5.24.2006

It is 2006, right?

Please don't call Nate The Mommy, or any derivation thereof. Not Mommy Nate, not Mr. Mom that old chestnut, not The guy who's playing Mommy.

And certainly not The Nanny.

He's The Daddy.

He stays home with our daughter. This makes him a Stay at Home Dad.

Please don't ask him questions like, "so, what do you really do?" He really does take care of a 10 month-old full time. Sometimes more. Don't ask him whether it's fun playing babysitter. Don't ask him whether his wife appreciates the break.

Certainly these questions demean what he does, but they also demean what I do. They imply that a mom is not a mom unless she's staying home with her children. They imply that I'm not doing my job. That I'm not fulfilling my womanly imperative. And lord knows I have enough of my own guilt about that already.

Last night at dinner, I asked whether I could let baby taste the guacamole and Nate rolled his eyes ("too spicy!"). Eyerolling is his preferred method of communication--he's got a different eyeroll to suit any occassion, each with its own shade of meaning--so I didn't think anything of it. What did cross my mind was whether the waitress, overhearing the exchange, assumed I was someone other than Thalia's mom. Enter: Guilt.

Somehow I doubt that the guilt factors into the equation of working dads quite the same way as it does with working moms. When I ask Nate if it's okay to give the baby guacamole, whether she napped well today, or what it means when she clenches her fists like that--it's hard. Really really hard. Because deep down I think that I should already know these things. Something tells me that working dads don't feel like they should know all of the minor details of their child's lives. I think some of them want to know these things. I think many of them enjoy knowing these things. But I don't think the vast majority feel the obligation in quite the same way.

In fact I think that the stay-at-home dad who is capable of some level of introspection likely feels he should be doing something else. Which isn't to say that he doesn't love and take care of his child like nobody's business--anyone who's spent even a minute with Nate and Thalia together will gush about what a fantastic (not mom) dad he is. But prescribed societal roles are tricky to overcome, even for those of us who protest against them the loudest. They're ingrained in us to the degree that they start to feel more like biological imperative than imposed cultural norms. Or maybe they're a little of both.

It may not be PC to say so, but I've come to the conclusion that a stay-at-home dad is not the male equivalent of a stay-at-home mom. On the outside, the job may be performed just as well, but on the inside there's so much other stuff that comes into play. I think stay-at-home dads have to fight so many internal and external forces to perform their jobs, let alone perform them well, that they deserve a whole lot more credit and encouragement than even their female counterparts.

So please don't call Nate the Mommy.

Thank you, The Management.

--------

A Perfect Post


87 Comments:

Anonymous neva said...

i believe we should call him the wonderful and nurturing parent. for, surely, that's what he is! : D

5/24/06, 12:21 PM  
Anonymous neva said...

oooh! and may i please rejoice in the fact that i was first today? (for, indeed, i am... and i do!): D

5/24/06, 12:23 PM  
Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

Though neither of us are stay at home parents, both my children, but especially my older son, seem to favor my husband as the PRIMARY parent. He, like your husband, is a great father - very involved and very good with his children. Do you ever feel like Thalia likes Nate better? It's hard for me to not get my feelings hurt sometimes when Owen sees me in the morning and says, "NO! You go away. I want Daddy." My friend pointed out that I am the one that he pushes AGAINST and that it is important for me to be there for him to push... still.

5/24/06, 12:23 PM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

I have a friend who used to get tweaked when his wife would be travelling and people would comment that he was babysitting the kids. "No, I am parenting them," was his reply.

While I do think that there is such a thing as a maternal instinct and that it is different than the paternal instinct, I don't think that a child who has one parent stay at home versus the other OR is in day care while both parents work suffers. Not as long as they are loved and their needs attended to.

So, I say good job Daddy Nate and Mom 101!

5/24/06, 12:28 PM  
Blogger shannon said...

Yes, it's very true about other people's perceptions. People in my life offer career suggestions for Anthony, like this is a temporary household convenience, him staying home, rather than a conscious choice that we made as a family based on not just work and income and career but also on who has the most ability to nurture and use common sense and doesn't get stir crazy being at home.

We sometimes make fun of the roles. I'll come home and clean up a bit and make a comment about being a "dad who helps around the house." I think we joke because of the weird roles that are so palpable around our child care choice.

Sometimes the thing that gets to me a little is being kinda second-string. Zoe was really grumpy last night and wouldn't stop crying long enough to go to sleep. I couldn't get her down. Ant went in and was able to soothe her enough that she went to sleep without a peep once he did his dad mojo. Those kinds of things make me feel a little less important, especially when people make comments to me like "mom is THE most important person in a baby's life" and I kinda have to go, well actually, her DAD is the one that really takes point, humans. Really I don't feel too bad about it unless someone else acts like its weird. There's no one else I'd rather be second-best to.

5/24/06, 12:57 PM  
Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

Beautiful post! I agree 100%.

I can say without hesitation that Evil Genius Husband has been there, shoulder to shoulder with me, parenting our children since the get go. He makes a bottle, changes nappies, kisses owies, all automatically, whenever needed, without consulting me first because I'm 'the Mom'.

There are two equal parents at this house.

-Blue

5/24/06, 1:01 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

You hit the nail on the head, it is the GUILT factor that seperates the men from the ladies! Stay-at-home parenting, no matter who is performing it is a thankless job most of the time and it sounds like your Hubby is one in a million!!

But that GUILT thing, I think that's a solely a mommy trait. Wish it wasn't because oh how I'd love to go off and have a girls weekend with absolutely no guilt! I have tried, hasn't worked yet :)

5/24/06, 1:03 PM  
Anonymous motherhooduncensored said...

Oh Guac is fine. Sheesh. My daughter looooves it... especially with a margarita :)

I love hearing your stories because sneaking Q the guac would be something that my huz would do -and I'd probably give him the eye roll.

However, I do agree wholeheartedly with you - this goes along with my post today about who does the thinking in parenting. We like to say it's a gender thing - but seeing as there are a growing # of SAHDs - you just can't generalize.

I do feel as though SAHMs (for all the slack we get) have it way better than SAHDs, who, I can only imagine get all kinds of flack or perhaps even the opposite - like what a great daddy my husband sucks ass I wish he was more like you type comments as well.

Gender roles are soooo ingrained in us - I'm intrigued by the studies of men dressed in scrubs being perceived as drs just because they are men in scrubs - and all the other studies out there that look at gender stereotyping.

Thanks for this timely and well thought post!

5/24/06, 1:04 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

i hate hate hate when people call the male, THE BABYSITTER.. or comment on how he's babysitting. dude, you DON'T FUCKING BABYSIT YOUR OWN KID.
the end.

5/24/06, 1:05 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

i could not agree more. my husband works at nite so he's home with our daughter all day. and i hate that i have to ask about her naps and what she's eaten because like you, i feel like i should know these things. he doesn't have to deal with quite as much as nate does since he does work but i know where youre coming from. and i agree. its not the equivalent. i dont think men like to know the minor details like we do. and yet we dont have to defend ourselves if we ARE stay at home moms vs. stay at home dads. great post. loved it.

5/24/06, 1:11 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...

Okay. Let me just say this. My husband is a MUCH better parent than I am, he has the patience of a saint, is a much better cook and housekeeper than I, and looks cute as a bugs ear sitting on the floor playing board games with the kids. I am NOT saying that this is the case in your situation, because you sound like a lovely woman and an AWESOME mother. If I could make as much money as Hubby does I would go to work and beg him to be the stay-at-parent. Truly. Although, now that doesn't really apply because I am going to work since the kids are big enough. But, that's not my point. My point is, in my case, my husband could beat the pants off me as far as being the stay-at-home-parental-unit-king-of-all-things-domestic. And if I EVER could make enough $$$$ that's exactly what I would advocate. I think it's all about who can do what and who's comfortable with what. To hell with the plumbing factor (i.e. Mommy or Daddy).
Does that make any sense whatsoever??? I think you get what I am trying to say! :)

5/24/06, 1:13 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Ah, the guilt. I wish I could think of something to write in this little comment box that would take away even the smallest bit of your guilt.

I wish the roles were a little bit more equal in my house. The dad does A LOT, but only in relation to other dads we know. I do a lot MORE, and work, and deal with the house, and deal with his family. He gets praised for putting the baby to bed, whereas if I do it, no one notices. Not that I need praise for being the mom, but why does he get praised for being the dad, as if it were "extra"?

You have some really good points in this post.

5/24/06, 1:15 PM  
Blogger DaniGirl said...

Yah. It took me about a year to get used to the idea that my husband was spending more time with the boys than I was, but control-freak that I am, I don't think I ever actually let him become the primary caregiver. Semantically, I just couldn't do it.

He's off with them all summer, but will be working full time in the fall and I'm even more heartbroken that not only is it not me, but not him either.

Please excuse me while I go buy a lottery ticket...

5/24/06, 1:22 PM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

i think for one thing, SAHD's can find themselves more isolated than SAHMs--the support system is just not there in the same way. (and they do not seek it) That, along with introspection over how this equates societally can make it a tough deal. not any tougher than for any woman, but a different set of issues come into play. guilt is not among those issues, I think, or at least not the same kind of guilt that tends to bond many mothers. Thing is, it's still so rare that it's hard to find anything that really articulates what the experience is like for a man.

my own old man was my son's primary caregiver for a long time, and it does make for some interesting times. i really identify with what you are saying (about feeling slightly usurped) but dear lord, at least we're not married to the typical male who would not even consider taking up that role. i can honestly say i am married to a man who does not, for one moment, equate my gender with my role at home (unless it comes to picking out paint, and then he BETTER check with me first).

yup, we're lucky bitchiz.

oh, and nice tattoo. cor!

5/24/06, 1:36 PM  
Blogger Foodmomiac said...

The guilt is unbearable at times, isn't it?

Great post. Nate is lucky to have you.

Oh, and my 9 month old ADORES guacamole. Especially on a teeny piece of tortilla chip. ;-)

5/24/06, 1:38 PM  
Anonymous madge said...

I always thought my husband had it pretty good being a SAHD in Park Slope. There always seemed to be enough other SAHDs that they weren't a novelty, or a babysitter, or a Manny. They were just the Dads.

I can't imagine it anywhere else. People just can't get Michael Keaton's sad sack character from Mr. Mom out of their heads.

5/24/06, 1:44 PM  
Blogger Cityslicker Mom said...

Hey, isn't guacamole just a mashed up vegetable with some spices? hee hee. Yah, it's pretty hard for some people to get past the old fashioned ideals. i think it's great he stays home with the baby!

5/24/06, 1:46 PM  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

Since we, as a community, would do well to learn from the collective wisdom and individual mistakes of others, I offer you only one piece of advice, my friend. When giving your daughter guacamole, make sure to taste it first in order to ensure that there are no hidden chili peppers lurking beneath the surface. Should one fail to do so and allow said child to eat the aforementioned chili peppers? I assure you that you will hear screaming like you have never heard before and your child's sphinctor will literally catch fire. And the ensuing poop and diarrhea? The messiest thing you'll ever see.

Also, as someone who is not a SAHD but spends a majority of the time with our child, I always hear those same remarks that Nate does. I usually tell people to f*ck off and that, if they MUST label me, I prefer to be called "the Manny."

5/24/06, 2:01 PM  
Blogger Arwen said...

My husband stayed at home until Noodle was almost 4, now he has a very flexible schedule while I have worked (traveled) the whole time she has existed. I read this and felt like you had read my mind. We used to refer to my husband as 'primary infant care provider' and the guilt I have has gotten worse over time. It started when I wasn't there for her first crawl of her first steps and now, when she acts out at school, I wonder if this wouldn't happen if I had been home more. It sucks. And we are making the moves to change the situation but it keeps me up at night.

5/24/06, 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Kristina said...

You know what else is strange? When Mya was born my husband jokingly said that i had to hurry up and get back to work and get a second job so that he could stay home with her. When he said that, his father replied, "No, you need to support your family." My immediate response was staying home is supporting the family. Why do people assume that if either parent stays home they are not "working"? And, if a father stays home, he must have gotten laid off or be in between careers? This world is so screwy.

5/24/06, 2:10 PM  
Blogger macboudica said...

I do know how you feel. My hubz took care of my older son the summer he was off of work and I was pregnant withthe twins. He did and awesome job. But he took some crap about being Mr. Mom or whatever, too. And for me there was the guilt and the grilling him about what the boy did all day and the envy (not too much because I knew I would be staying home after the twins were born, butstill..). Also, if circumstances were different for us, my hubz would have no problem accepting--no, embracing-- the role as SAHD, but I think I would feel really crummy and jealous in a way. My point is that guys like your hubz and mine are good guys. Unfortunately there aren't more people like them/there is not more awareness of their circumstances. Anyway, lets hear it for the good guys, and hopefully the world catches on soon.

One more thing, during my teen years I was raised not by a SAHD, but my single dad. Here he was the weekend dad for most of our lives and next thing he knew he was full time, no breaks dad. That was hard for him due to the lack of support. It was very rare back then and even fairly rare today.

I agree the heckling dads that do "mommy" work comes from an outdated and degrading stereotype that it is easy, so easy any "woman" can do it. People need to get with the program: it is WORK.

5/24/06, 2:45 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

I like MD's "manny." that made me chuckle. Also, I agree that Nate deserves a standing O. I see more SAHD's than SAHM's around deez parts and I think it's awesome. I have crushes on all of them because there is nothing hotter than men with babies. Especially men with babies who can give advice about eating guacamole.

5/24/06, 2:49 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

Wouldn't it be great if married couples could job share? I know my husband would be a great stay at home Dad, and I think he would like the opportunity. Likewise, I would enjoy getting out of the house, using my brain once in a while, and having lunch with grown-ups. But I don't think either of us wants to trade roles permanently.

That said, I think Nate is a cool and brave guy. I know guys who stay at home get a lot of flack, even in this enlightened day and age. I promise not to call him anything demeaning. Would..."Most abundantly cool and brave Daddy Dude" suffice?

5/24/06, 2:59 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Terminology:

I think Jennster already said this - It's not BABYSITTING when it's your own kids! There were a couple of guys with whom I used to work - they'd say they were babysitting over the weekend. No, that's called sharing the childcare.

My husband and I both dislike the "Mr. Mom" term. I strike back with saying that I'm "Mrs. Dad" when I take our baby for the day. :)

5/24/06, 3:26 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Yeah, I've been a stay at home dad for so long (three years +) that all the "Mr. Mom" and "Daddy Daycare" comments just roll off.

However, even before I stayed at home, I had a good response for people. My wife being a nurse naturally meant that I was the sole caregiver on many a night and weekend. Whenever someone would say, "So you're babysitting tonight, are you?" (or something in that vein), I would always reply, "No, I'm *parenting*."

5/24/06, 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

It always bugs the crap out of me when I mention to someone that J is feeding the kids or giving them a bath, and they say, "Wow, isn't that wonderful?" I always want to say "Well, yes, it is nice to have clean children -- I wouldn't want them to roll around in their own filth!" I know what they're thinking is that since he's the DAD it's such a "treat" that he does these things. But as several other commenters have said, he's a parent, just like me. We just do what we have to do to care for and nurture our kids, and we don't break down our parenting roles by gender.

5/24/06, 3:55 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'm glad you posted this. I think you are right...

I really like how you both support and respect each other. Its nice to see.

5/24/06, 4:08 PM  
Blogger Lumpyheadsmom said...

Oh Mom-101, you're so in my head.

I often wonder if other working moms - ones who don't have stay-at-home partners - harbor these same feelings.

When it's the teachers at daycare who provide the primary care for your child during the week, do you feel less guilty? Do both parents feel like they're on equal footing then, because one doesn't have more face time with the baby? At least in the daycare situation the primary caregiver isn't sitting in your living room, suggesting you may be doing it wrong.

I'm sure everyone has Mommy Guilt, though, no matter what your household configuration is. Doesn't make it suck any less.

And I couldn't agree more about the lack of a support system. I guess guys just don't do that. Bump has another stay-home dad - one of our closest friends - living two blocks away, but the support system is not the same as it would be if they were both stay-home moms. I just don't get it.

5/24/06, 4:19 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Well said. Hats off to your SAHD.

I know it's hard but, try not to feel guilty that you're not a SAHM. There seems to be all kinds of mommy guilt, weather your a SAHM or not. I don't think men suffer from this as often as we do. Maybe they're lacking that gene.

5/24/06, 4:37 PM  
Anonymous chelle said...

I so think SAHD rock! I know a few that are the most amazing Dads ever! I never think twice about them staying at home, or that their spouses are not. Whatever works for EACH family! My husband does not have the skill required to stay at home. He worships me because I can, every day he comes home from work and is in awe because Becca has learned something new.

Due to society's general ideas I think it would be impossible for each person in this role not to inwardly think about guilt or if it should be different. However, when those thoughts come up, remind yourself that you and your husband are doing right by YOUR family and screw whatever others may think!

5/24/06, 4:50 PM  
Blogger Mom at Work said...

Big guy tells the story of one woman that he passed in the park *every day* while out for a walk with little guy and the dog. And every day, she would say "giving Mom a break, must be nice."

On a different schedule now, he probably hasn't seen that lady in 1.5 or 2 years, and he's still mad.

On the other hand, when he tells people at a party that he's a SAHD, he gets "that's so great."

And the 20 questions of what they did today and what they saw, ate, pooped, etc. Not Mommy guilt. It's involved parenting, and it's genderless. (Or so I keep telling myself.)

5/24/06, 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Kvetch said...

Ok, I'm assuming here that someone referred to Nate as "the Mom." It never crosses my mind to label a SAHD a SAHM. A Dad is not a Mom, at home or at work. And a Mom is not a Dad. I know this because, trying to do both, I know it's impossible. I am not a Dad, even though I do all the sports/male stuff (that I can stomach) with my son AND my daughter. Sometimes I wish I could be both - mostly I'm glad I can't. You and Nate each play vital roles for Thalia - equally important - if not different - and that would be the case, no matter who was At Home or if no one was. Just my very long-winded .02. Ok, more like .08.

5/24/06, 5:12 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

I think about the SAHDs a lot too, even though I am the sAHM in our family. I agree with you that it must be difficult, in the face of so much societal pressure, to stay home and feel good about it. I mean, if it's tough sometimes for ME to feel good about it, I can only imagine what it's like for dads. I love that there are so many more SAHDs these days, those. I think it's great for my kids to see--and they are so young and don't know any different, so it just seems normal to them. I love that.

5/24/06, 5:28 PM  
Blogger Chaotic Mom said...

I would LOVE my hubby to be a SAHD. I think he'd do a much better job with the boys than I'm doing now. And maybe even the house, and the bills...

5/24/06, 5:44 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Very well said. Why must it still be perceived as so unusual when men take an active role in parenting?

5/24/06, 6:04 PM  
Anonymous mummyv said...

good post. i just read bonnie fuller's book, and was struck by how much flack she took in the press when she kept working when her daughter was sick and in the hospital - she was like, i'm the breadwinner in the family not my husband, and i have to go to work. if it was reversed and he continued working everyone would say how responsible he was etc etc... the double standard sucks for both the at home dad and the working mom... what annoys me the most is how dads that are involved are held up like saints in society - like, HELLO ? they're the DAD?!!? they're supposed to be involved..!? ok rant finished.

5/24/06, 7:22 PM  
Blogger Pattie said...

I hang out with a few stay at home dads... I think nothing of it, as well as a few of my mommy friends...except when us women start talking about periods and such.... it's ok...they get over it... with a smile.

5/24/06, 7:43 PM  
Blogger kidslovecandy said...

I hang out with a full time SAHD part time army guy. I imagine it's rough for him being the only guy around most times. How is it in NYC? Does your fella have a clique of SAHD's to hang with?

5/24/06, 9:38 PM  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

Wait, where are all the SAHDs that read this blog? I wanna know what they think!

I like that you drew the distinction that a SAHD is not the male equivalent of a SAHM. I never thought of it that way but you are definitely right. I dunno who is a better parent, me or my hubz, but I know that he'd do great as a SAHD, and I do okay for now. :-) Did anyone ask you what you were going to get him for mother's day, or some other such ridiculous thing like that? (Chag wrote about that last week).

5/24/06, 10:38 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

don't feel guilty. we all have to do what we have to do. i'm sure it sucks to be away for so long but you seem to have an awesome job! i graduated in marketing and as of right now, my degree is under a pile of stuff on my husband's desk (probably bills from the student loan people). pllus, at least nate can go tell all of his buddies that have wives who stay at home just how hard it is to entertain a child all day long and how they should at least pretend to help out once in awhile! maybe nate could start a daddy revolution!!
p/s you seem to be a very popular lady! you always have a million comments...i'm jealous

5/24/06, 11:11 PM  
Blogger Refinnej said...

My husband was a SAHD for almost 10 months with our two boys, and he came out of it with a changed attitude. Surprisingly, I never heard him take much flak for it, although I'm sure he did. And now? He's a huge supporter of SAHParents, no matter their gender.

5/25/06, 1:29 AM  
Anonymous grayelephant said...

you hit the nail on the head. i agree with you on all aspects of this post.

5/25/06, 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. You're lucky to have each other. You sound like the perfect combo to raise a little one.

~Jenny
http://blogs.chron.com/mamadrama/

5/25/06, 7:48 AM  
Blogger Stephanie A. said...

My husband and I both work, but Adam is completely hands on. In fact, our son Hugo just started this new phase where he screams if ADAM leaves the room. Me, not so much. They have a deep connection, and while Adam doesn't have the same issues as Nate, I think most men today are really making some positive movements in the family arena and their role as Daddy (not babysitter) should be celebrated.

Because, let me tell you, there are so many times I think there's no way I could be the only one doing this like the majority of mothers did back in the 50's. These days it's all about teamwork and coming up with what works best for your family and I love it!

5/25/06, 8:15 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

Great post. I think the whole SAHD thing is very tough on everyone involved and people DONT respect it for what it is.

Our vision (hahahaha) was that I would stay home when we had kids. When I met my husband that was the track we were on. He was making big bucks and I was burnt out. The prospect of hanging up my briefcase and frequent flyer badge was too, too attractive. But things changed. He was hit hard by the dot.com bust and suddenly I was the breadwinner. I rose to the occasion, somewhat begrudgingly but with a general feeling that I was doing what was best for us. Now we were making choices on where to live and what house to buy based on me and my job. When the twins were born it would have been easier and more economical for him to stay home with them. But we couldn’t do it. Intellectually or emotionally. I knew I would resent him for being where I wanted to be, and he knew he would feel diminished in the role of SAHD, since he already feels like he had let me down by not making what he was when we decided to marry.
WOuld he be good at it? The dad part yeah, the stay at home part, not so much. He's a great Dad but the house would be a wreck, and I would feel even guiltier than I do now.
Nothing about this is easy.

5/25/06, 8:31 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

From one Working Mom with a SAHD to another - You're my peeps, Liz.

Management P.s.
If you ask me if my husband is "babysitting" his daughter, I may punch you in the face, you backwards hillbilly. He is Parenting his child.

5/25/06, 10:14 AM  
Blogger Tater and Tot said...

I think that it's great that a family who chooses to have a parent home is blessed enough to make that happen, regardless of whether it's the mom or the dad!

5/25/06, 10:38 AM  
Blogger Gurukarm Kaur said...

You know what's cool - it's the attitudes that are being demonstrated in all the above comments that will ultimately drive the situation for society to accept SAHDs equally with SAHMs, "working" dads, "working" moms (oh yeah, like it's not WORK to be home with the munchkins, haha!)

It's really just like what happened over several decades of feminism. Most people just accept that women can and do work outside the home, hold jobs that "only" men used to do, are smart, active, able...

Hopefully it won't take as many decades for most people to accept that dads don't "babysit", they "parent"! and some dads stay at home and some work outside the home while some moms work outside the home and some stay at home.

It's also the children of the brave and awesomely cool SAHDs who will help change that as they grow. "Yeah, my dad stayed home with me while my mom had a job. So?"

5/25/06, 11:49 AM  
Blogger Marie said...

This is a great post. My hub & I split the caring for our son, though I know he'd rather work FT. But I love love love seeing their closeness. And how well my hub knows his son & vice versa. Screw the general public. They're so clueless. Major peeve on the "babysitting" term too. It's mothering, fathering... parenting!

As they say Down Under, good on ya!

5/25/06, 11:58 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

What an excellent post. My husband stays home, too, and is constantly being asked what he *really* does. While our situation may be different from others, he *really* does take care of the kids AND me. (and that last one can be a real pain in his ass ;-)

5/25/06, 12:32 PM  
Anonymous standing still for once said...

Changing a dance always requires that someone do a different step. The other partners on the dance floor look at the two, figuring out their way in the new dance, and they say things like, "But, that's not the way we dance," or "She can't lead, my woman doesn't lead," or "I didn't know two men could dance together, I've never seen that done," or "My, no one seems to be leading, how could they be dancing." Then one day we all wake up, and there's a new dance in the repetoire, and no one is talking about it any more, because it's in the repetoire and it's part of what we all learn at dance school, and it's just another option for dancing. Dance on Dad and Mom and T!

5/25/06, 12:40 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Thank you for the eye opening post! I honestly hadn't thought about all these little details before, but I can see where the guilt and the frustration and the inequality comes in. Kudos to Nate for handling it well, and to you for bringing this to light! I would hear about a SAHD and think it was awesome, but would usually not think too far beyond that. Until I started reading your blog and learned you're the primary breadwinner and he's the one home with Thalia, the homemaker. I've often wondered what sorts of thought run through your head about the pigeonholes we're placed in as parents and how your roles as Thalia's parents are affected by that because they aren't mainstream. This post is so insightful and I find myself looking at SAHDs differently now. Not that I thought they were "substitute mommies" before, but I'll definitely be more conscious of their contributions now when I should have already been before.

5/25/06, 1:36 PM  
Blogger Karen Rani said...

What an amazing post. I can empathize with your guilt of being the working mom, I've been there too and I know exactly how you feel. Kudos to your husband for being the wonderful parent he obviously is, and kudos to you for recognizing it. I could really tell how proud you are of him for being the wonderful father that he is.

5/25/06, 2:13 PM  
Blogger Carrcakes said...

Both of your achievements inside and outside the home are remarkeable. It's a beautiful thing that you are teaching Thalia through your example that societal roles are not prescribed but rather subscribed to.

5/25/06, 2:41 PM  
Blogger Mega Mom said...

You really do have the best readers. Not only was your post insightful, but so many of the commentors really seemed to "get it". You often make me think about my family and our choices. Last night I played the "what if" game with my husband. If I had Oprah's job, could/would I have chosen to stay home? (Our answer, no, but he would've.) If I were Katie Couric and he, Matt Lauer, would either of us have stayed home? He insists I couldn't have continued to work (meaning, I'd have wanted to be home in that situation) and I think he was right.

At any rate, you seem like a WONDERFUL family. I respect your choices 100%.

PS--On the way to Nate's reveal? I caught a glimpse of the tatoo. Now I'm thinking Nick Lachey and Zach Braff.

5/25/06, 3:01 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

MegaMom: you took the words right outa my mouth, as Meatloaf once said. I'm so impressed with the discussion here. I tried getting Nate to read it but I got eyeroll #17843 in return.

Meanwhile, he's bearded, bespectacled and a little paunchy these days if that helps you form a new picture. Heh.

5/25/06, 3:06 PM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

You put that so well. My husband always said he'd be happy to stay home full time if I went back to work and watch our daughter. But I know and he knows how isolating and different it would be for him. You're right, he'd deserve a lot more credit. Whenever I complain that he doesn't take her out enough, he says "it's easier for you because you know other moms. I have to think up errands. And he's right." So props to Nate.

5/25/06, 3:27 PM  
Blogger J said...

Excellent post. Two things I wanted to comment, which are just agreeing with your post:

1. I HATE when I ask a man what he's doing that evening, and he'll say, "Babysitting". Are they your children? (yes) Are you getting paid? (no) THEN IT'S NOT BABYSITTING. And he's NOT helping mom. He's just doing his share. Whew. That felt good. Glad to hear that you have that stuff figured out in your house. We do, too. Too many don't.

2. With the men and should they be doing something else....yeah, this is a big one. My husband is very laid back, very feminist, very equal rights, etc., but he couldn't be a SAHD, I don't think. If he could, we would have two children now rather than one. But he went to school for a LONG time (two MA's and a PhD) in order to work, and staying home would have felt like giving up his dream. Nothing wrong with feeling that way, and nothing wrong with it if he had felt like he could stay home. But it's important to understand the issues in your own head and house, as much as you can.

Great post. Thanks. :)

5/25/06, 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

I have to be honest. I've never given that much thought to how people treat SAHD's. I've only known a handful, and not well, but I sure hope I didn't say anything that dumb.

5/25/06, 5:08 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

You know what gets me even more riled up than a working father saying he's "babysitting"? Or a stranger asking a father if he likes "babysitting" his own kids?

A mother saying she needs to arrange to have her husband to "babysit" her kids. His kids. Which I have definitely heard, more than once.

Anyway, this is an awesome post. I have been thinking a lot, for years, ever since I became a nanny in college, really, about how little our society values the work that goes into childrearing, and how pathological that attitude is. I would like to write a book about it, in fact, if I could climb out from under this mountain of laundry, and get my child to stop clinging to my leg whenever I try to use the computer . . .

(What is Nate doing? Hello? Only the most important job in the world, morons: parenting).

I do think working mothers have more guilt about working, from what I've seen, than working fathers do. Who knows whether it's cultural, biological, or both. But, I've said it before and I'll say it again: you're leaving him with one of the two absolute best "childcare providers" she could possibly have, which is all any of us could hope for for our children (short of having so much money both parents can stay home, of course).

5/25/06, 5:15 PM  
Blogger Bobita said...

You are brilliant. Make that BRILLIANT.

I have nothing more to say.

5/25/06, 5:25 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

While only about half of our gender's peergroup give backslaps for staying home with kids, men would be lucky if they get even a tiny portion of that for doing what Nate does. While society makes these men feel like ambitionless freaks (or they laud them with a kind of worship that looks as though men make a larger sacrifice of self by cargiving kids, we're fucked no matter what we do. If we stay at home we're servants with no brain. If we leave, we're selfish women who don't love their children.

We are a very confused society. Why not just give a high-five to whomever decides to devote time to childcare...regardless of their gender. And then do the same for the folks who earn the money. You're both good, caring parents and it shows.

5/25/06, 6:52 PM  
Blogger Rock the Cradle said...

As a fellow stay-at-homer, Nate has all my respect and sympathy. It can be lonely at times, and I can only imagine it must be more so for him.

Kudos to both of you for making it work.

Aside from that:

I just want you to know that I would never call Nate the mommy.

Your son, yes. I stand guilty, and throw myself on the mercy of the court.

5/25/06, 7:57 PM  
Blogger EmilyRoseJewel said...

Just popped over from my friend Ashley's blog. I just think that as long as either mom or dad is home with the kids it doesn't matter what the sex of the parent is. I commend him for stepping up. Being a stay at home parent is a tough job! I stay at home with my 9 1/2 mo. old son Justice. It is amazingly wonderful and challenging at the same time. Be sure to tell him each day what a great thing he is doing and to be proud he is investing his time with his child! Someone has to do what you do to keep the family running and allow someone to stay with your baby. You shouldn't feel bad, but feel proud you are supporting your family. Be blessed and stop by my blog if you get a chance, I would love to read more about how your baby is doing-ours are close in age.

5/25/06, 9:11 PM  
Blogger Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

I am clapping - can you hear me?

So true - I agree every with it all. And WAY TO GO!! to your husband. I have huge respect for stay at home dads. It takes a special dad to do it - none of the dads in our social group have done it. I don't think they could handle it really. Like you said, there is a ton of stuff going on - pressure etc. It is not easy.

so glad that it is working for your family.

5/25/06, 10:59 PM  
Blogger WyldJoker said...

Wow!! what a Great post! I agree with it all. I too have found myself struggling with the social norms while I stay at home and take care of the kids. It does make the job even more difficult then if "normally" done so by a mom. You and your husband are a true inspiration on making role reversals work in a world of cultural normalcies.

5/26/06, 12:29 AM  
Blogger ninepounddictator said...

I think i love your family! I think this is fantastic. And, you'd be surprised how many dads stay at home. I actually even have two friends where the dad wants to stay home.

I can completely understand why you might feel guilty. But, rest assured, every single mother feels guilty - no matter how much or how little time they spend. It's what makes us mommies!

I always am feeling guilty about something. I feel the same way when I come home and ask, "So has she slept? Did she eat?"

But you don't have to justify what you and your husband have decided. It's great. Love it. And, thank you for sharing!

5/26/06, 12:57 AM  
Anonymous chip said...

Over from RebelDads.

Thank you so much for this post. I was at home full time with my daughter for the first two years of her life, and I was not her mom, I was (and continue to be) her dad.

I love how you've laid it all out so clearly here. Thanks!!

5/26/06, 11:36 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

Whether they're a SAHD or not, I always hate to hear people say a dad is "babysitting" their own kids. Babysitting is something you do for other people's kids.

And my husband HATED being called Mr. Mom, or the babysitter, or any of it when he was a SAHD. He always told me about the strange looks he would get at the grocery store - like "that poor man, his wife must be dead or in rehab or something because WHY ELSE would he be left alone with a baby?!" It's hard enough to do that job without being judged.

5/26/06, 12:46 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

You hit the nail on the head whan you said that a Stay At Home Dad feels he SHOULD be doing something else - something more physically, mentally, and financially "manly".

Society tells him this. That's his internal struggle.

What you're feeling is INHERENT. It's MATERNAL. It's COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. You can't fight NATURE.

But, the bottom line is you've chosen to give your daughter the GIFT of having her parent with her all day instead of a stranger. Just because your guilt tells you it should be YOU doesn't mean it's true.

She is blessed.

5/26/06, 1:39 PM  
Blogger Christie said...

It was money that forced me back to work and my husband to stay home with our daughter. That was almost two years ago and it was one of the best decisons we've every made. Although I deal daily with the guilt of being away from my daughter, I know it's for the best. If only for the reason, that when it comes to her, he has the patience of a saint.
We've been blessed with wonderful family and friends who embrace our "lifestyle." But generations of tradition can't be erased overnight. I think the biggest obstacle has been helping my husband to deal with his own guilt and percieved failure. He's fine most of the time, but occasionally he'll comment about being the "sitter" or how he doesn't contribute to the household. I know he wouldn't think of me that way if our roles were reveresed. On these days, I struggle with helping him to remember that he has the most important job in our home. A job that I wouldn't trust to anyone else on this earth, being her Daddy.

5/26/06, 6:01 PM  
Anonymous kj said...

OK, I know, enough support already!

But I once overheard a friend say to her 6-year-old: "When Daddy does it, it's not called babysitting. It's called parenting."

At the very least, your kid will ALWAYS know it's a dual deal!

5/26/06, 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Mama C-ta said...

I don't have anything to add but just wanted to say this was a touching, brilliant post. I won't pretend to know what it feels like to be a SAHD or working mom but you seem to give me a good understanding. I know it must be hard at times. And at times I wonder if me staying home w/Cricket really is the best thing for him or not. Sometimes I think it would be better for Cricket if Sloth was a SAHD. Financially not an option though.

5/26/06, 10:49 PM  
Blogger wolfbaby said...

There is nothing wrong with stay at home parents, either male or female, what is wrong is people who sit in judgment when they haven't got a clue. I think its wonderful that your husband is taking an active roll like that and anyone who says anything about either of your guys choices should put their noses elsewhere. Who asked them? I may be a stay at home mom but my husband is the first in my girls life its all about daddy, which is ok by me, I'm just tickled that I got lucky enough to have a husband who it that active in our childrens lives.

5/27/06, 7:40 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Adam Smith said...

For a really interesting dialogue on this topic, see Half Changed World at http://www.halfchangedworld.com/2006/04/parenting_and_m.html

5/27/06, 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Nila said...

My pet peeve is when a father will say that he has to "babysit".

It's great that you're giving Thalia the gift of a parent at home, and you should be so proud that you're able to provide that. Way to go. As for the guilt, you would have it even if you were a SAHM. Motherhood is one big giant guilt trip

5/28/06, 12:12 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I came over from RebelDad as well, and don't have anything insightful to add, but wanted to thank you for the post. As another breadwinning mum (with a stay at home dad), I really enjoyed reading the post.

5/28/06, 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Dawn Isaac said...

That was a very good post! I love reading blogs because I get to see how other people view things.

For me the guilt has to do with my being a single mother. Jeremy is 5 and doesn't know his dad. I wonder sometimes if I made the right decision to not be with his dad. I know I did the right thing but it is just hard sometimes thinking about how that is going to affect my son. He has male role models though so that is very good.

6/1/06, 4:23 AM  
Blogger Overwhelmed! said...

Great post. I need to dedicate a post on my blog to my husband as well and, when I do it, I'd like to link this post in mine. Hope you don't mind. :)

6/1/06, 12:21 PM  
Blogger MommaK said...

Wow. I hate the comments I get and I'm a SAHM. I can't even imagine how bad it must be for your husband.

Great post! Perfect, actually :)
Congrats!

6/1/06, 8:19 PM  
Blogger RLGelber said...

Amazing post! ~*REALLY*~

6/2/06, 11:38 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

Looks like at last i found the post I was looking for ... how very well put ... I wonder if my wife has that understanding of the SAHD role ... well .. plus that we live in a country we both only speak like 10% of the language and I am the only driver & grocery shopper ... ah well ..

as to spicy food .. I found that our son is crazy when it comes to that ... recently he ate a whole 1oz bag of Herr's Red Hot chips (I think ernest Klein on 6th avenue still has those) .. i can hardly eat 3 of those chips .. he just gobbled them up ...

8/1/06, 3:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI. I work Mon-Fri, 35 hours, and my wife works every weekend, 12 hours each day, from before the kids are awake until it is time for bed, sometimes after they are in bed. I bring the kids to every birthday, I meet the other parents and I get the same thing... got stuck with the kids again huh? I love taking care of the kids all weekend because it gives me time to be with they and they know they can depend on me. I also appreciate all the things that my wife does all week. I get some grief from my family because during the week, I do the shopping, some of the cooking, get the kids ready for bed each night, and many other things to give her break since I know how tough it can be. Anyway, I think it's great that your husband stays at home with the kids, they will love it when they think back. Make sure you spend some extra time with just your little one when you get a chance, even if you are tired after work, so you can have special memories to last you both a lifetime.

1/16/07, 12:09 AM  
Blogger ann said...

For some reason, people feel it is necessary to dump their opinions on anyone who listens. And much of the time for a stay-at-home dad, it seems those opinions are aimed right at your forehead. Being a SAHD, although becoming more accepted, automatically makes you a bit of an outcast in the child-rearing world. It can be hard not to snap back or feel beaten down. But how well you handle such remarks can help you feel more comfortable in the role.

9/15/10, 2:46 AM  
Blogger ann said...

For some reason, people feel it is necessary to dump their opinions on anyone who listens. And much of the time for a stay-at-home dad, it seems those opinions are aimed right at your forehead. Being a SAHD, although becoming more accepted, automatically makes you a bit of an outcast in the child-rearing world. It can be hard not to snap back or feel beaten down. But how well you handle such remarks can help you feel more comfortable in the role.

9/15/10, 2:47 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I discovered your blog two hours ago and guess what I've been doing ever since? I've loved so much about so many of your posts, but this one brings me out of the lurking closet...

My husband is a SAHP (Stay at home Papa, lest he be SAHD) and every day when I come home and ask how his day was he responds, "best day of my life" which is, at once heartwarming (how did the girls and I get so lucky?) and heartwrenching (why can't I stay home and be able to say the same?)

It's remarkable, really, how far away from our parents' generation we've come--not better or worse, just vastly different. My parents and aunts and uncles stand with jaws agape as they look upon our homebirths, our SAHPs, our career-minded mamahoods--I could go on forever. And then, someone says to my husband, "And this okay with you?"

WTF? He just had the best day of his life!!! Still so many societal norms shaping our perspectives and threatening to rattle our confidence...

Thanks for all your great posts.

3/16/11, 1:12 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Really well put. For a variety of reasons, my husband ended up the Stay at home parent. You captured so accurately the feelings of guilt that come along with that for me, but also the complexity of the situation for him. Thank you. Thank you for the respect that you give to Stay at home dads and working moms alike.

8/30/13, 3:13 PM  

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