I read an article in the i, the in the “concise newspaper”, last week discussing the shape of modern relationships. It pointed out how many more mature professionals throw themselves into parenthood in their mid- or later thirties when they have known each other only for a short time. This then results with many of the relationships breaking down when the reality dawns. There will be money and work issues, parenting issues, relationship issues and sleep deprivation. Trying to keep all balls rolling can lead to communication breakdown, bickering and rows.
Trying to concentrate on your own thing and shutting out the extra detail is supposed to be a male thing but I must confess that in order to prioritise my own interests when not spending time with Number One Son means that I can be a bad listener. The previous weekend I did do some gardening in order to put all flower pots in order and to plant some bedding plants. I had bought some marigolds, sweet peas and geraniums. I happily used all empty flowerpots and weeded some green growths from the pots next to our shed. When I invited Archaeologist Husband to see my handiwork (I am not famous for any inclination to do housework), I encountered a horrified comment of ‘where are the flowerpots?’. It turned out that he had planted herb seeds into the pots and I had been weeding basil, thyme, parsley and marjoram over the last couple of weeks. No wonder the herbs he had lovingly been tending had not been sprouting out properly!
I felt horrible and realized that when he had explained the progress of his herb project, I had ignored him and concentrated on reading one of those bumpy weekend editions (newspapers), web editing or working on my laptop. I had totally missed an important pastime in his life. I am gutted! On top of this we are both exhausted all the time since Number One Son – like so many toddlers – is an early bird and normally up at 6am both on weekdays and on weekends. My deep sleep is around midnight whereas Archaeologist Husband likes to have it around 6am. This setup means that he ends up hearing any night time murmurs and be disrupted by me heading to take Number One Son downstairs early in the morning. I am a real dormouse and could sleep up to 12 hours so having a child has left me permanently short of sleep. Thus, we both parents think we get the short straw with sleeping. No wonder I could recognize the patterns in the i article!
The reality is that with parenthood your life changes and you will never be totally sure that your lives are changing at the same pace, in a similar manner or in a way you personally like. You can see that it is a relationship minefield – especially if one’s relationship was still in the more blissful ‘a movie, a gourmet dinner and some drinks in a swanky bar’ phase at the time of conception. Your lothario will not be looking as handsome when he fails to change nappies and disappears for a work trip to Los Angeles for a week or two and your ravishing beauty will seem to turn into a haggard after waking up every two hours 24/7 if and when breastfeeding and will sit opposite you snoring in the breakfast table with baby puke droplets on her shoulder and hair all undone not in a good way.
There are those mythical children who sleep their nights and eat everything. However, the reality is likely to be less rose-toned and more challenging. Most people have real children to bring up and a three-way relationship with real people to nurture. In addition, trying to keep your family in the black in this harsh economic climate just adds that extra dimension to the proceedings.