I now know the sting of rejection when a child strains to be soothed by the other parent. I had to learn the art of Skypeing-with-toddlers, building up an assortment of props and sending little videos of myself every day to kick off the conversation. (“Mommy ate strawberries, what did you eat?”)
But I also tasted the freedom of not being responsible on a day-to-day basis, of being the scarce parent, the fun-time parent rather than the one in charge of brushing teeth or disciplining.
This was an entirely unscientific experiment, but here is what we learned: Responsibility and time, not gender, determine the depth of the bond with a child.
Well, here’s a tale about a man who takes pride in his work:
Kids are a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to breaking stereotypical gender roles, but without them homemaking is not really seen as an ambitious life-calling or even particularly time-consuming. I have to say, I don’t see it that way.
I’m glad he doesn’t see it that way. I just listed “homemaker” as my profession on a medical form at the doctor’s office yesterday. After I resigned from full-time paid work to be home with our daughter, I used to write “consultant” on forms. I was in fact consulting, but I wasn’t doing that full-time. I felt it necessary, though, to connect myself to the paid workforce. I felt I “counted” more, then, you see.
I’ve met people at cocktail parties who ask what I do and I answer, “I raise the children and manage our home,” and they are invariably quick to assure me that this is “the most important” thing I can be doing.
What would they have said if I simply managed our home? I mean, we don’t live at Downton Abbey in 1920. (We live in a 2,000 square foot, 3-bedroom/2-bath home.) Perhaps they’d think (but never say), that I may not be very qualified for work outside the home, or worse, lazy. Perhaps folks might find the “at-home dude” lazy, too. They shouldn’t. It is work: raising children, making a home, either or both. Tremendous work.
I wish full-time homemaking were appreciated by more people, and as much as Mr. Homemaker appreciates it. I wish it were available to a growing number of couples. Yes, there is a growing share of wives who out-earn their husbands. But think of it: one good income to pay for the work outside the home and support the work done by one remaining in the home: what does that number need to be? How many earners out there can earn that much?
Mr. Homemaker is one lucky dude. I’m sure he knows that about himself.
I too am a lucky, proud “homemaker.” I write that word (or type it) with relish, because it does in fact require all the things that defined my success in paid settings: project planning and management skills, nearly unending effort and patience, manic efficiency, adaptability, a sharp memory, and an abundant sense of humor. And homemaking does in fact reflect what I do (far more, I must admit, than the title “at-home parent”). Maybe that fact is understood, by all those who say what I’m doing now is “the most important thing.” They’d probably first have to meet our children, see our home, stay with us for a few days.
We run a tight ship. A tight ship that goes on lots of adventures. Always yar.
I think this is lovely. But like all good things: they come first and most to those who can afford it.
Men can afford to stay home with their children if their wives can earn enough to support them.
Men’s psyches can afford to assume an at-home-parent role if they are comfortable with themselves, which they’d have to be, if they were willing and able to secure the love and commitment of a woman who earned as much as or more than them.
I wish good men weren’t so hard to find.
And I wish every woman had the power to earn enough to support her family, spouse or no spouse.