On The Absence of a Man
One of the main issues I have with being on my own with S is that she only has me to look after her.
For the most part, that is a definite plus in our lives: we have half the bed each (well, to be fair I think she takes up more than half a lot of the time), we don’t have to share each other’s time with anyone else, and we’ve developed a very strong bond.
When faced with the choice between Gina Ford and Dr Sears’ Attachment Parenting, I’ll opt for Sears every time. Being on my own means I’m probably making life very hard for myself by going down this route. S is never left to cry if I can help it, and I get quite irate if someone I leave her with lets her sit and cry. She is breastfed on demand, and I have no interest in trying to find ways of tricking her into sleeping through the night before she is ready. As a health visitor pointed out to me not so long ago, if you decide you’re going to exclusively breastfeed, on demand, for the first six months, you kind of just have to accept that your life is not your own for that time. There are several people with whom I would happily leave S for extended periods of time, but at the moment there is no point exploring that avenue, because I need to be nearby to feed her every few hours; more when it is hot out, or she is teething or feeling otherwise unwell. I am perfectly happy with this. If S turns out a weirdo because of it, well then all the Gina Ford subscribers can have their perfectly-trained toddlers pelt me with copies of her books.
Also there are times when I could do with just popping to the shop to get some milk, or to post a letter, but I don’t bother going because it is too much bother to get S into the sling, and she usually falls asleep in it any way, which makes for trouble at bed time, which is something I have to then deal with on my own.
Taking S out in the pushchair is also an ordeal, being as we are, on the first floor. It would be handy to have someone to help carry the pushchair up and down the stairs. Someone to carry the shopping, someone to help with the housework, someone to play with S when I want to spend more than 5 minutes in the bath in the morning, someone to answer the door when I am breastfeeding (that’s a sure-fire way to get rid of unwanted callers, let me tell you), someone to whom I can say, “wow, did you see what she just did, that was awesome!”
I have been sitting here racking my brains to think of other examples of when it would be useful to have a partner, and can come up with none. Obviously it would be nice for me to have some adult company and hugs and kisses and suchlike. But realistically, when S is awake my attention is on her. History attests to the fact that I have, at best, shoddy taste in men. I would not consider having any potential new beau around while S is awake. My evenings are fairly full, what with housework, decorating, two Open University modules, a blog, and an unhealthy addiction to several TV series via Netflix. If I were to acquire myself a young man, realistically they could only spend one or two evenings a week (from 8 til 10pm at most) here. And since S shares my bed, there is no space for a man in it.
I have no qualms about living off the state for a few years, until S is in school. I have paid my taxes all my life specifically for this reason, and while I am actively raising my child I feel I am still contributing to society by not producing a delinquent for the system to deal with. I am also studying for a degree, and looking at the possibility of taking on freelance work if I decide not to go back to my job. I may still opt to go back to my job, and if that happens I will be spending a lot of time making sure wherever she goes while I am at work is offering her a better environment than staying at home with me. It has to be worth her while for me to consider leaving her.