daddies in the crossfire

The mommy wars have officially leeched into the daddy-world. You know what I mean – the working mom vs. stay at home mom, breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding, cry-it-out vs. no-cry. We thought they were judgments and bickers between ourselves, between moms. Wars hurting each other, but no one else. But this isn’t true.

It seems my husband has to lie about what I do for a living. I am a stay-at-home mom. I do not earn a monetary living of any kind. I do not bring home any bacon or bread or whatever kind of metaphorical food-item you wish. This is a decision that both of us wanted. A decision that works best for our family and our goals. A decision, that quite frankly, is none of anyone else’s business!

The conversation usually goes something like this, he says.

So, what does your wife do?

She stays at home with our one year-old, he says.

What do you mean she stays at home? [insert puzzled look here] But what does she DO? I imagine the colleague has visions of a woman in sweatpants and a ponytail, eating chips from the bag while watching Days of our Lives.

This is where Hubby gets flustered, intimidated. After all, his wife does have a college degree, and surely staying at home with a baby is just not good enough. He responds, Oh, of course, she’s writing a novel.

Oh, okay, a novel. And only then am I accepted into this exclusive club of normalcy.

A novel. But you see, I am NOT writing a novel. I have no intentions of writing a novel. When my darling child allows me to, I sometimes write in this blog, and even short stories that don’t make it much further than my writers group. But I don’t earn a living, in a monetary sense, and therefore I am defunct.

There was a book published, not too long ago, by a bitter woman who says that being a stay-at-home mom is risky and irresponsible. That we cannot depend on our husbands to support us our whole lives. These ideas are so far from the point of being a stay-at-home mom. I am not looking to be supported my whole life. I just want to take care of my child, myself. I want to be with him while he’s so little, and learning so much. The risks are completely manageable, with life insurance on the breadwinner, with some money in my own IRA, an education and a plan for the future. My child (and other children) will be grown one day. They will be in school full time one day, and I do have a plan for that.

I am providing a real monetary value to my family by staying home. Childcare, housekeeping, meal planning and grocery shopping (with coupon savings!!!), laundry and cooking. And add to that the immeasurable value of a hard-working husband who gets to come home to a clean house and cooked dinner, with nothing to do but play with his child.

It used to be that having a stay-at-home wife was something of a status symbol. It meant that you could afford it. But now it is something different. It is, I stay at home because I am not smart enough to work, am not ambitious enough to work, I am lazy, or just plain weird. And what do I do all day?

I thought the feminist movement meant that we made the choices that were best for us, without judgment or needed justification. What happened to that? What happened to our sisterhood, with love and support for each other and all the options we have today? Instead, to make our own life choices feel justified, we have wars. Our husbands feel these wars. Ladies, we are doing this to each other, and that is sad.

5 thoughts on “daddies in the crossfire

  1. Laura, this is probably the most well-written thing I’ve read on the subject. Have you considered maybe sending this in for publication in one of the various parenting magazines?

    I work because I must, but only as much as I must, and I did stay home for as long as we financially could. It made all the difference in the world for J to not have to be an institutionalized baby. I firmly believe in the value of the stay at home mother. It is a profession that our men should be able to brag about being able to facilitate in their homes, not have to try and explain away.

  2. Came here via the randomizer.

    Very well said post. I don’t think whether it’s women who put women in this position, or society in general, or.. whatever it is, it’s not fun. People should be able to decide what’s best for their families and children without judgment. Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done.

  3. well, said!! you have to make choices that work for you and your family. please, i wish i could be at home with my son. in fact, i first took him to daycare when he was 4 months old and i don’t think i’ve ever cried so much as i did in that week leading up to it. it broke my heart to have to hand him over to someone else to take care of him.

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