Thursday, February 28, 2013

I am Special, and so are you...

There was a blog post over at today where JW of Daddysincharge wrote a piece about how unspecial he is, how stay home dads are all the rage and all anyone talks about, how his life as a homemaker and caretaker for two kids is easy in contrast to his wife's job and sacrifices, and how he doesn't even consider stay home parenting "a job." The author is, of course, entitled to his opinion, but I'm here to put the dissent on record.

Appreciating your spouse's sacrifices and work ethic, as most at-home parents do, does not require belittling one's own contributions nor other stay home parents' jobs. Being a parent requires one to be a hero (at least to a few little people and your spouse) and there is no need to step into the shadow of each other. Family units come in all shapes and sized and everyone (in a functional family) plays an integral part to the success of the family unit.

One of the benefits of becoming a stay home parent for me has been an understanding of the homemaker position and the existing social hierarchy (where homemakers are at the bottom regardless of their sex). Most homemakers are women and the social arrangement placing the value of at home parents below "working" or "contributing" members of society lends itself to sexism. The recent uptick of at home Dads may serve to help relieve some of this imbalance. It's a shame that it takes this change in demographics to help with the problem, but now that I understand the issue better I will take a change in societal views no matter what precipitates them. This is not to say having men in the position will correct the problem, but being outspoken about it certainly helps. At-home fathers face some of the same stigma as at-home Moms and we are looked down upon by some men because we don't fit their idea of what a "man" should be, but everyone should see it for what it is... an attack on a man for doing "a woman's job" is an attack on women as well indicating their roles are less important, easier or subservient in some way.

Women at home caring for their children have been treated as second-class citizens and placed under the thumb of overbearing/controlling men (in many cases) for far too long and we need men who are parenting at home to help communicate to working men the inherent injustice of those views. I've had challenges in my own marriage as a result of the non-traditional arrangement, but we have worked through them all together with understanding and equal footing. I often wonder if the marriage would have fared so well if I was the one working? Without the understanding of the at-home job I think I would feel entitled, I think I would feel superior, and I think I would be an ass (so thank you Vv for not being like me). I'm not a bad guy, but I truly doubt how I would have handled it, which tells me that the lens I've been viewing the world through my whole life was skewed.

Bringing home the bacon doesn't mean you automatically get to direct all financial choices, it doesn't mean you get to tell your wife what to do and what your expectations are on how she runs the household. The reality is you go to a well-defined job with feedback, fellowship (in most cases) and financial incentive while she navigates a job lacking in all of those areas, but it is still a capital Job. A working parent does not become the de facto "boss" at home just because they are a boss at work or just because they bring home a paycheck. Working parents are fully capable of taking care of the kids if roles reversed and at home parents are fully capable of working with adults in a traditional job as well. Changing roles don't affect our worth our abilities or our intelligence. Running an efficient home, shopping smart, and avoiding the cost of child-care are financial contributions of an at home parent and working parents (at least the ones worth their salt) contribute to the care of children every day as well. Everyone contributes, there is no reason for working parents to lord the money over the at-home parent or for the at-home parent to try to dominate the discussion about how the children should be brought up. Parents must excel in the role they take on, because our children depend on it and that makes us all heroes... Moms, Dads, single parents, working parents, at home parents, all of us. I'm fond of saying that doing anything other than treating your spouse like a teammate (a co-chief if you will) is like trying to beat your partner in a three-legged race it's pointless and will result in both of you face down and in last place.

There are days I'd rather be doing performance reviews for a dozen lousy employees (and I've been there) than dealing with two sick kids while feeling like ass myself and there are days when I think "man, playing with the kids sure beats the pants off of an Operations meeting." However, there is no day when I think one of us is a hero and the other is not, one of us has it made while the other sacrifices so much. More power to you DaddysInCharge in speaking your mind, and I hope you reach a new group of working Mom/Dads looking for a stay home parent blog to confirm what they always thought, but most modern parents know that is not the way of the world and I hope every one of them realizes that they are heroes. The Mom making a commute and fitting in time for her kids in the afternoon, the Dad doing the same, the Mom handling it all on her own, the Dad with a sick wife, the grandmother helping out two working parents, the Mom or Dad home with the kids and many, many others are all heroes. Maybe that makes them not special since its not uncommon but I don't really believe that.

A super special hero, married to a super awesome special hero.


  1. Here here. I've been in all Mom positions in life, working mom, stay at home mom, then single mom, now work at home mom, they all have their ups and downs. Some days I miss working, as a single mom, I missed being with my son. Having been a working mom, I appreciate what my partner does.
    He appreciates what I do after having handled the kids himself for a few days when I had to go out of town. He knows this gig with the kids takes a special kind of sacrifice.
    Even on my WORST day here, sick kids, crying tantrum kids, extra kids, it's STILL better than most of my office jobs. It's true I can't vent or swear or tell my kids they're being idiots, like I did w/my co-workers, but having done those stressful jobs REALLY make me appreciate this gig.
    Having an AWESOME community of parent bloggers to share and vent with, makes it SO MUCH BETTER!
    Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for this! Just what I need from reading a string of posts devaluing the role of stay-at-home spouses. I wish there would just be mutual respect for everyone. I think everyone in the family sincerely does their best to make things work in the home.

  3. Thank you both for coming by! It's always nice to get a little feedback, especially on the blog which seems like a barren wasteland sometimes. Mutual respect is the key!