I've just posted my last blog and it has occurred to me that it would be useful to quickly vent my spleen.
I used to work for a Children's Centre (a hub of staff and activities for families with children under five) and we ran a Dad's Club every week. Currently, in my city, there are two monthly Dad's Clubs run. Despite increased awareness of our role we remain a very neglected part of service provider's considerations.
During Emily's pregnancy the midwives treated me as useful, or interesting but entirely surplus to requirements. They were never rude or dismissive, but nor did they attempt to really engage me. And I am confident professional; heaven knows what it would be like for somebody without my background and experience.
Now that Henry is here I continue to be left out. I work so none of the normal weekday activities are possible. Evenings, I'll grant you, would be out of the question. But a couple of hours on a Saturday to have somewhere to go and meet other dads? Apparently this is too much to ask.
And Henry recently had a minor health scare and we spent a night in hospital. They tried to get me to leave, arguing that only one parent could stay as any more presented a fire risk if the floor had to be evacuated. At the time it was obvious that this was service led, rather than patient led rules, with no basis whatsoever in fire regulations. 'Luckily' Henry was still undergoing assessment, so decisions needed to be made so I was never forced to leave, or to make a stand. But when a child is that young, to ask one of the parents to leave is cruel. We live quite close to the hospital, but it is a regional servant to a large swathe of Devon and Cornwall. What if something did happen suddenly and home was an hour's drive away? This is a terrible state of affairs and one that I thought we had moved on from.
Dads are important; services need to actually take that on board now and stop paying lip service to the idea.