Men – It’s not easy being a modern city man. Finding a clearly defined role that maintains your innate hunter instincts whilst being sensitive to the nuances of your family’s needs and modern expectations demands creativity. There is a tipping point somewhere between the joy of baking with Didsbury Son and agreeing to watch Jennifer Aniston instead of Match of the Day. I tipped many years ago and am now having to redefine masculinity whilst making sure the nappies go on a boil wash but I’m not mixing colours.
A baby gives her reaction to the notion of gender stereotyping in changing and feeding
But men, understand this. There are dozens of free channels to be watched, hours of tweets to be shared and LOL’d and the cats must be fed – it’s duty. * NB: if you use the term LOL (are you listening David Cameron?) over the age of 20 it is as unacceptable as leather trousers and as inappropriate as a middle-aged ponytail.
There has been much debate about the evolving role of men. When Didsbury Wife was Didsbury Girlfriend I flooded her kitchen whilst attempting to fix a tap. This was a time so long ago there were barely gambling apps. I realised my role and her expectations had changed. As I wrung out, well everything, she reminded me of an old adage
“Either marry someone who can fix a shelf or can pay someone else to fix a shelf for you.” Then it hit me, a Eureka moment; I finally understood what Tony Blair had meant when he talked about a third way.
I couldn’t fix a shelf – it’s culturally genetic. When Moses gave the 10 commandments to the Jewish people he never told them how to fix them to a wall, he just told them what to eat whilst they were discussing the contents. Paying for it is the intermittent joy of the media freelance something or other so there had to be a third way; I wrote her a story about a set of shelves and a new tap and Didsbury Wife fixed everything herself.
There are other roles around childcare that never concerned my own Didsbury Dad. He worked hard, my own Didsbury Mum did 99% of the childcare and he would do science homework and be patient whilst we jumped all over him and jabbered away inanely, punctuated by his nodding.
I am a modern dad. One night each week I do the night shift; emerging triumphantly like the Lion King to theatrically deliver my huge headed baby boy and delicate baby girl for their 6.45 feed. As I stalk the savannah back to the nursery, mane shaking and all but roaring my new masculinity before bagging a freshly changed nappy, I know I am king of all I survey (less than you would imagine without glasses). I am assured of my masculinity, male-modernness and massive contribution to the next generation.
A baby boy, keen to retain his anonymity camoflages his head with a strawberry lace in sympathy with the loss of freedom to watch endless football highlights.
There is only the tiniest voice in my head reminding me that the other 6 nights a week and 18 hours of most days Didsbury Wife sees to the happiness of the babies, coos and cleans them and more importantly… Teaches Didsbury Son DIY skills so I can write stories and make tea whilst they work.
November 2011 and Didsbury Village Farm Shop opened with high hopes, high prices and excellent high fat content pies. Farewell, January 2013