Prior to Grace’s appearance, Nicole was always clear that she’d be looking at going back to work….part time at least…from around March. As the more ambitious, more driven, better paid, more likely to succeed, part of the partnership, this was no real surprise, and met with no objection from myself. The other side of this equation though didn’t really get the examination it might. Nicole suggested that maybe I could work flexibly or take some of her unused maternity leave, and I assume I made the right noises, but it didn’t really feel like a sustainable option. To me at least. For no other reason, than looking after a baby full time was not something I could begin to remotely comprehend. To be honest, being in even joint charge of a baby was still far, far away from my concept of reality. However, I probably still thought if Nicole was going back to work, then I assumed that meant we’d need to investigate nurseries pretty sharpish.
And then Grace was with us, and it was real. Everything was real. Everything had changed. And nothing had changed as much as my feelings about fatherhood. For the first two weeks, I was able to take Paternity Leave (one week paid, one unpaid). I threw myself into pretty much everything that a new father could; enjoyed every unslept hour of it, every dirty nappy, every re-laundered top and by the end of the two weeks, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind – I was going to make arrangements to go part-time for a period, to look after Grace.
So that’s what I did. With the support of work, I’ve arranged to move to three days a week until September and Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ll be at home looking after Grace as Nicole goes back to work part time, initially at least. It’s not an easy decision in many respects – there’ll be a big financial hit, it will be hard to manage work demands over three days, and …. well…I have little idea what it’s going to take to get through the days. However, one look at Grace and I remember actually it is a very easy decision. And besides….as a number of people have told me recently when I have voiced some of my fears….it is only two days a week….