You may have seen the Mirror article that has shocked the parenting world over the last few days – it is a letter sent in by a twenty-seven year old father of two who asked to be identified only as “Jack”. The title of the article is “I’m stuck with a woman I don’t love and two screaming kids – I wish I’d got a vasectomy at 16”.
At first, it’s easy to feel sympathy for him – it’s important to remember that men’s mental health can take a knock when they become parents too, and parenting is a tough gig, right? My sympathy grew when I read this –
Back in 2010, when I was 21, I had just finished my second year at university. I had also just split up with my girlfriend.
However a week after the split she rang and told me she was pregnant. It was a shock as she had been on the pill at the time.
At that point I didn’t know what to do but after mulling things over I said I would stand by her for the child’s sake.
An unplanned pregnancy after a relationship had ended, halfway through university? That’s tough. I’m not sure he’s really considered how it must have felt from her point of view, mind, but hey – it’s a lot to deal with on both sides, and at least he didn’t just say ta-ra, bye-bye, cheerio, deal with it yourself.
Sympathy quickly dissipated when I read the next part.
In order to make things work we had to move in together, which again was a pain in the backside.
She did my head in most days, would constantly whinge and moan because she was hormonal and had heartburn all the time.
Well, poor you. I’m sure it was a walk in the park for her. Come on, you were twenty-one – that’s far and away old enough to understand that the side effects of pregnancy are shitty, and that as the father of the baby, the decent thing to do is to support her rather than whining about it.
Whilst I was able to continue my degree I was missing out terribly on uni life. I could never go on nights out anymore and was drifting apart from my friends, who were all free and single.
Nonetheless, I just got on with things and put up with being miserable all the time.
Oh, you martyr, you. That’s life as a student parent. That’s what happens. She was missing out too – she had even fewer opportunities than you to get out, and trust me when I say, it’s tough to see your friends going out looking amazing when you’re sat in your pyjamas by 7pm, feeling absolutely massive and eating chicken nuggets by the tonne.
He goes on to say how he struggled when their son was born because he didn’t sleep well and he cried a lot. Yes, that’s life as a parent, but I had empathy for him – we’ve all been there. Babies cry a lot, and they don’t sleep much, and it is enough to make you feel seriously low and wonder why the hell you ever thought you’d be able to parent successfully.
Yet again, the sympathy is short-lived. After admitting that he doesn’t love his “girlfriend” and never has, and that he felt like he was just pretending they were a couple…
She fell pregnant again in 2014 (this time whilst on the coil) and gave birth to my daughter last year.
She has been an absolute nightmare. She’s had all sorts of problems ranging from a floppy larynx to reflux to being constantly bunged up. Basically, anything that affects her sleep.
WHY THE HELL WERE YOU STILL HAVING SEX WITH HER IF YOU DON’T LIKE HER ALL THAT MUCH?!
Of course, it’s possible that she doesn’t like him all that much either and they both made the mistake of sleeping together and her getting pregnant again – but the tone of the article makes me think that she doesn’t know he feels that way about her, and thinks they have a functioning relationship. It also sounds like he just wants to have sex and complain about the consequences.
The point of his letter was obviously to make people feel sorry for him – but I have zero sympathy. I sympathise with anyone, male or female, who has a child and then realises that it’s tougher than they anticipated, because I’ve been there. We all have.
In this case, however, my sympathy is reserved for the mother of his children and the kids themselves. I wonder if there’s a young woman out there somewhere who has read this article after the backlash sent it viral, and is suddenly realising her boyfriend of over six years has despised her for all this time – and seems not to care much for their two kids either?
I’ve posted recently about honest blogging, and the importance of honesty in talking about parenting, but this? Yes, it’s important to be honest, but in this case, it’s the words themselves that made my skin crawl.
I can’t imagine talking about my child with words that are so devoid of love for her. I call her my little sleep thief, I fully admit she’s turned life upside down – but I’d never allow my tone to suggest I outright resent her. I felt sick reading this article; sick for his children and their mother.
I want to consider that he may be suffering from depression, but the downright narcissistic tone of the entire post just made me think that this is a guy who got caught out by the “Lad culture” at uni, and never grew out of it. It’s someone who needs a reality check, and has a lot of growing up to do.
Jack – maybe you should have had a vasectomy at sixteen. Not for your sake – but for the sake of the three people you should care about the most, who you so obviously resent. They’re the ones who get my sympathy here.