Parenting Wars: Battle of the Sexes

There’s a ‘fun’ little game hubby and I never seem to tire of. In fact we often seem to play several rounds in any given day.

You might be familiar with it yourself? It’s what I like to call the ‘my life is harder’ game. Yes, that’s the one.

You know where you’ve barely had a minute to sit down all day, have been dreaming of supping even a semi-lukewarm beverage, and then the moment you’ve finally got the rug rats into bed your other half calls to say he hasn’t had the chance to eat since breakfast and what’s for dinner.

You then proceed to mutter to yourself as you stomp around the kitchen wondering exactly how many tea rounds there were in the office today, whether he enjoyed having time to read something other than the back of a baby food pouch on his commute and cursing the fact there’s bloody football on the telly. Again.

Of course you choose not to recall the fact that hubby had to trudge to work in the pouring rain, that you did get to catch up with a friend (if that’s what you can call a snatched conversation as you try to rescue various offspring from the bacteria-soaked ball pit at soft play) and that other half is babysitting at the weekend so you can go out for a drink.

But that’s a given with parental bickering – especially of the mid-week, getting really knackered now variety – isn’t it? The whole point is that on particularly sleep-deprived, vomit-fuelled days your life is DEFINITELY harder than theirs.

Several bones of contention spring to mind at this point. All of which my mum friends would sincerely back me up on. I know because I’ve done my ‘mum market research’, otherwise known as having a good old bitch over coffee!

Firstly who wrote the rule that as a mum you’re the one person in the family who is never allowed to get sick? Or, if someone actually acknowledges that you have a slight sniffle – usually full-blown flu – as mum you are not entitled to a single snippet of sympathy.

No, your job is simply to get on with it. Or ‘man up’ as hubby so charitably described it the other day.

This when I was recovering from a sickness bug that would proceed to take down everyone we know while coping with both kids and he headed out for a poker night. Hmm, yes he did pay for that one. Mostly with hangover + screaming baby = tough, deal with it sunshine!

Second, the dad misconception that when you meet up with friends, with numerous offspring in tow, that a lovely ‘relaxing’ time is had by all, consuming vast quantities of afternoon tea and debating the news of the day.

To be fair hubby does admit his mistakes here when faced with a coffee shop and a plethora of small people at the weekend, but it’s all conveniently forgotten by Monday.

Third, since when did I say that I was happy to become some kind of housekeeper, chef, dry cleaner and professional ironer? Oh that’s right, it was allegedly a given when I got the first bun in the oven. Having been a career girl since my early 20s it’s only natural that the majority of household tasks should all fall to me.

After all who doesn’t love washing other peoples’ pants and cleaning up poo?!

Yes I like things neat and tidy. Doesn’t mean I clean the kitchen floor for kicks.

Anyway, I realise I sound rather bitter and twisted here. But hey it’s the end of the week and I had three hours sleep last night.

The good thing about the ‘my life is harder’ game is that it usually ends in laughter and an admission that ‘sorry, I’m being a bit of a dick.’ And bickering – of the largely good-natured variety – keeps you both on your toes.

Just don’t expect me to iron you a shirt okay?!

 

Nice toes and naughty toes

Ah ballet class, the place where all parenting life meets looking slightly harassed on a Saturday morning.

Since mini-me has been prancing around pretty much since the day she could stand (actually from memory she sported a mean bottom wiggle before this too…) hubby and I reasoned that turning three was probably a good time for her to start a proper dance class.

We’ve heard from friends with slightly older children about the ‘joys’ of ferrying various offspring to football, drama, choir, gymnastics etc. etc. after school or on a weekend morning, a la an unpaid taxi firm.

Fortunately for us this is still ahead – which is just as well as weekly one of us still ends up careering into the village hall car park just after the one class we have to make it to has started. But we’re never alone thankfully, which I find nicely reassuring.

In fact sitting outside mini-me’s beginners’ ballet half-hour is a really good way to remind yourself we’re all in this parenting malarkey together. And you don’t even have to talk to anyone to draw this conclusion – merely pretend to read your book while actually eavesdropping.

(Am I the only one who does this?!)

There’s always at least one of us with ‘mum flu’, that is spluttering into a tissue trying to convince yourself and others that you’re not ill, just a bit grumpy.

There’s the usual array of children hanging off parents’ legs and demanding snacks, the ‘dulcet’ tones of Peppa and her pals playing on a loop on someone’s iPad and the sound of someone coaxing a small person to ‘please do a wee.’

Last week one of the dads was loudly telling his friend how glad he was that his son hadn’t yet professed a desire to start ballet with his sister, as it could have been quite awkward having the only boy in the class.

A mum was picking out tiles from a catalogue while discussing the merits of various colour options, and several of us were gazing with amazement at the pint-sized ballerina with hair her mother had clearly slaved over for the best part of half an hour.

We’re talking not one solitary hair out of place, a curled ponytail, colour-co-ordinating ribbon in exactly the right hue of purple and feathers for crying out loud.

I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one thinking I really must allow time for more than just brushing mini-me’s hair next week.

But the other thing we all have in common, and this to me is the sheer joy of my lovely girl’s ballet class, is the visible pride in watching our offspring practise ‘nice toes and naughty toes’, waiting patiently in line to show the teacher their butterfly run and tippy-toeing around the hall to classics such as ‘I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside.’

I love watching mini-me twirl and whirl with a delighted smile on her face as her little tutu floats behind her. I love her teeny yet perfect ballet slippers, and I love her uniform that has Royal Academy of Dance embroidered on the label.

Do I think she’ll grow up to be the next Darcey Bussell? Of course not, but it’s still nice to daydream for a few minutes.

Along with the other parents that is.