Choosing Not To Judge

 

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Long before our little girl was anything more than a beautiful notion, my husband and I agreed that he would take the lead on childcare in the first year. At the time, this would have meant him leaving his job but for a whole host of reasons, this was the right thing for us.

 

And then, something magical happened: the law changed and Shared Parental Leave was introduced. The timing couldn’t have been better, and not only would my husband be able to remain in his job he would be able to receive statutory maternity pay for the period he was taking care of the baby.

 

Excitedly, we made plans. And we shared our plans, to varying responses. Some people thought what we were doing was great, others were incredulous. ‘Really? You’re going back that soon?’ I was asked. And: ‘You’ll change your mind,’ others prophesised.

 

We didn’t. Our beautiful daughter was born and we were engulfed in a tidal wave of all consuming adoration. And, of course, anxiety; here was the most precious person in the world and we were responsible for her. It was the biggest task we had ever been given.

 

We learnt together how to look after her. There were tears – mine, mostly – and fears but each day got a little bit easier than the one before. The worries were still there, and I would often feel teary and overwhelmed.

 

Including on the day I went back to work. As, I’m sure any new parent does. Thank goodness then for the unstinting support of my husband, my little girl’s adoring and brilliant father who was at home taking care of her. With him in our corner, taking care of baby, I could return to work with confidence if not without that ache in my heart at the start.

 

But, even if we thought we had things sussed, even if our plan was panning out as we had hoped, what made me wobble were the frequent, shocked, ‘you’re-doing-what?’ comments. Unlike pre-baby, when I was far more together and far less vulnerable, these really bothered me. Like, for example, the lady attending the first aid for babies class who was appalled when my husband told her that his daughter’s mummy was ‘at work.’ Or a baby group member of staff who told me ‘don’t worry, we’ll help daddy out.’ He doesn’t need help, I thought frustrated, and angry, he’s her father. There’s no-one better to look after our baby than him. And so often we would meet someone who would raise their eyebrows or make an ill thought-out comment when we told them that mummy was back at work and daddy was staying at home for a bit.

 

I know that I shouldn’t have let the views of a stranger bother me (and now, I would probably tell them to get stuffed!) but at the time I was fragile and fearful of letting my daughter down and privately I used to worry that maybe I was letting her down by not staying at home. Maybe I should be the one staying at home and my poor, knackered, frazzled husband be the one going out to work.

 

But of course, I carried on. Because ultimately I knew that we were doing the right thing for my amazing little family. And in my head, all the time I heard this phrase: ‘Why do we judge others for exercising the choices available to them?’

 

Now, a year on, I wouldn’t change a thing. Both my husband and I were fortunate enough to spend some special one-to-one time with our wonderful daughter. Both of us also got to experience the different worlds – the missing-baby-at-work life and the exhausting and bewildering childcare planet. And, we both have our own, special, lovely bonds with our girl.

 

Reflecting now though, I do have some thoughts. The law might have changed but mindsets still need to catch up. We are fortunate in this country to have choice around maternity/paternity leave and we should support and not judge anyone for the options they take. It is not my business if mothers and fathers stay at home, go to work, work part time, work full time, return to work after a fortnight or go back after a year. It’s their choice and more power to them.

 

And, fathers deserve respect and equality. They are just as capable of being a stay at home dad and looking after their offspring. Indeed, my husband is better than me at some parenting tasks; he is the one who always clips our daughter’s fingernails with a steady, tender hand which I just don’t have.

 

My daughter, of course, will never remember who looked after her in her first year. But I will tell her that we shared our care of her. And I will also tell her that she can do what on earth she wants with her life – she has choices and it is down to her to exercise those, regardless of what anyone says or thinks.

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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

 

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22 Responses to Choosing Not To Judge

  1. themotherhub says:

    You’re so right , there’s absolutely no reason a mother is better equipped to look after a baby than the father. Unfortunately I think we still have a long way to go before this is acknowledged – so good for you for making the best decision for your family ! #fortheloveofblog

    Liked by 1 person

  2. aliduke79hotmailcom says:

    I think your choices are great. It shouldn’t matter who looks after baby. Both mother and father are quite capable of looking after their own child. If it works for you who cares what others think.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic, good for you! We didn’t share care for our own reasons but I have a huge amount of respect for those who do. The amount of derogatory comments about men raising children that can be heard just casually thrown around is disgraceful. It always makes my Husband absolutely furious when we go somewhere for a day out and the only baby change facilities are in the women’s loos. A dear friend of my brother is a single dad, how is he supposed to change his baby in those places? On the floor outside the loos? Society needs to catch up for sure. xx #fortheloveofblog

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your lovely, supportive comment – I wish I had been speaking to people like you at the time 🙂 The changing facilities were a worry for my husband – he could hardly take her in the men’s. I hope that your friend doesn’t have to overcome too many challenges but I suspect he will still find tons of barriers. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s terrible some people made those comments to you and your husband! You are absolutely right, you can do what you like and what is right for your family. You are spot on that there need to be some cultural shifts – it shouldn’t be a shock that mums work and dads want to stay home. Until we break down that pre-conception we’ll never have equality. #fortheloveofBLOG

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh goodness, I find joining multiple linkys I sometimes find the post before mine is one I’ve already commented on from another linky! I want to make that up to you so I’ll be sharing this on fb, twitter, stumbleupon and pinterest, I hope that’s okay! xx #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

    • Baby Anon says:

      Ah no problem at all, I wouldn’t have expected you to comment again. That’s very kind of you to share – I’m coming across to read your post xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kat says:

    I think shared parental leave is a wonderful thing and it really gives families so much more flexibility. Happy Parents mean happy kids, the best decision you can make for them is doing exactly the right thing for your family. No one else has the right to comment on that. Thanks so much for sharing at #kcacols hope to see you back next time!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. LOVE! #forhtheloveofblog

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, I totally agree! I love that Shared Parental Leave exists but so few people are accepting of the idea that a mum might want to go back to work a little sooner and a dad might want some time with his child! Social attitudes are in dire need of adjustment! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  9. madelinelittlejohns says:

    I love that you did things the way that was right for you, and great that the timing worked out so that you could do it with the shared parental leave. x #KCACOLS

    Like

  10. That’s a very interesting point of view that I haven’t heard much to be honest. Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG

    Like

  11. Suburban Mum says:

    I love the fact that share parental leave is now a thing. My husband would have loved nothing more than to be able to spend the same quality time I did with our boys when they were babies. People need to stop being so judgemental. We need to give fathers more credit when it comes to parenting -they are just as well equipped with love and care as we are! #KCACOLS

    Like

  12. Topfivemum says:

    It’s so frustrating that people are still stuck in the mindset that mum is the main carer. While we were all quick to applaud the introduction of shared parental leave, I’ve only come across a handful of couples who have taken advantage of it. My hubby would love to do it but financially it doesn’t make sense to us. One week after giving birth to my second baby I had to spend a few nights in hospital on my own. My hubby took our 18month old and newborn to a playgroup. He was apparently running after our toddler when a lay said ‘mummy off having a rest is she?’ He was livid and so was I when I found out. We need to stop thinking of dads as the babysitter who stands in whenever mum’s not available. Seriously, women are their own worst enemies sometimes. Thanks for sharing your experience and I hope more people start to see this as the new normal.

    Like

  13. Michelle G says:

    Thank you so much for your comment. I’m not surprised your husband was livid – it’s patronising and insulting to him. I think we do give fathers a hard time often – for example, they may too feel that agonising pull as they return to work after two weeks paternity, it is probably incredibly tough for them to leave their brand new darling baby. We should just be kinder to each other as for all parents, it’s a tough job and all of us – mothers and fathers – need support x

    Like

  14. Pingback: Empowering Men To Be Themselves | words_rhymes_rambles

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