People are extraordinarily kind to you as a mummy after you give birth. Merely managing to shower and make your bed in the morning are greeted with an encouragingly rapturous “well done you”. Getting you and the little one out of the house by 11am becomes worthy of applause (despite the fact you only have mascara on one eye and a dribble of sick on your shoulder). And people clamber to be the one to help you as you struggle to simultaneously open the door to your favourite coffee establishment and navigate a screaming child in an unwieldy pushchair through the insufficient gap you’ve created. It’s these acts of kindness and generosity that can keep you going in the early days of motherhood. People are amazing. However, for the dads it always seems slightly different.
If he is spotted changing a nappy by a bystander, taking the lead in feeding the little one or expertly manoeuvring a wriggly baby into the straight jackets that are babygrows, the reaction is often diverted away from the daddy’s skill and achievement to the mummy. “You’ve got him well trained haven’t you?” people say with a wink and a knowing smile.
This again is very kind (and a great morale boost when your spirits have taken a battering from a tough night) but I always feel a little guilty when I’m on the receiving end of this particular compliment. You see, everything Mr J and I know about parenthood we have learnt together. It’s been 100% a joint effort. Some things come more naturally to one of us than the other and we’ve each experienced our own fair share of victories… and complete and utter parental cock-ups (I’ll keep these to myself). But I know one thing for sure, I couldn’t have become the mummy I am without Mr J. I’ve learnt so much from him.
Never has the massive role Mr J takes as a husband and father been so apparent to me as the last few days. This week has definitely been my most challenging yet as a mummy of two. Two year old Poppy has come down with a nasty bout of chicken pox (or “polka dots” as she calls them with some strange form of amusement). Six week old Milly is obviously still very high maintenance (and I say this in the nicest possible way). And unfortunately this all coincided with Mr J working away filming the solar eclipse on the Faroe Islands. Eek.
This week I set my mummy goal at survival and thanks to the help of my fantastic family, friends and neighbours (you all know who you are you lovely lot), I’m relieved to report this has been achieved. So far. But yes, it takes an extraordinary amount of support from others to even start to fill the gap left by Mr J’s absence. So this is my opportunity to say to him a massive thank you, I love you… and we can’t wait for you to come home!