Days in the life of a mother at home is of course only half the story of family life. The other half is days in the life of a father at work. But let’s begin at the very beginning – it’s a very good place to start. Well, actually the very beginning is perhaps a little too steamy for this blog, but let’s fast forward to Day 2 in the life of Bean Number One.
Picture the scene: A young woman sits on a nursing chair, the very chair her grandmother nursed her mother on, except there is not very much actual nursing going on. Having been through one of the hardest physical experiences known to human beings, she is now expected to keep the end result of her herculean labours alive…with her boobs. These boobs have, up until 48 hours ago, had nothing like this level of responsibility resting on them. They have gone through the smartie stage, been put in a first bra, been admired from both far off and close quarters, but mainly their role has been a passive one. But now the young woman needs her boobs to work, because at that very moment she is looking at a little face that is so exquisite, so perfect, that it pains her with its beauty. And her heart is vowing over and over again, that she will keep this little life alive, WHATEVER IT TAKES.
So now we cut to another figure. An heroic one, whose heart is also raw with love. He has valiantly rushed out at some ungodly hour, on a quest for a steriliser. He returns, triumphant, holding aloft his prize, only to find that somehow boobs and baby have made friends and, for now, the primal panic has been held at bay. But this does not mean his task has been in vain, because, by rushing out to provide for the immediate needs of his wife and child, he has also demonstrated that he will also do WHATEVER IT TAKES for his family.
So, at the very beginning of the story, both my husband and I, in our different ways, made that extreme, subconscious vow that all parents make to their children. From this point on, our roles as mother and father are exactly equal, because we have exactly the same amount invested in this little family of ours: everything.
So here’s where all the guff about working mothers, mothers at home, fathers at home, part time mothers, three-quarter time grandparents etc gets all silly. Underneath all the superfluous details about where we are when, all parents are simply trying to act out the equation:
Enough Money + Enough Care = Happy Children
In our family unit, it has panned out that my husband is the one going out the front door every day to bring home ‘Enough Money’, and it just so happens that I am the one providing ‘Enough Care’, but of course, getting that balance right is a process of trial and error, and in the capitalist society that we live in, perhaps a little too much emphasis is placed on the first half of the equation, while the second half can be left a little too much to chance – and Cbeebies.