Having a full blown row with your partner in front of your baby is reprehensible but sadly sometimes inevitable. And in the heat of a particularly virulent argument, you’ll often hear my wife and I return to this tired parenting trope:
“This place is a mess; you do NOTHING around the house to help!”
“Give me a chance I’m knackered, I’ve been at work all day!”
“I’d LOVE to go back to work. At least I’d actually get a lunch break! Try looking after a bloody baby all day; you’ll see what tired really means!”
“I’d love to!”
“Yeah right, you’d last a week!”
You get the gist. Anyway, this leads on nicely to some new research carried out by the London School of Economics, and commissioned by the Fatherhood Institute, that says that men in the UK undertake just 24 minutes of childcare per every hour carried out by a woman, meaning they come last in a table of 15 countries. And these new figures are particularly depressing given that they highlight the failure of the shared parental leave policy, which was introduced here a year ago.
In light of this dismal news, maybe it’s time I called my wife’s bluff and took over the parenting duties? Is it that outlandish an idea anyway? I may be on older dad (my daughter was born last year, when I was 41) but unlike most of my peer group, I spent/wasted about 15 years of my life after graduation on the chimera that is a ‘music career’, so have only begun to entertain the notion of getting a proper job and working my way up the corporate ladder in the last few years; therefore, I have absolutely no ‘career ego’ to speak of.
Could this be the face of my new boss?
Also, I’m happy to admit that my wife’s far better at her job than I am, earns almost the same as I do (even though she’s only in her early 30s) and stands to make a lot more money in the long run than I ever could – particularly as there’s always scope in the PR world to start your own agency. And as much as the fast-paced, ever-changing world of digital search marketing (I’m a writer and editor for corporate blogs) is still a novelty to me, the effect of Google’s latest algorithm update is not something that really gets my juices flowing – I was going to be the next Lou Reed for chrissake!
In fact, it might be the years spent locked away in my home studio for hours on end every day, not seeing or speaking to anybody, that makes me think I wouldn’t mind the splendid isolation. I’ve also had plenty of experience freelancing, so that might also stand me in good stead – that’s if the notion of bashing out a few articles on the laptop whilst balancing a writhing baby on my knee is even a realistic one? (At the very least, it would provide me with some much-needed content for this blog).
Finally; the issue of emasculation. Will I feel less of a man if I stay home, knee-deep in nappies and soft toys? Will I end up feeling just a soupcon of shame in admitting that I’m not the breadwinner in this household? Far from it. I’m comfortable enough in my masculinity (and enough of a workshy fop) to believe that being the stay at home parent is just as valid a role as the person who brings home the (organic) bacon – regardless of sex.
Bring on the teething and the solid food poos; how hard can it be, right?!
This article fist appeared in The Huffington Post on 14/06/2016