My husband can't recall my full name or our children's birthdays: Why can't men remember the basic details of family life
On our daughter’s last birthday, my husband wrote in her card: ‘How old are you’ He said it was a joke, but I know better. He was not entirely sure if she was 11 or 12.
He emailed me recently from work asking me to ‘confirm the full names and dates of birth of the family’ so he could book flights. /02/29/article-2108356-03369B940000044D-324_468x465.jpg” width=”468″ height=”465″ alt=”How old are you Many men struggle to remember key details like their children's birthdays (posed by models)” class=”blkBorder” />
How old are you Many men struggle to remember key details like their children's birthdays (posed by models)
‘Is that a new bag’ he asks our daughter, three weeks after Christmas, thinking he is scoring points by being observant, but failing to observe that the bag is the one ‘we’ gave her for Christmas. I made a point of showing it to him after buying it, but the details didn’t sink in.
To him, and many men, this is trivial domestic stuff and there is no room for it in their busy male brains. ‘I’ve got lots on at work,’ is always his defence.
The irony is I know the names of his staff, their partners and children. I know when he has meetings and where, as well as the things I need to know for my own work — and, of course, everything to do with our family.
My father was the same as my husband. I was nearly arrested for fare dodging when I was 13, travelling as a half, and the suspicious guard asked him my age. Dad had no idea and nearly landed me in court by having a stab at: ‘15’
That was in the Seventies. So-called New Men were unheard of. Dads didn’t have much to do with children. My husband does at least do what he calls ‘babysitting’. When I do this, it’s just called ‘being at home with our children’.
But this is the 21st century. How can women get their other halves to at least absorb some of the details of family life, even if the lion’s share of the work still falls to them
‘I have to tell my husband something at least 50 times for it to sink in,’ says my friend. She was bemoaning that, though her husband makes the children’s packed lunches before he goes to work, he rarely manages to put in things they actually like.
‘I tell him nearly every day that Bella doesn’t like tomatoes, Max only eats white bread and neither is allowed to have anything containing nuts. But he still makes brown bread peanut butter sandwiches with tomatoes 90 per cent of the time and I’m supposed to be glad he shows willing.’
At the risk of sounding too down on men, I concede they’re not alone in failing to take in domestic detail.
A mother I know who has two children two years apart in age, but whose birthdays fall in the same month, recently sent off their passports for renewal. It was only as she filled in the form that she realised she had muddled up their birthdays and so had been celebrating them on the wrong day for their entire young lives!
Lizzie Enfield’s book, Uncoupled, is out now