He’s letting me go to India!

On Monday, I leave for a week’s research trip to Mumbai. It’s the culmination of a lot of work, and a big step in bringing a play tackling the challenges faced by young people in urban India to life.

The most amazing thing about it though is that my husband (of 15 years) is letting me go!

Now, before I am deafened by the collective outcry of my fellow Feminists, let me explain a thing or two.

I have not been out of the country for ten years. I have never travelled outside of Europe and the US, and even then hardly at all. I haven’t spent more than a night apart from my husband or kids in twelve years. We have never spent Valentine’s Day apart.

From this description, you might assume that I am a risk adverse, home-loving kind of woman, who lives her life very much in her husband’s shadow. I am not.

I’m a successful playwright, theatre maker and entrepreneur. Eleven years ago, I set up Peer Productions – a youth arts charity – and we reach in excess of 15,000 young people a year, employing a team of six permanent staff members. I am also studying for a PhD.

The thing is that I am also a special needs mum. My eldest daughter has severe brain damage and autism, and my youngest daughter too has developmental delays. Travelling, even within the UK, is a huge challenge and internationally, both practically and financially, impossible. Having disabled children is very expensive and Government benefits, whilst helpful, don’t come close to covering everything that they need. The mental load, the admin of constant appointments, form filling and fighting for their rights is exhausting and all consuming. The care required is extensive, and it is not currently really possible for one of us, on our own, to leave the house with both children.

When dealing with things for the children, I am regularly assumed to be a stay-at-home parent, who is readily available at all times. “Yes, I know we promised you your prescription and this is the fifth time you’ve come in, but could you just pop back later?” – With kids in tow, I cannot ‘pop’ anywhere.

Having disabled children strains relationships and, sadly, often fathers leave.

Going away for a week means leaving my husband to manage all of this on his own and that’s an enormous ask. Yes, we’ve booked in respite and we have carers coming to take some of the load, but ultimately the buck is going to stop with him. That’s why, when the opportunity first came up, I said no, as I couldn’t imagine being able to cope if it were me being left to my own devices.

He, however, is a better person than I am, and immediately wanted me to do this. He knew I really wanted it and he didn’t want to stand in my way.

Letting me go to India is an incredible gift and makes me so grateful for my marriage.

Happy Valentine’s Day, darling!