If I died Hagar couldn’t deploy. He would have to stop flying. We have two kids. He would be responsible for them. My mum died in 1974. I was 2 years old. My dad hadn’t insured her. He had insured himself to the hilt in case of his own death so that she wouldn’t go without but he had under-valued the impact of her role in the advent of her death. We have talked about this since. It wasn’t a malicious act. Maybe it was a reflection of the attitude at the time.
Her death was unexpected. It was sudden and tragic. He was left solely in charge of me. He had to sacrifice his blossoming career to raise me. He was working as a British Rail manager doing some type of operations role at the rail freight terminal in Anglesey, Holyhead. Not far from RAF Valley and not far from where Kate & Wills will be setting up home. (I hope she has more fun there then my mother did!) For a few years he was a single parent.
Not so long ago, I was having a cuppa with a milly wife, whose husband had deployed for six months and she said to me something along the lines of, ‘my other half doesn’t mind if I don’t work because it would cost £24,000 in childcare if I wasn’t around.’ I nearly choked on my brew! And the rest! It was then I started thinking about the cost of my replacement in the advent of my death, or severe disabling, (divorce doesn’t count) in order for Hagar to deploy for 6 months of the year, plus attend the exercises and also do the night flying, to deliver his life to the same standard that he experiences right now, he would require at least:
3 x full time qualified nannies (£30k p.a each)
1 x housekeeper (£275 per week – £13k p.a)
1 x part-time gardener (£2000k p.a)
1 x part-time personal assistant ( £100 per week – £4800 p.a)
Approx £109,000 p.a – which is considerably more than he earns.
(We don’t have the family back up that could step in and help either just in case you were thinking he could palm the kids off to his mother or mine. Mine is dead. His is too old to handle our two kids even now when we are both alive!)
In reality, he couldn’t even afford to hire me at my commercial rates as a freelance consultant. I make an expensive cup of tea. But the hard facts are that even though I am insured, if I was to die Hagar would have to give up flying and could no longer deploy. The taxpayer has invested in well over a £3 million pounds to keep Hagar operational and current so that he can deliver his role at the sharpest end of the pointiest bit of the conflict. Once you are father you have responsibilities to your children that are solely yours and the mothers’ of your children. It shouldn’t be under-estimated the value of the role the supporting parent gives to the service to enable the serving parents to deploy and fight for their country. I can only say what I see in my own home but Hagar loves his job. He wants to deploy and he wants to serve his country. It’s not for me to stop him and I support him without complaining. (I truly do!) But, honestly, I do think the partners are played lip service to, that we are an imbuggerance that has to be tolerated and the role they give is not wholly appreciated or the enormity of it is taken for granted.
Hagar doesn’t even see half the stuff that gets done in our house. In fact, he once made the mistake of arguing that he did 50% of the domestic chores.
‘Interesting!’ I thought.
‘I know’ I said, ‘I have an idea. You write down a list of all the jobs that need to be done and then put a percentage next to it indicating how the jobs are divvied up.’
Hagar was feeling pretty bullish at this point. He was fairly confident that he was going to prove his point and the status quo that he was aiming for would return. But alas, it was not to be so because the reality was when he formed the list and allocated his percentages to all the tasks that we have as a family unit, he omitted at least 50% of the jobs from the list because he didn’t even know that those jobs were being done in the first place!!
At the end of the day, would the tax payer be willing to bear the cost so the widowed father can deploy and they can get their return on investment? Err No! But it’s a crying shame that a woman has to die before her true value is appreciated!
I guess like Joni Mitchell sang in Big Yellow Taxi,
‘Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone.’
My Christmas wish is this, I wish that the world would stop taking women for granted.
NB: Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas so very few men are going to say ‘I agree. Yes, let me do more!’ And the battle continues on…….