On school days, our morning routine goes like this:

6.30-7am: smallest children wake. They enter our bedroom for essential toilet trips (their own bathroom is too scary).

7.15am: I get up, go into their bedrooms, gather the clothes they will wear that day, lay them out on the couch (a different pile for each child, two out of three will be able to dress themselves).

7.30am: I gather backpacks and wash lunch boxes and water bottles. Because I work late, I’m too tired or lazy to get this done the night before.

7.45am: Husband stumbles down the stairs, puts a bowl of porridge for himself in the microwave, toast in the toaster and puts the kettle on. I make ham sandwiches, pack balanced healthy lunches, fill water bottles and fill backpacks with after-school outfits to keep their uniforms as clean as possible. I also check their bags for correspondence from the school and remove any unnecessary toys and books.

7.55am: Husband eats his breakfast at the table. He has also made me a cup of tea, but I don’t have time to drink it. I start shouting at the kids to get dressed.

8am: Husband helps our youngest get dressed, but he accidentally puts on the clothes she wore yesterday (they were in a pile, destined for the laundry room, but never quite got there). This is an improvement from the time he sent her to playschool in pyjamas. He also puts her socks on after her pants, so they look a bit comical pulled halfway up her legs. I come around with a hairbrush and do ponytails, and then I fix our youngest’s outfit so the playschool doesn’t think I’m an unfit mother.

I suspect lockdown has given him the good end of the deal

8.15am: Car is loaded with children, backpacks and husband, and they leave for the day. I do laundry, dishes, make a pot of coffee and start my work day. At 4.30pm, I interrupt my work day to collect my children from childcare. I spend the rest of the evening trying to finish my own work, make two separate dinners, be a nice, non-shouty mother and then log off and get the kids ready for bed. From 7pm to 8pm, my husband comes home from the farm (it’s a busy time of year).

Before I worked remotely, my husband did a lot more. I suspect lockdown has given him the good end of the deal. He laughs and disagrees when I mention this, saying: “OK, you do the milking and feed the calves.”

Honestly? I would rather feed calves while getting some exercise and listening to podcasts than be stuck at home with a massive mess to clean, dinner to make and cranky, “starving” children to appease (but not starving enough to eat their carrots!). But I digress.

I suspect he will do anything in his power not to go back to this on a full-time basis

When I mention going back to the office, I see the fear in his eyes. He is remembering the days I would commute and he would have to get the children to school, collect them and make their dinner. I suspect he will do anything in his power not to go back to this on a full-time basis.

I don’t blame him – commuting five days a week were hard for me too. Lockdown has brought about a few positive things and one is employers are more open to keeping remote working as an option. I love my job, and look forward to the days we can all congregate in the office again, but I also hope to be able to retain a few work-from-home days.

To him, he is doing more for me and spending more time with his children than his father ever did

Working full time while parenting is a balance I haven’t yet gotten right. Neither has my husband, though I’m not sure he worries about in the same way.

To him, he is doing more for me and spending more time with his children than his father ever did. And this is very true, but here’s a little tip for all the farming dads out there: just because you’re doing more, or better, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing equal, or enough.

Readers respond

Our previous Desperate Farmwife, where she gave her opinion on the new Catholic primary school sex education curriculum Flourish, generated a mixed response from our readers. Some were in agreement, while others took a different viewpoint. Here are two letters we received on the matter:

Dear Desperate Farmwife,

Please excuse me for not replying to you earlier regarding your 22 May 2021, piece on the Flourish RSE initiative.

For me one of my deepest and unforeseen regrets has been the lamentable lack of Catholic education provided in our Catholic schools.

I appreciate that this may be hard for you to fathom, but for people who value a relationship with God – that is shared on a community basis – it has led to them putting the time, effort and money into founding, sustaining and running schools. They are all too aware of the suffering inherent in a life without God, and so wanting the best for their children they wish to give them every chance to come to trust in Him.

As with every other aspect of learning, teaching is a skill and we feel that those trained in this profession are better suited to the task than us parents. Hence, we have always wanted to see it in the school curriculum. Of course, we do not wish to force it upon anyone who is merely availing of our schools for secular educational purposes, because it is more convenient to go to a Catholic school, than to find one more in keeping with their own ethos.

We believe that God knows what is best for us, that He loves us more than we can imagine, and that through His Church we are assured that we are on the right road. It has always been the case that Catholic schools are counter cultural, whether it has been against the stoicism of modernity up until the 1950s or the consumerisation of life, relationships and sex that is so prevalent in our own era of post-modernity.

God’s blessings,

Gearóid Duffy

Some distinction needed

Totally agree with that article about “Flourish”. I have a great faith, am a mass goer, etc but don’t believe in a lot of Church or man-made laws – I believe in a good, kind, inclusive, compassionate God and the Church should not have anything to do with this programme; giving some children and teenagers hang-ups and worries that will stay with them for life.

Well done,