A little bit of something

Back home again, weathering that odd shift from one time zone, place and job to another.  It always throws me for a loop- a rapid change in expectations and pace. The first day home from a trip is almost always a complete loss. I get up at the wrong time, I’m hungry at the wrong times, and I feel oddly out of place in my own home.  Joe and the girls have always come up with their own systems while I’m gone, and while I’m mostly over it (if by "over it" you understand that I mean that I spend the day turning the upside-down coffee cups in the cupboard the right way around again) it still shocks me when I get home, open the fridge and discover that we’re keeping the cranberry juice on another shelf now.
(Why, yes.  I am resistant to change? What tipped you off?)

I find it so hard,  this one day, the day I come back and start unpacking, I always feel a little like I’m in no-mans land. Some weird limbo where nothing is sorted away or home, and I do the laundry, and turn cups around, and put the cranberry juice back where we keep it, sort out the mail and find out what I missed while I was gone, and struggle with the guilt. Today it was triggered by someone who asked me, straight out, if it bothers Joe that I go away like I do, leaving him with all the work.  

Begin Rant.

It’s the curse of a mother I think, that if I don’t earn a living I would feel guilty- but if I leave the house to do it I feel guilty.  Sensing a theme? I used to think that this guilt was self imposed, that it came from within me, and that if I could stop spreading it on my own toast that it would stop being true.  I did a lot of work on myself to put my guilt in the right place.  I reminded myself that although I do travel a lot, I’m home a lot.  When I’m not travelling I work from home, make breakfast and dinner, am here when people come home from school… participate at least as much, if not more than I would be able to if I had a 9-5 job and was out of the house every day. 

Over the last year, I’ve realized something. It’s not me.  Well, more accurately, since I have some issues remaining, it’s not ALL me.  Society at large does still have different standards for mothers and fathers.  Joe travels for work, and nobody’s ever suggested to him that he not do it, or that as a father, it’s inappropriate that he does.  Nobody ever asks him if he feels guilty or bad about being away, and there’s something to that question isn’t there? If you’re asked if it bothers you to be away, isn’t the insinuation that it should? How about if someone says "I could never be away from my kids" doesn’t that imply somehow that the fact that you do it means that you’re a little dead inside?

I think a lot about the things I hear and see around me.  The way that people think Joe’s an absolute rock star for managing the family while I’m away, but have never complimented me on my ability to manage that same family without him… The way that people tell me that their husband/friend/father is fantastic because he "helps with the kids so much" or is great about helping them with the housework.  (Implication being, of course, that childcare and housework belongs to the female partner, and that the male’s just a peach for assisting.)  I hear my friends and neighbours talk about how great it is that their male partner is "going to try to do more"… and just a few weeks ago I heard a father I know say that he couldn’t go out for a beer because he had to "babysit."
(You can imagine my shock when it turned out that he hadn’t taken a wee job to pick up some extra cash providing caregiving… but was in fact referring to HIS OWN CHILDREN.  His wife was going out and he was staying in.  Apparently that’s babysitting, not parenting. Feel free to imagine my reaction.)

In any case, I’m not sure where I’m going with this, except to say that it annoys me a bit.  My absences seem to be constantly viewed with skepticism, and weighed in the cosmic balance sheet of whether or not I’m a good mum, with no apparent points granted for having been a stay-at-home parent for years and years and years, or no credit given for the choices I made about how much money this family would have when the girls were little so that they would have a full time parent instead.  My girls are big, I’ve waited a long time to have a career, and I have an excellent spouse who has loads of absences himself, including wicked long hours worked when I am home to spell him. We both work hard.  We’re both good parents,  our children are pretty grown up, and our system is pretty equal, all things considered – so why is the public view so often that he’s rocking it out, and I’m self serving – or more properly, why is it so much easier to be a dad than a mum, or a man in the workforce than a woman? Why do people still go into a home and decide, if there just so happens to be roaming dust bison or a mystery smell emanating from the fridge, that the adult family member who doesn’t have a penis might want to get it together?  Why- in my whole life have I never seen anyone walk into a messy home and decide in their hearts that maybe the husband needs to keep the sink a little shinier, rather than passing judgment on the wife?

These are old arguments, and old complaints, and really I’m not sure why I’m still bothered by it.  You’d think that at this point in my life I’d be used to people frowning when dads do their fair share while mums do theirs, but apparently I’m not quite over it.  You’d think I’d have accepted by now that the way we view mums and dads is essentially skewed.

I guess my point is that it’s a bad day to tell me that your husband is going to babysit your own children, or that he’s pretty good about helping with the housework, or that mums who sacrificed at least a decade of career to raise children and are now working their bums off to provide the bulk of their families income while being a parent and doing a whole lot of laundry still aren’t doing enough to get the credit a dad gets just for breathing right. 

To answer the original question, do I think it bothers Joe that I go away and leave him with all the work?  No.  I think he’s grateful, and that he think things are even, and that he and I and I are modelling for our daughters the way things can go in a family if people accept that dads are worth as much as mums (and the other way around) and that I’m as responsible for this families bottom line as Joe is the sink and kids orthodontist appointments.  Do we wish that was possible without anybody travelling for anything? Yup- but we’re all here when it matters, and we’re a team.

End Rant.

743 thoughts on “A little bit of something

  1. I had to break my mother of the habit of saying that a dad was “babysitting”. Is it babysitting when I am with our kids? It isn’t when the dad is the kids either. I hear you!

  2. Bravo, Stephanie! Bravo!
    When my husband was the stay-at-home parent, we got similar raised eyebrows, despite the fact that he was the better suited parent for it temperment-wise, and I had the higher wage-earning potential. We shrugged it off coming from relative strangers, but it was harder when it was (thinly disguised) coming from family.

  3. Rant on! So true! We’ve come along way but full equality in the eyes of others-no. Men can be taught to do most household chores! Just keep on,

  4. I live in a rural county in Virginia, USA. When I was first married, I took a creative writing course at the local community college. One of the first classes, an older man walked up and, as way of a conversation starter, said “What does your husband think of you taking a night course?”
    And I answered “It is my money that paid for the course, and it is my time that is invested in the course, so my husband’s opinion really does not matter.”
    And that man never spoke to me again!!!
    I so totally agree with you.

  5. I am SO with you on that one!!!!!!!!!!!! And since when do men “babysit” rather than parenting their own children??? Grrrr….Last winter, a -35 day, I had to tell a “dad” that his wee infant had to be put in the car before the *&?@ groceries…the baby, about 4 months old was bare handed…no little mitts. *sigh*

  6. Oh…I’m so right there with you on this! From the Dad “babysitting” to me being a “bad wife” because my husband irons his own shirts and knows how to cook and work the washing machine. It’s not you, it’s the world. I was thinking about you traveling so much though; but I was wondering how YOU were feeling about being away from home so much because I knew that you had a husband at home and pretty much grown kids to keep the home fires burning– but traveling and adjusting to time zones can be really rough. Perspective.

  7. Thank you for speaking up. These sentiments need to be spoken again and again, until enough folk ‘hear’ it. Team work is what makes a family a family, no matter who does what job, everyone needs to work together. Bravo for speaking out and putting all this on the table, for discussion.

  8. That “skew” is male privilege and the effects that our society has when rooted in privileges like that. Most people don’t see it. But at least your husband is awesome.

  9. Add me to the list of people who agree with you on all of this!
    This quote from Golda Meir always resonated with me when my kids were young and I was working outside the home:
    At work, you think of the children you have left at home.
    At home, you think of the work you’ve left unfinished.
    Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself. Your heart is rent.

  10. Oh, I so hear you and completely agree!
    My kids are 22 and 19. They’re off at college. I put my career on hold to raise them, mostly by myself. Now…. it’s time for me to “catch up”, and I have a lot of catching up to do.
    Very well said, Steph! Thank you!

  11. Amen, sista! I, too, am frequently irritated by the same social “standards”…especially that babysitting thing!

  12. My husband puts the cups in the cupboard upside down too and of course that must be fixed!
    On all points- agree.

  13. Yes. Exactly. I’ve had to explain to the husband here that people will not come into our home and think he is a lousy housekeeper when they see his messes, but it will be all my fault. And that’s why I prefer he not leave his messes. 🙂 I don’t think he’s got it yet though. I could go on, but you’ve covered my thoughts perfectly well in your rant. 🙂 Thanks for expressing them.

  14. 30 years ago a pen pal of mine lived in Turkey. We had a lot in common. We both had two young daughters. When I mentioned the father “babysitting” his kids and she said she had the same problem getting her husband to help. Here’s what she told him. “I didn’t bring the girls with me in my suitcase when I married you”! Children, house, jobs, we all do what we can and must and society can take a hike if it doesn’t like it!
    But you do say it better! LOL

  15. Right on, Stephanie!
    After my husband retired from the Navy and we moved back East, I took a job that required a lot of traveling. If anyone asked me about how my husband felt about being left with the house and 2 teen-age sons, I said, “Turn-about’s fair play. I took care of the house and kids while he was out to sea for months at a time, and now it’s my turn.” That always shut the person up.

  16. Bravo.
    I think it may be like hostage syndrome — you know, when prisoners come to identify with their captors?
    Whatever happened to the “click” article that Ms magazine published back when I was young — anyone have a copy?

  17. Bravo!! Love your perspective. Could you clone Joe (or at least his view of a partnership) and rent him out for lessons?

  18. Rant on! I’m so glad to hear someone else thinks “babysitting” your own kids isn’t babysitting, it’s parenting! My sister says things like “I have to see if my husband can babysit the kids so I can go to the store with you” and I say “WTF? They are his kids, just say I’m going to the store.” Ugh. This is exactly one of the reasons why I don’t have kids.

  19. I’m with you!
    “One should respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.” ~
    Bertrand Russell

  20. My husband and I are expecting our first child in February of next year. Much like Kimberlyn’s family, he will be staying at home with the baby and I will be going back to my full time job after maternity leave. It just makes sense for us, on many levels. Yet when I tell people that, they almost always respond, “Good for him!” Like it’s some sort of feat to be a stay at home parent now, but only if you’re a man. I suppose that’s the opposite of what you’re ranting about, but either way it’s the result of a society hung up on gender roles. Why can’t we all just agree to be good parents whether we work in the home or out of it, no matter if we’re the mom or dad?

  21. Couldn’t have said it better myself. (I’ve tried on numerous occasions.) The only household job that requires a penis or a vagina is getting the kids in the first place. After they’re here, it’s all up for grabs.

  22. Rant on and on and on. This can’t be said often enough!
    Being on the later side of 60, I have spent my adult life with these comments and like you, did a lot of work on myself to get past the traditional ( if not real bright ) remarks aimed at a working wife and mother. A woman’s work is never done and that includes straightening out old attitudes and concepts.
    There doesn’t need to be any sexist division of labor once the kids are born. It should all stop in the delivery room!
    When I worked in a nursing home, there was a rule that if you find the mess ( you know what type being referred to here ) – you own it and you clean it up. This rule has worked well at home for both good and bad things so the fun as well as the work is spread evenly to all.

  23. I wouldn’t want to be an adult male who is seen as so helpless that he can’t survive doing what a lowly little female is required to do perfectly.

  24. Apparently many have the same opinion as me…AMEN! I could rant with you about this for days.

  25. Hear! Hear! My thoughts pinned down so exactly that I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m a mom of 4 who travels for work (the horror! I know) I’m tired of feeling guilty too.

  26. Oh man! I am so glad that you articulated this because it has long been my belief that women/mothers are totally short changed in the respect arena in favor of men/dads who “help” with the house work by wiping the table after the mother shops for, prepares, serves, puts away leftovers, washes dishes, etc. for the meal…what a crock. Women deserve just as much of a chance as men to work outside the home (if that’s what makes them happy and fulfilled) and travel, and take classes and shop sans kiddos…Wow…I guess I’m ranting too. Anyway–Well Said Ms. Pearl-McPhee!!

  27. This is absolutely brilliant and exactly what I have thought on countless occasions in the two years since my daughter was born (albeit in a much less eloquent way). Bless you for saying it – if more of us said it more often, perhaps things would begin to change.

  28. We raised a beautiful developmentally disabled daughter to be a wonderful adult. It wouldn’t have happened if we stopped to consider what a “Mum’ or “Dad” did. We were parents and did what parents do and we don’t regret it for one moment.

  29. Sing it, Sistah! I’ve often said that I never once heard anybody say that my husband “certainly keeps a nice house.”

  30. There are so many versions of this truth you speak of in your post today. My personal struggle is that, since I don’t have children and the work I do is unpaid, I’ve been informed that I don’t work.
    I do work. I foster kittens. I take the little creatures who have no mother and feed them every 4 hours when they are still on the bottle. I wipe and bathe dirty bottoms. I medicate. I attend to their social needs. I work more than 8 hours a day, with tons of little creatures depending on me for their very lives. But when I was on jury duty a few years ago, a fellow juror informed me that, because I did not draw an income, I did not work. Society has this version of what is “right” or “moral”, and it’s imposed on everyone. In my case, I offer an alternate reality. My husband earns enough for both of us to have what we need. There is a high unemployment rate now, and while I have an education and am a very reliable, employable person, I am choosing to not take an income from someone else who might need it. Instead, I donate my time to organizations who can’t afford the kind of help I provide, but need it desperately. I use my “unusual” situation to try to teach others that maybe, just maybe, there is more than one right way to live life.
    I’m not sure if my perspective helps you, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s great that you and Joe are equal partners. I can’t figure out why it matters to others which genitalia each of you have, but it doesn’t to me.

  31. Amen, sister. Seriously. In our house, I get a night “out” a week…which translates into having dinner alone without having to share my meal with our 3 year old. On those nights, my husband does not babysit. You cannot BABYSIT your own children. Are we in the 1950s? Since when is it acceptable to allow your grown man stop having responsibility when he gets home at the end of the day? No, sir. I clean up after my children b/c they aren’t old enough to do it entirely on their own. I don’t clean up after my 31 year old hubby…he can wipe his own butt, therefore he’s capable of sharing the chores.
    Thank you for this post. It’s nice to know we’re not alone!

  32. Well stated of course Stephanie. But I can’t help thinking that we do it to ourselves too. Like you, I was a stay-at-home mother for many years, then a student, then a woman with a career who had to travel away from home now and then. I carried guilt in my baggage alll the way. As a stay-at-home I felt guilty because I wasn’t making a financial contribution, as a student because I was taking time out for me, as a worker because I wasn’t always around when my husband/children needed me. Guess what? We all survived, we all grew as a result of accepting our share of responsibility and we are all friends. The expectations didn’t come from others, they came from within. High achievers expect a great deal from themselves and feel guilty when they fall short. Well, you aren’t falling short at all. You are exceeding the mark set by those whose opinions seem to pass judgement on you. Don’t do it to yourself and be very happy that your family don’t do it either. Drop that bundle and enjoy your achievements.

  33. Yes, I am right there with you. Now for just a mini-commenter rant. I was in a store today and overheard another customer tell a shop employee, “… Mine is taking off for 2 weeks. I am really unhappy about it. I’m not going to have any help for 2 weeks.” At first I thought she was talking about her husband, then realized she used the word “mine” in reference to a paid employee (housekeeper? babysitter?). I found the whole thing so distasteful that I am still fuming. End rant.

  34. Yes. What you said there. I abhore when men tell me they are babysitting their own children. So much implication of lack of responsibility about their own progeny.

  35. We’ve been living it (all that is included in your rant) for years; however, helpful to hear it one more time. Out loud.
    Should we become complacent, we know you’ve got our backs.

  36. I was in an auto accident (Pickup, actually) and suffered a compression fracture of my 6th cervical vertebra – essentially a broken neck. This happened July 10. I am forbidden to drive, ride in a car unless necessary, lift my arms above my head, carry anything heavy, cook, clean, wash/dry/iron clothes. My husband finds me demanding when I explain that I really like my food cooked in a way not to his liking (eg. microwave eggs vs. scrambled on the stove.) He makes cracks about how my friends have slacked off on providing meals for us. And how he does not like their food, should they bring a fish dish, or something with bell peppers, spinach, etc. Steph, I hurt for you, with all your insensitive “friends”. They don’t get it. You are a rock star of a mother and wife. (And I’m sorry, I just had a hurtful moment here at my house. I needed to vent. Delete this if you want. I totally understand.)

  37. You go girl (do people still say that?)! Similarly to Barbara I above, I have no children (although I have my own business). My particular rant is when people ask me whether I regret not having had kids. Same moral judgment about how I must be dead inside.

  38. I can’t get over the guilt that women as so attacked by. Guilt for every move that we make and for every move that we don’t make. I believe that the guilt comes from thousands of generations of females being told to be good girls and to please everyone. It hurts us when we can’t, even when we know we don’t need to.

  39. I love this rant. Women working outside of the home is something that families have depended on for a long time. The “ideal” 1950s housewife is an aberration, not the natural order of things.
    More power to you and Joe for sharing the running of a household and showing your daughters how a marriage works.

  40. When my husband does stuff around the house, he always tells me in detail what he has done. When I do it, I don’t say a word- you are right- Society’s expectation is that the woman is the one who is responsible. Thanks for writing such a well worded “rant” and expressing feelings that I have. You have an awesome relationship if you and Joe have the attitude that you have towards sharing the household and the girls. The only thing that saves me is that my kids are like you too. They do not assume that the woman’s role is the house etc. etc. Hurray for my childrens’ generation!!

  41. Been working on this rant internally and externally for about 50 years. Bottom line is I think our son feels both parents have special skills in relation to him, the work world and our home. Plus, he seems to have very few gender hang-ups and thinks girls or women can do anything he can do – he expects it. We call our parental style “tag team parenting”. And tag, you’re the IT, whenever the other parent reaches the bottom of the energy. tolerance or time available barrel. Sometimes I get a little surly when asked, “what do I do with all my time?” My answer is, “I’m a pediatric brain surgeon. And you?” That’s when I forget my Scot Gran’s admonition “to do everything in your life with a little grace and dignity.” Sometimes, you have to rant.

  42. How about this one: one of our two children is disabled, and my husband has actually gotten props more than once for NOT abandoning his family “because so few guys can really deal with that.” Fortunately, my husband is an adult and holds himself to adult standards, and I love him for that in many contexts, but honestly. What on earth kind of gender statement is THAT?

  43. I choose to work from home precisely because my husband works 10- to 12-hour days. It allows me to help provide income for my family AND be there all the time. But my work tends to be negated, because I’m not outside the home and have some flexibility in my schedule. While I appreciate both of those aspects of my work, I’m tired of people discounting what I do because it’s not 9-to-5 and I can’t easily define it as “I work in sales for the BigBox Corporation.” If my husband’s job was less demanding, I could go back to my previous full-time job making three times the money.

  44. Another liberated rebel here. With the first baby I was the stay at home parent with the second he was. Fair doos it took two to tango to create the sprog so we both had to shoulder our load when they were too little for nursery or child care.
    Hats off to those who can stay at home and can manage the economics of having one at home parent. For many like us we need the double income to pay the bills and pay for the essentials like food and shelter. I think full time parents are doing the hardest job of all and are the most undervalued by society.

  45. Yes!
    My DH and I manage to share most of the household tasks so we try to be good models for our kids…. But if he takes all 3 kids to the mall by himself, people stop him, actually stop him, to tell him how impressive that is. What?!!

  46. Well said!
    My husband and I don’t have any kids, but he is definitely home more, so he cleans and cooks FAR (FAR) more than I ever do. But why wouldn’t he? Why should I work all day and have to make dinner for my husband who is home all day being a student? If I was home, it would be me doing most of the household duties.
    Oh, and you should SEE me when I cook. It’s a catastrophe. I don’t do it for a reason.
    And along with gender stereotypes, I have been profiled as more “housekeeping capable” than my coworkers and jobs I’ve had, just because I’m a woman. I currently work with 10 men and 3 women, and I am asked to clean up the kitchen regularly, while none of the men are. Not too long they asked me to cut up vegetables for a bbq we were having at work and I had to ask someone how to cut an onion. Things have settled down since then. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m the best pick for keeping home at the office.

  47. My husband NEVER wanted me to work. I had to work just to make ends make it half way,,never mind meet.
    Now I am out of work and he is glad and sad at the same time. He is now the one wondering just how to feel. He needed and still needs the help but at the same time, he is glad I am home. Go figure….

  48. You’re still bothered by old arguments and complaints (as am I) because they’re still present and even pervasive! Rant on, I say, and thank you for the wonderful example you provide to your daughters and other people (of any gender).

  49. okay, so back to knitting…i’m the one doing the seven pair of socks by (let’s say) December 15, my self-imposed deadline, for the sister-in-law’s office staff gifts. we LOVE sister-in-law, and a bigger sock fan there could not be. i MADE myself finish a cardigan out of Bartlett blackberry, and it actually FITS. so happy. but now that cardigan is done, it’s a one-way ticket to sockville. i’m using a christmas self-striping to get myself in the yuletide mood. i took SOCK THE FIRST to aunt and uncle’s house in atlanta and explained approximately 900 times what i was doing. but i feel encouraged at how fast the first sock went. (2×2 ribbing, don’cha know.) QUESTION: how are you deciding how long to make the socks? a person with size 5 feet and a more intelligent person like myself with say, size 9 feet are a far cry from each other lenthwise. what to do?

  50. This is the 21st century. You are allowed to travel for work, and let your husband do his share of responsibilities at home. He is not complaining, and neither are your mostly adult children. If this is coming from inside your head, laugh and let it go. If it is coming from someone else, tell them to mind their own business. You are just fine.

  51. Just posting to say that I’m one of the sisterhood. My husband has been home with the kids (no paid work) for three years while I’ve earned all the money. It wasn’t our first choice, but there it is.
    Our division of labor comes from my deciding “the house is your area” and turning a blind eye to the messes and making gentle suggestions that the toilets need cleaning while I’m away.
    He cheerfully shops and cooks and does homework with the kids– we all have our thing.
    I’ve always been proud that I support my family. I can’t wait to see how my now little kids process that in their lives!
    I read once that men get very sentimental about their families when they get old and retire — primarily because they weren’t there for the day-to-day, whereas many women are happy to say goodbye to all that.
    Happy to read the experience of someone else in the same boat who is chased by the same demons.

  52. Yes yes yes yes YES. I remember when our first was born at a family gathering, my husband’s aunts going on and on about how amazing he was because he CHANGED A DIAPER. Meanwhile I hadn’t slept in weeks and was dealing with yeast in the breast which made every single feed of my newborn a painful nightmare. But he – HE was the amazing parent. I was just doing what I was supposed to do, and furthermore I should feel GRATEFUL because THEIR husbands never helped out – boy, I must have it really easy with such an amazing, diaper-changing husband! Argh, argh, a million times ARGH.
    Thank you for ranting on this. Clearly I can relate.

  53. You go sista!!
    You are doing a fabulous job and something you didn’t mention is long distance travel is a royal pain in the ass now days.

  54. Oh man oh man. (woman, oh woman?)
    I kept hoping that in the *21st century* we wouldn’t still get asked stuff like this.
    Both of you are excellent role models and you should just ignore the questions. (I know I know)
    As to cranberry juice on the right shelf? I hear you. As a librarian, I tell my family think of it as “refrigerator as library”, if things don’t go back where they came from, I can’t find them when I need them.

  55. You are so right. It’s even worse when society lauds the single dad who raises his kids alone, but thinks a single mom is somehow lacking in oh so many ways.

  56. My ex-husband used to tell me he’d washed the dishes FOR ME. I guess he was practicing for eventually washing them for himself. I don’t miss him.

  57. well said, thank you. I agree with a previous commenter: you/we say this, and need to keep saying this, until people start to notice and pay attention.

  58. No matter what, someone will always question your choices. Sometimes they will have the gall to do it to your face. Sometimes they will have the unmitigated call to announce their opinions of your choices on Facebook. (Wait, are we still talking about you?)
    Your family, your choices, you work it the way it works for you. You can drag the neanderthal to the enlightenment but you can’t make him/her partake.

  59. Stephanie, I read your blog all the time but have never commented. THIS post, oh, girl!! You so hit a deep, knarly, festering sore spot in my soul. The disparity is amazing… still… after all these years. I’m a decade older than you… and, I keep hoping. In the meantime, AMEN and you keep on keeping on!!

  60. What’s particularly depressing is that I’ve been hearing these excellent arguments since at least 1872.

  61. Well said – I don’t have kids but I’m still always surprised at how other people know what’s best for someone else’s family.
    Bottom line – what works for the family and their happiness is all that matters!

  62. Brava! That said, when I see how much my brother-in-law travels for work, I often tell my husband that I couldn’t handle it if he did likewise! And we don’t even have kids!!!

  63. This is very strange for me, because I’m about to lose my job and I’m faced with the prospect of becoming a stay-at-home mom. I feel like I should be happy about this (in fact it’s what I really want), but I feel guilty that we won’t have more income and feel like I won’t be doing enough to support my family.
    Perhaps it’s another aspect of the same problem: work normally associated with women like child rearing, house management and cooking isn’t really considered “work”.
    I think of how lucky you were to get to stay at home and raise your kids and think that if you can do it on a budget, then so can I and that there will still be time for me to pursue a career later on.
    Thanks for giving me some hope.

  64. My husband is always justifiably insulted when people say he’s babysitting. Many times, I believe he is more capable than I am at parenting the little ones. We are so grateful that I work 7-3 and he works 3-11 so we both do everything equally: Parent,clean house, etc.) Actually, he does more laundry, woohoo!

  65. I wonder if things will ever change. I’ve had thoughts like these my whole adult life & reassured myself with the thought that those of my generation were enduring the not always so subtle digs about leaving our children & being selfish for working (as if that measly child support was enough to actually support any children) so that our daughters would have more freedom & less discrimination. But things seems as bad as ever (just like I thought that after Roe v. Wads the issue of a woman’s right to control her body was settled once & for all – neever thought it would be such an issue for girls my daughters’ ages [& now my granddaughter]). Very depressing.

  66. I do think that small bolts of lightning should hit those dad’s that say they can’t do something because they have to “baby sit”. I thought I had done something right when my children told their grandmother how hard I had to work when their dad was away. Because they noticed and because they knew their dad was a great dad. All of this was in another era – forty years ago.

  67. This is one of the reasons we work so hard to raise girl children to be strong women, so that they may stand up in the face of societal norms and all of the attendant self-righteous attitudes to forge a balanced, satisfying life for themselves. Your girls are lucky that you and Joe are strong and do model these behaviors for them. Brava! And may theirs finally be the generation that does not have this burden.

  68. Thank you. I needed someone to say all that, I’ve been a SAHM for 6 years now and it tears me up inside that I want to work but know that at the time it has been better (more economical) that I don’t. Thank you for making me not feel bad for wanting to participate in the financial more and expecting my husband to do his equal share because he should. Thank you, I really needed to read this, Thank you.

  69. Preach it, Sister Steph!
    I’ve never had kids of my own, but I’ve seen too many friends whose husbands are so detached from raising their children and helping around the house that I swear they need to be reintroduced every time they came home. Then they take offense to being asked to take out the trash! No wonder so many marriages end in divorce.

  70. Rant on. I’m not a wife, or a mom (hopefully I will be someday) but I know that in my family my mom stayed home, and dad wasn’t capable of managing the home when she was gone, so she didn’t get to go do things like sock summits or cool trips or to see her family without dragging small children along. I don’t think it was a good way to do things. I know my mom didn’t resent her position, but I think she could have been happier and I know that I would not even consider entering into parenthood with someone who was as un-capable of childcare as my father. Sure my parents did the ideal thing according to society, but it sure didn’t provide an ideal home atmosphere. It could have been worse, but it also could have been better if my parents had acted more like partners.

  71. It is hard. I love working! I love my job! But, still I feel guilty because my house is not perfect. Thanks for putting it out there.

  72. I “opted” to quit my day job to stay home and raise our children. Some people I knew praised our decision, stating that all children should be raised by their mothers, blah, blah, blah. At the time, several women I knew completely belittled me for this decision. Next I “opted” to get out the national guard so that I couldn’t possibly be deployed at the same time as my husband, (also in the national guard)which would leave my girls in someone else’s care entirely and possibly orphaned. I enjoyed being with my girls and wouldn’t trade that time with them for anything in the world, but it still bothers me to no end that the question of my DH quitting his job, or deciding against re-enlistment in the guard never arose. It was just automatically assumed that I’d give up my outside choices and put everything on hold until later. I’d go back to work later when they were all in school. However, while the girls were still young I was diagnosed with M.S. Far and away the worst issue with my M.S. is fatigue. Mind-numbing, aching fatigue. The thought of going back to work combined with taking care of the house and girls was overwhelming. Eventually, at the suggestion of quite a few people, I called to inquire about possibly getting disability for my M.S. I was denied and the reason was that I’d “Not been a contributing member of society”. WTF? How is spending time with your children devalued to this extent? What was most disturbing about the various criticisms I received over the years was that most of it came from other women! I’m now back working outside the home. Because of the time off I’m at entry level pay, which my DH can’t seem to attribute to anything other than me not asserting myself to get a better job. Trying to take care of the house, the girls, work and doing lousy at all three leaves me feeling guilty and tired. It seems that no matter what choices mothers make that there is always someone quick to criticize their decisions. Seldom do the fathers face the same scrutiny.
    Anybody crazy enough to question your parenting choices obviously hasn’t followed your blog long enough to see what smart, independent women you’ve raised. Perhaps the question you get should be, “When you return home after these trips what special things does your awesome family do for you?” We need to support each other, not rip each other apart, when it comes to raising children.

  73. Sometimes I go to knitting groups on weekends, and once every two years I take a few days to go to a wool festival with knitting friends. My non-knitting friends say ‘oh, I could never leave my kids like that’ – even though they’re at home with their father! And once, when I was sitting at snb, a colleague from work said to me openly ‘oh, is this what you do is it? You abandon your children to sit here and do this?’ Granted, she is a known nutjob, but still…
    And as for husbands ‘babysitting’, I hear that all the time. It’s bloody ridiculous!

  74. This particular rant can’t be roared often enough! Women’s work of all kinds has been put under such a judgemental spotlight, and used in so many different ways as some sort of nonsensical measure of our love for our families. No wonder some of us get defensive and attack others’ domestic arrangements as a way of salving our own conscience. There is just no way to win, but realising that doesn’t make it any easier to be constantly surrounded with the message that you’re somehow failing.

  75. 1. I will bet you, Steph, 2 skeins of sock yarn that you get more comments on this than on any other post you’ve other made.
    2. RIGHT ON.
    3. It should be enough that the guilt trip is laid on from the TV screen and from within our own hearts. It’s worser that friends and family lay it own. But total strangers?? Bolts of lightning, please.
    4. Thank you, for one of your best posts ever. Ever. Really.

  76. Preach it, sister.
    Once, I was going out with my mom to the yarn shop for a class. When we got there, she said to me, “I think I offended Jim.” Apparently, when she asked him if he was babysitting the kids today, he said to her (rather coldly), “No, I’m parenting my children.”
    When the TSA changed all the rules about liquids on planes – with the exception of mothers with breastmilk, he was irate once again, “What about DADDY’S who might be traveling with babies and breastmilk!”
    He’s turning out to be a right little feminist.

  77. Thanks for putting into words all those thoughts that have run through my head from time to time. Seems I’m not alone.

  78. Bravo!! I never can help correcting someone who says the father is “baby sitting”!!

  79. Could not agree more! If you are interested, there is a wonderful book called Halving it All which explores this issue in great detail. I still find it amazing in 2010 how few families have equal sharing of domestic responsibilities. The best you can do is keep doing what you’re doing which is showing your girls and others that it can be done!

  80. and have you ever noticed how some wives will THANK their husbands for doing the dishes, sweeping, laundry as if it’s a big favor??? I’ve had the same rant myself at time. Thank you for speaking up for many of us!

  81. I love the comment you made at the end (I love the whole post- but that comment especially) about how “we’re all here when it matters, and we’re a team.” So great. The expectations haven’t changed much have they? That was shown to me a few yrs ago when my church got a new pastor. Some people that his wife was introduced to immediately made assumptions and asked her something to the effect of if she would like to play the piano for them. Assuming that as a pastor’s wife she must know how. She was a Project Manager for a construction company. Piano playing was not/is not in the list of her considerable talents.

  82. A good hard hug and an emphatic nodding of the head in agreement is in order. I agree to every thing – except the cups. Gotta turn cups and glasses upside down so dust and bugs don’t fall in, silly!

  83. I went back to nursing a few years ago when my youngest was 15. I always have a cranky pants turn around day after night shift. I should just print out this post and point to it. Yah!

    Plus, I don’t understand folks who don’t feel comfortable leaving their spouses in charge of the household/children. If the OTHER PARENT isn’t capable enough to do what you do, what the eff are you with them for? And why did you have children? If you don’t trust them, who do you trust?
    So great to read what goes through my own head.

  85. heide, i already posted but i had to post again and say that have MS too. my big symptom is numbness. knitting is the very best therapy. i always say i don’t have to feel my extremities, they just have to do what i tell them without arguing. keep knitting and peace to you, kathy

  86. Dear Stephanie,
    I can identify with your anguish. Your solution has to come from your loving, understanding husband. I know from your writings that you have a strong bond, and that he is very supportive, now tell him that your heart hurts when you are criticized for doing what you must do. Be proud of your excelllence, and after all,you only have to please your own family.
    Love, Rita
    ” It is not the mountain we conquer, but our ourselves.”
    _ Sir Edmund Hillary

  87. Dear Stephanie,
    I can identify with your anguish. Your solution has to come from your loving, understanding husband. I know from your writings that you have a strong bond, and that he is very supportive, now tell him that your heart hurts when you are criticized for doing what you must do. Be proud of your excelllence, and after all,you only have to please your own family.
    Love, Rita
    ” It is not the mountain we conquer, but our ourselves.”
    _ Sir Edmund Hillary

  88. Dear Stephanie,
    I can identify with your anguish. Your solution has to come from your loving, understanding husband. I know from your writings that you have a strong bond, and that he is very supportive, now tell him that your heart hurts when you are criticized for doing what you must do. Be proud of your excelllence, and after all,you only have to please your own family.
    Love, Rita
    ” It is not the mountain we conquer, but our ourselves.”
    _ Sir Edmund Hillary

  89. Yup. My sister once was filling out a form that asked about her job. One of the options was “non-working mother.” That’s the biggest oxymoron EVER. I just can’t think of anytjing better to add. I’m grateful my husband and I are a team that recognise these things as well.

  90. One of the best parenting moments (so far) is when our then just-verbal toddler daughter would look at my husband and call him Mama or me Daddy. I figured we were doing something right.
    BTW, she’s 15 now and takes sh*t from no one.

  91. hmm… I love you. we have so much in common it’s eerie… but it’s not because we are women. I have to go. I have laundry to do.

  92. And now you should go read the first essay from Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs – same point from the father’s point of view.

  93. I read somewhere that a vague feeling of guilt seems to be the norm for every North-American mother, regardless of the choices she is making (or having thrust upon her.)
    Working full-time? Guilt. Stay-at-home Mom? Guilt. Working from home? Guilt. Breastfeeding? Guilt. (well, at least after about 4 months, someone will want to know how long you intend to keep that up). One kid? Guilt. Many kids? Guilt. Home-schooling? Guilt. Sending kid to public school? How could you? And on it goes.
    It helps to vent and to know that we are all doing the best we can and what we think is right. But the guilt can still be imposed, from within or without.
    Stupid guilt. Who needs it?

  94. You are so right about this. My husband is fairly evolved but even he wants a pat on the head if he “helps” me with the groceries or laundry. Like he doesn’t eat or wear clothes too. Sheesh.

  95. I can’t help it – it’s all been said but I have to weigh in too…
    I hear that rant loud and clear!
    I have been known to verbally (and literally!) SLAP people who refer to fathers looking after their children as babysitting – that kind of crap has GOT to stop…
    Always good to listen and be heard – well done and thanks!

  96. I used to travel for my career, about 1 wk per month, when my daughter was in elementary school. So people, esp. co-workers, would often ask, “What do you do with your daughter when you travel?” That question used to infuriate me . . . DUH?! She’s with her OTHER parent who is NOT traveling this week. I used to get this question a lot . . . 15 yrs. later it still pisses me off just thinking about it! ::flounce::

  97. I did not read all of the above comments, so please forgive me if I repeat something someone else said.
    I live in the US and work for a huge corporation, in an engineering/architectural/construction division.
    I am 60 years old, and am SO PROUD of the young women in our office who took a cold, hard look at their futures and chose a career in engineering. They graduated, did internships, first jobs, etc., and now they are accomplished professionals. These particular women are married, some with small children, and their unmarried male colleagues think it perfectly normal to take an afternoon off because it is time for the baby’s “puppy shots”. No excuses, no eye rolling.
    This is not about their chosen field. It is a testament of hope that all the stupidity that women endure from idiots has a weak chink – women like Stephanie, women like my colleagues, women like women you all know who dictate the terms of their own lives and are accomplished professionals, spouses and parents!
    Good on all of you!

  98. Good rant. 🙂
    My sweetie and I (we’re not married — I’m sure you know quite well the assorted social issues that come with that) are expecting our first child in February. Aside from all the horrible things people ask us that they don’t seem to be asking our married friends (“Was it on purpose?”), I am already getting questions about whether I’m going to leave my job. Even from my boss, who is one of the most feminist men I’ve ever worked for (and even after I thought I’d made it clear that I have no intention whatsoever of leaving my job).
    My partner is probably going to be home with our baby more than I will. I’ll wish I was home with the baby, but I’m going to work my damndest not to feel guilty about it. I have a great, well-paying job with good prospects for advancement. He is a contractor who works mostly from home, and he loves it. He’s also really excited about parenting our little one while working from home as much as is feasible.
    None of this was ever a question for the two of us. I didn’t have to convince him to do this. I don’t feel bad about it — I feel lucky that I have such a great partner and help meet! I wish the people around me could see it that way, too.

  99. You are spot-on!!! I admire you and Joe, and am happy you have each other and your lovely daughters. Please keep taking that deep breath and cut those others a little slack-it shows your class.

  100. I’m a teacher. When I was on maternity leave people would ask if I was working. Instead of pointing out that I was working so hard I couldn’t wait to get back to the classroom, I said, “Yes. I’m doing a field study in the practical application of using caretaker speech.” (the academic name for the special, slow, cheerful way we talk to babies).

  101. Wow, you really deserve an even bigger audience for this one! Even when you rant, you say it so well! Thanks.

  102. Oddly, the Wikipedia page for “babysitting” contains the following: “In the United States, the term can be applied when one parent is at home and the other, who would normally be present, is not. The term “babysitting” can be applied in circumstances in which the person watching the child is one of the child’s parents.”
    Screw that.

  103. Spot on! Someone once asked me “How do you work a full time job AND raise four kids?” My response? “How could you NOT?” My office is filled with all the breakable things I couldn’t put around my house! And… its really tidy. I like my job. I love my family. For me, its not a choice but a necessity. No time for guilt.

  104. You keep asking yourself, and other people, because if nobody asks “Why doesn’t society see this imbalance as WRONG?” then it doesn’t change, and it doesn’t get better. Ever. Not for you, not for your daughters (who almost certainly know better than to choose a partner who treats them poorly due to their gender-plumbing), and not for their daughters and sons.

  105. I’m with you and I don’t even have kids but I strongly agree with you. Hang in there and try not to feel guilty. You’re not guilty. You’re a great mom, a great wife, a great knitter, weaver, etc and a great blogger. Thanks for being there and writing about things that matter.

  106. I certainly have my own issues to deal with when it comes to this kind of guilt. I’m a mostly stay at home, part time work at home, part time work out of home mom. I think most people would assume I’ve got the best of all worlds but I don’t always feel that way when I’m juggling work calls and emails, laundry, rash salve, making tortillas for dinner, figuring out how to make the groceries last until payday, breaking up toddler fights, and so much more. This is all while my lovely spouse is at his office juggling his things but still doing one thing at a time. Yet he is the working parent and I’m the stay at home parent so when housework falls through the cracks I’m the one to blame.
    We just stopped inviting his jerky parents over. They’ve not said anything about my house but they certainly have criticized other homes much tidier than my own.
    I don’t need people like that in my life so they are gone when possible and have limited access if they are family.

  107. It’s best if I don’t even get started — but I think I’m going to laminate this post and keep it nearby at all times!

  108. Mark used to have friends say he was babysitting when he was home with the boys – drove him nuts – he’s a Dad.

  109. From a young, idealistic, hopeful and virulent feminist with a husband (who is NOT a “helper”) and occasional thoughts about how to manage my professional career (hopefully this PhD will lead to a professorship) and hopefully some future children, THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, for saying what I feel I need to say all the time to those around me who say that feminism is passé, and to those who ask me, when I mention my schooling and intended career, “but don’t you want to have a family?”, or those who ask me whether it’s much harder to be a grad student when I have “family responsibilities” (1 husband does not equal “responsibilities”. He’s an adult who takes care of himself.) Anyway, this got kind of ranty, only because what you’ve written resonates SO deeply with me, my values, and my frustrations. Thanks. And hugs.

    @Ashley: I edited the wikipedia note thusly: In the United States, the term is sometimes used (in a derogatory or insulting fashion, or perhaps jokingly) when one parent is at home and the other, who would normally be present, is not.
    We’ll see if THAT sticks …

  111. You rock, Stephanie. Just this evening I slammed the dishwasher shut thinking, why am I the only one who knows how to load this? and blaming myself not a little for that.

  112. I couldn’t agree about you more, and it is something I think about all of the time! The reason you don’t stop getting angry about it is because things can’t change if we just accept them.

  113. That was quite bracing! I had been depressed & gloomy all day, but for some reason reading this just now made me feel much better. Thank you — again — for being you!

  114. A bunch of years ago, my friend – a pediatric nurse (PNP) said to me: “Why is it that when Brent (husband) stays home with the kids he’s babysitting, but when I stay home with the kids I’m just staying home with the kids.”
    I have made a concerted effort not to fawn all over my husband when he does anything to help around the house – it’s his job too!

  115. It bothers you because it *should*. It’s just plain WRONG.
    Incidentally, I wonder if it’s the same when both parents have a penis?

  116. You are a SUPER Rock Star! Rock On!
    I teach at an undergraduate university. I find it distressing that while there are active 3rd wave feminists on campus (and I applaud them), it still seems to me that not that much has changed about assumptions for heterosexual marriage since the, oh, 1970s.

  117. PUBLISH this rant as well as the wonderful responses. I couldn’t agree with you more, as usual.

  118. Thank you! I have been feeling bad that my BOYFRIEND’S HOUSE is not as neat and clean as it could be. And feeling like it is my responsibility to fix it. That internalized societal role is deep. Now I am free. At least this week.

  119. On the flip side…what about the mum who wants to stay home with her childern (like me) and can not. I have to work so that my family can eat and have a place to sleep and clothes to wear. I work two full time jobs…my professional life and my mum life.

  120. Hear, Hear Sister! I’m telling you….that “babysitting” thing has blown my cork for many, many years. Mostly when I comment on it, people look at me as if I’m from Mars. So glad to hear that there is at least one other person in the universe who finds that comment completely out of line.

  121. Thank you for this. I have been struggling with a similar fury lately and you grandly encapsulated so much of what I was feeling!

  122. I am the primary breadwinner, although a telecommuter, and I have never had my work questioned. Although, to be fair, my posture and attitude may shout that I will take offense at anybody questioning my domestic arrangements.
    I applaud your rant.

  123. Thank You! What a kind, well thought answer to a very stupid irrational question. You are an excellent role model. For all of us reading your blog. I’m sure your children think so too!

  124. Oh the whole father-babysitting thing really pisses me off too… and I don’t even have kids (unless you counts cats). It’s “parenting” and I’m always quick to point that out when someone makes the asinine “babysitting” comment.
    Try not to sweat it and stand your ground. If someone asks you if it bothers Joe, look them straight in the eye and say “should it?”
    Be proud of what you do and who you are. As a writer (I’m a former journalist-current copywriter, future novelist), I look at it this way – in 100 years, are people going to remember my writing, or the fact that I had occasionally messy floors – I’m putting my money on the writing

  125. It is truly amazing that for the thousands and thousands of men and women who totally agree with you about men/women/absences/division of labor, etc, society still is so backward about the whole thing.
    Or maybe it’s because the backward people seem so free to express their opinions to us.
    Good rant!

  126. Nearly 20 years ago, one of my brothers was complaining about having to “babysit” his 3 daughters, then age 6 mos, 3 and 5, so that his wife could spend a couple of hours visiting a sick friend. My Old World father glared at him for a minute and then hissed, “Babysitting?! You mean you have to take care of the children you helped make?! It’s called being a FATHER. Perhaps you had better learn how to be one!” He then went on to say that when I was born (in 1960), he worked days, my mother worked 2nd shift as a nurse, and he spent every evening with me, feeding me, changing me, fixing his supper, grading papers,doing laundry, etc. “I wasn’t babysitting! I was taking care of my daughter because that is what a father does!! He sputtered about the issue for days.
    I often think I got my feminist beliefs from my Dad.

  127. Reading this, I thought I was being channeled. I’ve said everything you said — including the penis remark. I had my husband read it; he laughed because it sounds like me!
    I think I’ve been a feminist (why are we called feminists when all we want is fairness?) since I was, well, born — I’m a bit overbearing for my family. Their problem.
    We’ve been taught guilt too and I’ve worked on that nasty trait. It’s important we recognize guilt for what it is and know how to mitigate it. You and your blog help.
    I’m in my late 60s and my husband is in his early 70s. It’s been a work-in-progress but he agrees with my attitudes (most of the time).
    Keep writing.

  128. Good for you! That was very well said and I will remember your words the next time I need a good rant!

  129. Really thought that by now we and our society would have evolved beyond the point these situations and respective hurtful and unfeeling comments could exist. Sorry that you are subjected to these manipulative situations and people. There is too much guilt in the world trampling the creativity we all could benefit from. We should all treat all people with gentleness and respect, affirming all the good each of us brings to society, those who insist on being negative need to be ignored. We all must do what is best for all in our families, regardless of gender.

  130. I still remember my mother sitting in our apartment years ago when we only had one or two babies, watching in wonder as my husband threw a load of laundry into the washing machine. “When your brother was born,” she told me, “I would wait until he fell asleep at night before I took our laundry out to the laundromat. I wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving him home awake with your father or your father’s taking the laundry himself.”
    So, no matter how it feels sometimes, we’ve come a long way, baby!

  131. One more thing: In the 80s, I was taking a business trip for a part-time job. My husband’s boss asked him if he was going to let me go.
    My husband laughed. I asked my husband if Gene asked his wife for permission when he traveled.

  132. Agree. Completely. And I don’t even have kids of my own, and my husband’s kids don’t live with us. But I just got back from two weeks away from home at a music festival, during which I felt very guilty for leaving him with all of the chores and the dogwalks, and everything. But it’s the most lucrative two weeks of my year, often, so…why was I beating myself up?
    Because other people told me to. FAIL.

  133. Amen sister! i’ve been a stay at home mom for over 7 years and i still struggle with this. only recently have i felt less guilty about having hubby stay home to care for the kids when i’m KOd by illness. i’m grateful that my hubby is a “dad” and not a “babysitter!”

  134. I don’t know why Joe is not making homeade jam and has it ready with fresh made tea biscuits when he wheels your breakfast cart in.

  135. As some folks in my part of the world say when they enthusiastically agree: “Amen!”

  136. I needed to read all 168 comments in line before mine (and there are probably many more that came in in the meantime) before commenting myself, because I just wanted to revel in how many others had the immediate, intense reaction of wanting to shout AMEN!!! Just like me.

  137. Please dear soul, continue with that thought or rant as some would say. My children aren’t at home anymore and I still hear it. It doesn’t matter how liberated we are there are still people who cannot pick up the liberation and enjoy it. Somewhere it was decided, because we birth children we have to do it all, why? I have no idea, and personally I am tired of it. I finally have one son-in-law, house husband who is starting to get it, thank the lord. Now if we could get the rest of universe in line we would be doing well. Hang in there, everytime I come home from a trip I go through what you do.

  138. welcome home. we missed you and I hope Joe and the Girls did too. that is what should have been the comment from that person if she wanted to show she cares.

  139. Brava. Not to mention, the whole attitude is totally condescending to the fathers in question too!

  140. My husband works longer hours than me, so I do the stuff he can’t, make supper, groceries etc.
    My theory is Happy Mom, happy house. If you love what you do, at home, outside home a little of both, everyone is happy!
    Husbands who help Happy Mom, are Happy too!

  141. I totally agree with all of this! Especially the gosh darn “babysitting” your own damn kids! They are YOUR kids. It’s not effing babysitting – it’s PARENTING. Not to mention, as much as I like to believe I am the only person who knows how to clean the right way and that somehow that way is an art form, any monkey can do laundry and clear dishes away. The male spouse isn’t some damn genius because he “helps” or “contributes”. As far as I’m concerned, if you live in the house, you are just as responsible for keeping the train on the tracks as I am. A woman ACTUALLY told me that she would NEVER question her husband and he’s never – ever – been all alone with his kids, “that’s the mommy’s job.” I threw up in my mouth a little when she said that.
    All of that to say: AMEN!!

  142. After my first was born, illness made it impossible for me to work outside the home and look after a child. In many ways I was lucky because I could leave the guilt of not using my degree and enjoying raising my 2 kids. It wasn’t easy and I had people tell me I shouldn’t have had children (as if working with an illness would have been any easier!) At other times former coworkers asked what I did all day. What do they think they are they paying a daycare for while they work? What the hardest thing was that my husband (who babsits his own kids)seemed to lose some of his respect for me as a person because I wasn’t “working” with an income to show for it. He wasn’t the only one who saw me that way. You’re very lucky in Joe. As far as I’m concerned “Every Mother is a Working Mother”

  143. I live in the American South and this concept is especially widespread down here. People have always been amazed that my husband and I have split the cooking duties since we’ve been married, and if it bothers you- then you take care of the mess. The only thing he reverted to stereotype about was taking our now 22 year old son to the doctor and giving him doses of medicine. Poor kid had to start dosing himself as a preschooler.

  144. I’m all too familiar with what that unfair standard and expectation feels like. My husband Jason is a lot like Joe. I was an exchange student when our daughter, now a college student, was in 6th grade. While I was studying in Japan for a semester, Jason worked and took care of our daughter, the house and pets. Of course, this rocked the extended family boat quite a bit (insert evil laugh here) and I wasn’t even gainfully employed! Attitudes about gender roles still need a lot of work; so many people still haven’t gotten the memo that we aren’t in the 1950’s anymore. I am just glad I had the chance to rattle a few cages 😉

  145. Brava! Brava!
    I have a quote on my refrigerator from Gloria Steinem:
    “I have yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children and a career. I have yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.”
    I can only hope that I am raising feminist sons.

  146. Wonderful post!!! Re: the cups/juice –We lived in our first house for almost 30 years. I did not rearrange things, yet frequently couldn’t find something that wasn’t where it should be. Moved to new house in 2008. After complaining that things weren’t put back right, my husband took pictures of the cupboards and drawers! Alas, it didn’t help – still have trouble finding things he or our son have put away.

  147. “Word” as my high-school students say.
    When I go out of town, loads of people invite my ‘poor’ husband to dinner at their houses. When he goes out of town, no body invites me over for dinner! (Maybe I’m a lousy dinner guest…! But I think it is more of an insinuation that he can’t get his own dinner and that I can take care of myself.)

  148. My husband and I both feel we are better suited to the jobs we have–me to have the bulk of the home & kid stuff, him to go out and deal with the office-type job that would make me want to kill people. But we recognize each other’s contributions and we’re very much a team, and he never, ever underestimates what I do. (And nor do I underestimate his amazing job of financially supporting this entire family by himself. That responsibility would probably keep me up at night.) I hate that he travels: I’ll admit it. It’s a lot of travel at times, and our kids are still young, and it can be very, very hard, especially as it accumulates, and especially when he’s going to fantastic places. (The first business trip last spring? Not so bad. The fourth in two months? Terrible.) I try to simply ignore society. By and large, Society is stupid. I chose my spouse wisely. And he never refers to parenting his own children as “babysitting.” But I do feel, absolutely, that when he is out with the children he is not getting judged in any way, shape, or form. I feel like my every action, as a mother, is scrutinized, whereas he gets gold stars just for appearing in public with his offspring and no mother figure around. It’s not fair, but at least within my own home I’m not considered a second-class citizen.

  149. I totally agree about the second part, but on having things on the same shelf in the refrigerator, sorry. It’s like worrying about which way the paper goes on the roll – irrelevant. As my teenage son told me years ago when I was ranting about putting the dishes in the dishwasher in the wrong places, he said “Ma, control is only an illusion, remember that. One can never truly have control over anything but one’s self.” He got it from a video game, but my life has been a lot less stressed since I decided he might be right.

  150. AWESOME RANT!!!! Loved it!! I am 69 years old and divorced with 4 children and 9 grandchildren. My children still think “I” am the one to call when they want someone to “babysit” – would never call their dad or the other granddad. I love my grandchildren to pieces but, really…
    I have had my share of comments about working/not working, etc and have found, at this grand advanced age, that I choose to not be around or deal with what I consider to be “toxic” people – those folks, both male and female, who don’t like things I have done, what my children have done (down to saying my grandchildren’s names are stupid!) I have found a great deal of freedom since I came to this place, but hate that it took me so long! You rock, Steph!!!

  151. I love this line: (if by “over it” you understand that I mean that I spend the day turning the upside-down coffee cups in the cupboard the right way around again)
    Laugh out loud funny. Great writing. Really.
    You know. . . it’s just the way it is. We would like to do what we do, but the price we pay is guilt. Period. And I think that our husbands pay down the line in guilt, too – but worse. It’s the whole “Cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon . . .” thing going, but they don’t feel it until they’re 60 something and have their own grandchildren and they get all reflective and soft and wonder why they didn’t enjoy their own children more when they had them.
    It replays itself every generation.
    Not us women. We feel as we go. Your kids are going to be fine. It takes two, baby. And having two different parenting styles will just make your kids more adept at dealing with different personalities when they’re adults.
    Your a wonderful writer and I’m sure . . .a wonderful mom.
    oh, and a pretty good knitter, too.

  152. When I was pregnant with our son, I said to my husband, “You know, I’m already bitter, because if you do ANYTHING for this child, no matter how small, you’ll be hailed as a hero, whereas EVERYTHING I do will be completely ignored and discounted (if not criticized and judged as inadequate) because I’m the mom.”

  153. You continue to be my hero. And your girls & husband have to be extremely proud of you!

  154. I completely agree with your rant, and I have to add something to it. Doesn’t this “you should feel guilty leaving your kids” attitude imply that your husband can’t handle it? That he’s an incompetant idiot? That his parenting ability is inferior to yours? Personally, I think fathers should be really offended by this attitude.
    end of my rant!

  155. Bravo Stephanie!
    I was married for 9 years. Through the course of those 9 years (save for the last few ugly bits), my ex and I shared the household responsibilities. It was more or less equal, though sometimes he did more, sometimes I did more, as work schedules and obligations demanded such. And for those 9 years, I had to listen to people regularly comment about how I “trained him well”. My mother was my favorite, with her comments about how grateful I should be that he “helped me so much” with the housework. My usual response of “hmmm” masked the “are you f-ing kidding me? we both live here! we both take care of things” going through my mind. And even now, I recently commented to my mother that one of the few things I miss about being in a committed relationship is sharing of housework, as its an awful lot of work to do it all myself – only to be looked at like I have 3 heads.
    I hear you. I hope it changes. I don’t have a lot of hope that most people in my life will ever get it and that I won’t have these same conversations about my next relationship. I just hope that maybe my niece and nephew and the kids I may have will not have to have these same idiotic conversations.

  156. I just finished reading your very eloquent reaction to “some” around you…I am on my feet ..CLAPPING!!!! I am an older parent who has fought “some” human race concerning the same topics…. Just last week my anger grew bigger when a friends’ daughter, now 30 and recently married, wrote on Facebook that she was tired and wished she was a housewife, so she could get up late in the morning, eat when and what she wanted, watch TV and make her day her own…she will be forever sorry that she said that….as I charged with all my might to explain EXACTLY what it is to be a “real working” housewife, mother and wife….

  157. I work in a a very, VERY male-dominated field that also tends to be somewhat conservative. I travel several times a year, usually overseas. I’ve developed a response to inquiries like these that works beautifully most of the time. It goes something like this:
    “How does you husband feel about you jetting off and leaving him to take care of your 2-year-old?”
    (With a genuinely puzzled look on my face) “What do you mean?”
    The person then has two choices — explain *exactly* the assumptions behind such an asinine question or backpedal. They usually chose the latter. 🙂
    Once while on a work trip, I was chatting with a guy with 3 teenagers (his wife stays home) about family responsibilities. He said, “Your generation of women is something else — I don’t know how you do it all.” I started to give him the honest answer, but stopped when I realized how it would sound. The honest answer is that it’s only possible because I have a remarkable husband who shares the load and makes no assumptions about who does what based on gender.
    I’m convinced that if the world makes improvements on issues like this, half the credit will go to men like my husband.

  158. I go to school full time for my bachelor’s in Microbiology. I am applying to medical school next summer. I also work part-time nights at my local hospital as a nurse’s aide, and work plus school plus homework means I’m away from home sometimes 60 hours a week.
    My husband and I have two children, both of whom are breastfeeding. My youngest was born last April in the middle of the semester. I stayed out for a week, then brought the baby back to school with me and finished the semester.
    People say to me, “I don’t know how you do it!” or “I would never be able to do that.” or “Are you really going to be able to do medical school with two children?” And my answer to them is, “would you be asking me that question if I was a man?”
    Nobody would question a man who has as much on his plate as I do. Nobody would wonder at his motivations, or his ability to achieve his goals. And even when people learn that my husband stays home full time with the kids, they still wonder whether or not I’m sane for attempting everything I do. It’s sexist, but not so long ago women weren’t allowed to wear pants in public. It’s going to take much longer than my lifetime before that sexism disappears.
    I’m with you, though. My husband NEVER babysits his own kids.

  159. AMEN!!!
    Having been both a working mom and then a stay-at-home-mom I completely get what you’re saying and have had the same thoughts over the years.

  160. The dad babysitting thing is one of my biggest pet peeves — and I don’t even have kids! You’re a great mom, Steph, and Joe is a great dad.

  161. And I’m always stunned (every time!) that it is WOMEN who are so very hard on other women.

  162. On the rare occassions I would go out of town my husband would get all sorts of invitations to come for dinner, or people would drop off dinners to him so he wouldn’t have to cook for our four boys. One friend even did laundry for him. It really pissed me off, cuz you gotta believe that when he went out of town, nobody ever offered ME those kinds of deals!!!

  163. 100% agree. My husband is WONDERFUL and I get constant comments about all he does, like, shouldn’t I be doing more? Really? I mean, I do run a business. But mainly my time is my family. And just why the heck should he get a 40 hour work week but I’m expected to have a 168 hour work week just because I’m the mom?
    And, I find myself even more grateful. This man never says “babysit”. He says, “You just go out honey and I’ll take care of the kiddos.” Is it any wonder I hate going out because I hate being away from him?

  164. It’s when I order the delivery pizza and give them our home phone number. And they suddenly know who this is by my husbands name who has NEVER ordered take out pizza and wouldn’t even know how…somehow it just galls me.

  165. Kudos to you! I really appreciate the way you expressed yourself. Whether you are a stay at home mom or working mother that is something society needs to accept.

  166. An interesting thing is that the opposite seems to be true before you have children. I work with a lot of single women and married women without children (I’m in the latter category). Some of us have to travel, and some travel a lot. Whenever I complain about having to travel for work, my coworkers don’t understand why I’m not more thankful that I “get” to travel. I’m sorry, but it is no fun for me to go somewhere that my husband can’t go because he has to work (and we couldn’t afford for him to go with me anyway). I don’t relish experiencing things without him. I like to share my experiences with him. And I’m not a “so-glued-to-my-husband-that-I-have-no-independence-or-identity-without-him” woman either. Life is just more fun when you can share things with your partner, you know? So I dread work travel and try to get it over with as quickly as possible.

  167. In our household the roles are reversed. My husband stays home with the twins. I work. But still… every day people insinuate there’s something not right. That I shouldn’t expect him to do the dishes or put up the laundry or straighten the house cause he’s taking care of the kids. REALLY? If I were home, I’d be expected to do all that and more.
    Then there are the insinuations that I’m selfish for working and should stop, because really, don’t I want to? Don’t I think it’s wrong to be the one out of the house? No one stops to consider that the reason I am the one in the workplace is that I made far more money than him and since we have to live on one salary right now it needed to be the bigger one.
    I’m 100% with you. If the roles were reversed and my husband was saddled with insane late hours and travels, no one would blink an eye at it. But my being the breadwinner has been interpreted as being controlling, selfish and emasculating.

  168. This whole rant is one of the exact reasons that I have been putting off taking the leap into starting a family. Honestly. I have realized that Moms get a really raw deal. When I talk to any of the guys I know who have kids they all say “Go for it, it’s the best thing ever!” but when pressed a little further they say that it’s only as great as it is because of how hard their (female) partner’s work at raising the children. I have started telling people who ask when I am going to have kids that I will start having them when I get to be the Dad instead of the Mom.
    Also, my husband is pretty awesome around the house – he cleans *significantly* more than I do – but even so, the other day he complained about the fridge being messy and asked when I was going to clean it out. I asked him straight out why cleaning the fridge was strictly MY job – if he had a problem with it he could clean it his own damn self.

  169. A good phrase for the solo parent on duty is “I’m on babywatch, tonight”. As you phrased it, spelling the other parent is good, too.
    Babysitting your own kids?????? MAKES ME NUTS, TOO!
    All that you said is 100% true….but, well, it used to be worse, so it’s getting better. Just slowly.

  170. You said it, man! (pardon the pun) 19 years ago, our son was born 3 month premature. A week later, my husband lost his job. He stayed home with our son and was the “mom”. It annoyed me how people would say “Isn’t your husband going to get a job?” It’s team work and being there; partnership. I think most of us get it.

  171. I had to comment… thank you for that! I am an MD/PhD student, and it drives me nuts that female physicians are so often asked “How do you manage a career and a family?” but no one ever thinks to ask that of a male physicians, even though – in theory, at least – they have to balance family and work too.
    Furthermore, I benefited a lot as a person because my dad was really involved in raising me and taking care of the family (even cooking and cleaning, oh my!), and if I may speak for him, I think watching us grow up meant more to him/gave him more personal satisfaction because he was played such an important role in the process. Thanks, Stephanie, and thanks mom & dad!

  172. You should read the My Fault I’m Female blog. It’s full of little stories like this.
    In other words, you’re not alone. 🙂

  173. FanBloodytastic!!! We are living in a country with an unmarried, female, childless Prime Minister. We have recently had an election. Still waiting for a result. The media was preoccupied with Julia Gillards’s hair, clothing, her partner, whether she had regrets about being childless. What would happen if she won, would her partner move into the Lodge with her? Give me a break. I want to scream sometimes.
    My husband loves to cook. He finds it relaxing and enjoyable. Although I quite like cooking too, he is better at it. My friends and family think he is some sort of masterchef and I should be so grateful. What the???

  174. Amen sistah!
    And in my humble opinion, they way we change this viewpoint/paradigm is to do exactly as you are doing– parenting as partners, and modeling this value to our families. Well done!

  175. I agree with you totally!
    When Mike Farrell brought his kids to the MASH
    set he said that he and his wife tossed a coin
    for who would take them for the day.
    Someone said, assuming, “You lost?”
    “No”, he said,”I won!”
    I appreciate his attitude.
    And I wonder if Joe and the kids look forward to the days you’re away so they can put the cups in the cupboard upside down and keep the cranberry juice on the other shelf!
    Marlyce in Windsor

  176. I’ve had this rant myself, many years ago. My sons are 32 & 38 now. To be fair I have seen progress in their generation through the eyes of my DIL’s. Always remember you are allowing your daughters to stretch their boundries with your example and who else REALLY matters in your world. Hang in there and ignore the rest.

  177. I agree. Life is unfair. That said, it does seem possible that when someone asks you if you feel guilty about being gone they are hoping you will say, “No.”, thereby giving them permission to not feel guilty during their absences as well. Just a thought.

  178. Wow. I hope this is the seed of a future book, including comments.
    My hat is off to you, Stephanie, for being you and sharing yourself with all of us and to everyone who posted.
    There’s another benefit to equalizing the partnership that I want to mention: healthier kids. Although I don’t have children, I have observed that children who grow up in a home where both parents share in the day-to-day life of the family are a lot happier and able to adjust to life with much more ease.
    Oh, and the orange was luscious. I wonder how many of us dreamed about orange fiber that night? I sure did!

  179. Above reader Helen referenced, “Click! The Housewife’s Moment of Truth” by Jane O’Reilly. Originally published in Ms. Magazine.
    Article may be found here: http://nymag.com/news/features/46167/
    It’s worth reading if if you haven’t and worth re-reading if you have.
    As a thirty-something American woman, I have tremendous gratitude to the feminists who worked tirelessly to change perceptions and preconceptions. My life is better because of you, even if I did, or perhaps especially because I did choose to stay-at-home with my daughter.

  180. 1st of all, kudos for NOT:
    A) smacking that rude person upside the head in the manner they so richly deserved; or
    B) shoving a precious knitting needle somewhere (well, you know where I’m going with this).
    I find when people, or in my case those ever-so-well meaning old battle-axes otherwise known as my aunts, ask questions like that about my life I respond with “you say that like it’s a bad thing?” and put all that back on them.
    That woman who couldn’t possibly leave their kids? I’d bet the current contents of my wallet (all $35 and change) that her children would LOVE for her to leave for a bit. If not, then she’s likely raising ridiculously needy, inept, spoiled nearly-humans, that are emotionally crippled.
    You, with your strength, the convictions to do what you love for a living, and so sucessfully – you have given your daughters a GIFT. Proof positive that you can take care of you, them, Joe, and do what you love, by working together. Didn’t your daughter just cycle from Toronto to Montreal raising $$ for charity? She’s following the trail you blazed my dear. That took strength, courage, emotional fortitude and compassion.
    Cheers ! Now chase away that guilt by adding a little “something-something” to that cranberry juice and celebrate being home with those you love. Myself, I will be toasting you with (what I hope is) a charming glass of red. I forget just what kind, but it has a braying donkey on the label, which I found charming, given that I had to listen to a particularly obnoxious one in the office this afternoon 🙂

  181. AMEN! Years ago when I was going to work when the kids were lttle I was going to be a “bad mom.” So I stayed home until they were older. When it was time for college expenses, and my daughter needed financial aid, I was a “bad mom” because I hadn’t worked all those years to save more for her college education.

  182. Really, it’s the implication that one should feel bad that gets to me the most. I give a huge amount of time and an even larger amount of mental and emotional energy to being a good parent. Just because I pay someone else to put my kid to bed almost every night so I can work at my dream job doesn’t make me a bad mom.
    Cheers to you!
    I also happen to have a husband who shares equally the duties of parenthood and am thankful everyday to live the life we live.

  183. Couldn’t agree more. My husband and I both work, but because I work from home and he goes out to his job, many people assume that makes his job the “real” job and mine… what? A hobby? A magical portal through which money gets deposited into my bank account? Hubby and I share housework and cooking fairly evenly. I spend my days balancing working at home with caring for a 4 month old and 2 year old, and so, rather than go crazy, I head out with my friends without the kids a couple nights a week. You might think this is a matter between my husband and I, but the amount of disbelief and judgement expressed by his family and friends is astounding. They are amazed that he “lets” me go out. My mother-in-law has also told me how lucky I am that hubby changes diapers, bathes the kids and makes bottles. Now, my husband doesn’t think there is anything noteworthy in this, but most people act like he must be a saint or something. On the other hand, we have a vacation house about 500 miles from our primary home, and he frequently heads there for a few days at a time to check on things, and no one, ever, has thought anything about that. Including me, but I think we should both be held to the same standards by society, if they insist on having an opinion at all.

  184. Amen, sister.
    (Besides, I like to think that when I leave them occasionally, it makes them appreciate me more.)

  185. My husband, much like your Joe, is my partner. Laundry, kids, school field trips, dinner…we both do it. I am back in school, after staying home with the kids for a decade. The looks of derision and the comments I whether from friends who say how “lucky” I am that my husband helps out as much as he does, kinda make me crazy. We’re both in this together. I hope our kids see it and that they will partner with their spouse as well….

  186. Well said, Stephanie!
    We could have hoped that more was learned from things like “The Cosby Show” – from books, and general education and enlightenment – but change seems to be a long, slow, painful process. I’m asked all the time if I don’t miss “having a man to take care of me” and my only response is ever that I can take care of myself, thank you very much. Our lives, our children, our families are personal matters. I don’t know what to say about the guilt – but I agree that it’s high time society in general realized the meaning of the word “partnership”.
    I hope you are getting some rest and readjusting to your time zone!

  187. Thank you. I just was able to put into words to my husband why I resist having anyone over to our house because of areas of the house that are out of my control due to his stuff. I’m not sure I realized it myself that rather than him looking bad because it’s his stuff and I have no control over where it is and how it’s organized, it makes me look bad because I’m the woman in the house and it must be my lack of organization. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

  188. Oh yes. A thousand times yes.
    What I get all the time is people who gush because my husband “lets” me go away for weekends with my friends (generally two a year – Squam and Rhinebeck). While yes, I am lucky to have a husband who understands my need to get away every once and a while (as if I would marry someone who DIDN’T), he’s also the husband who spends 8 or so weekends away every summer pursuing his racing hobby. No one tells him how lucky he is that his wife “lets” him go away.

  189. Amazing, isn’t it Stephanie, that this attitude still persists? I am so lucky that my family and friends have accepted our lifestyle and don’t question it anymore. I worked at the better paying job, so my husband followed me when I got transferred. He spent a fair amount of time out of work, so stayed home. He now has a good job and I’m retired with a disability. Even though I’m home full time, he does most of the work because I’m unable to. I feel guilty sometimes, but I OWN that guilt; I won’t let others put it on me. We all negotiate the right balance for our individual marriages, and no one has the right to question our choices. In the meantime, we need to learn to let the criticism, both overt and implied, roll off our backs. Namaste.

  190. What she said.
    Truly, you capture the constant struggle all women face, with or without children, when we get down to the nitty gritty reality of gender roles. Sexism, like racism, is so institutionalized, that it’s eradication seems unreachable. In the same way we cannot change the color of our skin, we can (generally) not change our gender. And while sociologists argue that biology is destiny or that it’s nurture v. nature – our society still does not value women as highly as men. And until it does, such nonsensical questions will continue to be asked. The rant was well done, well done.

  191. you should never “get used to” sexual inequality. the day it stops bothering you is when you should worry.
    a great technique i have found when people ask things like that is to just shout ‘sexism’ at them. that’s the only answer you give, it shocks them, and they usually leave you alone.
    a bit antisocial yes but do you really want to be friends with people like that anyway?

  192. Good for you. …and, thank you!
    I have gone back to work this last year, and it was a difficult decision, but necessary for our family. I choose to work nights so that we can raise our own children (who are still very small), with minimal paid childcare (some is still necessary so that I can keep a reasonable amount of sleep). My husband might not always be thrilled with his increased involvement, especially after being so spoiled by having a SAHM, but he is infinitely capable, and I love him for it.
    I have not yet read the 250+ comments before mine, so I apologize if I have repeated anything. But you should know that reading your blog has helped me develop the vision of how I want MY three girls to be raised and the adults I wish for them to become! Thank you, Stephanie, for more than you could know!!!

  193. For pete’s sake, your kids are teenagers! They’re probably thrilled to have you out of the house occasionally! And if you didn’t go away, how would they learn to do their own laundry and (sort of) pick up after themselves without being nagged?

  194. Thank you so much for writing this. I will be sharing it with all of my women friends – all of them strong and all of them facing the sexism that society brings upon such women.
    Your daughters have a wonderful role model for motherhood and for what it is to be a wife (the same thing as being a husband!).

  195. Amen! (And with that, I will immediately shut my brain up next time it tells me I should feel guilty for not keeping a clean enough house the minute I hear my husband finally decide to actually pick up a rag and wash something)

  196. Oh I love it when people would let me know that the grass needs cutting.And I feel like telling them-I don’t live here alone.

  197. Proof positive that yes, we still need a [modern] feminist movement in our society. I was raised by feminist parents (a married couple) and can’t wait until the day when no one comments on the fact that yes, my husband does the laundry AND taught me intarsia LOL!

  198. I can’t imagine people giving you grief for traveling for work when your girls are as old as they are – that just seems silly! (not that they should give you grief over it regardless) Every family has to figure out what works best for them. And then other people should BUTT OUT. I can remember my in-laws being upset that my bil was helping his wife around the house too much. Can you even imagine??

  199. Here here! I happen to live with a wonderful man who actually does “keep a nice house.” I can’t imagine throwing kids into the mix. That day will someday come, and I can only hope that our current division of labor/respect for each others’ time, etc. translates.

  200. I think we live in a society where people not only feel free to judge one another, but they feel free to share their thoughts with the ones they judge.
    It’s not just mothers. It’s everyone. I know more about how women are judged because I am one, but men get judged, too. They just don’t get judged (much) about not doing what is traditionally considered “women’s work”.
    I know it’s an evolutionary thing about making sure everybody does what the tribe needs in order to succeed, but honestly, I think our tribe is successful enough that we can stop now.

  201. Husbands should not “help” they should Do Half! Biiiig difference. Can’t seem to get that into my hubby’s head, though. He thinks his 8hrs of work IS half, somehow, and that the weekends should be his, to rest. Least he’s a bit better with baby #3…

  202. When we decided to have children, and it was a well thought out decision, I flat out refused to agree to having them unless he was a 50:50 partner in raising them. He wondered why I thought it necessary to mention, of course he was going to. Unlike many of our peers where the man spends all day “at work” and then comes home for a rest, my husband comes home to play with his kids, get them ready for bed, brush their teeth and sing them nursery rhymes until they fall asleep. It isn’t an accident. It was an agreement. He does all this because he is their parent. Our other agreement was he does all the floors and I do the bathroom and toilet. This works for us. On my side, apart from the usual everyday feeding, cleaning, driving everyone everywhere, part of being a good parent is going swimming three times a week and to knitting groups on Tuesday (with 2 kids in tow) and once a month by myself. Yes my husband looks after the kids he is their Dad and he is helping me, his partner, to stay sane. Maybe the people who are making the comments are just jealous that they don’t have such a wonderful person sharing their home with them, or are regretting not taking a similar, balanced, approach to their home life.

  203. I just started karate – it is the only “exercise” class I could find that is late enough for husband to be home. Was asked at class last Monday, “So husband is home babysitting?” Smiled and nicely said, “No, he is home parenting his own children.”
    From her reaction (thoughtful) I think a lot of this is people so used to hearing it they haven’t thought about the phrases / what saying things like “Mr Mom” means.

  204. I want to print this out and carry it around with me as a more eloquent response then I’m ever able to blurt out when presented with this same scenario. But I won’t cause I respect your copyright and all that. 🙂
    Love you. You continue to be a role-model for me both as a knitter and as a parent.

  205. Thank you so much for this post. I, too, am tired of hearing about fathers “babysitting” their own children, and “helping” with the housework. I’ve gotten clucks about how horrible it is that I have been working full-time since each of my 2 sons were 3 months old, hearing “I don’t know how you could stand to leave your baby with strangers!”. I still breast-fed till they were 9 months old, and I work my arse off making sure my kids want for nothing, including my attention. I’ve come to accept that motherhood is a thankless occupation, but my reward will be years from now when I see the wonderful people my boys will become.

  206. Thanks for putting it into words!!! I’ve been trying to say this for years (I am not so good at words…)

  207. Tell it, my sistah!
    I remember the day one of my husband’s colleagues saw him typing my dissertation. This guy turned to me and asked in amazement, “How did you get this far and not learn to type???”
    “Oh, I type very well. In fact I used to be a secretary before I went back to school.”
    “Well, how come he’s typing *your* dissertation?”
    “Well, big duh! I typed his; now it’s his turn.”
    And that typing guy? Turning 70 on Monday and he still does all the ironing. And I still love him to pieces.Did I ever win in that big lottery thing called love-and-marriage!

  208. You so wrote out of my heart. And I don’t want to start about the fact that it is so hart to get back or start in a working life after you have been a SAM. Does it have to be the way that you still have to decide for a career or kids? Does it have to be that way that an employer rather chooses not to give you the job because you have kids and might be not as available as a man who can relate on his wife to take care of the kids if they are ill etc.?
    I better stop now or I will write a whole lot of a rant myself 🙂

  209. So true. I went back to work when my eldest was 14 and my youngest 11. Only part time for a couple of years and then full time ( but school hours) after that. Yet I was still expected, like most working mothers,after a full days work to come home and do my “other job” of looking after the house home and family. Not so much by my family, but by society. People talk about equality and how we are getting there – not yet , by a long chalk

  210. Yeah!
    I’m screwed anyway though, being a single mum. You get hit by the prejudice coming and going. You don’t find a job -> you’re a lazy slob living off other people. you find a job -> you’re being a horrible mum because you have your kids in daycare/after school care/leave them alone all the time.
    Of course it’s also my fault that I am a single mum. The guy that beat me, I obviously provoked him, he’d never have done it otherwise and anyway, I can’t prove it, can I? Also, he only hit me once, so it’s not like I am a battered woman. And because I left after the first time he hit me I’m the one to blame for not giving him another chance…. ARGH! And who says those things to me? Child Services workers, social workers examining my fitness as a parent (which also proves I really am a bad parent even though they never find anything wrong, the fact that they come here at all suggests I’m a totally rotten mother). I’ve recently been told by a married mother of two, who frequently leaves both kids home alone to go out with her husband, that as a single mum you have to expect unannounced visits by child services. When I said “Do you expect those?” “Of course not, I am married!” like she did everything right and I did everything wrong.
    I think as long as women berate other women for their choices this world will not become a more equal world. As long as we’re doing it to each other, as woman, what reason do men have to treat us as equals? Why pay us the same money when women wouldn’t pay us the same money?
    However: My best friend (male) who comes to our house for a couple of days every two weeks, has his masculinity questioned when I mention my kids do have a strong, permanent male role model! By an (old, female) Psychiatrist! (“Does he actively live his male identity?”) How many married men and fathers have that happen to them?!
    I think as humanity we’re pretty much screwed with our strange opinions.

  211. Along with you point of view I recently had my eyes opened to a situation that was my own household, and like you I thought why does anyone make the judgement or assumptions that they do. For a number of years I have been lucky enough to also be a stay at home mom a few yrs back my husband job had some changes and we took everything we had and put him back in school we lived on a very tight budget trying to avoid school loans and kids and I lived at home and for part of his schooling he had to live about 3 hrs away from us and only came home on weekends we lived that way for about a yr not to long but when the kids miss dad or mom is the only parent it can get hard for both parents dad missed us all and I missed his back up and companionship and during all that time people only seemed to comment on how hard it was for Brian (myhusband) to be in school full time how hard that must be going back to school fulltime at his age and not living at home how sad not a single mention about how hard it was for the kids and I to live with out him how I had to have all his clothes ready to repack after 1 day home pack up snacks for him and all the other things I did for him while he was in school but also maintained our household completely without him for almost a yr he was only home for about 1 1/2 days on the weekends not even enough time for him to mow the lawn or anything else at home all was left to me and all anyone said anything about was how hard for him. Now he is done with school and our family is back to our normal and now all I hear is when am I going back to work now never mind that my husband works crazy hours that are all different days every week he usually works 4pm to 2am in our local emergency room now when I mention that if I did go back to work outside the house I would see him very little because of his hours the only comment I get is that doesn’t seem fair to him mind you that my husband wasnts me home especially with his hours why does anyone and everyone try and ask questions that I think are very out of line if your family works and all are happy you do what works for your family and try and not let the brainless wonders get to you. This to is my rant for the day

  212. 30 years ago when I was expecting what turned out to be my son there was a column by Katherine Whitehorn in the Observer newspaper. In it she came out with the quote which inspired me “A mother’s place is in the wrong”. And this has kept me sane(ish) through four children while I have variously been a stay-at-home mum, in full-time work, no work, volunteering, part-time work all done with a husband who travels a lot but does his share when he’s home (even if things do end up in the wrong place!).
    My consolation/hope is that things will be better for our daughters and they won’t have to choose between family and career or be judged on that choice.

  213. You’re so right about this. And that’s why feminism is absolutely not over. Every woman who says she does not need to be a feminist because she does not feel discriminated should read this. Women are still held responsible for kids and household, men aren’t. As long as that doesn’t change, we still have a lot to fight for.

  214. I was raised by my father from when I was a wee small thing and have ripped into so many people who make the baby sitting comments. Pisses me off so hard, and so many of my friends partners are guilty of using the phrase. Ucht.
    I’m a house wife at the moment, but the economys crap and I moved to another country less than a week ago. I’m already going spare and fielding some really weird attitudes, some good, some bad and some plain odd. We must be nice people because I stay at home and wrangle dust bunnies? Really?
    People are weird.

  215. Ahmen. I am 58 and worked outside the home all my working life….it was in a male dominated industry….I learnt to stand my corner and not take any rubbish about my mothering..boy was it hard..and I don’t think its changed much over the last 30 years. Some of this IS due to women..we can be our own worst enymies!! Rant on sister.

  216. I’ve been a SAHM for 5 years now. I went back to work for a while after my first child was born, but after my second it simply wasn’t possible financially (child care for 2 out of a part time wage just wasn’t going to work!)
    Now my youngest is about to start school, I am constantly questioned about when I’m going back to work, mostly by other women. “What will you do without any kids at home?” This question truly baffles me. My kids won’t disappear just because they are school age. (Neither will their washing, though I wish it would!) And I don’t think they need me any less because they aren’t physically with me every minute of the day.
    I love that I’m available to help out at school and kinder (if it wasn’t for parents volunteering ALL of our kids would miss out – teachers are wonderful people, but they can’t do everything all the time). I love that I’m around if a friend needs help with school pickup because she has another child sick, or is stuck at work and can’t get back in time. I love that I know my kid’s friends, and that they know me and feel comfortable talking to me, whether they are telling me about something exciting, or coming to me because they are hurt or upset. I think it’s really important that kids have a network of safe adults around them.
    I probably will go back to work at some stage. It would be great to pay off the mortgage at something other than snail-pace (sometimes it feels like it will never be gone) and there are LOTS of things that we haven’t been able to afford because we are living on one wage.
    But I am soooo tired of people assuming that I’m not making a contribution because I’m not in the workforce, and that because my children are school-aged I should be automatically looking for a job. I have a job. It’s a really tough job sometimes, but it’s really important. Not just for my family, but for our whole community.

  217. Dead right, Stephanie. People are weird. I was a stay-at-hom Mum, because my husband was in the military, and frequently away (Falklands, Kuwait,Bosnia etc). I kept the home going, looked after three kids and several cats. When he took early retirement, to return to college, I got an outside job – boy, did I get stick from my Ma in law, as I was obviously neglecting my husband by not being there. Luckily, we are a team, partners – not each others slaves. By the way Himself has always done his own ironing! I get so pissed off by peoples victorian attitudes – whereever did feminism go – yeah – I always quote Katherine Whitehorn at people.
    Perhaps if we just keep On telling it like it is.

  218. We don’t have children, but over the last two years as my own business has been developing and my husband has returned to full time study I have had to travel away more and more. And even without children I get similar comments made about how my husband copes while I’m away, does he mind etc etc. So – rant away! I’m right in line behind you in case you lose your voice and need someone to take over the rant.

  219. Thank you for expressing something I feel deeply about and didn’t realise just what it was until now. My Husband is great and does do a lot and can cope when I am away but I get little credit for working full time and keeping it together the other 99.9% of the time.

  220. nothing to add. Or share endless stories.
    wonderfull rant, wonderful commemts.
    one comment to comment: “Ugh. This is exactly one of the reasons why I don’t have kids.
    Posted by: Mya at August 25, 2010 6:19 PM”
    this is the reason why I kept the kids but not the husband

  221. Yep, my husband has a fit if anyone refers to him babysitting our toddler when I’m out. It’s just as offensive to him as it is to me.

  222. Harlot, I have known families that still feel that the woman’s place is at home. It is infuriating. You work hard, and you are a wonderful parent. No one can beat that.

  223. Amen…
    You don’t even have to be a mom. It is enough to be married. When hubby decides to wear non-matching clothes again or looks scruffy, who’s responsible? Right, the wife. Why do *I* let him go out like that.
    One reason why I don’t want kids, by all expectations I already have one. I should feed, clothes, pamper him, do everything around the house (of course keep it much neater than I do now), know where all his stuff is so I can hand it to him whenever he might need it…
    Everything that goes right is his merit, everything that goes wrong is my fault. Oh and yes, I bring the bigger income. Sigh, being an old spinster somewhere in a cottage with a few chicken and a pony sounds delicious.

  224. I agree with you. I work in a female dominated work place, but the men in the department get praised to the heavens by doing the same things the women do on a daily if not hourly basis…even if it’s in the men’s job description. When a woman does “women’s work” it’s “expected,” but if a man does it then he’s “absolutely fabulous!” Often times the most biased people are other women! Once again thanks for putting into words something I’m sure a lot of people experience and feel frustrated about. Let the sanity begin.

  225. I am a woman in my mid thirties with severe health issues. I suffer from constant chronic pain. I started to vet I’ll sixminths into my current relationship. We have now been together for ten years and during that time he has worked full time and done all the running of the household as if I do anything it leaves me wiped. My partner would rather he do the cooking than have me unable to even get out of bed. The house isn’t immaculate and everyone says how wonderful he is be use most men would have left. Sadly I believe this is probably true. But can you imagine if it was the other way round. If I was a man it would be expected that my partner do everything. A woman wouldn’t receive congratulations for staying. If she left she would be condemned. Until THAT attitude changes we won’t live in an equal society. Thank you for giving voice to what everyone still experiences. I fear we might need another generation to fix it properly. Your daughter will have it better than you and there daughters will hopefully wonder what all the fuss was about. We can only hope.

  226. We had a baby girl last November after 10 years of marriage. The husband was the one who was keen on kids.
    Everyday he uses the word “babysit”, and has told me I am an incompetent wife because I usually only cooked one meal (the other being cooked by his mother who lives with us).
    I don’t know why it still surprises me to know cultures don’t make a difference to attitudes.

  227. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said! Parenting is a partnership and however it works for you is the way it should be done. I am a little shocked by MrsFife’s comments above. Why would you stay with a husband who calls you an “incompetent wife”? That is just plain emotional abuse.
    Thanks for your words of wisdom, as always, Stephanie!

  228. One of the reasons my marriage failed was that my ex-husband had an antiquated view of gender roles in the house. Because he went out to work I was expected to do absolutely everything at homeand with the children. I had to ask him if it was ok if I went out very occasionally whereas he thought nothing of leaving me in the evenings to do what he wanted…
    Needless to say I am extremely happy that my 2 sons are not being raised with that example everyday anymore. My 7 year old is learning to cook and knows how to use a vacuum already and my 3 year old is learning to put his own clothes in his drawer and that dirty clothes go in the washing basket. I point out to the older one that this is *our* house and that he should thank me for doing the things he can’t. As they get older they will both take on more responsibility so that they understand that work around the home should be shared by all those who live there.
    I point blank refuse to let two more men walk into the world with out of date ideas. Hopefully they will one day find partners who appreciate this!

  229. It bothers us all. We think we’re liberated but attitudes take so long to change. If you want a look at the other side of the coin, check out the Sweet Juniper blog. The husband gave up his law practice to stay at home with their 2 kids while his wife works. His view about getting those exact same comments. (http://www.sweet-juniper.com/)

  230. My biggest gripe is when women who don’t work are referred to as ‘full-time mums’, as if women who do work are just part-timers! And the babysitting thing bugs me too. I don’t even have kids, I just find it very irritating!

  231. You know, the more into “modern times” we get, the more some people seem to be stuck in “Leave it to Beaver” land. Anyone who has a problem with how you live your life and the choices you have made, can put on their shirtwaist dress, pearls and high heels and go vacuum their living room while waiting for hubby to bring home the bacon.
    You and Joe are both Rock Stars IMHO, for raising responsible, contributing members of society. Your girls are awesome and so are you two.

  232. I’m not sure this will even be read by anyone with > 300 comments, but it may be worth saying. My grandmother always told me that men are judged on what they do, and women are judged by what they don’t do. Only you, Joe, and each of us as individuals can really give ourselves the credit we deserve. Hopefully society will have evolved just a bit more when our children are full-fledged adults.

  233. Dam’ straight, lady!!!! Luckily I am married to a feminist who is a better cook and cleaner than I am (not that he gets a lot of time these days to employ his skills because of a long commute). There were times when our 2 daughters were young that I was abroad for 6 weeks at a time, looking for a job before moving country, and he continued to work and look after the kids with never a murmur. And I’ve had to cope when he’s been away for a month at a time. As I often say to the girls, ‘This house is run as a commune, not as a slave empire’—our view is that we are all equal members, with both rights and duties. But I am constantly surprised by people my age who say (proudly!) of their husbands, ‘Oh, he doesn’t know where anything is in the kitchen, I doubt he could make himself a piece of toast!’. Get real, girls, and get out of the 1950s FAST.

  234. Years ago at work my boss’s wife, who worked part-time in the office, said, “I can’t believe R___ lets you drive all the way to Amarillo by yourself to attend these meetings.” These meetings were for a professional organization I belonged to and I attended the monthly chapter meeting and the monthly board of directors meeting because I served as Secretary and later Vice President. It was a 60 mile drive each way and I left at 5:00pm to make a 6:30 meeting. I looked at her and said, “R___ doesn’t LET me do anything. If I choose to do something, I do it.”
    He is an engineer and at that time worked in the field and covered a large area. What was I supposed to do? wait until it was convenient to his schedule so he could drive me? or make him sacrifice his work to accommodate my ‘selfish whims’? Please….
    Children turned out not to be part of the game for us. That probably causes us to depend on each other more because it IS just the two of us. We ARE a team, but we are individuals, too, and that’s what we like about each other.

  235. Step away from the edge, this is 2010! Just use your humor to remind people of that! I’ve been married 30 years and shortly after we married my in-laws were surprised when I admitted to them that my husband (their son) was more diligent about keeping the house clean than I was. (we split the chore list). (My father-in-law never did any housework/cooking/yard work.) I just smiled sweetly, shrugged, and told them I didn’t think their son married me because he thought I’d be a good housekeeper. 😉

  236. Amen and thank you! I would have liked to think that we had reached the point where this wouldn’t even be an issue, but obviously we as a society aren’t there yet. Maybe the next generation will get it.

  237. Great rant! I went through this 20 years ago when I was traveling for work and hubby was home with our three girls. Thought we’d be past it by now. I see a somewhat better attitude with my sons-in-law, who all seem to pitch in with the diapers,cooking and child care. But somehow laundry is never on their radar! Why is that..

  238. The ‘babysitting dad’ made me laugh out loud.
    I work full time and my husband is in charge of our own run from home business and does lots of housework. I’m glad he does as I’m a bit vacuum-challenged. Generally speaking I’m in charge of feeding the troops and he’s in charge of cleanliness. We both try to pick up our own mess and are trying (mostly in vain) to encourage our kids to do the same. Guess I’m used to having a competent and mature male around the house. The ones that are still impressed at their (or your) spouses ability to ‘breathe right’ as you so aptly put it, apparently aren’t.
    On the other hand, I guess there are many ‘housewives’ that rather enjoy keeping hubby in the dark about all things domestic because there is a certain power to be gleaned from keeping him dependent (especially if said housewifes contribution to the economic ‘state of the union’ consists of ‘managing’ the cleaning lady, the gardener and the nanny and lots of shopping). I think the ‘homebody’ status is still flaunted by some women as a covert way of telling the world that they’ve landed a wealthy man and can now affort to live at his expense.
    All this is not to say that the ‘traditional’ division of tasks couldn’t be equitable and equally challenging for both partners. I’m aware of some homesteading and sometimes even home schooling moms that run house and yard while dad holds down a paid job outside. They really have my respect (both individually and as a team).

  239. Can I steal this well written rant, and just insert my name and my husband’s name? I couldn’t have said it better myself! If I use power tools, it’s cute but if hubby does the dishes I should be grateful and give thanks and praise. We’re still a long way off from equality I’m afraid.

  240. I just got home after almost nine away, working as head lifeguard at a summer camp. That is the only way we can afford to send our kids to camp. My first hours home I usually cry at the mess and start by wiping down the counters, cabinet doors, fridge, etc. How do my husband and the two older kids who stayed at home not see/feel the sticky, spotty, splattered mess? After the kitchen, it’s on to the bathrooms, picking up cat fur milling about in the corners of every room as I go. (Don’t corners deserve to be cleaned)?
    This has been going on for the last 13 years.
    This year, I came home Monday afternoon; I finished cleaning and straightening up the house on Wednesday.
    I keep thinking: This is how they’re going to live when I’m dead. At least I won’t have to see that-or clean it up.

  241. Yes, exactly!
    When the kids were small, my philosophy that parenting, not housecleaning, was my job, and just like I didn’t expect him to get any housework done 9-5, I tried not to expect it of myself either. I tried to view anything I did manage to get done as bonus. I’d work and he’d work, and we’d tackle the house evenings and weekends.
    It was still a bit of an uphill battle in my own mind sometimes.

  242. Someone feel sorry for me!
    I am not a stay at home mom. I work, and I have hobbies that take time away from Housework.
    My husband is retired and goes to school earning a degree to try and get a new job. Beyond that, he’s remodelling the lower floor.
    It’s his concerted opinion that if you don’t make money at it, it’s a HOBBY.
    So I look at housework and taking care of kids (which I don’t anymore) as a hobby–and not one that I care for very much. So the house is less than clean MOST of the time.
    But when I get at it, he RARELY lifts a finger to help out. Wasn’t like that when we first started–but something changed along the way, and I’m not certain what it was.
    Guess I need to have a talk with that man.

  243. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally someone has put it out there! I am a step-mom and I get the same guilt because I commute to work everyday and work my bottom off, then come home do the housework… and on occassion take some time for myself and my hobbies (knitting). Women are glue in a family and really make things run smoothly! I don’t think people realize how much “moms” sacrifice!
    I think you are a great role model for your girls and you and Joe seem to be a great team!

  244. thank you. men “baby-sitting” their own kids has been one of my pet peeves for years. “baby-sitting” was what i did as a teenager to earn some money. one cannot “baby-sit” one’s own children. it’s called parenting. as for men “helping with the housework” … did you eat off those dishes? walk on those floors? wear those clothes? … i was a single mom who raised two sons and i am proud to say that neither of them “baby-sit” their kids or “help” with the housework!

  245. Hubby does a great job at cleaning when he does it. It just seems that our estimates of required frequency vary – a lot. It sets me off that he won’t do something, but once I start to do it he’ll say “I’ll do that”. So why didn’t you?
    My biggest problem is that a couple of years ago we were both downsized from the same company exactly 3 years apart, me first. I wanted to move, he didn’t, so I changed fields.
    However, when he was cut, he ‘took the summer off’. He did go back to work, teaching at a local college, but isn’t making nearly what he did. I put up with this as our daughter is not yet out of HS, and it has been useful to have one of us closer to home to play chauffeur, and to be more available during the summer. But he doesn’t think they’re going to extend his contract again after this school year. I’ve told him he has to get a real job, and no, he doesn’t get to take next summer off and then look. He also seems to think he gets a pass on home-related work during the school year, but I don’t, and I work ALL year.
    He has also started exhibiting some of the – what I think of as bizarre – habits that his now-deceased parents used to exhibit. I keep telling him he is not allowed to take on these old-man-habits and we are not playing Ma and Pa Kettle. And not being able to find his keys, wallet, phone, checkbook and so forth is not charming. Nor is populating any horizontal surface with his stuff.
    And yes, people still think all of the home maintenance is the female’s job. Get a grip.

  246. thank you for sharing this, when i go on a business trip i have to make sure dinners are ready to pop in the oven, there is plenty of milk & bread. rides if needed are arranged, etc. not the DH. this reminds me when we saw a black bear and her 2 cubs on a road trip-where was dad-why is the mother the one’s always protecting the cubs-making sure everyone is “okay” and fighting to the death if necessary? we concluded- dad is in the den-oh and what else gets me is the “didn’t your mother teacher you any better”-what about what dad is supposed to be teaching?!?!

  247. splendid rant Steph- but desperately sad that you and all the rest of us posting still have to battle with society’s sexist attitudes in 2010. My girls are in their mid-twenties now, and I’ve just retired after working full time all their lives. Their Dad worked too and so many of the comments above ring bells…my particular bane was when we all got home and he’d read the paper-uninterrupted-whilst I ran around like a blue xxx fly seeing to the kids, cooking, cleaning etc Looking back I realise I should have been a better negotiator at home, after all I was pretty assertive at work! We both worked for a small educational charity about a mile away but at the bottom of a pretty steep hill.We did different jobs and didn’t finish at the same time. I usually walked because I prefered it; he generally used the car…but it took a girlfriend to ask why at 7 months pregnant was I pushing my daughter up the hill after work, leaving him to drive home? ‘He’s not finished yet.’ I lamely replied. Crazy-I never thought to ask! Reader, I divorced him (eventually, for far graver reasons…) but I realised how I had complied with what was expected and just got on with it.
    I remarried, and my husband and I share everything without thinking about it. But he has a twin sister and his mother raised both children the same (everyone helped out and jobs didn’t have a gender.)So all of you with sons remember what a vital role you play in their education! I’ve been working with students for the last 20 years and was appalled at many many current stories of the differences between what the girls are expected to do at home and the boys. I’m afraid the struggle for equality continues….

  248. Good grief, after your last experience having used the (anatomical) n-word in your post, what is going to happen over the (anatomical) p-word?
    Someone will surely chastise you for it. And we can get another wonderful post from you on the subject!

  249. I totally agree with you! When my husband does the laundry or cleans the bathrooms, I’m supposed to thank him and gush all over the place because he has “helped me!” When I’m home on VACATION and have laundry done, house cleaned, dinner waiting, it’s as if that’s my “job” even though I’m on vacation!

  250. I guess I am fortunate that people just don’t even bother to make many comments like this to my husband and me. We both do the household chores (but yes, in general, I do more of the cleaning – I’m better at it, and he does more of the lawn work/vehicle maintenance – he’s better at that.). But I’m the one that rebuilt our bathroom because I like power tools, and he’s the one that bakes the cakes and cookies, because he likes to experiment in the kitchen. And we both WATCH our children when one parent is away for several reasons: 1. it is parenting – not babysitting when it is your own children. 2. No one can babysit our kids. They are neither babies, and you rarely get to sit. It’s a stupid term.
    The whole thing reminds me of a song I learned when I was younger:
    “As soon as you’re born parents check where you pee,
    and then they decide just how you’re gonna be,
    girls pink and quiet, boys noisy and blue,
    seems like a dumb way to chose what you’ll do.
    It’s only a weewee so what’s the big deal?
    It’s only a weewee so what’s all the fuss?
    It’s only a weewee and everyone’s got one
    there’s better things to discuss!”

  251. I was raised in equality. My parents both worked incredibly hard, both supported each other to earn higher degrees, my brothers were treated the same as my sister and I. When I walk into a messy house I just think, “Wow, these must be some really interesting people. They have so much more in their lives than shining a sink.” I also will frequently call out my friends’ husbands and ask why they are not folding the laundry.
    Another thing that is funny. When my husband and I were still together and we went to friends’ homes for dinner, no one thought twice about me standing up with my girlfriend to clear the table and do the dishes, and it was almost expected that he would go into the living room with the man and watch tv or talk. What’s up with that? Aren’t we BOTH guests???

  252. Brava, Stephanie. I have 3 boys (just about the same age as your 3 girls). I try very hard to foster the notion that “the home” (and all the herds of dust bunnies in it) is not solely MY responsibility. A person has an obligation to contribute to the place they inhabit — the world, the community, the home. Sex (or gender if you prefer) does not alter the statement.
    For what it is worth, for us it means that we live in a state of somewhat controlled chaos where dust bunnies are free to do whatever it is dust bunnies do and lots of time is spent with each other and doing/exploring stuff that makes us happier than mops and bucket and dusters.

  253. You are forgetting Trust … you are teaching your kids, and others around you for that matter, that you (or your husband) can go away and you don’t worry about what the other is up to or what is going on behind your back. A large number of people do not have that confidence in their partner and mask their fear with misplaced criticism of the person that they think has it better. Just realize that that is you, pat yourself on the back, and go somewhere fun and tell your spousal unit about it when you get home so you can laugh at all of the Tom Foolery over a beer.

  254. I haven’t read what anyone else said, but bravo for you for getting that out there. My son is 23 now, so its just me and my husband at home and working full time jobs. My husband was raised where he shares in all the child-rearing, cleaning, shopping, etc. Mind you, it was a little tough when he wanted to be the one to put the groceries on the conveyor at the grocery store, but I can definitely handle that (and raise my feet while he vacuums under them in the living room). 😀
    At some point I hope all partners will share duties equally, including working in and out of the home.

  255. My favorite rant ever. You go, girl. My husband wrestles all the time with the way folks react to the times when he has been the house parent. And he NEVER would call it babysitting!
    Now if only I could get over the fact that all our friends know that he’s the better cook!

  256. Rock on! Rant on! Amen, Amen, Amen!!!!
    I waited many years for my turn, too. My late DH and I worked out the figures and together we learned that my staying home in the early years was (a) better for the children and that (b) anything I had earned outside the home at that time would have only gone to pay for daycare.
    So, I waited until my children were older and the DH had enough seniority to choose his hours and then I went to work outside the home. The deal was that he would cook and clean and be the one on call Monday-Friday and I would do the same on the weekends and do the laundry (I am slightly obsessive about laundry, but that’s another story….).
    Anyway, it took two years of this before he realized that I never, ever complained about what he cooked for supper, where he had whined a good deal about supper when I was staying at home. I told him that I was just grateful to come home to a cooked meal and clean house. The look of embarassment on his face was worth the wait, but then, I’m evil enough to realize that vindication is often a long time coming.
    Thanks for letting me say my piece.

  257. Nicely said. I will say that you have a lucky husband, not because he helps with housework, but because he sees things the same way you do.

  258. I struggle with the same guilt, day in, day out. I feel guilty about leaving the kids AND my husband for an evening (or, heaven forbid, even for TWO evenings in the same week), and yet does anyone bat an eyelash when my husband travels for work or hobbies? Nope. *Le Sigh*

  259. word the fuck up harlot! having been in relationships with women for my adult life, my current male partner is such an adjustment for me. everything you said struck a chord! while we don’t have kids, we do live together and i notice that when he cooks, friends think he’s being *amazing*! wow, he cooked dinner! when i clean the bathroom, empty the trash, take out the recycling, dust, sweep, mop, do the laundry, AND get to work on time, i’m just normal. not amazing. it’s as though we expect men to be abusive, absent, slobs and when they prove to maybe be semi-self sufficient alright humans, we celebrate that fact. not so much for the lady folk. le sigh. i think i should get a subscription to Bitch magazine now.

  260. Okay, Steph. I almost always lurk, but I’m coming out of the woodwork to say …
    I have NO doubht that people are behaving and thinking exactly the way you say they are, but, but … Good grief! It would NEVER occur to me to think such things! You are very open with your travelling here, and I have not once thought “tsk, she should be at home…”
    I just wanted to chime in and let you know that not only does not everybody think that way … it doesn’t even cross our minds and get supressed! You’re a wage-earner, your children are obviously not neglected … whatever.
    (And furthermore, what the heck business of mine or anyone else’s how you run your family?)
    Dsiclosure: the love of my life happens to be the same gender I am, so I may not be grokking the subtlties of that whole male-female thing. But really, it’s all just human-human anyway, so I don’t think it put me TOO far out of the loop.

  261. I’m not sure how it is in Canada, but in the states, the traditional mother and father roles seem to be falling to the way side. As a child, my mother ran a Tupperware business that had her working nights. My father worked days. Right when Dad got home, my mom got ready to leave and no one thought anything of it or even questioned it.
    As I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to see the lack of oddity of stay at home fathers in the states. While I’m not a mother — and this likely plays a big role in my opinion — I’m not sure if I really see the guilt between the two roles. The fact is, in the States economy, it is unreasonable, unhealthy and generally unsafe for the family’s well being if both parents do not work. Perhaps growing up with that understanding is why I don’t see the mother being gone guilt.
    Either way, in short, it’s BS. You’ve raised successful, beautiful children, children with morals, responsibility and personality. That’s your job. Whether you’re home every minute of every day does not determine that. While I understand the frustration, don’t let it get to you. You’ve done a fine job and that’s all that matters.

  262. Right on! I marched and carried those signs in the 60’s, and we won some of the battles, but not the war.
    I am lucky enough to have a man in my life who believes (and I quote) “It’s called housework, because the people who live in the house do the work to keep the house”.
    Ever notice, when the woman is away, people invite the man over for dinner (“poor thing!”) When the man is away, NO ONE asks the woman over.
    When I am Queen and Empress of the World….

  263. Amen! Say it Sister!
    Your girls are going to turn out so wicked in life with you as their female role model.

  264. I think it’s just human nature to be skeptical of what’s viewed as “different”. Not everyone is that way but certainly many many folks are. I have these same issues with how society views families that choose to have a single income.

  265. Preach it, Sister!
    I have to say, NOTHING irks me more than a man who says he’s “babysitting” his own children. grrrr.

  266. I am old enough to remember when women…and men…did not have choices…as a member of the first class of women at a formerly all male engineering university almost forty years ago, I have fought this fight for decades too.
    I am so glad that all of us -men and women- now have choices, especially when it comes to parenting and working…and we will evolve further when we stop passing judgment on those who make choices that are different than ours and try to learn why someone else’s choices might be BETTER than our own…
    Good rant Steph…thanks…

  267. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    Stephanie, I hear everybody I know say these things over & over again and yet this imbalance just doesn’t seem to go away.
    I travel a lot for my work, too, and so does my husband. We’ve even had one or two trips overlap, so we had to find people to look after our daughter while we were away (NOT a habit, literally just once, maybe twice – and she loved sleeping over with her friend).
    I can’t tell you how many times people asked me how hubby and daughter “got on” while I was away. Number of times he got asked that = zero. Clearly, they think he is some sort of imbecile who is unable to find his own underwear or feed himself or wipe his own bum unless somebody does it for him. It’s just as insulting to him as it is to me, really. And you’re also right that the fact that he does it, and does it well, results in the same kind of amazement & praise that would result if a trained monkey had done it.
    I’ve also heard time & again how “Mary” or “Sue” or “Betty” is a good/bad housekeeper, never once whether “Bill” or “Bob” or “Andy” is.
    I am So Freaking Sick Of This.

  268. Oh boy, could I tell a few stories (not! – I could tell a LOT of stories) about hubby 1, who now does it all on his own, quite capably, I believe, and hubby 2 who is old fashioned southern european and thinks he should be waited on – but I won’t! Stephanie, RANT ON!!

  269. It is NO ONE’s BUSINESS but your family’s. It sounds like you do an admiral job with your family and that your dynamics are balanced and fair. NO ONE has the right to judge. You continue on being you!

  270. Bravo, Steph. Makes me nuts when *I* get asked the same thing and yet my husband never does. It’s nice to know it’s not just all in my own head.
    Now my irritation about the way their are crumbs in the peanut butter when I get back – I’m thinking that’s my issue to own.

  271. Thank you for that eloquent rant!
    About the cranberry juice on the wrong shelf? When they ask why I complain, when it doesn’t go back where it came from, I explain that it’s so THEY can find it when they want it. Someday, if I’m really lucky, it’ll stick.

  272. Ok. I am going to assume you just got 355 “you said it, Steph!”s instead of reading them all.
    And I am going to add one more. You said, Steph! I could have written that entire rant myself.
    My story is when my oldest was 9 months old my grandmother died. The baby, because of a heart defect, couldn’t fly. So I went to the funeral by myself. I was gone for a total of 28 hours. When my grandmother’s friends and my family found out that my husband was home with a 9 month old — you would have thought he was eligible for a Nobel Prize. And of course the fact that 4 months earlier my husband went to a week long conference on the other side of the country — well that’s just what mum’s do, right?
    The funny thing is I didn’t resent my husband going to the conference until the fuss that was made at the funeral.

  273. Hear, hear! As a career-oriented woman, I am constantly told how grateful I should be that my husband has given up his career to stay home with our girls. But when I was home with the girls, no one said that to him! As a society, we have so many stereotypes about gender and family structure that it’s hard to appreciate when a family has evaluated the good and bad of things and made conscious choices to be different, because it’s in the best interest of the family. I am grateful that my husband is home with our girls – grateful because it’s removed him from a job he didn’t like and given him a job he not only loves, but excels at.

  274. I went to a baby shower this spring that was far enough away from home it was an overnight trip. At the shower, family-in-law-members asked me where my kids were (5&3yr old boys)? Surprised, I answered that they were at home with their father and I’d not have been able to really enjoy myself if they were with me (since I’d be “Mom” instead of “Kelly”). I got looks of shock and “you can do that?!” and “you left your kids with your husband?!”. These even from women my own age group with similarly aged children whom I would assume to be more “modern” in their child-rearing mentality as my husband and I consider ourselves. (I stay at home because childcare is too expensive here, but once he’s home it’s equal billing in parenting/housework.)

  275. Amen, sister! You are so right about all of this. These may be old issues and old arguments, but they are *so* not resolved yet, and it takes a lot of women to stand up and say something about it before people notice how stupid these inequalities are. President of a feminist organization? Sole bread-winner with a stay-at-home husband? Why yes, I am. 🙂

  276. Nicely put. Last week my husband yelled from the top floor of our house to complain about the printer being out of paper as he was sitting right in front of the printer. I cheered him on without moving an inch “I know you can do it! You can figure out how to find the paper and put it in the printer.” Sometimes we allow ourselves to be caped crusaders…but they don’t need rescuing. What they need is training.

  277. Amen Sister! I agree with you completely. Maybe we should all knit some penises and carry them around, to see if things change for us. That seems to be the way to get credit for keeping a family afloat. It’s obviously not a brainpower or skill-based issue. 🙂

  278. I know everything I’m going to say has probably already been said here today but we need to keep saying it and telling it to our kids and our friends and our family. The days of Ozzie and Harriet, if they ever existed are long gone.
    With people of my mother’s generation (Depression era) I don’t even try to explain the need for equality, even though these same women worked in ship yards and factories during WWII. Some of them get it and the rest are horrified by my independence.
    So we keep ranting, and the changes are sometimes small, my daughter has never been turned down for a job because she had small children but I had, but changes do keep occurring and someday these will not be issues needing to be ranting about.
    I doubt I’ll still be around but you never know.

  279. Whenever you write about your way of parenting I want to ask you to adopt me (although I’m fifty plus).
    I’m parenting a son with anxiety problems and I have been advised to go away on a holiday for a week “because it would be good for him to cope without me.” It is part of growing up to get the chance to try coping with less supervision, for a short period, in a safe surrounding. Go for it and teach your daughters to enjoy live.

  280. I’m young and unmarried, but your rant rings true to me. But I strive to find relationships (both friendly and romantic) that meet my standards of equality now in hopes that I will continue to find equal relationship and friends that undetstand and support them in the future.

  281. I agree with you 100%, but I _do_ think as generations change, the attitudes will as well. I made a point of raising my sons to be able to do all the basics of taking care of themselves..from laundry to cooking to housework. The son with children knows that he’d get a slap from myself, his father AND his wife if he ever referred to being the sole parent in the house for a bit as babysitting. His kids think it’s perfectly normal for both parents to do household chores…there’s hope.

  282. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Yes to all of the above!
    The cups and glasses must be right side up, so that there is no condensation trapped in them. Spiders and dust? THAT’S WHY WE CLOSE THE CUPBOARD DOORS, DEAR!
    Oh, sorry, I think I was projecting a little there.
    I’ve been on a Lorne’s Hat bender of late. I tweaked the pattern a little (CO 60) and made the most adorable wee preemie toque. The knitterly goodness continues to shine!

  283. All good points, my walking partner and I have ruminated over these points for 20 years. You need a good daily walking partner, even just 30 minutes a day, have a good verbal rant, a good hike and you will think you have solved this juxtaposition of views, then you can do it all again tomorrow!

  284. I agree with every word.
    I find it hard to make sure that the decisions I make in life aren’t being made because society expects me to. Then I worry that I’m choosing to not make that choice, merely because society expects me to. Ha! It is a never ending loop and I think you really need to know yourself in order to be true to yourself. But let’s face it, society has been influencing us from the moment we take our first breath. It is hard to ignore it.

  285. People are either just dumb, or say dumb things. On this topic, you only need to care about what your family thinks, the rest is just noise that really does not matter. The dumb part is that you still have to run into hearing it, so it goes into your brain, unfortunately.
    Save a file of positive mail and reread it when the need arises.

  286. I have had this same rant myself, and I am not even a mother! I hear so many bizarre things, like the dad “babysitting”, from my friends that it enforces my certainty that my choice to be childless was right for me!!
    I also think it’s odd that society is more appalled when a woman walks out on her family than when a man does.
    It almost seems that society thinks women should be parents but not men.
    Back when I was still of child-bearing age I got a lot of “oh, you still have time”, and when I said I didn’t want them I got “oh, you’ll change your mind”. Nope I didn’t! And they think I’m a freak.
    O.K. that’s my rant for the day. Thank you Steph for providing me the opportunity to share.

  287. Oh – please, let’s get real. If a man takes out the garbage, mows the lawn, takes care of car maintenance, and babysits once and awhile – most women would be well ahead of where they are now.
    Stop trying to domesticate the human male – it won’t work!

  288. I think more of your rant is about not taking each other or your circumstances for granted. The kids probably appreciate you more when you’re gone cause things aren’t the same, the same way they do when Joe is gone. My husband and I thank each other for taking such good care of things while each other is gone on business or pleasure. It sounds stupid, but hey when all three kids get sick while one of us is gone and the furnace goes out, that thanks though not necessary is awfully nice to hear. It shows the acknowledgement that we don’t take each other for granted.

  289. I think the reason I never married and had children was because God knew that, instead of ranting and knitting, I would kill people for making stupid comments.

  290. Right on!! For years I battled the same war. You would think in the 21st century we would stop being looked upon as less then the male species. I believe our children are better prepared for life having had the great example of a working mom and a dad who shares parenting.

  291. I love reading your blog because you do it so well and your rant is right on. Thank you for saying so well what so many of us feel. By the way, after anyone else puts my mugs away, I, too, have to restore my system. If I can’t create order in the universe at least I can do so in a tiny corner of my kitchen cupboard.

  292. It bothers you because you are a great parent. I never had the opportunity to stay home with my kids; both my husband and I had to work. But I am as fortunate as you to have a wonderful spouse who “gets” it. We made our kids and our relationship priorities and it worked for us. We’ve been married for 26 years and our 2 kids are well-adjusted, healthy and happy.
    Try not to let these insensitive people get to you. I think they are jealous of your healthy relationships with your family. And that gorgeous orange yarn you have!
    On On

  293. Couldn’t have said it better! We just returned from visiting family with many comments about not being able to leave their kids for more than a night, “needing” to cook another meal because there wasn’t enough left over for the husbands lunch at work the next day, and on and on. My boys know that moms sometimes “just need a break”. My husband supports everything I do and is truly a partner in our parenting/married life. I have the perfect job for being home with my kids (part time only during the school year), most of the time when we can’t care for the boys, they are with my parents and yet people still make comments that make me feel guilty for all that isn’t done at home and work. My husband of course is “great” for taking the kids to a doctor appointment or taking his share of sick days.
    Rant on and hopefully a few people will read this and change the way they think about the roles of the woman in society and the home!

  294. And then we have insurance.
    Our insurance guy told us I was worth $30,000 a year while the kids were small. That’s enough for daycare and a bit of housecleaning help. Then he told us I couldn’t get long term disability insurance for any amount because that’s based on actual dollars.

  295. I think you’ve hit one of my rants on the head. We are still sans kids, but my husband will ask me what I would like him to do and I have to constantly take a deep breath and then tell him: I want you to take a look at the same things I do – the kitchen, the bathroom, etc. – and look at the same mess I look at and then decide that you can do something about it. Not with prompting from me, or a cry when I’m too tired to think, or an angry tirade when I’ve already put in a good hour of cleaning and you just got home and sat on your arse. You are an adult and can do the same cleaning I can. You can empty a dishwasher and reload one. You can wash a dish or put the laundry away or sweep a floor. So, be an adult (not a man or a woman) and just do it. I will never be mad that you did some housework.
    Umm, yeah, that was a rant too. And imagine, that is without kids. I wonder what it will be like when that happens.

  296. Know why it bothers you that people still ask that question? It’s because people still think it’s ok to ASK that question. It drives me mental. And the worst part is that half the time it’s women asking it of each other. (The men babysitting their own children makes me insane too)
    But happy 19th Amendment day in the US!

  297. I suppose you’re still bothered by it because it’s still a problem, a relevant issue.
    Also, I think the work you do is amazing. You make knitting so much more accessible to the general public, and you bring humor to those of us that are a part of this wonderful knitting community. Your books and blog were very influential to me when I first started knitting (about 5 years ago). Knitting Rules is still my go-to book for technique refreshers, and the sock section taught me that I’m smart enough that I don’t need a pattern for everything.
    I guess to sum it up… Don’t let the bitches get you down. You’re a pretty fan-damn-tastic person.

  298. I have made a similar speech each time I hear someone say, “My husband’s babysitting!” For petes sake, he’s their father! My bablies are all in their 30’s, creeping up on 40, but I still hate the disparity in the sexes as far as families go. My husband has always been a partner to me, but I saw so many ‘sisters’ who have had hubbys who just did nothing. I must admit, though, that way back in the ’70s, I felt really full of myself that I didn’t leave the house for work and I thought my kids were better for it. Now I look back and wish I’d found a career that made some money to help out more at home. I found that now, but the pay is really crappy! I’m working in a Senior center, I just love it! Starting a knitting/crochet class soon! 🙂

  299. Great comments, Stephanie, and it is sad that the gender stereotypes are still being perpetuated by both men and women. As a woman, I flat out expected my partner to be a partner. As a control freak, sometimes my partner has to remind me that he does have a brain and is fully capable even if he doesn’t do it my way, which he acknowledges is probably the better way (I’m a cup facing upward person, he’s a cup facing down). Most of the people I know across generations have marriages that are partnerships. Sometimes the workload falls on gender lines, sometimes the don’t. Either way, each person in the relationship values the contribution of the other, and when they don’t, they not only hear the dissent from the partner, but also from friends and family. I hope this gives you hope that your rant and the rant of several women before you are being heard.

  300. Amen, I absolutely agree. On the flip side of that is the “shame” of being a full time mom. If you want a sure conversation killer in a group of working moms say that you stay home. They never know what to say to that. Add to it the fact that we homeschool and these women flee as though I have the plague! Just goes to show that no matter what a woman choses it will never be good enough or come without guilt.

  301. Exactly!
    I was dealing with these issues 30 years ago and the fact that it is still going on? drives me batshit. xox

  302. YES!
    But if the cranberry juice ends up on another shelf all the time and you want it in a certain place then may be your place isn’t the correct spot! 🙂
    All I can say is if I could work at home I would be the happiest person ever!
    Thank you!

  303. I think being raised by only my mother for as long as I can remember I think women who work and take care of a house deserve way more credit then a husband. But I do love to hear how you and Joe work together. Makes me happy and hopeful for the future.

  304. Yes! My husband is a much more vigilant house keeper than I am, and oh…. the guilt. No matter how I try, his standards for the house are higher, and therefore he does more of the sweeping up. What a terrible wife I must be!

  305. I have a husband who always felt the way you do and he has always been an equal partner and very supportive. BUT he also would have said that he was babysitting. Guess it’s just so deeply imbedded into the culture….

  306. It’s amazing that in all the millenia, these issues still resonate with women. Read Michael Chabon’s book about fatherhood! As to myself, when our girls were little, I worked three evenings a week at the local bookstore. My husband would bathe the girls and get them into their pj’s, then stuff them together into the stroller to visit me before bedtime. Invariably, some elderly woman would say, “Aren’t you wonderful to take the children out while your wife is working!” Funny, I thought, they never, ever say to me in the daytime, “Aren’t you wonderful to take the children out while your husband is working.”

  307. I agree with all you have said, and most that has been said by others. But….In charity toward all it must be pointed out that those whose comments disturb us may have their own guilt issues, or may even be working toward the position we are all so comfortable with, and looking to others for answers and guidance, even without being aware of it themselves. Transitions in societies take time–more time than any one generation will ever have. More than any two will have. And in their lives, they may have found their own balance, and who among us is to say that they are wrong–for them,– or wrong for having their point of view and sharing it. We share ours, after all. In the final analysis of how to live one’s life, we should all remember that there is more than one way to do things right.

  308. Bothers you (and me) because we still have not achieved equality in this area. Progress has been made, but you (and I, and everyone else) still need to get upset and rant and advocate for society’s enlightenment because there’s a lot of work still to be done. And, meanwhile, this is also yet another example of people simply having no idea what is none of their business.

  309. My partner and I have two girls, 10 and 2 years old, and a drafty old farmhouse 15 minutes away from town.
    This past spring his job took him away from home (about an hour’s drive) during the week for three months. I had a few more chores to do and a fireplace to keep lit. The women on both sides of the family kept asking “How are you managing, dear?” and “Aren’t you desperately lonely, dear?” Drove me nuts.
    Maybe all those husbands (and Joe) resent being hailed as heroes for managing without you for a few days.

  310. Yes, yes, yes! Ever since I’ve grown up and flown the coop my mom has this massive guilt complex. She feels like she wasn’t there for me, didn’t feed me right…whatever. She was the breadwinner in the family for years! She put the roof over my head and food on my plate while Dad did the ‘mom’ thing and made sure I got to school on time and had clean clothes to wear. I hate that she’s upset over that sort of thing when she did a great job as a Mom.

  311. I don’t have time read all 400 and counting posts, though I am sure the majority will agree with what you said. I have to share my “babysitting” episode.
    When I went down to the US, to stay with my newborn niece because mothers only get about six weeks down there. One night my sister and decided we needed some sister time away from the house. So we told my brother in law we wanted to go and asked which night would best for him for to do this. When making plans that involve others it is best to include them. He made some remark about how he could ‘babysit’ on such and such a night.
    To his and think my sisters shock,my response and explaining how fathers don’t babysit, aunts babysit, grandparents babysit, friends of the family babysit, hired sitters babysit. Father take care of their children.
    I think part of the reason I decided not to have kids was this not so subtle double standard.
    You and Joe are doing it right.

  312. I think that as old as these issues are, we really can’t afford to ignore them or desensitize ourselves to them. Thank you for doing so with such intelligence, I’m sure that restraining your fists in the face of such questions has built some good upper arm muscles.

  313. Hear,Hear…. What a wonderful well put rant. Being a new workign mother.. we would get guilt on the other side too! Funny we are guilted if we do and guilted if we don’t….

  314. Rant On! I hear you… Despite my husband and I having chosen extremely traditional roles in our marriage, this still drives me crazy. Why should I feel guilty about going out ONE NIGHT A WEEK, when my husband is gone all day, every day? Last night he was (jokingly) complaining about having made dinner the last two nights in a row, and we sort of got into a discussion about who does what around here. I think maybe we need to clarify that a bit more.

  315. Bravo! I too have had and still do have the same complaints, and my kids are now grown and out of the house. Bravo!

  316. And Ladies this is why we have to stay ever vigilant in our stand for equality or we could end up in the horrific circumstances of the women of the fundamentalist countries of the world.

  317. RE: men ‘babysitting’ their own children:
    Years ago a young man I worked with made that same comment: ‘I have to babysit.’
    ‘Oh’, I observed, ‘I always thought they were your children.’
    ‘They are’, he replied indignantly.
    ‘Sorry, when you said babysit I just thought…I mean, your wife doesn’t babysit them, does she?’
    ‘No, she takes care of them.’
    ‘Ah, so when you do it it’s different. More like an outsider.’
    Some months later I happened to say to him ‘do you have to babysit?’ His reply:
    ‘No. They are my children, I take care of them.’
    Sometimes the universe just tilts a bit more correctly.

  318. You’d think our societies would be past this sort of gender myopia by now but alas… not so much.

  319. “These are old arguments, and old complaints, and really I’m not sure why I’m still bothered by it.”
    Perhaps you’re bothered by it because it’s an argument that shouldn’t even be in existence by now. At least, that’s how I view it.

  320. Brava, Stephanie!
    I’m a recent entrant into the full-time work-place (all through college and grad school I had part-time jobs), just settling in to making my home with someone who I hope to continue on with for many years more. It astounds me the number of “discussions” we have to have about stuff that seems to me to be self-evident. There’s never been any question about both of us working (um, because we both enjoy paying rent and being able to eat out, see movies, go to concerts, and buy comic books), but there are so many small battlegrounds towards sorting out equilibrium in homekeeping.
    Anyway, much like your Valentine’s Day screed from a couple of years ago, this is something I’m going to (figuratively) print out and take to heart. I am not unreasonable, you are right, let’s do this thing.

  321. CLICK!!!
    p.s. if any of you are anywhere in the Toronto area, go to the Canadian Textile Museum – it’s always worth going to anyway, but currently they have a lovely exhibit of Orenburg shawls.

  322. You rock!! Anyone just has to look at the photos you post of your family to see the absolute joy and life they project to know whatever you’re doing is above and beyond what most of us have figured out yet!
    Dads “babysitting” has always been one of my pet peeves. But now I’m wondering if that is partly our (the mother’s) fault in that some of us tend to assume too much of the caregiver role – sometimes to the exclusion of dad, or even grandparents sometimes. I can see that in myself.

  323. Oh, I hear you. I could have written every word of that. When I’m out in town, the number of people who stop me and ask me where the kids are? Drives me mad. Well… they’re with their *other parent*.
    (I checked with my husband and he confirmed that he has never been asked where the children are when he’s out on his own.)

  324. Earlier this week I told my mother that I’ve always thought life would be easier if I was male, and she said she’s always felt the same thing too. And now you ask it. Thank you. I like to know I am not alone in this.
    Last fall I heard Gloria Steinem talk at a local college. I have never heard anyone so educated and eloquent speak on behalf of women. She says it’s time to stop proving that women are as “good as” men, but to raise the bar for men, so they can prove that they are as “good as” women.

  325. Bravo Steph!! I hear and feel all what you say. I think you just said what many of us (obvious from the comments) feel. Yes it should not even be an issue these days but…

  326. I, too, could have written every word the same: I have a child, career and husband who travels. I, to the annoyance of most I am sure, correct anyone in my earshot that my husband does not “help” he does “his share.” I never let anyone get away with using the term Mr. Mom. My rant–you don’t have to use a Hollywood term to describe what that man is doing at home with his kids, he’s not Mr. Mom, he’s being A FATHER!
    Oh, sorry, I guess I have the same raw nerve on this!
    Love you Steph!!!

    I’m not a mother but it seriously angers me how, no matter what you do as a mother, you’re doing it wrong and no one has any qualms about saying so.
    And yes, the “Dad babysits his own kids” thing is also a pet peeve of mine. I’m reminded of this bit from Chris Rock’s “Bring the Pain” (I’ve censored it):
    —Idiots always want credit for things a normal man just does. An idiot will say things like, “I take care of my kids.” You’re supposed to, you dumb jerk! What kind of ignorant crap is that? “I ain’t never been to jail!” What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having jerk!—

  328. A long time ago, when I worked as a hospital nurse, and also, besides it being a weekend, it was also 3rd shift, an older lady asked me if my husband thought it was okay, that I worked weekends. I told her he didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. I was a nurse, which meant I worked weekends, holidays and 3rd shift. Really, when did I need my husband’s permission to do my normal job duties? Besides he liked me bringing home a paycheck!
    In the 10 years that I worked that job, about 3 of those years, were with kids and I only stayed home one night shift, because I had a sick kid. She had RSV and had been to the ER already. As soundly as my husband sleeps, I wasn’t sure he’d wake up if she’d had any problems, so I called in and told them I wasn’t coming and stayed home with my sick kid. I’d have been too worried about her, while at work. She was 5 months old, at the time.

  329. Wow – so my husband has been ‘babysitting’ for almost 24 years now! And here I thought he was home raising our three kids while I went off to work.

  330. AMEN. That’s all I can really say, because if I say more, then I’ll be ranting too! 😉

  331. Ah, I kinda always wondered why the dirty dishes and the dirty clothes were always waiting for you after a trip when the 4 other people in your household were all tall enough to reach sink faucets and washer knobs.

  332. Wow! You sound like what has been going on in my head lately. I have a full-time day job, but am trying to start my own busines so I can do away with the full-time day job and work for myself. My husband is a full-time artist which means he gets to work out of the house. Does he do any housework while I’m away. Nope! Do I get grief from his mom for trying to start my own business, and am, therefore, away from home a lot of weekends. Yep!
    We women can’t win for losing sometimes, and, oddly, our biggest critics are other women. But, you know what? I’m going ahead and working on my own business. My husband is happy that I’m happy, and that is what counts. Now if I could just get him to do the laundry.

  333. Thank you, RP for rememebring that Chris Rock rant. I love that!
    And thanks, Stephanie- I agree with your perspective. I think that sometimes people need to frequently adjust their expectations a little bit in another direction(and perhaps think before they ask questions like that).

  334. Thank you so much for this! My husband is a stay at home dad now since getting laid off in June and we’re dealing with similar sentiments. People seem to think that:
    1. I should feel jealous of my husband for getting to spend time with my baby and guilty for working and not being there for her.
    2. He should feel bad because he isn’t working and contributing monetarily (ignoring the fact that we are saving $1100 a month in daycare costs).
    Sometimes it makes me so mad that I want to scream. I’m a successful person and have always made the lion’s share of our income. If I can support our family so one of us can stay at home, why shouldn’t it be my husband. He’s just as capable of child rearing as I am.

  335. I find that the attitude you are referring to is not just for moms — it’s for all married women who work. My husband and I don’t have children, but I get the same thing all the time when my responsibilities for my work and volunteer work take me away, or out at night, or over dinner time, or out all day. Maybe I get it more because I am in a non-traditional role (I’m a pastor, as if being a pastor is only a MALE role…) but I even got it when I was working in the corporate world. You are darned if you do and darned if you don’t. I just hope I am modeling a different way for my nieces and goddaughters — a way that shows them that they CAN respond to the universe’s call on their gifts, and can also have a family life. The more things change, the more they remain the same… End of rant!

  336. After reading so many of the comments..In my generation..women at home men at office(etc)..as life moved on the needs changed…So when my son was born..I took it upon myself to mold him into a self suffient man..Thinking he would make a good batchlor or VERY GOOD catch for some woman!!
    As it turned out he is a very good catch for this wonderful woman..Plus his is a Really great Dad..He realizes that she is a person who also has needs..

  337. bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love the one when the dad is newly separated and has the kids for ONE week, he has hundreds of dinner invitations, the reverse is non existent!!!! pleeeease

  338. Excellent Rant, as always.
    When my son was much younger, I put a lot of time and effort into advocating for Universal Childcare, it’s still an issue that matters to me (and one that factors heavily at voting time).
    It floors me that people still see it as an “attack on the family”–that I personally must love my child less because I believe there should be national, affordable, quality daycare in place–it Isn’t. The boy is 16 now and it seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same. Same old pointless, back and forth. Do you love a child more because you choose to stay home or do you love a child more because you choose to put food on your table? How do you divide the work of raising healthy children fairly? What if you are a single parent? I love the quote “A woman’s place is in the wrong.” Heavy Sigh.

  339. You are right — an old argument. But with your humor and skill, you might make one person consider the issue differently. And by your example you make a difference for the next generation. I will be forwarding a link to everyone I think needs to read this. Thanks.

  340. Exactly! How long does it take to change this…my husband used to iron just his collar and placket and say “good enough” and I would say, now people will think I’m a poor ironer. Ridiculous! I still feel guilty but we live in this situation and it’s up to us to change it…or deal with the guilt at least. Glad you brought this up, Stephanie! I love a good rant! haha

  341. Oh, that “babysitting” thing is one of my big triggers. It makes me go lasercat. Sorry for yelling, but WHAT YEAR IS THIS?!?!?!?!?!?!

  342. Go Stephanie! I couldn’t agree with you more. The babysitting thing is a HUGE pet peeve of mine – It’s so nice to know that it’s not just me.
    My situation is somewhat similiar to yours; I find myself (usually) biting my tongue when someone praises my husband for going to the grocery store or making dinner. While I love that I have a partner who does these things, it makes me sad that other people find it exceptional and noteworthy.

  343. Preach it Sister!!!! I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said. In fact, I think the way that you and Joe have chosen to raise your girls is stellar!!! I mean that.
    I’ve not been able to be a mother, but when I left a lucrative career to go back and work on my dissertation, guilt came a knocking big time. Like you I worked on myself and then I realized the guilt came in the form of my own mother and father (didn’t think I should go back to finish after so many years and a good career) friends, former co-workers. I still worked in different ways, I started editing books (author friend got me into that gig) I taught night classes at the community college (it paid for our Starbucks habit) and I did copy writing for some local businesses. All in all I made about 1/3 of my previous salary, but in the end I happier than I had been in two decades and that made DH happy, too. Never once did he make me feel the guilt. For that I am thankful and as the famous movie line from The Andromeda Strain goes, “To hell with all the rest.” Sorry, I let my passion get the best of me there.

  344. Stephanie,
    Love your books, blog, and socks. And for the most part, I totally agree with your post. However, as a working mom I want to say that I am amazed that even in your post, you qualified your right to be away from the family by adding that you had been a stay at home mom, and had waited a long time to have a career.
    I would much rather hear strong women- working at home, outside the home, or on the moon- say that “I have always made the decision that was best for my family at the time- and the man I choose to love has been with me every step of the way”. Hearing from the women that I admire that they have earned the right to work, travel, and find outside fulfillment by sacrificing their dreams at some other point in their lives still perpetuates the idea that women have a place- and only at approved times shall we venture past it.
    Every family, husband and wife, wife and wife, single mother, partners, etc. must find the dream for their own family, and those that work hard to achieve it deserve credit, respect, and admiration. I agree wholeheartedly with the sexist nature of the world view that tells us to feel “lucky” that our partners actually participate. But I just as strongly shrink away from any woman feeling that she must justify her career choice, the timing, or it’s effects by offering proof that at one time she did the ‘full apron” version of motherhood once before.
    It’s like those of us that have had natural childbirth looking down on those that had pain medication- unles they say that they at least “tried” to do it naturally, but then had a C-section. Why can’t a woman, any woman, say “I made the best choice for me and my child?”
    That being said- You make knitters, mothers, beer drinkers and unruly haired women all over the world proud- keep it up.

  345. Stephenie you are a great mom and don’t let yourself believe differently! Joe is a great father and you are indeed teaching your children that they have many choices when they marry.
    If anyone tells you dofferently sod them and do what is right for you and your family.

  346. Stephenie you are a great mom and don’t let yourself believe differently! Joe is a great father and you are indeed teaching your children that they have many choices when they marry.

  347. Stephenie you are a great mom and don’t let yourself believe differently! Joe is a great father and you are indeed teaching your children that they have many choices when they marry.

  348. Good rant Stephanie….I agree totally about the time zone thing, and also your views on negative vibes for women trying to “have/do it all”….basically the people that are emitting those vibes, spoken or just implied, are the ones with the problem….we just have to keep reminding ourselves that their perceptions are common but wrong wrong wrong!

  349. Well written, Stephanie- amzing that obvious injustices like gender prejudice still requires some type of re-dress.
    My husband and I have come to a solid agreement- I don’t “thank” him for doing the laundry and he doesn’t need to “thank” me for mopping the floor.
    Fair is fair…sounds like your girls are learning that loud and clear!

  350. Excellent post. Rant on. Clearly we are still evolving as a species. This type of thinking and questioning will help. Cheers. L:

  351. As someone has already commented (probably more, sorry, didn’t have time to read them all), the really depressing thing is that all this has been true and has been pointed out for years and years, without much changing. True, women are now allowed (indeed expected) to have a career, but they’re also still expected to sort the house and family, so actually on some levels it’s gotten worse. I work part-time since I has my son, so I feel guilty about not earning as much (I was the main bread-winner) and I feel guilty about my 2 year old being in nursery. Can’t win. Whenever we have a night without my boy, I feel guilty even though he’s just fine. My husband, I suspect, feels no guilt whatsoever – and he’s still a terrific dad.

  352. YES! I am a recently divorced mother of one. I spent two weeks out of town working and was asked repeatedly if I really needed to go, how I felt about it, was it going to happen often, etc. My ex who is currently not working is praised for showing up every week or so to take our daughter to the park. The split was amicable, so the visitation is very very very liberal. He could see her every day if he wanted to or was able. But he’s praised for his abilities as a dad for making it over once every couple of weeks. What?

  353. try being a working mom with a stay-at-home-dad husband. not only am I disparaged for working and travelling, but his masculinity is in question because he actually takes care of his kids rather than just “babysits”?!?!?!
    It works for us, although there is sometimes the “grass is greener” aspect for both of us – but really people need to get a grip on Parenting – it isn’t gender specific!

  354. I love your ability to voice my rants for me.
    I’m a new mom and am fairly recently back at my full time job as a physician. My wonderful husband is a stay at home dad. This leads to no end of comments that provoke me and occasionally make me feel guilty.
    No, my husband is not babysitting, he’s parenting. No, he’s not looking for work, his work is keeping our son out of daycare and managing out household. No, I will likely never stay home with our son, as I have a good paying four day a week (with many nights/weekends) job that puts food on the table and money in the college fund. No, I don’t feel guilty for formula feeding because I’M NOT – I spend large chunks of time attached to a pump so my husband can give him mama’s milk when I’m gone.
    While some husband may get cuddos for “babysitting” I know it is hard for men in non-traditional roles. My husband gets many comments about “not being able to support his family” when I think he should get cuddos for staying home and keeping some sanity in our home. He’s the one turning over the mugs when I’m left alone to do dishes…

  355. Yeah to you! Whenever I had to go out of town on business my in laws would offer to come help out my husband with the kids. I never got an offer when he was out of town. And let me say, he was out of town waaaay more often and for longer times than I ever was. I also abhor the term babysitting when a father looks after their kids. Does that mean they’re just playing house?

  356. I married a man who had been co-parenting his son and daughter with his ex. When our daughter was born 14 years ago, and I was faced with having to change my first diaper, it dawned on me that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with this child or the diaper. My husband shook his head at me, whipped the dirty diaper off the baby, expertly cleaned her up and handed back. I’ve been following his parenting lead ever since. It was nice to have someone with experience in the family. FYI… his ex used to call us and ask if we could “babysit” the older kids. His response was always, “I don’t babysit my own children but, they’re welcome to spend time with their Dad anytime they want.”

  357. Just coincidentally, I received this e-mail today:
    From: Elisabeth G. MacNamara
    Subject: Happy Women’s Equality Day!
    To: llevenson@yahoo.com
    Date: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 8:34 AM
    Dear Louise,
    Happy Women’s Equality Day!
    It’s hard to believe that just 90 years ago, on August 26, women defeated overwhelming opposition to win the right to vote.
    The League of Women Voters – founded the same year – celebrates this historic milestone by promoting greater civic participation and healthy debate on the issues that matter most to our nation and our communities.
    This Women’s Equality Day, we take time to recognize not only the historic 19th Amendment, but the tremendous progress we’ve made over the last 90 years in expanding and protecting voting rights. Generation to generation, the work of League supporters like you has been a testament to the incredible legacy of the 19th Amendment.
    And today, as we approach the November midterm elections and face new and even greater challenges as a nation, the League believes that the hands-on work of an engaged citizenry can and does lead to civic improvement at all levels of government.
    Spread the word about the League’s Women’s Equality Day celebrations. Send a personalized League e-card to your friends and family reminding them of this important day and telling them about the League’s important work.
    Ninety-one years ago, as victory seemed imminent for the 19th Amendment, Carrie Chapman Catt proposed the founding of the League of Women Voters to “finish the fight.” For 90 years, the League has kept that promise alive for each coming generation. Today, as a League supporter, you have the opportunity to continue to make a profound, direct and positive impact on the issues that matter most to our community and the generations to come.
    Elisabeth MacNamara
    President, LWVUS
    P.S. How are you celebrating Women’s Equality Day? Please visit our Facebook page and tell us about your plans.
    League of Women Voters
    1730 M Street NW, Suite 1000
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-429-1965

  358. Well said, Stephanie. You’ve really got it all together! In my case, I went back to work when my husband retired. He has picked up a lot of the slack, but guess who still gets to make dinner 6 nights out of 7, regardless of what time I get home from work!

  359. Love the rant! I think its rather frightening that we move so rapidly with technology yet still hold on to these frightfully old standards. I believe that you are a terrific parent!

  360. I will join the chorus. You should be grateful that Joe – for the most part – treats you as an equal and doesn’t expect more praise than he gives. I have been the only one working this past year while my partner “tries out” a writing career and am now – with a month’s notice – a full-time parent to his son. When I come home and am told that he was busy all day (not writing) and was too tired to do laundry because he made dinner (after a “lunch” of fast food)… well, let’s just say I’m very tired.
    People need to appreciate us for the efforts we make AND we need to speak up and not pretend that what we are doing is easy. I sent this post to my partner; it resonated with me.

  361. BRAVO!!! Fantastic rant that I agree with 110%!! It’s not fair and until more of us stick up for ourselves, nothing will change. I agree that you’re setting a wonderful example for your girls so they’ll know that they can expect for their relationships to be equal as well.

  362. Very well said!
    My husband and I both work full-time, outside the house, and have since before my kids were born. Sometimes I do more of the household stuff, sometimes he does. I think we both feel things even out in the long run and neither gets slighted.
    However, I have to work to stop feeling guilty when he’s washing dishes or takes one of the kids to the doctor. I think at this point that the guilt comes from my desire to save him the trouble, and not that I feel the “domestic” work as my responsibility. But old habits and attitudes die hard!

  363. My husband, daughter and I recently went on a vacation and visited a lot of friends and family. Whenever we sat down to chat with these people, they all ask my husband how his job is going. They all know that I work. The only time someone asked me it went like this, “So, um, Sara, um, are you still working?”
    I informed him that as we had not as yet won the lottery, yes, I’m still working.

  364. I love you. I travel nearly 60% for my job, for which I’m the major breadwinner, and my husband does a GREAT job of parenting and home-caring. But it’s still him that gets the kudos. And I love him, it’s society that troubles me.

  365. It’s interesting in our society, how history can play such a big role in our current lives. Man vs Women and the roles we play. It’s quite the same for my boyfriend/common-law husband/significant partner. (Or whatever people would like to refer to him as. I like to just call him Jon.)
    We love to cook and take great pride in being able to cook our meals together almost every evening and make plenty so we both have leftovers for lunch the next day. But it’s the same old story at the lunchroom table at our respective work places. All our co-workers are always shocked that Jon’s helped with dinner. Or that he made shepherd’s pie all by himself. Or that yes, that is a calzone I’m having for lunch and yes we made that ourselves including the dough, together.
    Jon constantly has to convince them that yes, he helped. Or yes, he made that all by himself. Why is that? They’re convinced his job was to just spread the cheese on top of the lasagna and that’s the way he helps. And then I meet these people who think I am Wonder Woman for being able to cook him meals every night. But I don’t. We explain, but they always seem to believe clear as day that I’ve done all the work.
    We may be living in a new century, but some people’s minds are still very traditional.

  366. Ohh, don’t even get me started on this one! I agree with everything you said! Thank you for stating it so well and for doing it publicly!

  367. I absolutely agree! I am a divorced mom to a four year old and I work a full-time job in the corporate world and try my best to balance family and career. It is exponentially harder now than it was when there were two of us taking care of the child and the house. It drives me crazy when someone makes a comment to me about something being out of place or not quite perfect in my house or the fact that I can’t always come home and prepare a nice home-cooked meal. Believe me, I wish I could, but there are so many hours in the day and I kind of value financially supporting myself and my child. I also don’t necessarily think that a child growing up with two working parents is a bad thing. I grew up with two working parents and I place a lot of value on getting to see my mom work hard not just as a mother but also a professional. I am glad my son gets to see me work in the business world outside the house, but at the same time I also sometimes feel that profound sense of guilt.

  368. You can’t see me, but I’m giving you a standing ovation. I raised my son differently than my husband and brothers were raised. Because I was a single mom I needed help around the house. He learned from an early age to cook, clean, pitch in without being asked. He was taught that it wasn’t “woman’s work”, but “family work”. His wife couldn’t be happier. He makes dinner on a regular basis. He runs the vacuum, scrubs out the tub, whatever needs to be done. He spent nine months at home with the boys while unemployed. His wife never lifted a finger the entire time and loved every minute of it. And his sons are only four, but they regularly help around the house. They both know how to fold clothes and wipe up spills. All without being nagged, scolded, or pleaded with, but because he was raised to do it. I’m proud to have raised a real man and that he is doing the same!

  369. I’ve been working in another city for almost six months now, away from my two boys and husband during the week. Most people that heard about our arrangement thought it would be a good thing for us. I’m the primary bread winner, this was an opportunity for my career and personal growth. We recognize that this is a burden on my husband, but only because he’s single parenting, not be cause he’s male.
    While the attitude you describe is common, I also think that we’re changing it by challenging it. Kudos to us!

  370. I agree with you, Stephanie. It isn’t fair, and there is a double standard. I wish that people could just do what they wanted, be it a career, or staying home to keep house and raise kids. Both are important jobs.
    People think I’m crazy because I am a typist. I work from home. But because I work on Eastern time, and live in Mountain time, I’m usually done work by 1:00 or 2:00 each day. People are absolutely befuddled about why I don’t keep my four-year-old at home and why she goes to daycare. They’re also shocked when they find out that my husband does the dishes and laundry because I have all that free time in the afternoon.
    Yes, I do have about three hours to myself each afternoon, no kid, no husband, no work, just me and my knitting or a bathtub and a book, but that doesn’t make me a bad person! It makes me a better person because it keeps me sane!

  371. I hear you! And let me add this, which is vaguely related. My articulate, mature and beautiful nearly 20 year old daughter is at college now, enjoying that feeling of being on the threshold of the rest of her life. She has frequently expressed “I do not ever want to have children, and I don’t even think I want to get married.” Almost without exception, the response is something like “Well, you can always change your mind,” which sounds an awful lot like “wow, are you OUT OF your mind” if you factor in the facial expression and general demeanor of the speaker. Isn’t life really about the choices we make, and haven’t women fought long and hard to be able to choose in the first place. We should be more supportive of each other, our choices and the ability to find our own paths through life, however unconventional they may be.

  372. It seems that the only thing women’s liberation has gotten us is, less respect from men (and sometimes other women), no more money for the same work done, and more to do. I worked full time while my kids were small because I had to. I wish I could have been home. I had to go back to work when they were 4 mons old because that was all the time you got then. I worked for years, and years and years. The last few part time. Now I am almost 50 and I am burnt out. I have currently quit working to stay at home as even though I have a 20 yr old & an almost 17 year old I also have a 6 yr old. Many people have questioned me about this but I left a difficult job situation and feel much better for it. I only wish I could have been at home when my kids were small. Now, when everyone else is “starting their career” or “going back to work” I am done with it. I don’t have the get up and go anymore to do it. Maybe the sudden death of my husband when I was 36 has something to do with it. Even though I am in a new relationship and have moved ahead (you only get past these things, you never get over them) my “joie de vivre” is somewhat gone. I used to be that “A” type, go-go-go girl who said “stress, what stress? Bring it on and we’ll just do more”. That is over. So girls, don’t be so concerned if your sink isn’t clean or you floor isn’t washed, or your cups are turned over the wrong way just enjoy your times as they come.

  373. I just have to say, this is something my husband and I struggled with for several years, and finally we made peace with it. He’s a stay-at-home dad, and I am the sole breadwinner. We completely buck the “traditional” system, and we are thoroughly enjoying it. He does most of the housework (I take a few things and most of the weekend cooking) and although he is responsible for our 3 year-old son during the day, we share the parenting responsibilities. The double standard is hard; if the roles were reversed there would be no issue. Even our parents have a tough time (mine more so than his) accepting it, but it works for us. Whether this is permanent or temporary, we enjoy it. Believe it or not, I think it fits our personalities, although I always wanted to be a SAHM. I wish more people would let others be and live how they want to live. Does it matter who brings home more money? No, the important thing is that the bills are covered, the housework is done, and the children are taken care of – not who does what.

  374. The “babysitting” comment is a particular bugbear with me. When men say that to me, I look at them and innocently ask “Is it still called babysitting if they’re your own children?”
    I use a similar tactic for racist or sexist or other bigoted jokes. I say “I don’t get it.” This forces the person to choose between “explaining” the stereotype or changing the subject. Most people just change the subject. 😉

  375. For what it’s worth, I regard “babysitting” my own daughter those times when I’m in on my own in the evening, she’s fast asleep upstairs and I’m watching rubbish television while eating chocolate biscuits and knitting. I regard my husband as babysitting her when he is doing the same thing. We also share the housework – he tidies and I pay the cleaner (exaggerated somewhat but basically true). My parents are occasionally horrified that he irons his own shirts, but I don’t like ironing and the couple of times I’ve done it, I didn’t do it properly, so what can we do?
    I think that as more and more men live alone for a period of time before marriage/co-habitation, it will become more common for them to do “women’s work”. I’m in my thirties, and I wouldn’t expect to run around after my husband, and I hope that my daughters will feel the same. As far as I can tell, at least here in the UK, the next generation now assume that both parents in a family will have to work and that everything needs to be shared, from childcare to emptying the dishwasher to the laundry to the DIY and basic car maintenance.
    We need to keep on telling ourselves that things are not fair at the moment, and working to make them more fair and equal for both parents, so that we can change things for our children.
    Rant on!

  376. ::applause::
    I’m a SAHM, going to school full time. When people hear I’m home with the baby, they congratulate my SO on making it possible. When I mention that when I graduate and (hopefully) get an awesome job, he’s gonna stay home…. they talk about what a wonderful father he is to do that.
    Whatever I do is expected, whatever he does is extraordinary.
    Luckily, it is only other people who act like this, not my partner. His actions show that we are in a true partnership every day.

  377. Holy cow you get a lot of comments!
    The only thing I think when I hear you’ve gone away is: I bet they are missing her, and I feel sorry for them.
    I’m sure I should feel sorry for you, missing them – but I guess your “voice” is stronger in my head, so I don’t “know” them and that makes it harder to “miss” them.
    There. A lot of “quotes” for you. 🙂

  378. Kids learn many things from their moms but their self esteem comes from their fathers. Why is it okay for dads to be away as much as they are?
    I’d love to be in a teepee with my whole family, picking berries, learning and teaching together but society has gone too far away from that. Sheeple.

  379. A girlfriend of mine refers to staying home with her two children while her husband is out as babysitting also, so I don’t know that it’s really a dude thing to say. Her husband has a hyphenated last name, though, so maybe they’re just the shining exception.

  380. i’m not even reading one comment- i’m sure they’re all the same…i just have to chime in with an “AMEN, SISTER!!!!!!”

  381. Bummed that you need to say this, as I said the same things 15 years ago, I hoped things would have changed by now. I hold tight to the thought that my husband and I are showing the kids how it should be, that women are not permanent children needing to be supported by someone else and that men are not doomed to a life of work as the sole support of their loved ones.
    The one addition to the rant I would make is “why does is become less than real work because you do it at home? Both family and friends have been disgruntled because I can’t run around during the work day taking care of things around the house, although they know I would never disturb them at their work place expecting them to find things or do laundry.”

  382. STOP.FEELING.GUILTY! When both parents work they are both equally responsible for taking care of the children and the household. There is no way a human being could work and take care of the home and children (and doing a good job at all 3)Period and end of discussion.

  383. You have received SO much feedback (100% supportive I’m SURE) that my comments can only be redundant. I will note, though, that as a frequent “timeshifter” myself (work a couple of 11-7 shifts weekly), that first day after is a killer, and any issues lingering in the background become HUGE and depressing, and guilt rears its ugly head.
    I like the comment that says we need to keep working to make things more fair, for our children. A lot has changed even in the past thirty years–when I was a child, only a woman who was single, widowed, or (horrors!) divorced “had” to work. Perhaps, in another generation or two, BOTH parents will be expected to participate equally in raising their kids and keeping the home fires burning. In the meantime, watch how many young women suddenly “get” what the women’s movement has been about, when they become moms and run into those entrenched archaic attitudes.
    After a night’s sleep, hope you’re feeling better about everything. You rock, and don’t forget it!

  384. I wish I could hand this out to every family I know, and, unfortunately, to a few moms who I think could use hearing it from someone besides just me. I’ve been a parent for 5 years and I think about this every day. Balancing a family and career is t-o-u-g-h. And being fairly valued is something that is embedded in our genes and I’m not sure I’ll ever “get over it”. But I will continue to focus on working well as a family, setting a good example to my kids, and being proud of my individual contribution to it. Thanks for posting this in a public forum.

  385. Amen, amen, amen!!! How many more years will pass before we can put this rant into the dead topic archives?
    I’ve been a work-from-home contractor for 15 years, starting when my twins were 6 months old. I’ve done the elementary school volunteering, the field trips, and all the other SAHM activities, but then worked at night to “pay back” for my time off. I dealt with that, not a problem. But having relatives call you in the middle of the day and ask whether you could sit at their house waiting for the appliance repairman because you are at home was just too much to deal with! I’m not “at home”, I’m “at work” and unless you want to pay me what my clients are paying me, I can’t take time off to do chores for you!
    When clients ask what my office hours are, I tell them that I’m in the office from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., then back in the office from 9 p.m. until I collapse exhausted on my keyboard. They think it is funny, I smile stiffly and tell them that those ARE my office hours.
    My husband is close to retiring from his job and will be shopping around for consulting work, but it may require travel out of state 3 days each week. His colleagues think he is shooting himself in the foot to think about restricting his travel so that he can be home to spend time with our teenagers!

  386. My Dad was really involved with my upbringing quite a bit for men of his generation. My Mom is involved with lots of unions and would take a few trips a year down to Vancouver for their big meetings, leaving us with Dad. Sure all we did was eat mac and cheese with hot dogs in it and drink chocolate milk but those times with my dad were priceless. He really helped, unknowingly, raise three very active and strong feminists. It also made the time with my Mom more precious. We appreciated the time with her more, and her ability to cook as well. I rarely leave comments but did want to leave this one. What you are doing is good for you and yours! It’s important! Children need to see both their parents as equal and they need to see their parents have a life outside of them. High five, Ms. Harlot, high five.

  387. I know I’m a day late: here in the US we celebrate today the 90th anniversary of the female right to vote!!
    You go females!

  388. AMEN!
    I do have to say, I think I bring a lot of this on myself, because I wanted so desperately to stay at home with my children and wasn’t able to find work that would allow that, and we really thought we needed to exist above the poverty level. Silly us- really, I mean that- what was REALLY important here!!! Looking back I think we could have happily made it on much less- and now looking back, so does my husband (who has been great for doing his share of the house/parenting labor, but not terribly vocal when others question the situation).

  389. AND you and Joe are helping your daughters and each other to learn self sufficiency and the survival skills EVERYONE needs to be good persons in this world. Lessons in gratitude, even–how wonderful to be able to cook, clean, care for others, with or without bulgy pants. Western society is still recovering from a very old economic division of labor and responsibility. You are a successful exemplar of the new order, and you are not alone.

  390. The rant – and so many of these comments – give voice to the thoughts in my own mind. It’s good to belong to this club – one that doesn’t cost money, and the only requirement is to stand up for yourself in the face of ridiculousness.

  391. There was a study done fairly recently about how men and women talk in groups, and it found that when men and women talk equally in a mixed group the women are perceived as talking a lot, some would say too much. Afaik no similar study has ever been done on housework and/or child care, but I’d bet that in households where the man and woman work equally at paying jobs, men who really do their half of the domestic burden would be perceived as doing most or all of it. (Of course, such a study would first have to locate those men, no easy task.)
    My husband works full time, and I work 30 hours a week; he once accused me of not doing my fair share in the home, saying that since I worked 10 fewer hours at my paying job I should work 10 more hours in the home. “Well, from 6:30 to 8:30 every morning I get the kids up and out,” I said, “that’s 10 hours right there.”
    “…Oh.” he said. “Um, yes, I suppose that would count.”
    To be fair, he does most of the cooking and a lot of the shopping, and neither of us does as much cleaning as would be optimal. And he has always spent a lot of time with the kids (on first meeting my across-the-street neighbor I told her I had an 11-month-old son, explaining that he was at the grocery store with my husband. “He’s WHERE with WHO????” was her response). But women’s work does tend to be invisible, even to people who are trying to be fair. I don’t even think about it most of the time, because things are so much better than they used to be (remember when a married woman couldn’t get credit in her own name, even if she was a successful CEO married to a ne’er-do-well drunk?), and it doesn’t seem like much more can be done. And because when I do think about it I just get impotently mad. It’s worth remembering, though.

  392. As a mom, when you kill yourself to maintain career/house/children, you get a gentle smile from the few who know your struggles.
    As a dad, you get a Hollywood feature film, starring Will Smith.

  393. My favorite quote (by a dad no less!), when asked about “babysitting” his own kids “Last time I checked, I was home the same night she was! So that means they’re mine too!”

  394. Kids learn by example. I didn’t raise my daughter to sacrifice her self for her children. I raised her so that she could have a fulfilling life in the manner she chose for herself. This implies that I would be wrong to sacrifice everything for her, and I haven’t. It all worked out fine. (I’m a scientist and she’s just starting graduate school.) She doesn’t feel neglected–she’s grateful that her mother showed her what was possible. No one can make you feel guilty without your permission, and there are no grounds for guilt in the present situation.

  395. Amen, sister! I agree, totally. The guilt is the hardest part of all. I especially hate it when another woman makes you feel the guilt — like they always stay home, only do what the kids want, imply that you should be such a martyr as well. We need to be more supportive of each other and realize parenting, and taking care of a household are difficult, and it isn’t the sole responsibility of the person without the penis.

  396. I can print this out and distribute, yes? You’ve said so well how so many of us feel. Thank you.

  397. I don’t know why things are the way they are, probably because not that long ago, women typically stayed home with the children and men worked outside the home, and that’s where the battleline of responsibility was drawn. The men made the money, the women made the home. That thinking will take a long, long time to undo.
    I do know that I am surprised when my husband mops the floor (why? he certainly dirties it!) and feel tinges of guilt as well. Which is ridiculous – I’ve mopped the floor many times more than he has. Then again, I’ve never cut the grass. Not that I’m opposed to it, he’d prefer to do it and I’m okay with that.
    I think whatever division of labor works in your house, that’s your business and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

  398. Watch one commercial during a football game and it is clear what society truly thinks of the male gender’s ability to function in this world. That’s why it is so amazing to people that Joe can handle things while you’re away. Not making excuses, just explanations. I love my husband dearly, but men are just not made like women and most days, I think it’s a good thing!

  399. So true–and so well stated! I know knitting is your main work focus, but seriously, you could (and I’d love it if you would) submit this or a variation of it to a magazine for publication.

  400. Amen! Rant all you want about this (particularly when you put it so well), nobody should be allowed to forget that these double standards and inequalities exist. I’m just grateful that I don’t suffer from them so much – in fact, my other half is cooking dinner as I type!

  401. Much of the problem, of course, is that you clearly enjoy your job. You are doing something you love which does not involve taking care of your children. This is not allowed. You may work outside the home, but only if you hate it but must do it to survive. But to go off somewhere to do something you love? You are clearly gallivanting, and gallivanting women are a threat to society.

  402. quote: ” … it annoys me a bit. … ” Just a bit? Only just a “bit”? Harlot Love – you ARE the mistress of understatement! Please don’t ever stop doing what you do

  403. I totally get your rant. A little story if you will…
    When I was finished 6th grade, rather than have me go to a rather dicey middle-school in the Philly public school system, my parents chose to transfer me (and my siblings) to the local parochial school. I left behind all of my friends in that transfer.
    In 7th and 8th grade, the nuns called my mother in for conferences all the time because I was prone to day dreaming in class. (I was bored and had learned most of what they were teaching already.) At the time, my mother taught 8th grade at another parochial school in the diocese. It was implied that because she “worked,” I was having problems in school. Thankfully, my mother is a gracious woman and knows her children VERY well. (read: she did not deck the teacher that said that) She did come home, talk to me and reminded me that I was in school to pay attention and to ask for extra credit if I was bored.
    So yeah… comments and insinuations like that are stupid and rankle.

  404. Bravo on the rant!! I don’t have children, but do work full-time and take care of the house full-time. My husband does very little in the house and I let him and everyone know he’s not pulling his wait because on top of my 8 hr day it takes me 2 hrs each way to get to work, so really I have a 12 hr day while his work is 5 minutes from the house.
    And the whole dad’s “babysitting” their own children really ticks me off too. They aree not babysitting, they are looking after their children like they should. But you’re right, society really is still stuck in the mud on this whole issue.

  405. I Love You!!
    My MIL once told my husband he does “way too much to help out” with the house and kids. Nevermind I was working 40 hours a week outside the home….I was still supposed to be fully responsible for home and kids, too!

  406. Oh Steph…who cares what the public thinks? The public has a collective IQ of 12 and can’t read anyway. You must ALWAYS follow your heart and soul. Doing less leads to violent and irrational behavior. We all know this but we resist and try to conform to the rules compiled by society for us to live by. And they wonder why people get guns and go into McDonalds and shoot perfectly nice families eating their dinners. Because they are living against their natural inclinations until they are completely crazy from trying.
    Better you should travel and knit and stash, eh?

  407. I think your entire family benefits from Mom and Dad having interests/work outside the home and Mom and dad sharing the parenting. It’s the quality of time spend I think and not the quantity of time.

  408. Thank you! You eloquently captured so much of what I (and ALL of my female friends) struggle with day to day (but with toddlers instead of teenagers)…

  409. My husband and I modeled this so well that our adult son has stated he would like to become a “househusband” and do the “traditional” mom thing. He’s a writer, a minister, and single…so any of you ladies out there interested?

  410. Awesome.
    I’m not a mom or a wife, I’m an almost 28 yo who’s 6 months into the first major relationship of her life. Which means I’ve spent the VAST majority of my adult life as a single person (who has severe only child tendencies to be on her own). I wouldn’t say I was happy being single, but now that I’m with someone, I truly appreciate the habits that my life ingrained in me – being on my own, depending on myself for entertainment, food, laundry, cleaning, etc.
    It’s very funny to me now that when it comes to me going off to do something on my own – I tell my boyfriend, “Hey, I made X plans, just FYI,” whereas he is more prone to ask permission to do something without me. Honestly, it’s kind of hilarious. I think that’s the MAJOR benefit of coming to a relationship later in life… it’s actually out of the ordinary for me to have someone expecting me to do something, so I don’t really feel guilty – it’s just what I’ve always done.
    BUT, thinking forward, I do worry. Neither of us wants kids, so that takes a major chunk out of the division of labor issue; however, in the honeymoon phase I was really happy to do things for him… laundry, cooking (which I generally loath doing, even for myself), cleaning up (his place). Now that we’re getting into the established phase and thinking about moving in together, I am very leery of setting up any patterns where I’m expected to take on more than my share of the chores. We each do our own laundry, and b/c we spend most of our time at his place, cleanliness falls mostly on him. But he works later than I do, so I’ve noticed I am starting to feel like I’m responsible for making dinner – so I’m at the point where I’m trying to think how to set up a good pattern of sharing responsibilities. I mean, I wake up at 6am to commuted an hour, work 9 hours, and commute an hour back… and then I’m going to make dinner? Uh-uh! Luckily (again), the benefit of both of us being single until we’re older means that he’s pretty aware of this stuff, knows how to take care of and clean up after himself, and most of these situations can be solved when the time comes with a few conversations.
    Knowing how difficult it can be this far in, in an admittedly great situation… I feel for all the wives and mothers in tougher spots. I’ll do my part to stop shaming you, I’m sorry.

  411. You’re absolutely right. Why should women be penalised for their choices (or their lack of them)?
    Analogously, as a single mother, I got lots of “Oh I could never put my children in daycare”. Really? So absent grandparents, cousins, a stay-at-home parent and a trust fund, just what do you suppose you *would* (or could) do? Not work? And live how?
    Well done, you.

  412. Yup! Told hubby before we got married that I needed to know that he was NOT going to help me with the housework, he was going to do his share and that he understood the diff. He was astonished when we sat down and listed times for each household job just to make a point. Yes, we included the yard stuff to be fair and it has mostly worked for us. Had a girlfriend tell me I would be selfish if I expected that he would equally share childraising! Huh?

  413. Is it remotely possible that the whole pressure to make women stay home from work started because of the second world war during which women kept the country working while the bulk of the male population was out shooting each other, then the war ended, the economy was slumped, and governments were trying to find jobs for thousands of men and there were no new jobs for them? I just read that there was a government campaign in England to encourage women to quit their jobs so men could do them. I can see society taking on that value, then not knowing when to put it down.
    I think you are a phenominal Mom providing a terrific example to your daughters on being a kind, considerate, loving, responsable, intelligent, and flexable person. Yes flexable: your life changed when it needed to. You stayed home when you had babies, you got a job when you had time, you changed your job when SARS bombed your world. Praise and Disrepute are not part of Karma. (whoa. end of rant!)

  414. That settles it; I do love you!
    I think that the implication that only women can manage a household and family is not only offensive to women, but implies that a man is incompetent to do the same job. It is rudeness to both members of a family partnership.

  415. Mostly it’s a matter of dollars and cents. In the average family the male has the greater earning capacity. That is becoming less true, but it was totally true in the past and the people implying that you aren’t doing what is expected of you are mostly coming from families where if the male partner didn’t work, they wouldn’t make it financially. That greater earning capacity has, in the past, given men that priveledged position where they are not expected to work AT home because the work AWAY from home. Things are slowly changing.

  416. I agree men are not expected to do as much as women, BUT, your last sentence sums up how lucky you are…YOU ARE A TEAM. Being a single parent of a special needs child I have had to rely on friends to help out as my family is not local to where I live. My ex strictly stuck to his every other weekend schedule. Never taking his son any extra time…even when I had cancer and had to go to hospital he had the nerve to say to me that it was my problem to find childcare. My child is now 21 and I hope that I have “trained” him to be a good future husband/father.

  417. As a dad, I completely agree with you… but from a totally different perspective.
    I was married and had a newborn son. My wife couldn’t take the stresses of our new child, so I helped out as much as I could. I had to work a lot of hours to pay our bills (mostly medical bills from the pregnancy and delivery) since we had both been previously working just to make ends meet, and now I was the only one working. I would take our crying son out for car rides in the middle of the night just so that my wife could get some much needed sleep. Somewhere down the line, however, I was spending so much time taking car of my wife and my son that I wasn’t properly taking care of myself.
    In the meantime, rather than my wife using this time to get the rest she needed, she started forming relationships with various people online. Eventually, she left my son an I behind for a week to travel and visit one of her online lovers to “seal the deal”.
    Needless to say… I was tired… and I was hurt… my world was spinning out of control. She just didn’t love me anymore. That’s all it boils down to. The genie couldn’t grant me the wish for her to love me once again.
    Here are some disturbing revelations from this experience?
    1) First, I convinced her to go to a marriage counselor. She insisted on picking the counselor. She didn’t want it to be a religious one because she already knew what they’d suggest she do (or stop doing). The counselor she picked usually helped women who were abused by their husbands. When it became apparent that I was not an abusive husband, the counselor pretty much didn’t know how to handle the situation other than to tell ME that maybe *I* should leave the relationship. (!?)
    2) She essentially “fired” that counselor, because although she still wanted to continue cheating on me, she still wanted me around to pay the bills. However, the next counselor she picked pretty much came to the same conclusion. The two of us just weren’t going to work out. Her attitude towards life from that point just wasn’t compatible with “marriage”.
    3) Finally, she just gave up and filed for divorce so that she could continue to sow her wild oats in peace. In the aftermath, during various mediation sessions, the general attitude I got from most people was, “It’s really great that you’re taking the time to be there for your son, still, and support him.” (!?!?!?)
    4) The default action was to give her 75% of the time with our son and I was to get only 25%. I protested. This made no sense. I wanted a family. She wanted to act wild. I felt I was the more stable parent. Apparently this didn’t matter. I was told, “Usually the mother gets custody.” (!?!?!?) It was suggested that unless she was a danger to our child, this is just the way it was. So, I guess if a husband cheats and files for divorce to move on to other people, he’s a “dead beat dad”… if a wife does the same thing… well, she’s a single mother… feel sorry for her.
    How is this relevant to this particular post?
    It really sucks that you had to feel guilty when people judged you based on a double-standard. People really need to mind their own business, or be more open minded about the world around them. Keep in mind, though, that this same close-mindedness goes both ways.
    When the world sees you, by default, as the “parent”… and the father, by default, as the “babysitter”… I can see how aggravating that can be. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes that can be to your advantage. The world looks at the father… no matter HOW involved he is… as worthless. Trash. They’ll take children from him in a heartbeat and hand them right over to the mother, because “that’s the way it is.” Coming from a father, it is something I still have to deal with. I have to fight 10 times as hard just to be given an inch. Then, the attitude I am given is either, “Why are you trying so much? You’re just the father.” OR it’s a condescending, “High five! You’re doing such a great job babysitting your son!” Are you kidding me? I’m not babysitting him. I am sharing my life with him. I am raising him. I want to spend every moment I can with him. I want the best for him. My whole purpose for existing is to give him everything he deserves and more. And, yet, I am treated like a “dead beat dad” every corner I turn. I still only have him 25% of the time. And I am constantly treated like that was something I asked for. Could I have fought harder? Probably… and that is guilt I will live with until the day I die.
    After my divorce, my ex-wife even told me that if I didn’t want a divorce, I should have tried harder to stop her from cheating on me. (!?!?!?)
    There are so many things she did that, if a man had done it to his wife, people would be out with pitchforks and torches ready to hang him. And yet, she is regularly treated like any typical single mom who needs help and I am constantly viewed as an abandoner.
    So, my advice to you is… when people judge you… when people look at the things you do and automatically make snap judgement based on some movies they have seen or some assumptions they have made about your situation… take it with a grain of salt. They really know not what they say. One day, they too will end up in a situation and will be judged in similar ways and will feel terrible about it… hopefully they will connect the dots and realize the error of their ways.

  418. Ah, yes, this is much the same that I see frequently. I’m an engineer in my 50’s and get a huge kick out of my daughter’s female friends working in technology and science without a second thought. It was very different when I was in school, no role models, we paved our own way.
    Just last week in a casual chat with an older man in a coffee shop I heard, “Make sure your husband keeps working to pay for the…” Um, I’ve always made much more than my husband and I’m currently pretty much the only breadwinner. Do I care? Nope, he’s great. Does he care? Only because he feels like he’s not doing enough. I think I’ll keep him. 😉
    PS: he’s behind me at the ironing board ironing the tablecloth.

  419. I think it depends on how the person you’re talking to was raised.
    I was raised in a house where my Dad worked, my Mom worked, yet my Dad was singularly excellent at cooking and cleaning (raised by a single Mom), so he did a lot of it. My mother filled in what he didn’t do, and it worked.
    My husband was raised in a house where his Dad worked long hours, and Mom stayed home, wrangling kids, cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, grocery shopping, taking care of her husband’s every whim, etc. She washed the walls of the house weekly. Weekly!
    Both our sets of parents are close in age, yet one set is very different from the other. My husband’s parents of course disapprove of our work split. Quietly, but they do. My parents accept it as perfectly reasonable.
    So I really think it depends on the background of the person you’re talking to.
    (I learned, from my Dad and Mom, how to cook, clean and keep house really well. My husband did not learn a thing because Mom did it all for him, and I had to teach him. He’s still a slob, but I refuse to be forced into the “supermom” mode and burn myself out. But apparently for some people it’s perfectly alright for the man to be the slob and make the wife do all the housework AND work a 40 hour job.)

  420. I can actually rant about this subject for longer (although not nearly as well).
    It bothers me.
    My husband and I have decided we need a third spouse – one without benefits.

  421. I’ve got to give it to my hubby – when he gets asked if he’s ok with me going away (rarely happens, but anyways) he usually answers
    “Why wouldn’t I be?” in a tone that removes the implication that I should be staying home, and in turn implies to the questioner that there is something wrong with their question.
    He is my hero 🙂

  422. Is this a record? 553 comments so far… All I can say: You hang around with the wrong people. My husband LOVES parenting and grandparenting!

  423. I have been spending a good bit of time today wondering why my work has to be late because I needed to drop off and pick up daughters here and there and everywhere, yet no one would expect their dad to leave work and get them. I am just so crabby right now!

  424. I have always liked what Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
    As rational adults we can make conscious decisions about what is fair, but cultural stereotypes take a long time to change. I watched my mother struggle with her decision to return to the workforce in the mid-70s when us kids were 14, 12, and 6. Having two incomes allowed our family many wonderful experiences that would not have been possible otherwise. But every time one of us kids had a problem, her first reaction was, “Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if I’d been home.” Even as a teenager, I saw the fallacy of her thinking, though I didn’t know how to relieve her guilt.
    Fast-forward 30 years to my brother (a civil engineer) and his wife deciding that he would be a stay-at-home dad to their 2 boys. From what he’s told me, the stereotypes are even worse on the male side, and women are some of the worst offenders, which I find especially sad.
    Thanks for your rant, Stephanie. I love the posts that make me laugh, and I value the ones that make me think.

  425. sing it sister! I stay at home with the kids, we have three small ones. But I expect my husband to help around the house and stay home with the kids on occasion so that I can go out and do things. He’s their parent too! He should be responsible for them too!

  426. A good friend’s husband once said to her, “It’s not fair that you get to spend all day with the kids while I have to work.”
    She is a very tolerant woman. I would have ripped his balls out through his nostrils.

  427. As someone who is about to become a mom, and who will be returning to work while dad stays home with baby, this is exactly what has been going through my head this week. Thank you for voicing it.
    Since my husband is a chef with flexible hours, I continually hear about how lucky I must be to come home from work every day to have dinner cooked for me. I don’t think anyone tells men whose wives cook for them the same thing.

  428. Struck a nerve with this one, Stephanie!! You’re so right to still be upset because it’s still not fair or right. The comment above about peoples’ reactions depending upon how/when they grew up is right on. So many set-in-stone societal roles have been upended during the last few decades (OK the last century!) and many people unfortunately still haven’t a clue how to react. Rant on! and congratulations to you and Joe for having built such an excellent team.

  429. No, it’s not just you. And what year is it now? Why do supposedly “modern people” talk like it’s 1950?
    Your timing couldn’t be better, Steph: today is “Women’s Equality Day” in the U.S. in honor of the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Our illustrious “hope and change” president has forcefully thrown under the bus the very women who got him into the White House, but hey! Don’t be mean! Today’s our Equality Day, in which women still make $.60 to every $1 men make, and reproductive freedom is being whittled away more and more every effin’ day. I’m all giddy here with my equality! Someone pinch me!

  430. Amen!
    It still bothers you because it is still massively sexist and unfair.
    It sounds like the people who matter – you and Joe- know the true meaning of partnership and practice it. Other people should take a lesson.

  431. Thank you!! I went back to work today–I’m a school teacher–loaded down with guilt even though I love my job. I love my job, my kids, and my husband. I’m SICK TO DEATH of people trying to make me choose or insinuating that I’m somehow short-changing some aspect of my life.

  432. Agreed. My husband worked nights when our girls were little, and so it was he that took them to playgroups, and the mothers and staff would comment about how he was such a great father for taking them there to play and how “involved” he was.

  433. Amen, Sister!! 🙂
    BTW, I have worked hard to get my mom to drop the “babysitting” reference about fathers. I think we are almost there. 😉

  434. I have often times wondered at these assumptions people make and I have to stand on your side of the line. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t make you more (or less) worthy to have a job that now and again calls you away from the kitchen.
    Either way, good on you and Joe for being a rockstar team.

  435. Personally, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about “not working”. I take care of my half of the work by staying home with the kids and keeping up the housework. My husband does his half of the work by going out and working a job he doesn’t love so we can all eat and wear clothes and sleep in a house. Someday, when it’s my time to get a job, he’ll do more housework to even things up.
    I think people must make these comments because they feel guilty themselves about something. Or they’re envious. Or they’re stupid. Who can say?

  436. Boy, did you press a few people’s buttons! It’s been just under 2 hours since you posted, and there are 577 comments! Even knitting doesn’t get this kind of response.
    To me it’s sad our society is filled with these judgements in 2010. What ever happened to all the changes which started in the early 1900s? I recently had a woman tell me “My husband would never let me do that!” My response was “I can’t imagine marrying anyone who would not let me live my life as I wish.”
    Guess what? I’ve never married. Lots of reasons, but your rant reinforces I have made the best decision for me. I support all people who live their lives fully, who don’t live their lives in gender-based roles. Your amazing daughters are proof your and Joe’s lives have been good ones. Please feel free to rant as needed. Never hurts to remind all to clear out old cobwebs and ideas.

  437. ‘How about if someone says “I could never be away from my kids” doesn’t that imply somehow that the fact that you do it means that you’re a little dead inside?’
    Not necessarily. It entirely depends on the speaker, and where their heart is. You can usually hear their intention in their voice, if you listen carefully to what they’re saying. (Which is very much like approaching each contraction in labor as a new experience, instead of anticipating the next to be exactly like the last.)
    I’ve said that kind of thing to other moms who don’t home school . . . all the while respecting the fact that each parent makes the choices he or she needs to in order to provide the best care they can for their children. That’s determined by their individual abilities, limitations, educations, world view, emotional and physical condition, ad infinitum.
    And as for the rest of your rant: Well said. :o)

  438. Okay, I’m like 575th to post….but I have to say…. I loved the rant! You are oh so right! All Moms should get a standing ovation for staying (mostly) sane while juggling family, career, and household (notice the order here ladies). I think I’ll stand and start clapping right now!

  439. Totally unrelated… sorry.. but before I forget.
    Just heard an item on the CBC. Excavations in North Yorkshire found a Roman sandal with a remnant of sock attached. It did not say if it was knit. They commented on the early appearance of the sock/sandal combination but did seem to miss this important evidence of possible knitting history.

  440. Ha! It’s so funny that you wrote about this today. Just last night, after dinner, I suggested to my husband that he do the dishes. He mumbled something about doing them tomorrow (which means he’ll get to them some time this weekend). So, I told him that I’d just do them. I guess he felt bad, because he did the dishes, but then he had the nerve to try to make me feel bad about how he “did the dishes even though he didn’t want to.” So I asked him if he wanted a gold star for doing something that I do all the time without acknowledgment.
    I’m only 27, but I’m tired of being the bad wife because I don’t like doing laundry and I travel for school without my husband. If he was the one traveling or not doing laundry, no one would bat an eye.
    Thank you for saying this.

  441. This is one of the many, many reasons why being lesbian mums (with 4 kids at home!) works for us!
    Rock on SPM!!!

  442. Thank you. I had a husband who was always traveling. It was lonely and hard, working full time, keeping house, raising three to four kids depending on who was home at the time. When he was home and I wanted to go to knitting night with my friends, he’d stop me with “But it’s so lonely…” In the end he ran away with a Russian floozie he met on his travels. That’s justice for you.

  443. My college students in Rhetoric and Argument classes are reading an essay called “Why I Want A Wife,” by Judy Brady. First published in 1971 in MS. magazine. Students wanted to claim that things have changed and no way were women subject to unfair treatment like this “way back when” or now. I shared this blog post to present a different view. So I’m de-lurking to tell you how eloquent and timely this post is and how it hushed up a roomful of college freshmen. Bravo, Stephanie. And — thank you.

  444. Hey Stephanie, I have a story for you. My husband (who stays home with our 3 girls) was at the Department store buying dresses and swimsuits for the girls and some woman commented that he was a “House Husband”. His answer to her was : “No, I am their Dad.” He gets the same feeling from others on not “working” altho he’s the hardest working person I know. Know that the only correct way is what is best for your family and what others think just doesn’t matter! Mary

  445. And one more thing – my husband and I work at exactly the same job. We have the same schedule and make the exact same salary. My mother on the phone: “What are you making for dinner?”
    “I’m not.”
    “Oh your poor husband! No wonder he’s so skinny.”
    ( . . . .)
    Thanks, mom.

  446. When my husband is caring for our two girls, which he does a lot of the time, he often gets asked if he’s “babysitting.” He always replies that he is parenting. I have never been asked that question, btw.

  447. I am SO GRATEFUL I didn’t quit working when my kids were born. I’ve been supporting a family of 4 for the past few years because my husband can’t find a job. Women keep things functioning, whether they are stay at home moms or working moms.

  448. I guess what bothers me is that you’re bothered. My mom once told me that no one can make you feel guilty except you. And, since I only know you from this blog, I think you are a very centered, well adjusted person. Who cares what other people think. All marriages are different there is no normal, and those that think otherwise don’t count. I think they’re just jealous!

  449. What an appropriate day (in the US) to be having this conversation… and to point out that, as far as women have come, there’s still a long way to go. (Today is the 90th anniversary of the 20th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the US).
    My husband and I occasionally (4 times in the last 20 years) have *DISCUSSIONS* that center around the theme “When did it become MY job to clean the house/do the laundry/watch the children.” But only 4 times in 20 years, so not bad 🙂

  450. Please don’t stop being annoyed (outraged even). If we all stopped noticing, then things wouldn’t change.

  451. Thanks for this post. It means a lot to hear it from somewhere other than my own head. Gender inequality is pretty insidious, isn’t it? I look forward to the day you take over the world.

  452. Yep. All that and more. Pisses me off that I can’t leave my husband in charge of the kids while I go out and cut the grass, clean out the cars or do some basic home renos because my husband is worried that people will judge him. They’ll think I’m a bossy b*&^h who “wears the pants” or that he’s too lazy to do all.
    I’d way rather be out doing that stuff than in the house cleaning or doing dishes. Hate cleaning.

  453. Today, on Women’s Equality Day, we still are not equal. It’s true that we are not the same, that we’re the ones who carry the babies and nurse them, but even there, women aren’t identical.
    You’ve done a good job for your family, raising strong independent kids with your husband, and it is a good thing that you are doing what your heart calls for you to do. *hugs*

  454. You are so right! The definition of ‘parent’ is mom and/or dad and it’s non-gender specific. So if mom isn’t around on any given day to parent the children, dad parents and vise versa. In this day and age, why is that still an issue?

  455. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for the rant. I travel without my family at least twice a year–sometimes for work-related things, sometimes to visit out-of-town friends–and I always have this nagging feeling that people are judging me for having a life that has nothing to do with my roles as mother & wife. I think it’s made me a healthier person, quite frankly (the travel, not the being judged), but it really bugs me that people disapprove…
    (600 comments! Lord knows if you’ll ever get to this one, but I would assume this means you have hit a nerve!)

  456. Why do you care so much what other people think? It only matters how you and your family feel, not the general public. It’s all about balance. If your family is doing ok, then you are doing just fine. Stop feeling so guilty for trying to do it all. It’s a waste of time and emotion. If you are happy and your family is happy, then great.

  457. You are wonderful, and I agree with it all, and fight with many of the same predjudices/misconceptions every day. That said, I do think my partner, if going away often for work, could and would be asked by many of the people who know him if he felt guilty leaving his family for work, or if he missed them, or wished he didn’t have to go away so much. He was the primary carer for our first daughter from the age of 9 months, and often found it difficult as he was constantly battling others assumptions that he was ‘giving mum a rest’. It was always assumed he didn’t know what he was doing (he was only a man after all), and he was constantly deluged with unsolicited and unwanted advice, whether shopping in the supermarket, playing in the park, or simply walking out our front door…

  458. Timing on your rant is perfect! In one month I am going out of town(state) for 8 days for a training seminar. School bus runs to and from school. Grocery store 1/2 mile up the street. Good friend available if needed right after school (husband works 45 mins from home). I will be leaving without doing anything extra beforehand. I know for a fact my husband NEVER thinks of things like this when his job takes him out of town!
    Sounds impressive, right? I work weekends at a hospital (for 9 yrs now)….came home very late last Sunday pm and neither kid had showered and it was past bedtime for the 12 yr old….first day of school the next morning! My husband said, “I didn’t know”. Really. Give me a break. Thankfully, both kids can work the microwave!!

  459. Thank you for sharing this.
    The language we use and the attitudes that language conveys says that we still have a way to go before men and women are equal.
    I have found that even among my female, feminist friends it is common to congratulate someone on finding a male partner who can cook or clean and all of that general self-care/care-of-home labor that is classified as ‘women’s work.’
    I am 25 with no husband or children, but as an oldest child in a family where both parents had to work to keep food and clothes available, I was responsible for family chores- cooking/cleaning/homework help for the siblings.
    Listening to many of my married friends adjust to life as a married person, I am amazed at how little they know about the hard work it takes for two people to live together (most don’t have children, yet)-this from both men and women.
    Thank you for highlighting the idiosyncrasies, stereotypes, and prejudices that still exist in the realm of gender roles in home and parenting in your wonderfully beautiful writing style.

  460. I have spent about 40 years saying what you just said (35 of them married). It’s better now than it was then. . .but not enough. And fewer people are talking about it, so thank you for doing so.

  461. I have read all the comments, just like you do. Phew.
    My two cents worth, after the congratulations, is: that is why I invite the female part of a couple to dinner when their other half is away. It isn’t too fun for the females night after night on their own, and it gives us (as I am part of a couple) some good time with female friends. (But I have only once in 30 years invited the male half in the same circumstances, and I don’t have a justification on that one.)
    And why I have always felt, but unfortunately never carried through, on offering a single parent ‘a night off a month’ when I could babysit their child/ren so they could have some time out.
    Loved the post, and loved reading everyone’s comments and stories.
    I now go to a fortnightly Sunday afternoon knit group and love it. DH is here for the children when I do that (children aged 16,14 and 10), he mostly plays computer games and does nothing with them, but everyone’s parenting style is different, and they seem to have all survived my absence.
    He is disinterested in food, and they all know their way around the kitchen, and like him, they are very good at waiting for me to get home to cook them something. I haven’t seen any signs of starvation yet.

  462. Amen, sister! We don’t need to feel guilty, and when others say things that reveal their antiquated ideas, in my mind, it is just mysogeny. We can counter this by never ever being quiet and taking it. And training our children, husbands, coworkers, and anyone else as well. Many other commenters have rightly pointed out these ideas are from a time that was an aberration.

  463. I like to think that this is all building blocks for future generations…my husband shared chores 1000X more than my father and my son and son-in-law both do as much or more than he…at some point, it just might get close to equal.
    But I agree that society just doesn’t keep up with real people…why do we have tons of commercials showing guys sitting around playing cards, drinking with buddies, hanging out watching sports, but none of women gathering to enjoy themselves without children around, or in a genteel party setting? Where are the dryer sheet ads with fathers declaiming their undying gratitude for the non-stickiness of XYZ brand?

  464. It’s like some trap of womankind. I’m right in the thick of baby/toddler mothering and I can’t think clearly about it at all.
    Except. Why is it my sole responsiblity to mop the floor now?

  465. Get out of my head! This is exactly what my girlfriends and I rant about all the time, only you put it together a lot more succinctly than we do.

  466. I’m one of four and it always used to irritate my parents that on the few occasions my mum went away, lots of people would offer to help out my dad and pull very worried faces that he wouldn’t manage.

  467. I can well imagine your rant against the “babysitting” dad, because I responded the same way to a “babysitting” co-worker–male, of course–about 15 years ago.

  468. We each much be sure our own family has two work/fun/responsibility sharing adults. What we model is what our sons and daughters learn. Rock on, Stephanie. You shine a bright light on our world.

  469. Too right! Some years ago a party of British mountaineers were killed climbing K2. One of those killed was a woman with youngish children and the amount of invective hurled at her was incredible for leaving them to do a dangerous climb. One of the male mountaineers also had children about the same age but was there any criticism of him for doing the same thing? Not a peep!

  470. Amen! It’s hard to break these stereotypes. I can honestly say that I have never considered staying at home for a day or evening or whatever with our daughter or granddaughter while my wife/daughter goes out “babysitting.” It’s an adventure. Hell, it even got to the point where even my mother-in-law would hand granddaughter to me for a diaper change. Now if I could just remember which way the toilet paper goes on the holder and oh yes, to put the seat down!

  471. If a male acquaintance of mine told me he was “babysitting” his own kids, believe me, I would have set him straight in a hurry.

  472. It does need to be pointed out again and again. And I am glad you did it on the eve of the anniversary of women getting the right to vote in the US. Things have come a long way and there remains a long way to go.
    I also travel a lot for my work – often taking the kids with me! And still I get “Does Dan mind?” or worse, “Dan allows you to do that?” What do you do with that one? And perhaps what makes it harder is that Dan (husband) gets flack from his male friends – “don’t you mind?” “you allow her to do that?!”
    A long way to go.

  473. My kids are in their 20s and EVERY SINGLE TIME my mother-in-law said that her son was babysitting his kids, I corrected her–and EVERY SINGLE TIME she says another son is helpful around the house–I correct her (he lives there too). Whenever she was backhandedly critical of the fact I worked, I said I’m really fortunate to be clever enough to do something someone is willing to pay me for. Note: MY kids had a mother who rode bikes with them, baked cookies, made homecooked meals, coached soccer, and went camping–her’s didn’t.
    AND, I think the best answer to whether you feel guilty about . . . (?) is to ask “why? do you feel guilty about asking dumb questions?”
    Wow, I guess this is a sore spot. On reflection, you should not take my approach–people like you better than they like me. Soldier on though. 🙂

  474. I’m a working mom with young kids (6 and 3) and my husband works in the exact same job as I do (literally, we have offices next to one another). Yet, I still struggle with the response from others including our co-workers who comment when I travel and he stays with the kids. We both travel, we both juggle our kids and our career’s. You aren’t alone, we’ll just keep changing the way people think by modeling equality to our kids!

  475. Thanks for that! I really needed to hear it, as I feel the same way, but was always thinking that maybe I was the one in the wrong. 🙂

  476. I’m not a mom, so I can’t comment from personal experience, but I just wanted to say I so agree with you! I hate when fathers say they have to babysit their kids, or when you have to ask for a day “off” so you can go somewhere without them. I’ve always thought the whole marriage/parenting thing was supposed to be a partnership! Just wanted to say hooray for your rant! I completely agree.

  477. We’re still bothered by it because it’s *still* happening. It’s the 21st century! Aren’t we all supposed to be flying around with jetpacks wearing unitards? We’re supposed to be equals, partners with our mates, in this thing together. I’m so lucky that my husband is a true partner, and we are in this whole crazy parenting thing together.

  478. Amen Sister!!! you summed it up for ALL of us! I am one of the fortunate ones that has a husband who shares in everything – from work, home, and play….

  479. The first day I met one of my husband’s relatives (who is a lawyer) and he saw me knitting, he said, “Well, I guess it keeps you out of the stores.” He could not have thrown a more burning gauntlet before me. I said, “I bought this yarn with my own money, no man has EVER supported me, and I hate to shop.” To his credit, he backed up and started asking me questions about myself. I have two degrees and own my own house and my husband didn’t have a pot to piss in when I met him. The guy was much more considerate when he spoke to me after that. And you know what killed me? His wife is a pharmacist. I kid you not.
    I think there’s tremendous socialization in EVERY country, and the best thing you can do is raise your children to not be sexist, to TALK about how people are equal but have different strengths.

  480. Your rant was wellfounded and right. I made all the above sacrifices and 25 years later I threw out my “nice guy” husband who “babysat” his 4 children and I have never looked back and never been happier. I don’t regret the sacrifices I made for the kids but I wish I had stressed equality more. Some battles aren’t worth fighting with an abusive partner.

  481. It’s always nice to hear about another husband who is a hand’s on, equal partner parent. The way most people talk I sometimes think I got the only one. I am a little tired of hearing how great it is that he’s such a good dad – not because he’s not wonderful and it’s not fantastic… but because he usually gets praised for doing things like carrying her in public. I wish he’d get praised for things like walking her to sleep for hours when it takes that long; or taking over everything else just after she was born, so I could focus on the feeding part; or figuring out the routine that keeps us sane. That’s the stuff I’m crazy grateful for.

  482. Do something for me and for you. Mostly for you. When you hear someone say, “Doesn’t it bother you to be away from your kids?” Just say, “No, their father is very capable and enjoys caring for them.” But here’s the important part! Say to yourself,
    “Thank goodness I have the intelligence to be able to handle being a multifaceted person.” Now remind yourself that a diamond with more facets shines brighter than one with fewer facets.
    End of story – move on – think about knitting.

  483. Bravo, Steph. I wish we didn’t have to fight the same old battles in the 21st century. But you are speaking for legions of young, and not-so-young women (I’m 54). Perhaps someday society will catch up.

  484. I don’t know why things are the way they are, but you and Joe seem to have found a pretty good balance for YOUR family, so keep doing that.
    We do what works for us, and it works out the my DH cooks most of the time, and also takes care of our four kids (all 5 and under) while I go to my knti night, or running, or whatever I need to do.

    You are fantastic, and if your family dynamic works how it is, then NO ONE has ANY right to comment otherwise. PERIOD!

  486. Honey, I think you just let the comments get to you too much. I think the Boomers are the last generation to live under a Patriarchal family structure. Deep in our souls, we’ve been trained to see Mom as the Home Maker/Keeper/Tenderer while Pop went out to Make a Living. He brought home the bacon while she butchered, cooked & preserved it. Hopefully, we’re the LAST generation. We’ve tried our best to break free & declare our Independence but it sneaks out every so often. You’re doing GOOD! Don’t get it in a knot. The world is still evolving . . .

  487. First of all: brilliant rant! Have tried so many times to articulate these thoughts, and never even got close – so thank you!
    Two thoughts came to mind when I read your post: one, that I am so lucky to have a husband who DOES do the laundry, and washing up – and is very hands-on with our three year-old (of course, he is still incapable of tidying up after himself, but that’s a conversation for another day!).
    Two: how sad to thing how little things have changed – my mother stopped working when she had me because she realised that all of her meagre salary would go straight to childcare and convenience food. She was a fantastic mum to me and my sister, and I know that life would have been very different if she hadn’t been around as much as she had. Having said that, I know that she struggled for many years to find her own ‘identity’ and be at peace with her decision. And to think I’m having the same struggles now – yep, most of my salary goes towards childcare and ‘quick’ food and I spend most of my time at work feeling guilty, tired and emotional………

  488. Bravo! Bravo!!
    I have been a stay-at-home mom & a work-outside-the-home mom (not at the same time of course).
    You can’t win. At least, not as far as society is concerned. Women need to boost each other up!
    Come on ladies! Show some spirit! Support each other no matter which way we choose to take care of our families. And dads, “babysitting”?, get over it already!

  489. Bravo! Bravo!!
    I have been a stay-at-home mom & a work-outside-the-home mom (not at the same time of course).
    You can’t win. At least, not as far as society is concerned. Women need to boost each other up!
    Come on ladies! Show some spirit! Support each other no matter which way we choose to take care of our families. And dads, “babysitting”?, get over it already!

  490. Funny thing – I come from what would be considered a more “traditional” background. When I was at home full-time I never had to feel guilty about not earning money. My husband and friends all thought that my kids having one of their parents at home to take care of them was far more valuable than any amount of money I could earn (and I wanted to be the one to raise them).
    The only person who ever tried to make me feel guilty was my feminist, career driven mother who didn’t see the value in my being at home and thought I was wasting my time/life.
    My husband regularly travels for work and when he does I always hear comments about how hard it must be for me to be at home alone with our 4 kids. Again, my “traditional” friends commend and encourage me for being able to manage my own business and take care of the kids while he is away. My husband regularly comments on how much he appreciates what I do to manage things while he is gone and sure makes up for having been away when he returns.
    And guess what!! he feels guilty when he has to be away from our family, really wishes that he didn’t have to, and turns down travel whenever possible.
    Blame it on patriarchy if you want – but the only people who have ever made me feel guilty about staying at home with children are boomer aged feminists.

  491. Unfortunately you don’t have to have kids to get the judgment. At my annual physical, my doctor scolded me because my husband wasn’t getting enough exercise after his heart attack last year. Excuse me, he’s got a good six inches on me. I can hardly force him to take a walk with me. I spend enough time nagging him about his diet.
    My mom even tells me periodically to “go home and take care of my husband”. I usually respond that we take care of each other. Which is not to say that the work is split 50/50; I’m still the head coordinator and chief bottle-washer, even though we’re both working outside the home. After 23 years, I’m still trying to be satisfied with the work he does, and not resent the work he doesn’t do. He does more around the house than my dad or his dad did, so I have hope that in another generation “women’s work” will be a quaint historical phrase.

  492. I should add to my comment that the only people who have ever belittled me when I was a stay-at-home mom, or who have ever tried to make me feel guilty for not being able to “do it all” (i.e. keep my house spotless, be perfectly dressed in the latest fashions, hold down a job….) are other women. Sadly, boomer feminist most of all.

  493. I think these attitudes of “Men’s and Women’s” work will change over time. It is not fair that women are made to feel somehow less is they do anything outside of the home and the family. Yet I’m still “in charge” of dinner for myself and my almost 49 year old husband. He can’t even get the dishes into the sink unless I’m staying overnight out of town.
    As more and more women are the primary earners for their families and their husbands are the primary caregivers (I see that more and more in my company), these conceptions will change. Can you FedEx breast milk? Just wondering.

  494. As I never travelled for work or had the money when my family was young to travel anywhere unless it was a family vacation, I am really confused about why so many seemingly intelligent women tolerate coming home to a filthy house (unless that’s the way you left it!).
    All you need to do is phone home 24 hours before your scheduled arrival and calmly inform everyone that they have 24 hours to clean THEIR filth before you walk in the door. If they won’t clean their own dirt they can hire it done.
    Inform them that if they choose to do neither you will simply walk back out the door. And then do it. You only need to follow up on a threat once you know. Really, what are you afraid of? That they’s be glad to be rid of you?
    Women need to act like adults sometimes.

  495. I couldn’t agree more. The stereotypes are so firmly entrenched that it’s still considered unusual to be a wife/mother who travels as much as her husband. And that men are still praised for doing what their wives do on a regular basis. It drives me crazy! If, for example, cleaning a bathroom were such a major achievement as it’s made out to be when men do it, you’d think those wives and mothers who did it the other 9 times it needed to be done would have been promoted to resting on their laurels on the couch.
    Seems I get a little ranty about it too 🙂 I think it’s wonderful when both parents take equal share in everything, it sets a great example.

  496. Just know that you can’t win, no matter what you choose someone will be there to question your decisions. If you and your family are content with the decisions, and your husband and girls sound like they do, then just ignore the outside comments. I’m older than you and chose to stay home with my children, even though I could have done other things. Fellow feminists accused me of betraying them, even though I thought that feminism meant the ability to chose. At the same time MIL accused me of being selfish for sending the kids with my husband to spend a holiday with her without coming myself. I did it twice in 18 years and she thought it was quite a burden on my husband to have to take care of them on his holiday. I finally realized that if I was happy so were my kids and husband. Keep on doing what makes you happy.
    This is my first post and I think you and your column are fantastic.

  497. For a rant, Stephanie, that was calm and well-thought-out. I am observing each rant on this very subject evolving with time; you do appear to be less guilt-reactive from the implied insult in those comments. Go, girl! You’re “getting” it! A hundred hugs. You are such an inspiration.

  498. What you describe has been called the “cultural lag” by sociologist William Fielding Ogburn already in 1922! People change their behaviors very quickly to react to the necessities of real life! But attitudes do not follow at the same pace.

  499. Sing it Sister! I work full time, my husband stays home with our babies. It works for us, but people think it’s all my fault we have a messy house. That I should “just take more time to get it done”. Really? Come on, I have a messy house, it is because neither my husband or myself cleaned.

  500. Oh for heaven’s sakes! How you or I or anyone else does marriage and family is our own business. My DH and I have no kids but both work fulltime. He goes to races and ballgames out of town without me and I have gone on vacations, retreats and girls weekends without him. Having married later in life we both need our alone time. We split the cleaning and he is very good at his part! We also split the outdoor work. Sometimes I feel frustrated and that I carry more of the load, but overall it works well for us and that is ALL that matters.

  501. 100% in agreement with your rant! Much more reasoned and thoughtful than my rants usually are!
    As a 30-something mother of a 1-year-old who works outside the home full-time, I’m learning what a dance this balance is. Partner has lots of work this weekend, so I’m chief cook and caregiver. (And NOBODY is cleaning the house …) I’m doing a major presentation and need to be well-rested, so he stays up with the teething baby. It’s a changing dance within each family to find what works for them at the time.
    When I start to judge others who’ve made different choices (whether it’s staying at home with kids or working many hours at a high-paying job and hiring a nanny), it’s usually because I’m feeling defensive. I want to believe my decision is “right,” especially when I hear those messages in my ear that I’m being selfish by working outside the home, that I’m not doing a “good enough” job as a mother, etc. I’m constantly reminding myself that there are many “right” choices for different families at different times.

  502. I’ve recently started working from home, and I think there’s a unique pressure associated with that. When I had a full-time office job, things felt equal with my husband. But now that I am home, there is an unspoken feeling (both from me and, though he won’t admit it, from him) that it’s my fault if the house is messy at the end of the day. I also end up taking care of all logistical crap (dr’s appointments, scheduling repairmen), because I’m here. And I do more of the childcare because of my work situation, so my daughter is more accustomed to asking me for things. I always thought I wanted to work from home, and I still do, but the mythical “balance” eludes me.

  503. Amen. I have had such an issue with the Dad babysitting theme over the years I could scream. It’s nice to know I am not alone but am very sorry someone had the ignorance to ask you if you felt bad about leaving Joe with all the work. Some people just leave you breathless sometimes don’t they? Hope your day picks up. For sure.

  504. And one more thing… I think the problem boils down to this: Women and men are equally good at working, but women are generally better at taking care of children and more drawn to be with their children. That may be because of societal pressures and stereotypes, but regardless of the cause, it leaves women in a very confusing (and busy) place.

  505. I was thinking along a same line recently when a friend posted on Facebook that she had cleaned the whole house and now could look forward to a restful/fun weekend and I thought… I’ve never heard a guy suggest that he would not enjoy his weekend because the house hadn’t been cleaned.

  506. I’m going to add to your reading, but I feel that it’s important for me to say that I’ve never thought that you neglect or are being a “bad” parent to travel for work. Perhaps I have a slightly more open view on this since my Dad was the one who was home with us most of the time while Mom traveled frequently for work (at least two over night trips most months and I often didn’t now which city in Texas she was in on any given day). Dad’s a college prof so it was easy for him to be at home with us. (sort of at least) How easy is keeping up with girls? As a culture we are backward! Gender roles should be limited to the things that can only be done by one sex. After all I would never expect my husband to lactate and I’m weak and can’t toss children easily in the air and check them. That’s ok the rest isn’t.
    Sorry to rant back at you since I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I do want to congratulate you on not strangling any of the idiots who ask you such stupid questions. Though asking them if you think it would be better for your family to be homeless or something equally sarcastic might be in order.

  507. your comments were at 666 so I thought I’d say something. I’m stopping myself from ranting about the shortcomings of my husband, you’ve covered most the issues. A positive: he wrestles with the two year old and knows how to be a boy while I knit and take a break.

  508. I totally agree! Gender roles are the worst thing invented since geometry! Can’t we just share the roles like we shared things in preschool?

  509. Everyone seems to have expectations of being served as kings & queens these days. I can see them sizing me up for serving them when I’m just out shopping, minding my own business. Somehow female just equates to servant(or slave) in this world.

  510. There is an old story about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair. The story is basically that Ginger had to do everything Fred did except backwards and in high heels. Think how far we have come. And you and I have raised our kids to think this is the norm. There is a vast amount of hope in that for the human race.

  511. Reminds me of a time some years back when I was finally able to be a stay-at-home mum for the first time (daughter was 6, son was 2 months). I went in to do some financial stuff and the person asked what I did. I said I was a stay-at-home mum. She said, “Oh, you don’t have a real job.)
    Made me grit my teeth–HARD.

  512. As someone who has made the same rant previously, and agree with everything your wrote, may I gently suggest, Stephanie, that you not “correct” what your family does when you’re gone? For example, leave the coffee cups as they put them in the cupboard. Respect their work.
    This is not to say that I’ve achieved a marriage where I do only half the housework, but I find that it’s easier to convince my family to do their fair share when they’re confident they won’t get flack about falling short.
    Something to mull as you knit the next fabulous item for your many fans to drool over….

  513. Nice post, and I agree 100%. Sadly my husband does very little around the house and I cannot depend on him to watch the children and keep them safe. He does work hard during the day but that’s it. We have 8 children (youngest is 4) and I have been a SAHM for 26 years. My kids are better informed (and very aware of gender bias) than I ever was. I just wish the husband would come to the party, though there seems no chance of that.

  514. Your reader comments are way past my attention span so I’m just going to hope I’m not repeating someone else.
    Those comments/judgements are annoying as hell. How much of this do you also think is a bias to not seeing your work as ‘real’ work? I mean, if you had to travel for your corporate desk job would you expect the same questions? (I’ve been reading a lot of mommy blogger posts on this sort of thing recently). Is it solely from a gender bias or is there an element of ‘Stephanie’s travelling for her little hobby’.
    Well, sympathy and a lovely cup of tea (or pint if you’d rather) and just remember you always have weapons at the ready! Brandish those knittin’ sticks if required.

  515. Thank-you for giving voice to a rant that sometimes is screaming so loudly to get out of me it makes me crazy, but the only safe place to say it is in pages and pages of my journal.
    I am the stay-at-home-business breadwinner, and in theory hubby has chosen to do the kid/homemaker duties, but what he (and everyone else in our circle of friends) feels is a medal-worthy contribution far beyond what any male could reasonably be expected to do, is in fact a tiny fraction of what needs doing. I feel completely overwhelmed by the sole responsibility to make us a living income with my own two hands, keep the house liveable (believe me, my standards on this account are pretty basic), organize… everything in our lives that needs any form of planning or organizing, and create and implement therapeutic parenting strategies for the kid with special needs. If I ask for more participation, we have an all too familiar discussion about how I don’t appreciate what he does do. He is heaped with accolades from our social circle for his magnificent contribution, I get the raised eyebrow if someone pops over and sees the state of the house.
    By and large I have had to accept that his belief system isn’t going to change in our lifetimes and get on with working my butt off to try and make it all work out. Resentment isn’t a productive emotion, but sometimes the feelings of being overwhelmed, undersupported and perpetually choosing between the needs of my kids and the economic survival of the family get to be really big.
    I work hard every day to stay zen, to focus on a sense of gratitude for what he does do – because things would be a whole lot worse if he didn’t. He really is a great guy, just imbued with a set of beliefs and expectations that aren’t realistic, but aren’t going to change.
    Which is all to say – I am immeasureably grateful that you gave voice to this. Doesn’t change anything, but feeling not-crazy/alone/bad helps a great deal.

  516. Sorry I’m so late to the party — I’ve been on vacation. If you figure out how to stop spreading other people’s stuff on your toast, would you please, please, please write that book? I’ll commit right now to buying 2 copies for my beloved wife — one to keep at home, the other at work.
    People can really be jerks. I’ve had people ask me things like “Wow. Your wife is an attorney and you are a paralegal. Doesn’t she feel like she married down?” (Can you believe it?) Or, another favorite, “Doesn’t it bother you that your wife makes more money than you?” (For the record, no. No it doesn’t.)
    Obviously, I’m not worried that my failure to fit someone’s rigid idea of what men should and should do. In our house I cook dinner, clean house, and knit. My wife does the laundry, packs lunches, and follows football. If anyone doesn’t like it, that’s really their problem. I’m going to enjoy it.
    And I DO think Joe is a rock star. But not because he