I’ve been tuning into the BBC series on a Wednesday night, Turn Back Time, not least because it’s filmed in my home town of Morecambe. It’s exploring life for the different classes in the decades of the last century, and doing this through a sort of role play, having converted some houses in the town to represent the housing conditions of the time.
One of the three families left at the end of the last programme, having endured three weeks in the 1920s, then the 30s and 40s. The father paid tribute, in a very heartfelt way, to the effort that had to be put into the family and the home by the woman in those times. There was a strong sense that he was also paying tribute to his own wife in these times for the effort she was putting into his own family and home.
With the birth of my number two, and due to the fact that I’m now working for myself at home, I had reason to reflect on this tribute today. Whilst I work at home on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, both kids are at home only on Friday, and my wife has to entertain them both herself. She knows that she’s fortunate that I don’t work full time away from the house, but Friday at home is a real insight into mothering for me. The temptation to help out with the kids and help my wife is sometimes overwhelming, but of course I sacrifice my money making capacities, such as they are, if I do assist.
Last night had been particularly hard. Even though Bub is just over three months old, his sleeping through the night is not improving and, in fact, at the moment it is worsening. We were up every 90 minutes last night, and during those times, my wife fed him. She had an extra hour in bed whilst I took our eldest and Bub for breakfast, but as soon as she emerged, I had to get ready for work. She was then left to take a well rested three year old, and a poorly rested three month old, on for the day.
From my position in the office upstairs, I could hear the demands made by the eldest – game playing, getting dressed, cleaning teeth, going out, coming in, wanting a drink, in her bedroom, in the lounge – and could also hear Bub blubbing, crying, chuntering and seeking attention in a wholly different way. Whenever I ventured close to Bub and his very loud crying, I’m afraid that all I could do was inwardly cuss his noise and overlook the fact that it is his only means of communication, whatever he needs.
Now, I’m all for men getting a fair stab at parenting, and being remembered by church halls and bookshops that it’s not mother and baby, but parent and baby, but quite frankly mornings like this remind me of the patience, tolerance, love and understanding given between young kids and their mothers and the thankless task that mothers everywhere in this country do every day whilst their partners work or do other stuff. My wife has unflinching devotion and time for Bub where I would become impatient, and she does a fantastic job in tending to him day in and day out where I would probably flounder and moan. And this must be replicated across the land. So, a big thanks to mums, and a special thanks to the mum to my two. Sometimes, we men are not worthy.