2018 - 13:07
Thank you for this Freddy. It sounds as though you are doing a great job. It's the best and hardest job, it's the most fulfilling and frustrating job, it's the job where you accomplish so much yet so little, and the job where you are the best and the worst version of yourself. You couldn't imagine doing any other job, with anyone else, except sometimes you do just daydream for a moment what it might be like... and that's ok. I suspect that your wife feels exactly the same, as do most of the other working parents out there - and the stay at home parents. We just don't tell each other very often. We are the lucky ones who have these wonderfully ferocious miniature beings in our lives, however. Even if we do, occasionally, think we aren't, it doesn't take much to remind us that we would move heaven and earth (as well as the smells, the dirt, the mess...) to make them happy and have them in our lives. I like that you presented both sides in your charming post, and I appreciate your optimism for what you might be able to achieve. Don't lose hope!

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