Friday, January 27, 2012

Forget the Mommy Wars, Now We Have the Mommy vs. Daddy Wars

The other day, I somehow found myself in a discussion that began when one SAHM complained that her working father husband had been invited to join a working parents support group - and that group was meeting at a nice restaurant for lunch. Her issue? That she spent her time cleaning toilets and changing diapers, and she wouldn't mind a nice restaurant lunch.

And heck, according to her, her husband had no desire to be a stay at home dad. Implying, it seemed, the following question: Why would he possibly need to be involved in a working parents group anyway?

From there, various derisive comments were lobbied at any working parent (by which the participants pretty clearly meant dads) who might want to meet with other working parents (dads) to talk about what it's like working when you have kids at home, from a practical point of view or from an emotional one. The old trope working is so much easier - or, translated, it's easier to be a working dad than a stay at home mom - was trotted out. And various "fixes" were suggested... send the dads off to Chucky Cheese while the moms go to the nice restaurant, and so on.

My suggestion that a working dad might not be overjoyed to spend the majority of time away from his home and his family was also met with skepticism and, naturally, the working is easier cliche. Because dads have it so easy being the sole supporter of a family. Dads have is so easy missing milestones like their children's first smiles and words and steps. Dads have it so easy missing their partners and sons and daughters for the majority of their waking hours.

You know, because they get to eat lunch at a nice restaurant. Those selfish cads.


mommy wars


8 comments:

  1. I don't know... I guess I really don't "get" it either... if my husband could have time off for lunch, he'd come home. But then again, we live less than 5 miles from his work. We choose to live outside of a city and have a less-glamorous job and lifestyle so that we can enjoy these simple perks though. I think each situation is so very different though that no one should criticize someone else. If someone wants to go out to lunch and talk about kids, GREAT. At least he's not lunching with a hooker.

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  2. Your last line made me laugh!
    I think my issue is just that a lot of moms don't give dads credit for the fact that they might feel the same sad feelings as, say, a working mom like me about having to be away from their kids and homes. My own dad, a manly man family man with seven kids, would have loved to have been able to be a SAHD but he just couldn't. My ideal would be independent wealth - with the BabbyDaddy and I both home with the Babby, and that would be his ideal, too.

    At least for working moms like me, though, it's socially acceptable for me to complain about being away from my child - imagine a guy at a job complaining about how much he misses his kids every day and how he wishes he could spend more time with them. Ridicule city!

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  3. I wish more working dads were given the benefit of the doubt about their desire to spend more quality time with their families. The ugly image of the working dad enjoying cocktails after hours while the SAHM struggles to feed the kids and put them to bed or of him sneaking off to the gold course on the weekends instead of being with his family persists on tv shows and movies...so people believe the stereotypes. It goes back to Kramer vs Kramer. My husband has a working parent support group at work and he is the only male who signed up. What does that mean? That they aren't manly if they join or they don't care to discuss work/home balance? If the other dads keep away for fear of ridicule then they are just feeding into the stereotype.

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  4. I've never heard of a working parents support group. That aside, I agree with your take on this situation. My husband would love to spend his days with his daughters. If I could earn as much money as he does, it's quite possible he'd be the stay-at-home parent. Based on how eager my husband is to be with his girls when he gets home from work, I would say that going to work is far from easy for him. Not to mention that he has the stress of his job, in addition to the stress of being a working parent. When he gets the chance to go out to lunch with his colleagues, I am grateful that he is getting a relaxing break in his day. Trust me, I don't think that makes me some perfect person/wife/mom, either.

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  5. As it was on my Facebook thread which started this "debate" I wish to clarify. The original status was meant as a personal commentary NOT meant to apply to the society at large. Those who know me well knew that part of my tongue in cheek comment was directed at the (unstated in this status) craziness that is our family experience. Our days have , at one time or another, been filled with tube feedings and medications, speech and physical therapy and doctors appointments where you are told your child is going to most likely die. My husband has commented to me many many times that he would never be able to stay home and coordinate these day to day. He is an awesome, wonderful, supportive husband and father who does not desire to be the primary caregiver. In addition, he was the only father asked to be part of this group and was flummoxed by the fact that it was at a "fancy" restaurant. He would rather leave early to come home and spend time with his family than go out to a fancy lunch with a group of mothers he does not know. Looking back on it I can see that this struck a chord with some people who have issues in general with stay at home vs. working parent. Not everyone who read this knows us well and totally misinterpreted it and/or ran with it in their own direction to air their own "issues". Lesson learned.

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  6. I am pretty sorry I got so uppity about it - it wasn't really your comment that got to me, it was the total disrespect I saw in some of the commenters to fathers/partners/working parents. As if they do nothing but live it up at work all day. I guess people like to joke and let off steam, but really? The people who got my panties in a ruffle would not be able to live the lifestyles (SAHM, etc.) they do without the hard work their partners put in each day, away from home and family. To belittle that contribution, to talk about his easy it is, in my mind, is truly awful and makes it seem like dads/partners/working parents do nothing for families. I sincerely hope those people's husbands never saw that thread.

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  7. I have lived life as both a working mom with two little ones and a SAHM with three little ones. Both sides have their ups and downs, for sure. I can tell you for certain, I greatly appreciate the fact that I am at home while my hubs is working. We have had to make a lot of sacrifices so that the life we built on two incomes could cut back to just one. But my husband also has very unrealistic expectations from time to time about what I should be accomplishing while at home with our 3 kids 5 and under. While reading this post I thought "I WISH my husband would join a group like that" because right now, he gets so frustrated with me about all of the things I do wrong in his opinion. It would be nice for him to commiserate with other dads and realize I am not the only SAHM who does not have the house in perfect condition every day, who feels exhausted beyond belief by the time daddy gets home, etc, etc... and maybe then he wouldn't get so upset with me!
    That doesn't mean I am not appreciative of him... I just wish he would appreciate me a little bit more too. And if joining a lunch group is what would do it, by all means, I am FOR it. Of course, with my luck, all of his buddies would have perfect wives, and next thing you know not only would he expect the house and kids to be perfect, he'd want me to fit in a workout every day too!!! LOL.

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    Replies
    1. Great point!! But don't forget, working parent groups aren't just for dads - I'm pretty sure the moms in the group would set him straight!

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