Friday, March 14, 2014

Parenting: Men and Women

He clearly hasn't spent the day with a screaming baby...
Before I had a baby I (obv) thought about how it would change my life. 

Of course I knew about sleep deprivation (or thought I did, ha), and priorities changing, but what I hadn't considered is how different the experience is for men and women. My favourite Dubai blogger sums it up here  when she says:

"While DH, wallowing in the congratulations of his colleagues, put on his suit and skipped off to his adult world of coffees, meetings and the gym at lunchtime, I sat at home and felt robbed: robbed of my career, robbed of my figure, robbed of my sleep, and robbed of my sanity."

Because this is precisely what happens. Men, in the main, carry on as before. They get up, get dressed (usually after a full night's sleep,as feeding falls to women) and go to work. 

They do not see their salary disappear along with their sanity. They do not spend all day with a fractious, grizzling, clingy tiny tyrant. 

They make plans to see their friends and casually tell you as they head out of the front door. 

By the time they get home from work very likely the baby is asleep or passed out, exhausted from screaming, whilst you are slumped on the sofa in your pyjamas wondering where the day went.

Women on the other hand, have a huge adjustment:

One minute you're a sassy, stylish, slim girl about town. You are up and at 'em every morning sporting the latest Chanel lipstick and Michael Kors handbag. You go to the office where you are paid for your experience, opinion and skills. You talk and people listen. You interact with staff and clients. You laugh casually during lunches, people bring you coffee in meetings.

Next minute you're fat, bloated, in agonising pain. You can't lift your hands above your head to wash your hair. You have a small screaming baby attached to you 22 hours a day. 

You look in the mirror and literally do not recognise the haggard sweaty mess before you. 

You don't leave the house for weeks as you can't walk or drive and it's 45 degrees outside anyway. 

Your biggest brain challenge is how many scoops of formula go into each bottle/how many minutes since the last feed/minutes to the next feed.

People say to you "Oh, you can't possibly go back to work" as it is assumed that your career no longer matters and you are the primary care giver. (Note: No-one EVER says this to a man).

In order to leave the house and have a social life you plan weeks in advance and when you do get out of the door in the one pair of jeans that now fits you, you feel like Bella Emberg and weep in the taxi on the way home.

Now, I was one of the lucky ones. As I was formula feeding I got a couple of nights off every week IF DH wasn't working the weekend. Those 4 nights a month were beacons of joy and sanity. One time I slept for 13 hours without moving an inch and woke up in the same position I'd collapsed in - unheard of for me. DH  wondered if I'd died and had to come and check on me. 

So ladies: brace yourselves. You do start to claw back your personality and identity, but it takes time. 

For me it was around the 18 week mark when I started to plan for going back to work. I cleared out my wardrobe, binned all the maternity clothes, laundered and ironed my work 'uniform' and was reminded of a different world, a grown up world.  

And then comes the guilt......but that's a whole separate story!


Kids Making Change said...

Great post and sounds familiar! Once having a baby, you become aware that your life changed forever.

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