Posts Tagged ‘family groups’

The Invisible Parent

A bit of a good news story this week, or at least upbeat.

I know a lot of us Mums just seem to think differently to Dads.  Even if two of you are there, the responsibility seems to fall on Mum.  She packs the change bag for family outings, she remembers how long it is since everyone has eaten, she notices and changes the dirty nappy.  So get a group of Mums together and you’ll hear it – moan bonding.  (But you know we love you really, Coran.) 

I first heard of moan bonding from an educational guru talking about teachers and we laughed, because it’s so true.  Partners hate socialising with a group of teachers because we sit there and talk about our kids and our classes and what the little *ahem* so and sos did to us today.  A problem shared may not be halved but it certainly encourages solidarity.  And when I stopped teaching and started socialising with mothers there it was – moan bonding.  Except you can’t really moan about your children, because everyone knows that anything bad about your children is all your fault.  So we moan about our partners.

I try to be very good during bonding sessions, because I have to say I’m blessed with a wonderful husband.  He cooks most nights and does almost all the cleaning; he does all the bills and works very hard so I can stay at home.  So I’m on a pretty good wicket and I’m aware of it.  But still.  There are those little things that drive you mad, because how can he not see them?!  (I’m sure I drive him mad too, but this is my blog.)

His main problem is that he’s too responsible (see, that’s positive isn’t it?).  He’s the sort of person who’ll decide to do an extra set of training during his leave, or be involved with other people in developing a new system.  Which is wonderful, but we live in the middle of nowhere so it often requires travelling.  And then I’m home by myself with the girls. 

And we really, really miss him.

He was away last week and every morning I had to go through it with our eldest. 

“Where’s Daddy?”

“When is he coming back?”

“Will he be back tonight?” 

“When he comes back I’m telling him he’s not allowed to go away again.”  Awwwww.

As for the little one, her face almost split when she heard his voice on the phone.  Skype is a wonderful tool, I recommend it to anyone who has anyone away from them – it’s basically videophone and it’s free!

Since he’s been back they’ve been beside themselves trying to spend time with him, because he’s a great parent.  Maybe he leaves the nappy on longer than I would, but he also plays with them and gets them ready for bed.

So this post is a tribute to the Invisible Parents.  The fathers (and possibly grandparents, aunties and friends) who are travelling this scary and wonderful journey called parenting with us, and who make our lives so much richer in so many ways we don’t notice until they’re not there.

And then we really, really miss them.

The Savannah

For all the ‘labour saving devices’ we are surrounded by, life in general and parenting in particular has only gotten more hectic.  We live in a world surrounded by confusion and bustle and if it’s hard for us, what must it be like for the little hunter/gatherers who are trying to work out the rules as they go along.

 When I’m frustrated by my children and they just don’t seem to ‘get it,’ I have a little trick that calms me down and helps me understand where they are coming from and why they are doing whatever it is (it usually involves lack of sleep).  So sit back comfortably, relax your shoulders, close your eyes (figuratively, unless you can read with your eyes closed) and come with me, back to the savannah …

 It’s hot.  It’s dusty.  The air is desert dry.  You sit on the ground in the shade of a small clump of trees, using a sturdy stick to pry and dig at the hard earth, searching for the rich roots and their stores of food.  Around you are a few other women, mostly sisters and co-wives, in a range of ages from new, nervous teens to wise middle age.  Toddlers and children are there too, the older girls copy you and make a game of it while the younger ones explore the trees and grass. 

 One of the children flushes a lizard, whack! You get it and throw it on a small pile.  The sudden movement startles your baby, sleeping on your back, and she stirs and starts to fuss.  You swing her around and offer her your breast, it’s important to settle her quickly.  While a healthy group is fairly safe from big predators, crying is a signal that something is very wrong with a little one, they are all alone and they are attractive prey.  Besides, who wants to listen to a baby crying?

 One of the toddlers comes over to watch her feeding, patting her.  You smile and shush him, one of the other ladies offers him a breast as well and he quickly toddles over, laughing.  Your little one goes back to sleep and you take a break to cuddle her in your lap and look around.

She wakes in a few minutes and you continue digging with her sitting in your lap, quietly talking to her and showing her things.  One of the older toddlers notices and comes over to get her, lifting her and practically dragging her over to the other children.  They are sitting with one of the older women who has made a small fire, and she rescues your baby and snuggles her in her lap while showing the children how to cook some of the food that has been gathered.

 There.  Don’t you feel more relaxed now?