Today the kids celebrated their six-month birthday, and I thought it an opportune time to reflect on the incredible journey we have all had since they arrived.
I think it’s fair to say that our kids are the most adorable children in the world. Seriously. They are cute and happy and smiley and full of hugs, and we consider ourselves the luckiest parents in the world. And we’ve certainly learnt a lot in our first six-months.
The thing that impresses on me the most is how great Ralph is. He is the one staying at home and spending all his time with the kids while I go to work. It’s a bloody hard job what he does. He spends practically all day every day with them, he settles them, deals with them crying and invariably is the one who spends more time indoors and alone. And he does this with barely a complaint and simply gets the job down with as much fun and love as he can. The reality is that I simply couldn’t do this. I’m just not as patient or nurturing. I don’t feel bad about that, I’m just grateful that Ralph can do the things I can’t. It’s wonderfully unexpected that it’s our differences that make us such a great unit now that the pressure is really on. Before the kids little difference seemed like reasons for concern, but now I’m so pleased for them.
I find all this interesting because we’ve been afforded a luxury most couples don’t have; the ability to set up our parenting life the way we want, without societal expectations on who will do what role. If I was female and expected to go to work, then things would be difficult. I’m sure I’d struggle with post-natal depression or something. Or if Ralph was the one who had to deal with the pressure of job promotions, feeding four people and finding a place to live, well perhaps he wouldn’t deal with that as well as I am able to. We’re able to do what makes sense for us and the kids without the pressure of “that’s a male job” or “that’s a female job”. I think that’s worked out well for us.
Having said that, something interesting happening on Saturday night which made me realise that sometimes having defined roles, without having to discuss them, can be a good thing. We went to a party and brought the kids, but they were all out of routine and getting grumpy. I imagine in most straight relationships, the mother takes charge and decides what should be done. Should they sleep, or feed, or be held, or given a bottle, or stay awake or whatever. But what happened with us was that we were both in charge. We went from trying one thing I said to one thing Ralph said to something my mum suggested to something the waiter considered. The children went crazy and we had to make a quick getaway. As we left with two delirious children I realised that we didn’t need a democracy that night, we needed a tyrannical despot. It doesn’t come naturally to us, but I realise that sometimes it’s actually what you need. Watch out, next time we’ll be prepared.The kids are wonderful and do new things every day that we revel in. And we’ve been lucky that they sleep and feed really well. They have slept through from about two or three months which I think has a lot to do with our routine. Right from the begininng we realised that with tines, life can be punishing if you’re not organised. My job has been to do the research and set the routines. I then print three copies and leave one on the fridge, one on the table and one in the living room (if you’re interested, here is the latest routine, version 8.)
Everyone around us has also been incredibly supportive. It feels like we see most family and friends more now the kids are around, and the relationships feel more … genuine. Not that they were fake before or anything, they just feel like they are more ‘grown up’ now. It’s a wonderful feeling. Even in the streets everyone is very supportive. Out of the thousands of people we’ve met, we’ve only had one or two negative experiences about our unique little family, and I’d like to think that even for those few people, we’ve influenced them positively. We hope to change people’s views not by winning a debate but by showing them how loving and stable our family is.
Happy Birthday Tom and Alice, we both hope you’ve had a wonderful start to your lives! Now, any ideas on what you’d like to do for our 1st Birthday Party? We better get planning …