Central Locking

 I have been – nearly – a single parent since the middle of February, and I’m left wondering how the bloody hell people manage kids by themselves – all the time! It sucks! I only have to do it for about 10 weeks every year, because that’s simply how farming is, but I’m rapidly running out of people to whom I can make a temporary present of my child.

Monday to Friday, Hubby leaves shortly after 6am, which is co-incidentally just when Harry wakes up. He returns a couple of hours later, and generally bungs breakfast into toddler as well as himself before disappearing again to midwife some ungrateful (He has fingers like bunches of bananas. Pity them.) sheep. He does come home at lunchtime, but Harry is usually napping. He returns sometime after 6pm in order to supervise the stressed-out, shields-up riot that is the end of teatime, and have maybe 30 minutes of play tired toddler wrangling before bedtime. (Up until this week he was visiting the barns in the small hours as well, but as that didn’t actually inconvenience me, it wasn’t a problem. Ahem.) I then spend an hour telling him what a shit day I’ve had, because Harry can take advantage of maternal weakness quicker than a wolf-pack spotting a deer with a heavy limp, and ups the tantrum ante accordingly. (He has discovered the face-to-floor, drumming-of-the-feet-and-fists Classic Tantrum # 1 this week. Pity me.) 

And weekends! Don’t get me started on bastard weekends. Ohhhh… too late. Saturday mornings: he farms. Saturday afternoons: he plays hockey. Sunday mornings: he comes back for breakfast in order to announce that he is going farming again, but always says it’s only going to be for an hour. Which wouldn’t piss me off hugely, except he’s always gone for 3, which does. Those are the days he generally contrives to leave his mobile phone at home. Nothing turns HFF Wifey into a psychotic set of teeth quicker than to dial the number, punchily, all poised to deliver a righteous chewing – and hearing the nokia da-da-dum-dum tune tinkling merrily back at her. 

He used to look surprised when he returned to my frothing rage and no sex, ever. We’ve been married 5 years this month, so now he just edges in resignedly and waits to be torn a new one… so that’s Sunday afternoon up the spout, too. Even when I’ve mastered the Sunday sullens, there’s an entire garden to do (that is still entirely tussocky scrub, to be turned entirely into lawn before summer gets entirely under way. Which is all entirely impossible in just Sunday afternoons.) which means me being left baby-minding then, too, because we’re still at the earth-moving stage. At 4pm, he goes and farms again, and suddenly you’re shielding your eyes from the death-rays of yet another Monday morning.

Just to compound matters, the sun has come out and the wind has dropped. Every farmer in the British Isles yesterday, as one man, revved up their sprayers and bounced out to annihilate themselves some serious weed, before frantically drilling spring crops in ground that was originally scheduled for winter crops, but imitated a paddy field last autumn instead.

John will be flat-out now. Fert spreading, industrious fungicide and pesticide spraying (fertheloveo’God, don’t get him started on the whole organic thing) and dagging (don’t click unless you really need to know an effective cure for nail-biting) will keep him busy until May – when he starts shearing. Annnnnd so it goes on.

So I have attempted to draw a line in the sand. The Met office forecast for Friday is currently sun1 although I’m sure it will actually turn out to be sun11

so I have firmly and irrevocably written Family Trip to West Midlands Safari Park on the calendar. We haven’t visited since I was pregnant, and it’s generally lots of fun if you’re either keen on animals


or just looking for something a little different to do.


 Harry can already point to a zebra when asked, and this morning he waved his arm in a cutesy little elephant trunk impression whilst imitating my trumpeting – which did admittedly sound vaguely like something – possibly a cat – dying quite horribly. I have also been telling him all about lions and tigers.

As he can now open the car door from the inside, I have mainly been telling him about how hungry they get.



14 Responses

  1. Wot, no child locks??

    (I am familiar with the “I’ll only be an hour/ten minutes” male timekeeping difficulty”. Not sure I have a solution really. Sulking doesn’t work this end either).

  2. I went to the WM Safari park once years ago. A giraffe tried to put his head in our car window. Brilliant day!

  3. I’ve found that if you actually interpret what they’re saying, it actually comes out to approximately 4 times what they told you. The do this in the hope that you won’t remember that they have a cell phone, or were supposed to be home an hour ago, or are actually married to you with responsibilities. Somehow they manage to demonstrate spectacularly their complete inability to learn from past mistakes, and continue in this line of behavior until you either lose their keys for them, or threaten divorce. I’m guessing this is part of the y-chromosomal make-up, since there are others with this problem, not just me.

  4. This made me laugh so much. When the babies were small, husband use to go off to sea for three months at a time to the North Sea in a submarine hunting Soviet nuclear subs. He would return all happy and glad to visit with the family and unable to understand why I did not feel sorry for him that he had missed so much during the last three months.
    I was mad at him because he got to leave and he was mad at me because I got to stay. It was a very common occurrence in military families.
    All I could think about was that at the end of his 16 hour shift of running the nuclear power plant on the submarine he had 8 hours ALONE to do whatever he wanted to do, sleep, eat bon bons, whatever.
    He didn’t stay in the navy beyond his four year commitment.

  5. My husband works 600 miles (9 hour drive) away, and leaves for a month at a time. When he comes home for his 3 weeks off, he does laundry, cleans, and will watch our daughter once or twice (while I’m at work, or at the grocery store). He just can’t understand why I’m so cranky when he’s doing all the work. He doesn’t seem to realize that while he’s working really hard for a month, I’m working full time and maintaining the house. Then when he comes home, I still work full time and do many of my usual chores (but, yes, not all of them). He gets to do one or the other, I have to do both. But it is nice to go to the grocery store without my little menace tagging along.

    The safari park sounds like fun – if it’s nice next Monday, we’re heading to the zoo!

  6. Baby, y’all need you some coolies.

    Much sympathies on the single-ma-in-all-but-name front. Husband works 60-hour weeks 90 minutes’ crazy-ass drive from home. Also gone at least three nights per week because his job involves music, thus concerts (and thus probably women far more coiffed and clean than me, but I try not to think about that last part). It sucks. He has last scrubbed the toilet in…exactly never. But, well, the poor overworked man does earn three times what I do, so I can’t bitch too hard. Though I do.

    Have fun at the safari park – think how confused those lions must be, to suddenly wake up in the Midlands one day.

  7. Geepers, I was about to type something very clever, I swear it. But I have two mobile spawn scaring the sh!t out of me by crawling off to chew things.

    Oh, and they yell when I go out of sight, even if it’s their fault.


  8. Harry’s pajama’s are fabulous, he looks quite the little gent!

  9. My personal pet peeve is not so much the extensive time my husband sometime spends on home projects (because I want them done just as much and am not nearly as skilled in those departments), and he would stay home with the child if I wanted to go back to work (and I don’t) so I can’t really complain about that… but the fact that he is so damn reluctant to do things that he doesn’t care about and I do. Months and months of begging, nagging, and harassing just to get fifteen minutes’ of work done. Grr!

    I love that photo of Harry. Such a suave leaning-on-the-mantelpiece expression!

    And my son loved all your animal pictures and wanted more. I am jealous. I think there is a similar safari park a couple hours away–guess we should check it out!

  10. Oh God AMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN, sister. Since doing my wrist in, which coincided with the babies being mobile, Angus does all the DIY and house renovations while yours truly tends to two unruly toddlers. I love my kids, I really do. I am usually delighted to fling them into their cots, blow kisses at them, and shut the door on them each night after a long day of Trying To Handle Twin Toddlers.

    I get you, babe. I get you.

  11. I do the lioness’s share of solo parenting, myself, as the Good Doctor works and commutes ages and ages each week. He takes week-long vacations from work just (in my imagining) to be able to see the baby. She, in turn, will say nearly every word she CAN speak with varied volumes, but never reaches above a whisper, reverent and awed, when uttering the most sacred “Dada.”

    My every day is filled with training the child to act in a more-or-less human, humane, and even urbane manner, requiring consistency and long hours of repetition to shape behavior; when my husband discusses her politeness and responsiveness to rules, he describes her as one miraculously well tempered…right up until I snipe at him that it takes WORK and PATIENCE and EFFORT! (Do as I say, not as I do to your father?)

    I won’t complain about his contributions, as they are many and varied and tend to make the most of having two hands unoccupied by child wrangling. Nevertheless, I sympathize with your plight. I think the solution for all of us is to get a wife. You know, FOR the wife.

    Finally, my Blunnies are daggy? But they’re so functional! Unlike Uggs… (I will never understand the point of mukluks and miniskirts in the same outfit.)

  12. I have just completed my bi-annual Leave-The-Kids-With-Husband escape to visit my college roommate. This does amazing things to my husband in terms of understanding what it’s like to do the solo parenting, and buys me a few months of extra help before he relapses into a workaholic.

    Plus the snowboarding was excellent. Care for a visit to Southern California? It’s going to be 23 degrees here today! Hop the next flight!


  13. See, this situation you describe so wittily? This is why I ran away from the farm and married a civil servant. The whole small yelling toddler, congealed dinner on table, Farmer turning up at 11pm, starving, rained on, blood-stained, and carrying two half-dead lambs, teenage daughters tearing each-other’s hair out over whose turn it is to babysit… I know now why my mother’s lips used to get so thin.

  14. I complain bitterly too even though in comparison I have it much better. Its the obliviousness to the hell that can be children at the end of the day that gets me.

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