Saturday, February 27, 2016
I decided to embrace my role and Googled the term househusband. One of the first things I saw was a link to a Daily Mail article: 'You Can Never Fancy a Man Who Becomes a House Husband.' Apparently, pink marigolds on men are a turn-off, unless you like that sort of thing (there are probably websites).
At first I had trouble adjusting to the sudden change. I was used to being the breadwinner (albeit a very cheap loaf of Kingsmill sliced white) and felt as if I had somehow let the side down. However, I was hardly idle. On an average morning, I took my sons to their schools, popped over to my office to deal with any book orders, did some food shopping, then drove home and began cleaning the house.
I valued my wife's work when she stayed at home, so why did I feel at such a loss? Gender conditioning, I suppose.
In spite of this, I was happy for my wife. She seemed to be doing very well in her new job and came home energised and full of gossip. My anecdotes were rather more mundane: "I cleaned the oven, but I'm not using Mr Muscle again."
Fortunately, I have started to get a more balanced perspective on the situation and accept that even if my current existence is very dull, it is entirely necessary. Those ovens won't clean themselves.
There has also been another change during the last month. My mother has suddenly become very frail and is increasingly dependent on me, both practically and emotionally.
The practical side is easy. I don't mind buying the Werther's Originals or dealing with the bills from Damart, but the emotional support is more challenging, as my mother can be relentlessly morbid to a point where I leave feeling thoroughly depressed. However, I know that when someone is virtually housebound, they need constant visits.
At least I will no longer hear about Vera's leg, which my mother would describe in graphic detail before I pleaded with her to stop. Vera is now in Florida with her daughter, for a long holiday. "She won't be coming back," my mother said, with barely-concealed relish.
Sometimes I can feel my mood sliding. When that happens, unless it's absolutely pissing down outside, I go for a walk. Being in the fresh air, smelling the damp earth and feeling the pale winter sun, clears away the cobwebs and puts everything in perspective. I don't what I'd do if I lived in Neasden. Perhaps I'd go to Ikea and pretend I lived in one of the rooms.
These photos were taken during the last few weeks. I particularly like the one of a hat, which is a lost property item in Berwick Church. There's a story behind that picture.