Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The path to martyrdom

As I mentioned in my last post the eldest daughter and then the beloved were both laid low with illness. Well last week it was my turn.

I woke feeling not quite right and 5 minutes later my bowels confirmed that I wasn't. Being unwell and with the enormous responsibility of looking after the small and ridiculously cute one I was at a point where I was going to do the unthinkable; ask the wonderful wife to stay home. Cue dramatic music:

Shock Horror Sound Effect [LoudTronix.me] by Haraash

However to ask, nay beg for help from she-who-is-all-knowing-and-can-be-just-a-bit-condescending-to-the-mere-novice, is a pain even crueller than the one in my guts. So I sucked it up like the princess I was.

To say my day was unpleasant would be an understatement. It was shit (in way too many ways). The cutest one did what she does best; looked cute, crawled, smiled, giggled, and generally took a completely unsympathetic view of yours truly. It wasn't the most interactive day as I moaned pathetically on the couch whilst watching her play, or watching her scratch my eyeballs out, or listened to her cry as she was hastily placed in her cot whilst I made a mad dash to have some private time.

At least she slept well during the day, which meant I slept well during the day too.

I managed to get a few of the necessary chores out of the way but really did not much at all.

When you have a stomach complaint, there are two things I strongly recommend avoiding. The first, preparing and then feeding (after seriously sterilising oneself, because the worst result is getting her sick) a baby with mushed up food. The second, changing a nappy which has a little steaming and nauseating present held within it. Both these things lead to a strong desire to allow what little is left in your stomach to erupt.

Sometime after her lunch, and prior to me picking up the other two kids from school it got the better of me, and erupt I did. The little one didn't even make it to the cot, just crawled to the doorway of the bathroom and witnessed her father dearest violently expelling the feeble contents of his gut. She thought it hilarious and laughed and giggled whilst I gagged. I felt a little like Trent from Total Drama Island:

I have almost forgotten why I started this post, so I had better cover it now. Essentially those experienced with full time parenting are well known martyrs. Whenever they are feeling poorly they soldier on regardless of their ailment; it is a noble calling to be a martyr. Simply they have no choice. They're not upto it, yet there is no option so they carry on. However nobility can corrupt. When there is an opportunity martyrs will go to great lengths to promote their martyrdom without actually suggesting they are being martyrs. They begin to do even more than what would normally be done, let alone the bare minimum.

If you've seen your partner doing something similar to the below, and then responded with something similar to the below, then you've been played by a martyr:

"Honey you shouldn't be washing the dog. You haven't been well, here let me do that."
"Honey, you shouldn't be washing the windows. You haven't been well, here let me do that."
"Honey, you shouldn't be painting the house. You haven't been well, here let me do that."
and so on. I'm sure you can see the patterns. Firstly, tasks that have been left alone for a period of time are suddenly important enough to do, and secondly the non-fulltime parent ends up feeling guilty and does those jobs that don't need to be done. The martyr wins. Jobs that have been put off are done, and the martyr didn't have to do anything more than get the ball rolling.

So getting back to my day: I dragged myself out of the house with giggling happy baby tucked under one arm and picked up the kids and came straight home, and this is where I made my final mistake. I asked the kids if they could look after small fry whilst I died in a convenient corner. My children, being caring, loving and when necessary, selfless, assessed the situation in an instant and insisted I rest and assured me that they would only wake me if they needed me. So I crawled back into bed, feeling dreadful and knowing once and for all I had failed at being a martyr.

Martyrdom is about gaining a moral superiority over your non-fulltime parent partner. To do it successfully the martyr must elicit sympathy, must go above and beyond, use guilt to achieve those jobs that have been hanging around for an age, and must never, ever, ask for help.

Whilst my road to martyrdom started well when I resisted temptation to ask my wife for help, it was pretty much downhill from there. I didn't go above and beyond by landscaping the front yard or some such task, I didn't elicit sympathy, and ultimately I asked for help. I have much to learn.


  1. Spot on analysis about martyrdom but don't be too hard on yourself. Those skills take years, nay decades to perfect. Unless of course your are a member of the superior sex in which case its innate.

  2. Shit! It sounded like you had a bad time there. Hope it's all good and everything's coming out smoothly for you - AK