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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Put your own mask on, before helping others.

I have been lucky to travel a lot. Both for work and for holidays. My favourite way to travel is on planes. There is still a little romance left in this form of travel for me, even when I don't get to go business class. One Company I worked for only ever sent me overseas and only travelling business class to stay in 5-star hotels. All expenses paid. I call this period of my career the "Travel Princess" period. I travelled to London, Belgium, The Phillipines, India...sigh, anyway this is not the point. 

My point is that when you travel by air you always get the safety briefing, which includes demonstrating how to put an oxygen mask on your face, should they drop from the ceiling. I ask you, is there ever a circumstance when the mask drops from the ceiling, that it's all going to end well? Is the mask really going to help if you are about to pitch into the ocean?

During the demonstration you are always told to put your mask on before helping others, like children.

When Aiden was a new-born baby Arran used to ask me about what to do or how to do it, in regards to Aiden's care. Like I knew what I was doing! Eventually I said "Babe, just cause I gave birth doesn't mean I know all the answers! You're the Dad. You work it out!" I remember sitting at a sports field at the end of a Mountain Bike race (where else) when Aiden was very little. Arran had finished the race and I had gone off to get him a cold soft drink and a sausage in a piece of bread from the local Rotary Club BBQ. I came back to find Arran giving Aiden a bottle. "He was crying and I didn't know if he needed to be fed but then I thought, I'm the Dad, I can make a decision so I'm giving him a bottle". He was very pleased with himself. Smug even.

I don't think many women give over that kind of parenting power so early on, or ever for that matter. With both of us working full-time I didn't want to be the only person who could only put Aiden to bed or attend to his needs. I wanted both of us to share the parenting and the work load that goes with it, and that meant that Arran and I both had to feel confident doing everything. It works out pretty well most of the time though every now and again...... 

Charlie and I have been sick over the past week and one night at 2am Charlie decided to scream his lungs out. He wouldn't be comforted and wouldn't feed. He was hot so I left him lying on our bed (still screaming) to trek downstairs to find the baby Panadol I purchased that day. It was nowhere to be seen. I go back up stairs. Charlie has fallen asleep on our bed so I attempt to put him back in his cot. He woke up (of course) and continued his screaming. Arran finally wakes up and suggests that perhaps I should give him some Panadol. Gee. I hadn't thought of that. I WOULD IF I COULD FIND IT!!  Do you think you might have put it in the bin? says me. The next morning Arran finds the Panadol in the recycling bin outside where he had helpfully put it. And governments wonder about the rise in violent behaviour in women.

We do have a different approach though and from having coffee with my mother's group friends and listening to their complaining, I mean telling me about their warming family stories, there seems to be a consistent theme. It's seems that the Dads are good at putting their oxygen masks on, before helping others. In my limited experience and deep mother's group research that's what the Dad's do, when looking after the kids. They do their thing first and then attend to the kid. And it pisses the mummies off! A few examples:
  • When Aiden was little and crying during the night, Arran would get get up to attend to him (usually after me pushing him hard out of the bed because he has learnt the ability to sleep through any amount of crying and screaming) but would stop on the way to go to the toilet. Aiden would be crying his little heart out and Arran is calmly doing a pee. I am lying awake listening to both these activities wishing I had gotten up instead.
  • Arran and Aiden often have a shower together in the evening. When they get out Aiden stands dripping wet while Arran dries himself off. Then Arran dries Aiden but his hair is still very wet. Then they move into our bedroom where Arran gets dressed and then he takes Aiden into his room and dresses him. This is very similar to what one of my friend's husband does, except he gets dressed and makes himself a cup of tea before getting in trouble from his wife for leaving their little girl to wander around naked with dripping hair.
  • If Arran is upstairs reading Aiden a story before bedtime, I will be downstairs cleaning up the kitchen. If I am upstairs feeding Charlie and putting him to bed, Arran is downstairs watching TV and playing on his computer.
  • On Sunday, on returning home after an outing to buy more plants to kill, Arran left Charlie in the car because he needed to go to the toilet. When I gave him a 'look' he said "I didn't want to wet myself!" Has anyone seen a grown man wet himself recently because it took him an extra minute to get to the toilet? I think not.
I don't think the Daddies even realise they are doing it! It's some-kind-of built in thing to look after yourself first. I think the mum's put the oxygen mask on others before themselves. Again, its built in. I have grabbed Charlie a number of times in the middle of the night and been feeding him before realising I was busting to go to the toilet! And it really would be nice to not have breakfast at 10 when I have been up since 6. 

I guess it doesn't matter much in the end how things can done but geez it can be annoying. Do you put your mask on before helping others?

Charlie "Crackin it" (Andrea Thompson Photography)

1 comment:

  1. mmm, somehow this is particularly familiar!!! Ha ha