Write a list of who ranks where in your family. Go on.
If you are a female with children, it’s likely that your list will look like this:
- The kids
- My partner
It’s just the way it is. They have so many fricking needs, these children, whether they are babies with dirty nappies, or teenagers wading into a self-esteem-smashing ocean of social media, they require an enormous amount of energy and time. It is what it is. You knew what you were signing up for.
But what, if, actually, the list was inverted.
- My partner
- The kids
That is what the Great God Oprah suggests we all do. Turn that list “upside down” and reclaim ourselves and our relationships from the drudgery of parenthood.
“Yas, Oprah, we hear you!” we call out from under a toppling mountain of washing, unpacked school-bags and unfinished homework. “It’s time for ME! It’s time for US!”
And then we go back to the school run.
Unless you're Rachael Finch. If you are, you have reclaimed your weekends as time when you and your partner can sleep in, have sex, go out for brunch and see friends. Maybe exercise. Maybe shop. Maybe do a bit of work. Maybe (be still my beating heart) read a book.
Because your child is spending time with other family members, hanging out at grandma's from Friday to Sunday.
And God, doesn't the world hate you for it.
Hear Holly and Andrew Daddo discussing Finch's childcare arrangement on This Glorious Mess, below. Post continues after audio.
When Rachael was
silly honest enough to share this family arrangement with the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, it's hard to imagine her publicist wasn't setting her hair on fire. Women will hate you for that, she would have hissed. You're just another mum, remember? Being a mum fulfills every little part of you, remember?
Why? Why are we so upset that a hard-working young woman and her husband utilise the loving care of their own parents for couple-time?
Isn't this one of the things women are meant to do? Make time for their relationship? Aren't we judged harshly if, like Michelle on The Seven Year Switch, we "lose ourselves in motherhood" and become "all about the kids"?
Aren't we encouraged to try to keep the family unit together? Aren't we told that if we "let the sex go out of our relationships" we only have ourselves to blame if the other person strays?
It's truly exhausting being all of the things to all of the people all of the time. In fact, it's impossible.
Rachael told the Tele that it was "good for her marriage" to have time when she and her husband Misha could go back to being a couple. And I am almost certain it is. Because one of the first casualties of parenthood is the couple. Transformed from two people who came together because they liked the way the other smelled, tasted and talked, they are now simply a united workforce running a household and dodging the emotional grenades kids toss their way.
We're told to take "date nights" to keep the magic alive. But a hastily-arranged dinner with the ticking deadline of a babysitter charging by the hour is not the stuff romantic dreams are made of. Weekends away are the preserve of people with mini-break budgets, and holidays-without-the-kids might be a once in a lifetime treat.
It's taboo to say you love your children more than your partner, but admitting the inverse makes you a callous, careless parent.
Whichever way you slice it, you lose.
The Mixed Grill discuss Rachel Finch. Post continues below...
In reality, we don't HAVE to rank the love we feel for our family. It's not a competition. It's also not a choice. For many of us, biology dictates the primal feelings we have for our children, and our instincts tell us how much to hold them close.
Rachael Finch's instincts are spot-on at telling her that daughter Violet is loved and cared for with grandma. Extended family providing childcare is hardly a new phenomena. Cultures are built on it, and from our tight little nuclear family units, we toss out aspirational platitudes about it - 'It takes a village' after all.
So perhaps we should stop feeling so threatened by a woman secure enough in her motherhood that she can admit she doesn't sacrifice everything on its altar.
Because if a weekend with Misha is "good for her marriage", it's good for Violet, too.
Turn that list upside down, people. Oprah wants it like that.
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