July 21, 2007

The Myth Of The Stay-At-Home-Dad: The Digested Read

Can I be frank and honest and open? The only happy stay-at-home dads are the bloggers. The rest are insecure, career-abandoning losers with no friends. So get some friends, you say? With a LinkedIn profile that says "SAHD"? Good luck with that. Honestly, it's no family secret that I'm the career-and-family expert around here. Still, I don't know what my husband's deal is, because we're not talking--not even in front of the sitter! And he clearly doesn't even bother reading my blog. Or my book, Or else why would he have dumped his career to "raise his kids"? Our kids, whatever. I can't pack a lunch worth a damn. And now he's talking about counselling and divorce. I'll be honest, because that's just what savvy business experts are: I didn't see that one coming.

"My own marriage and the myth of the stay-at-home dad," a recent post on Penelope Trunk's blog, Brazen Careerist, synopsized in the style of the original, with apologies to John Crace and the Guardian's The Digested Read. [via jason of ricedaddies]


What a nice woman! I can't understand why she'd be having marriage troubles.

You've got to love the irony of a career-focused woman hating a male homemaker. Take that, men!

Hi. Thank you for linking to Brazen Careerist even if you don't like the post.

I want to just clarify two things.

@Greg. I never said I didn't see the problem coming. We've been talking about it for years. This is the first time I wrote about it because from tons of interviews (as a journalist) I realized the problems of stay-at-home parenting are widespread -- not just one at my house.

@AgnesDad. I love my husband very much. That's why I'm writing about this. Because we are working very hard, together to figure out what to do since stay-at-home parenting didn't work. I think this is what a marriage looks like when things get bad as a result of career choices. And I think many marriages get to this point. Just not many people write about it. Probably because they have to endure posts like this one.


[on the contrary, people post about all kinds of personal and family difficulties all the time. I certainly wish you and your family no ill, but I also know plenty well that single blog posts are NOT accurate lenses for understanding what's going on in someone's life, even though that's what your "let's be honest here" style seems meant to convey.

It's possible to be honest and yet lack self-awareness, and it's possible to write in a voice that is different from your real-world personality. But I don't think you can write in a self-absorbed voice, claiming full candor and honesty, AND then take it as a personal affront when someone criticizes you. Why, at this very minute, I'm either a jaded, belligerent curmudgeon with a dwindling tolerance for nonsense, exacerbated by recent run-ins with the Terrible Threes, or I'm just writing as a cranky, unsympathetic jerk for callous entertainment. Oh wait, actually, those two aren't mutually exclusive. -ed.]

Gosh, why didn't I think of the "I am sooooo disorganized, I can't even make a box lunch" (or change a diaper, or give the kids a bath, or take them to school, or clean up the barf, etc., etc.) thing?
If I tried an excuse like that on MY spouse without a note from my Doctor explaining that I had end-stage Alzheimers, I'd be BEGGING for a divorce after the smoke cleared.
Of course, you can always look forward to your teenagers trying that strategery out on you ("but Mom, I don't know HOW to wash the dishes").
Yeah, good luck with that.

I can't speak for everyone, but I am totally loving the new badass take-no-prisoners greg allen.

Yeah, he's okay... as long as the Uma-posting one doesn't go away...

Greg, you nailed her voice in your synopsis. I'm impressed.

I hope that her husband doesn't read her blog, or at least has reached the point emotionally that her public insults and sneers can't touch him.

Maybe she doesn't realize how ugly and condescending she sounds toward him. (Somehow. Hopefully. And if so, hooray for going to counseling.)

Hope she manages to survive "enduring" this post.

And I wonder how her husband is doing "enduring" hers.

I'm with Dutch, I like the badass Greg Allen.

I'm just blown away by the attitude here. Does she really think this is all about "career choices?" I know a lot of men and women who've stayed home and (amazingly!) had their marriage stay together. My brother-in-law, who was home for almost 5 years pre-blogs, is my role model for staying home. My uncle stayed home in the 70s and has been married 45 years and counting (though he wrote a book about it, so maybe he doesn't count).

I've seen a lot of marriages break up both with and without kids, including my first one. But I think the common thread is communication problems, not stay-at-home parenting. Here's a communication tip: if you don't both agree that one of you needs to stay home then don't assume one of you will change your mind.

Now, can we talk about the terrible threes? It's awful, isn't it?

When someone asks me, “What does your husband do?”
I say, "I don’t know."

Holy crap. How can you respond that way and have mutual respect in your relationship? Being a SAHD is enough. It's enough. Regardless of the dad's other career aspirations, it's enough. Why respond that way to people? Yuck.

If that blog post had been written by a guy, I'd say he was an insensitive sexist pig. So I'm supposed to say it's HONEST because a woman wrote it? I'll stick with insensitive sexist pig, thanks.

Also, I think the All New! Badass Greg Allen is the result of dealing with the Terrible Threes. Your sympathy for bullshit is at an all-time low, because *someone* is trying to get over on you all the time, and throws screaming tantrums of the type they never stooped to when they were two when you call them on their BS. I know because we are in the midst of it, with the second kind. Oy.

It's easy to critique another person's marriage, but the SAHD piece is important. I know the easiest way to hurt my stay at home mother growing up was to say she had no job. It's imperative that stay at home parents be treated as equals with real, difficult jobs. My wife will demean what she does by saying she's unpaid. I correct her each time and point out that she makes exactly the same as I do each year, since I'm plowing everything I make into paying her...

This article was just cold and mean-spirited to me. I'm a SAHM. If my husband said he didn't know what I do, or considered himself ahead of me because I "abandoned" my career to raise OUR children, then yeah...there wouldn't be much talking in this house either.

Totally agree with previous 6 - I'm a SAHM, and would NEVER in a million years tolerate DH talking to/about me that way - and he NEVER would!

Good luck with the counseling - I hope it will work, but doesn't seem there's much of a chance without major change...

Like the new Greg, too.

People, you are missing some important details about Ms. Trunk:

-She used that name as a pseudonym and then CHANGED IT TO THAT NAME (or so she claims).
-Sadly, her child is autistic (there's an earlier post that mentions this). So her SAHD husband must be having a hell of a time.

So there's definitely a lot of tension in that house, obviously. But also a little nuttiness.

I know its a bit gauche to be gossiping about bloggers but hell, you put it online, we can talk about it.

I do hope it all works out for her and her blog isn't bad if you are having a weird time at work and vaguely fit her demographic.

[GTW mama drama -ed.]

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