May 4, 2009
I’m quoted on dads as primary caregivers in nationally-syndicated advice columnist Amy Alkon’s new column Harried, with Children. Alkon, whose columns appear in 100 newspapers, begins with a letter from “Stay-Late-At-Work Dad,” who writes:
Women complain about how hard it is being a stay-at-home mom. After getting divorced, I discovered I could clean the entire house in a few hours…Men work long hours to support their families, only to be told they aren’t doing enough around the house. I think being a mom is important and value stay-at-home moms, but let’s talk turkey about who really has the hard job, okay?
Since I describe myself as “BARREN!” I sought informed opinions about the difficulty of the mom portion of the stay-at-homer’s chore chart.
“People in general seem convinced that stay-at-home moms get a raw deal and work much harder than breadwinner dads,” said Glenn Sacks, executive director of Fathers & Families. “Having been a stay-at-home dad with two kids during the years when they need the most intensive care, I can tell you that this is nonsense.”
And no, he didn’t just jam a bottle in the baby’s mouth and turn on the ballgame. “Even though I’m just a guy,” Sacks said, “I actually figured out how to get my daughter in the car and get her to her doctor appointment.”
As readers know, many years ago I had the rare and wonderful opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad with my baby daughter and my son for three years. I worked in the evenings and was with my daughter from 6 AM to 5 PM from the time she was 6 weeks old until she went to preschool at age 3. I’ll refer the small minority of readers who want to hear me babble on about my daughter to my column An Ode to My Daughter on Her 10th Birthday (World Net Daily, 6/14/08).
Back to Alkon:
Stay-at-home moms, on the other hand, aren’t saying “If only I had a nice cushy job like ditch-digging” What those I spoke with find hardest is only having the company of a 3-year-old all day, a companion whose intellectual interests are limited to answering questions like “How many fingers is this?” and “What does the cow say?” (Mommy somehow avoids throwing herself on the floor and screaming, “The cow says, I went to Yale for this?! I went to Yale for this?!'”).
I do agree with the women quoted above that being alone in the company of a small child can be boring. I suppose my problem was that I was so in love with my little girl that just looking at her and being with her was always sweet. Plus, she and I used to do a lot together–we’d go for bike rides and to the park, go to Home Depot and the store, etc.
I suppose one thing that made it different for me was that I never expected to have this opportunity, knew it would be short, and thus savored it, instead of seeing it as a burden or as limiting.
Women love their children, but an increasing number seem to hate being mothers like never before. It doesn’t help that many are perfectionist in a way men generally aren’t, like with a housecleaning regime right out of Joan Crawford’s crazy scene in the bathroom in “Mommie Dearest.” They’ll beg their husband to pitch in, and when he does, screech that he’s doing it “wrong.” Well, ladies, if you absolutely, positively must have it your way, there’s a single best person to accomplish that.
I agree completely, and the above is a major cause of household conflict and divorce.
Amy’s column can be seen weekly here.