Time for closure.

Last week was DH’s graduation, marking the end of his degree and our life in Canterbury. We were very excited for the excuse to visit the city we once knew and still love, basking in memories of cobbled streets and Sunday mornings in a coffee shop. Of course we were celebrating the future as well as harking back, after all, DH did achieve a First in his degree and win the International Relations Prize, whilst juggling his role as a stay-at-home-dad. DS and I are amazingly proud of him!

It is crazy how time flies, as the same day a year ago was my graduation. I love how DS is present in both our graduation pictures; whilst our faces remain the same with a difference of one year (or so I hope), DS has almost doubled in size. To my surprise, with a few adjustments to the elastic, DS’ trousers and waistcoat from a year ago still fit him.

Oh how my boys have grown!

Do Mums Know Best?

A maternal bond is heavily focused on amongst new mothers and midwives, how it is crucial to get that motherly connection going in case it might never happen and your baby will grow up resenting you. As you can probably tell by my sarcastic tone, I completely disagree.

Scare mongering new mothers in thinking they must breast feed, co-sleep and wear their baby like a fashion accessory is completely absurd. Of course breast-feeding is considered the ‘better’ option, however mothers should not be made to feel bad if they are unable to (as explained in a previous post). Also, articles which encourage co-sleeping are just creating a recipe for disaster.

It is almost tragic that there is not equal respect for paternal instinct. This is not just sharing responsibility and baby duties begrudgingly whilst the mother takes a rest, but to actively seek to care for your child and equally be Mummy. DH and I are both Mummies and Daddies; we both know how to put DS to sleep, feed him, his likes and dislikes, whilst simultaneously slaving away to earn the bucks.

On leaflets, websites and magazines we all advocate fathers taking an interest in their child, some choosing to take the lead in parenting. However, when it boils down to reality, attitudes and public opinion have not changed. In any circumstance when I mention the hardship we endured during the birth of DS in the midst of our degrees, I receive positive responses varying from amazement to shock. Yet when DH broaches the subject, it almost ends in an anticlimax as the listener stares expectantly for the next part to the story; as if he had the time to juggle anything more than being a full-time dad whilst achieving a First in his degree.

I believe fathers have equal capability when caring for their children and it should not be a mother’s prerogative. You learn from your child through practice, it is not instinctual. Your baby is born a blank canvas and it is both parents’ responsibility to shape who she will eventually become. Traditionally a mother knew best because she would always be looking after the baby, however in our modern society I believe team work produces the greatest results.

Sometimes we need to ask, why is it that a man gets a job over a woman because he is least likely to take time off for the children? Why is a man looked down upon for stepping up to the game? Society shuns fathers who abandon their babies and leave behind a single mother, yet it is no more inviting to fathers who love their children and actively seek to be part of their lives.

Two months - I'll help you study Daddy!

First Class.

My amazing husband achieved a remarkable First Class BSc Honours in Politics and International Relations today and I am ever so proud of him. I had it hard when I finished my degree, what with the birth of our baby boy during the Christmas break of my final year and managing to continue without taking time out. However, my husband’s experience proved even tougher.

During my final year and DH’s second year, DS only needed to be fed, changed and put to sleep; it was difficult but fairly manageable with dedication and team work. DS has topped that by single-handedly juggling the role of stay-at-home dad to a demanding toddler, whilst finishing his final year. I helped as much as I could when I was not posing as the breadwinner, but ultimately DH has had the bulk of DS’ upbringing. DS’ constant need for attention and play gradually lessened his available study time, so it has been a worrying few months for us.

I am so overjoyed that he has been awarded a First Class, not only for his academia, but for all his extraordinary effort. First Class father, husband and academic. He really and truly deserves it.

Long drive home.

So the weeks have passed and I am now residing in the filthy town that is Gravesend. My days are spent in denial of this fact, concealing my devastation behind my desk with my Admissions hat on. It is only when I set out on my arduous journey home, crossing the Medway border on the M2 and the skies turn grey, does reality smack me in the face.

It has only recently occurred to me how much I took for granted, living in the city centre, working for a decent wage with no travel costs and a neat apartment minutes away. I would enjoy regular visits from DH and DS during working hours and finish my day at 4:30PM, to find my bouncing baby boy waiting for me at the door.

I no longer have these privileges living in Gravesend. I see DS for a maximum of two hours a day, in which the morning hour is spent rushing around trying to get ready for work. In the evening my boy greets me with red eyes, exhausted from having such a fun day with Daddy, and slums into his high chair eager for dinner before bed. I barely spend any time with my boys before it is bedtime and I am forced to wake for the next day.

I remember I came across this battle when I first committed to working full-time. Yes it got easier, because my son was across the road. Will it get easier again? Doubtful. I am becoming worn, reliant on caffeine and desperate for my son’s attention.