Men write columns in Sunday supplements about their ‘walk on parts’ in family life and how exhausted ‘the Mrs’ looks on a Friday night in a house looking like it has been subject to a Viking attack. I hate these smug men. I burn their columns quite ceremoniously in the wood burner, watching their faces crinkle to ash while I empty the dishwasher, cook a meal, answer the phone and moan bitterly about the cliché that men are unable to multi-task. I have watched friends and Brigit my partner, receive honorary degrees, golden handshakes, a position on a list of the ‘most influential people in the city’, and fiscal reward. I get the occasional cheque from the electricity board for having one of their poles in my garden. There is a saying- ‘a little part of me dies when a friend succeeds’. By rights, I should be six feet under!
I left my job to live a ‘different life’. Chloe, our first daughter was born, followed by the twins Ruby, Emma and then Ollie. I was yet to write the great novel or grow the huge carrot. Armed with ‘The Complete Guide to Childcare’ and a fantasy of blissful, puke-free days, I stepped into a world the Sunday supplements described as ‘the new nirvana’; -full-time fathers and families turning the traditional roles on their head. I felt my self-esteem sink like the Titanic, realising that ‘The Complete Guide to Childcare’ was a lie. It wouldn’t even burn. I chucked it in the bin. Now it is probably propping up affordable housing on the outskirts of Wolverhampton.