Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I don't understand people (part 27)

I once asked my mother if my father had been present at the births of his children. I was teasing her because I knew he wouldn't have been. "In fact," she added, "if he'd even suggested it I would have been horrified."

Funny how behaviour changes. What was once exceptional becomes first optional and then compulsory. We now live in a world where Test cricketers return from Australia for the weekend to witness the birth of their third child because they simply can't risk the opprobrium of not being there.

Similar case today. Somebody I know was contacted by a freelance who was wondering if they could get more work because she's expecting a baby and her partner has cut down his working hours in order to help her out. This meant there was a shortfall in the household income that needed making up.

We were reflecting that a coal miner in the 30s would have been unlikely to come home and tell his pregnant wife he was cutting down his hours underground in order to help her out. Had he dared he would have been chased back to the pit with the rolling pin of beloved cliché.


  1. That coalmining family would have lived in a close-knit community reinforced by family ties, backed up by honorary aunts, or 'Bopas' as they were termed in south Wales. Mam could count on community support to help bring up the kids while dad was earning the pennies underground.

    A bit different to today's more isolated family.

  2. What a weird post!

    Are you sure test cricketers return from Australia/wherever to be at the birth of their children, it might just be 'some test cricketers'? I bet there are still some who just get hammered after the game and blub drunkenly down the phone to their shell-shocked partners.

    Even the ones that do attend might be motivated by desire, rather than a fear of snippy comments in the changing room.

  3. What sort of job can you do to cut down your hours in this day and age? Especially if your wife has cut down her hours?

  4. Um...

    It wouldn't need a spectacular feat of misreading to assume that A) you think it somehow unseemly for men to want to be present at the birth of their children or that B) far from seeing it as a more equitable split of the time and effort it takes to raise children, men these days have become a little bit more, what's the phrase?, soft, and that C) we could all learn a thing of two from the doughty women of the 30s (notwithstanding the lack of an NHS or child benefit or flexible labour laws etc).

    A gentlemen's wager suggests that the likes of Jimmy Anderson didn't return home because they were worried about opprobrium (from wives? Or team-mates? Or the media?) but because there are vastly more test matches than there are births of your own children.

  5. @Lee Just what I would have wished to say, only vastly better put. Mr Hepworth, a response?