Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Freak Show

At least once a week, in a work capacity, the conversation begins.
Beginning as reciprocal, but the questions hone in.
"Do you have children?"
"Yes, three. You?"
"[response given: none/ one/ some], how old are they?"
I always wonder how to answer this, if I say four and two, will it confuse? Am I deliberately provoking more detail. I choose to cut to the chase.
"I have a four year old and two year old twins"
Cue some kind of 'supermom' response.
In a typical Ruby-esque (Are you watching the Great British Bake Off?!) I reply along the lines of how much more difficult it was adjusting to becoming a parent than having twins.
I try to keep the questions reciprocal.
The conversation moves on, usually to childcare.
I am usually stood in London having these conversations. They know I'm trying to get going. Home. To Wales.
The stay at home dad gets brought into the equation.

Not only twins but a stay at home dad.

No longer supermom... edging into freak category.
The questions flow.
The point is always missed. We could never afford the childcare bill for three. We do not live of some form of inheritance or lottery win.
We do it this way because we have to, it wasn't a choice.
Admittedly I like the way the cards fell, in that our children have a stay at home parent.
But, most know, I wish they had fallen a little differently in my favour.
Mr J is the parent at the school gate. I am the one who gets the inquisitive look.
Until Squeaks comes out shouting "Mummy".
It's ok, I'm with her.

Mr J has the Yorkshire accent, I'm sure the foreigner status endears people to him.
I have ended up with a 'nothing' accent, not Welsh, not placed.
Basically, not Welsh. Unidentified.

More than this, I get frustrated.
I get frustrated with people standing up for stay at home mums.
Because they want equality for those who have no choice to stay at home.
But their equality doesn't overtly stretch to dads.
Why mums? Why not parents?
We're fortunate, dads at the school gate are common place.
But sometimes the need to stereoptype prevails. The assumption that this is because parents are separated.

After so many years of 'economic downturn' the cards have landed equally.
Sometimes mums can't find work, sometimes dads can't find work.
Sometimes it's more preferable for dad to work, sometimes mum.

A moment of calm.
Above this all, sometimes when you have children close together, you don't get a choice.
Childcare is not an option.
Sometimes you don't plan this, not because you are falling into the negative stereotype of 'unplanned'.
But because multiple births happen.
And they can't be planned.
And they are becoming more and more common place in the UK.
But the parents aren't 'super', they didn't get a choice.
They cope, because every parent does.
Because no-one chooses to listen to a crying baby.
Because everyone wants the best for their child.
So, we're not a freak show.
We're no different.
Like you, we've had to adapt, and change, sometimes to accept.
And like you, we want a Saturday morning lie-in, but will settle for a door flying open, shouts of "mummy", "daddy", followed by kisses, cuddles and jumping on the bed.
There's nothing more required.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant. Just brilliant. I think it's great that your children have a stay at home parent, as I do mine, but also don't see why it has to be the mum. You are jealous of my stay-at-home status, I am jealous of your professional status. It shouldn't be this way. We should all have balance, but life happens. And when it does, look how amazing it is! They're doing so well and you should BOTH be proud of the parenting you are doing, whether it's direct, or by providing for them all. :)


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