In Defense of the Dual-Earner Household

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

One of the great myths of the work-life balancing discussion is that (as neotraditionalist rabblerouser Caitlin Flanagan once put it) "when a mother [or father] works, something is lost." The idea that kids with two working parents are somehow getting shafted is plausible enough to fuel an avalanche of books of the glories of at-home parenthood, but the actual data on this point is always pretty meager.

That's why I was excited to read through this essay from the American Prospect's incredibly exhaustive series of essays on work-family balance (titled "Mother Load," but thankfully cognizant of fathers). In it, author Kathleen Gerson talks to a number of young adults about their perceptions of family, starting with their impressions of their own upbringings. And here, she drops a bombshell of sorts:

Those who grew up in dual-earner homes were least ambivalent about their parents' arrangements. More than three-fourths thought their parents had chosen the best option. Having two work-committed parents not only provided increased economic resources for the family but also promoted marriages that seemed more egalitarian and satisfying.

And while Gerson notes that "working long hours or coping with blocked opportunities and family-unfriendly workplaces took their toll," it seems pretty clear the kids from households with two working parents were more impressed with that arrangement than those who grew up in a more traditional setting.

There are always snide commenters who like to trot out the old saw that if you have kids you should forgot about balance, quit your job, and be an at-home parent. Gerson's research serves as a welcome rejoinder to those views.

On the flip side, the essay shouldn't be taken as "proof" that all at-home parents should immediately get their suits dry-cleaned and their resumes updated. Every family has a different dynamic, and there is no one-size-fits-all family arrangement. Indeed, that should be the point: You can predict very little about the future happiness of a kid who goes to daycare or stays home with dad (or mom) or gets taken care of by grammy or a nanny.

Gerson's ultimate conclusions are also great food for thought -- and I'm sure I'll get back to them in a few weeks.

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  March 15, 2007; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Childcare , Conflicts , Division of Labor , Research
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first! woo hoo.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 6:29 AM

I guess my first reaction is that, generally speaking, people think the way they grew up (regardless of whether it was with mom/dad who both worked or with a parent at home) is the best. So while I don't entirely discount what the young adults said regarding their situation, I have to take it with a grain of salt. Also, I think that if money is tight because one parent is staying at home, the children -- especially when they're older -- know this, and if it's viewed as a reason why they couldn't play a sport or do an activity they loved, there can definitely be resentment which continues into adult life.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 15, 2007 6:44 AM

Nice. Finally, a positive blog on 2 career families.

I grew up in a "traditional" family. My mother didn't work and I didn't exactly think that was so wonderful. I didn't think she was such a great role model and beginning at the age of 10, I had local colleges send applications to her (hint hint). It seemed hypocritical to me that my parents wanted me to be educated and have a career, but my mother didn't have that for herself. And ironically, she was a "stay-at-home", but I'm more involved in my kids lives than she was in mine. Sure I got a home cooked dinner (whoop de doo), but I don't remember much else.

When I was in college, I had a friend whose mother was a doctor and his father a lawyer. I recall how fondly he spoke of her, how wonderful she was--how intelligent accomplished, and what a great role-model. It made a huge impression on me. I love my mother but I couldn't say many of the same things about her that my friend could about his.

Now that I am in a two career family--I know my kids love that I have a career. My kids love that I do what I do. Are there stresses? Sure. It's hard to sustain 2 careers and remain as involved in my kids lives as my husband and I are (my free time suffers), but I would't have it any other way. My husband and I are terrific role-models to our children and we're able to provide a comfortable (and loving) life for them. The other side benefit is that we don't have time to be helicopter parents (another topic).

Thanks Brian for reminding us positives of the 2 career family.

Posted by: anon so I'm not attacked | March 15, 2007 6:53 AM

We're a 2 career family. I'm a cashier at the Pic 'n Save, hubby works at a car wash.

The kids aren't impressed with the arrangement.

Oops, I forgot. With Brian, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 6:57 AM

I am confused. So these young adult who were "at least ambivelent" about there parents arrangement all had parents who never stayed home not even for a year during their infancy. And the kids were more satisfied being taken care of by babysitters and daycare providers than they would have been having their diapers changed by their moms and dads. Give me a break. Kids are so unaware of their parents finances when they are very young which is when most parents are staying home with their kids. And when young adults are looking back at their lives what point are they evaluating.

Again and as always. You know what is best for you and your family. Just do it and stop needing these half assed surveys, studies and articles to denfend your choices.

Posted by: Tessa | March 15, 2007 6:59 AM

In Defense of the Dual-Earner Household

Why the need to defend?

Against whom or what?

Another phony war.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 6:59 AM

One small nit to pick.

"One of the great myths of the work-life balancing discussion is that (as neotraditionalist rabblerouser Caitlin Flanagan once put it) "when a mother [or father] works, something is lost.""

Caitlin Flanagan is very very clear that she thinks nothing at all is lost when a father works. Her beef is with working mothers, and working mothers only, in spite of the fact that she herself is a working mother.

Posted by: Lizzie | March 15, 2007 6:59 AM

Here's a line from that article that I think is B.S.

"If a supportive, egalitarian partnership is not possible, most women prefer individual autonomy over becoming dependent on a husband in a traditional marriage."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 7:10 AM

"And the kids were more satisfied being taken care of by babysitters and daycare providers than they would have been having their diapers changed by their moms and dads. Give me a break. Kids are so unaware of their parents finances when they are very young which is when most parents are staying home with their kids."

Well, I don't know about you, but my earliest memory is from age 4. I don't know who wiped my butt any more than what the finances were.

Posted by: to tessa | March 15, 2007 7:11 AM

Many couples that I know work out of just economic necessity. Often one works just to afford health insurance. The other parent may work at a seasonal job or be self employed. In general, I do not see that these couples are either better or worse parents than stay at homes.

I am skilled enough and lucky enough to be able to support my family on one income. But I would NEVER think the less of a couple that both work for reasons of need or desire or other combination.

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 7:14 AM

It seems that the response from the young adults may have more to do with the balance in the household. Haveing parents who feel like they are equal partners (I know I'm going to get flack for that but...) in work will lead to a happier home life with less potential for resentment etc from one parent or another.

Both of my parents worked from right after I was born. I love and respect my mother and my dad and I certainly got enough attention from them. Neither of them had high pressure 80-hours a week type jobs and I am thankful for that. They both understood the balance that needed to be struck and to be honest money was of course at play. They needed both incomes to afford me and the house!

I remember lots of fighs about money but never fights to do with a lack of balance in the footing of my parents relationships, no on dominated to the other for example dad never had to being resentful because he had to work so hard or long that he never got to spend time with me, and mom was never resentful of the fact that she had to stay at home to take care of me while dad was working on his career because that was never the case.

I think that this is the crux of the essay quote in the blog.

Posted by: ECK | March 15, 2007 7:19 AM

To to tessa

"Well, I don't know about you, but my earliest memory is from age 4. I don't know who wiped my butt any more than what the finances were."

Yes, exactly my point. The author is stating that the kids are more satisfied when both parents work and I am saying during the time in most families when only one parent is working the kids have no idea what is going on and do not have the ability to recall that time in their lives. So I think the premise of this survey is skewed. If most people cannot recall their lives before age 3 or 4 then they cannot say if they were satisfied with mom and dad's career choices.

Posted by: Tessa | March 15, 2007 7:20 AM

I am horribly conflicted these days because I am working full time but I want to be home with my young children. I enjoy my job to a point, but I see the toll it takes on my family to have us both work.

Posted by: Anon Today | March 15, 2007 7:21 AM

"If most people cannot recall their lives before age 3 or 4 then they cannot say if they were satisfied with mom and dad's career choices."

What are you basing this statement on? Almost no one can recall their lives, except in snippets, before age 3. So you're saying that there is no one on the planet capable of stating whether they were satisfied with mom and dad's career choices???

Posted by: Crispy | March 15, 2007 7:25 AM

I think the high-quality daycare has a lot to do with my comfort with our dual-income situation. My daughter really enjoys being there - it is a loving, stimulating place for her to spend her days and I don't worry about her while I'm at work. After work, I have the energy to give her attention and really enjoy being with her. My husband does the morning routine with her and feels the same way about that time.

I would never say that having a parent at home would be a bad thing, but this is our reality and it seems to be working well for all of us. My oldest friend has 5 kids (ages 2-13) and hasn't worked since the first was born. Aside from a bit of worry about her should anything happen to her husband, I think their life is just dandy and they are happy.

The people I feel worst for, and for whom I think policy changes could make a positive difference, are those who have to have dual incomes but who cannot afford good child care. They are the ones who will suffer, and thier children will suffer as well.

Posted by: MaryB | March 15, 2007 7:25 AM

Was there anything in the survey about the actual ages of the people being surveyed? I too wondered about all the statements about how people would do just fine alone, never getting married - and how most would prefer not to get married than end up in an unbalanced relationship. It reminded me of the sorts of statements I might have made in my early twenties -- back when I was incredibly optimistic, not all that conversant about finances and realities and when most of my viewpoints were hypothetical rather than grounded in reality. (If you recall, thsoe pieces in the Wall Street JOurnal on 'women opting all' all quoted women who said "I never in a million years thought I"d end up in a traditional relationship, but here I am.") I wonder if the survey participants will still hold the same views five or ten years down the road.

Posted by: Armchair MOm | March 15, 2007 7:32 AM

I think Tessa's comments point out a big problem with discussions about balance. Many families have (don't know the stats) have one parent at home for a few years (often the early years) then two parents working then somebody working part time. But the media discussions seem to be all or nothing.

Posted by: Two kids in the Midwest | March 15, 2007 7:37 AM

we are dual income out of necessity. With a little guilt I will admit that I would probably not make a very good SAHM. So, child is spending his day in a very good stimulating, loving, and safe environment. This, I WILL NEVER feel guilty about. He is getting far more that I could ever offer to him by staying home with him.

Posted by: cj | March 15, 2007 7:37 AM

"There are always snide commenters who like to trot out the old saw that if you have kids you should forgot about balance, quit your job, and be an at-home parent. Gerson's research serves as a welcome rejoinder to those views."

Wow, Brian, tell us what you REALLY think :P Your bias is overwhelming. Again, poll after poll after poll has shown that most parents work because they HAVE to, not because they want to. So perhaps these children were impressed that they saw their parents' teamwork in working together to make ends meet - which is a far different thing from being happy they are out of the house all day long.

Posted by: StudentMom | March 15, 2007 7:38 AM

I, personally, would rather be single than be married to anyone at all other than Husband. So I guess you could technically say that I would rather be single than be in an unbalanced relationship, simply because I would rather be single than be in any other relationship than the one I'm in right now.

However, I think it's total bunk that "most" women would prefer to be single. A lot of women, maybe, and most of those women probably locate themselves in one or two small slices of the socioeconomic pie. But I don't believe for a minute that "most" working-class women, or "most" recent immigrant women, or even "most" middle-class women would rather be single than in an economically unbalanced relationship. There are just too many of them in those relationships right now for that to be true.

Posted by: Lizzie | March 15, 2007 7:39 AM

"Again, poll after poll after poll has shown that most parents work because they HAVE to, not because they want to."

Most PEOPLE work because they have to, not because they want to. If you gave most people a choice as to whether they'd like to keep working or go live a life of leisure on Nantucket, they wouldn't exactly choose to keep toting that bale.

Posted by: Lizzie | March 15, 2007 7:41 AM

I have a novel suggestion: why not let people decide what they want to do every day and then take steps to correct problems as they might happen. If the don't like it, they change to something else.

Is that so hard?

Posted by: Gary Masters | March 15, 2007 7:45 AM

This discussion has come up often between my wife and I now that we're actively trying to start a family. What to do when the baby is here?

She was very concerned over how we would afford the health insurance while she was not at work, and was torn over how long she should stay home initially.

Since those discussions began, though, we've managed to improve our financial situation to where she should be able to stay at home for several years if she wants, or work part time indefinitely.

Posted by: John | March 15, 2007 7:46 AM

I eat because I have to...and because I want to. Same with working. If you take the 'have to' out of the equation just for a moment, we're still left with the fact that a lot of data point to egalitarian marriages being the ideal - less divorce, happier parents, happier kids.

Posted by: Foodie | March 15, 2007 7:47 AM

To Lizzie: You are absolutely right. Flanagan has never, to my knowledge, commented on working fathers.

StudentMom: What I *really* think is that there is no magic solution for everyone. I did the at-home parenting thing for a while. I loved it. But I chafe whenever anyone claims that they have the right answer for all, be it equally shared parenting or at-home parenting or high-quality daycare or whatever. It's the absolutes that bug me. The more choices, the better.

Posted by: Brian Reid | March 15, 2007 7:48 AM

I agree that most people work because they have to, but there are some who work because they like it. We could get by on my husband's salary alone, but I choose to work because I like my job and I'm good at it. It's more than a paycheck to me.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 15, 2007 7:48 AM

Just based on anecdotal evidence, most SAHM I see strolling the parking lots of the megamalls on a given weekday seem perfectly content playing stroller mommy at Target instead of working. I also enjoy the underlying (and inferred) suggestion that people are "owed" something ..ie ...I would stay home but someone has to pay the bills. Look, if you want to stay home but can't afford to, don't have kids ..or have as many as you think you can "afford" on one salary. Alot of this hogwash (in my opinion) reflects an unwillingness on the part of the people who made the babies to figure out a way to "afford" them, or more likely, not give up oh I don't know, vacations, pricey cars, and other frivolities in the name of American consumerism.

Posted by: Anon Again | March 15, 2007 7:49 AM

To anon so I'm not attacked: I really hate saying this, but all moms are different, so maybe it was something about the combination of your mother's personality and her staying at home that created the situation you relate. My mother also stayed at home and never went to college (although she sat in on a bunch of my classes when I was lecturing!). However, no one, least of all me, would ever say she wasn't "intelligent, accomplished and a great role model". She used to joke about being asked to join the local chapter of AAUW wherever we happened to be living - she'd just smile and decline graciously.

Anyway, my point is being a SAHP isn't for everyone. The best thing you can do for your children is to figure out what's really best for you and go from there. A happy WOHP is almost always better than a miserable SAHP. I know - I was a miserable SAHP for the first two years. Now, fortunately, I'm a reasonable happy SAHP and I'm sure my kids know the difference.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 7:50 AM

I don't see a need to "defend" the dual income household. There are many ways to achieve balance in a family, whether it's by single or dual income, and if a family is happy and thriving with those choices, what's the big deal?

Posted by: JKL | March 15, 2007 7:50 AM

I think the comment that kids are going to be influenced by their own situations is very valid. I sure was. My mother was a stay-at-home mom until I was in elementary school, then she got a part-time job (during school hours so no childcare needed). My parents divorced when I was 9, and my mom had to increase to full-time. She told me repeatedly that she hated being at home and thinks it is one of the reasons her marriage failed. She claims she lost her individual identity - was either mom or spouse but had no life of her own and became completely uninteresting to my dad. I know there's a lot more to it than that and her situation is very dated.

But I was very affected by it. I never dreamed that when I had kids I would stay home. I figured I went to college, grad school, had a good career and never thought I'd want to give that up. But, once I held that first baby and went through the separation of putting her in daycare, I began to think differently. I like my arrangement - working part-time - and I am lucky to have been able to afford great childcare so I don't think my working has a negative impact on my kids and it will likely be positive.

But, I think SAHMs today are different than my mom was. The ones I know are doing really interesting things in addition to taking care of their kids and home - volunteering in children's schools or in community organizations, taking classes for general interest or towards advanced degrees. They are strong role models that their kids can look up to (like the doctor mom referred to in one comment)and are achieving a balance that gives them personal and intellectual satisfaction.

So, my bottom line is your kids will be fine if you are happy and balanced. I strongly agree with the comment that the families where 2 incomes are necessary but they cannot afford quality childcare are the real concern.

Posted by: PT Mof2 | March 15, 2007 7:52 AM

Brian is right that where we really want to get to is diversity acceptance in parenting models. No one way will EVER be the right way for every family. We all know this, but we argue about it nonetheless. E

very model should be a potential option for every family, so that those that won't work well can be eliminated and the best one can be chosen. Experts say that very soon we'll see even more diversity of family types, so we'd better get used to it...and embrace it.

Posted by: equal | March 15, 2007 7:53 AM

I really hope my daughters remember enough about the work I do now, it's important to DH and me that they understand my choice of military service and what it means to them. Beyond the fact that youngest DD loves to wear my combat boots...
And to Fred, thank you to your daughter and to you and Frieda for her service in the AF.

Posted by: AF Mom | March 15, 2007 7:53 AM

I personally would rather be single than be in an unequal marriage. So I was not surprised or suspicious of that quote from the essay. I also fondly remember my mother working and hope to be like her someday. Because she worked full time, she was able to support us when our dad left. I do have to say that I don't remember anything from before I was in 5th grade, so I had to ask how long she stayed home (8 weeks).

As far as "defending" the dual worker family, I think it's kind of unnecessary. You should never feel guilty for providing a solid role model for your kids and a solid financial support system for your family.

Posted by: Meesh | March 15, 2007 7:57 AM

I'm a full-time working mom (there's no choice in the matter...we need my income). The other day, I was in a card store during my lunch hour, and I saw a SAHM (I assume she was at least) out with her son who was in a stroller...and she had time to stand there and look at every single photo album selecting the exact one she needed. Me...I'm about a year behind putting pictures in albums! Standing there...I was envious of her life. She obviously had more time than I do...time to do things like pick out a photo album. her son looked so happy and content sitting in his carriage with his mommy right by his side. I was thinking how secure and happy he must feel since he's not in daycare. I can't change my situation...and I do love my job...and I have a wonderful son. But...at that moment, I absolutely wanted to switch places with that mom. Have you ever had that experience? Does the opposite happen? Could she have been envious of me because I was there without a child in tow and had my whole lunch hour to myself? Are stay at home moms better moms??????

Posted by: Questions... | March 15, 2007 7:59 AM

Well, my moM raised 3 girls not to cook and clean, but to go to college and have careers. I didn't realize how little I knew about simple tasks (even doing the laundry) until I was out of the house. I think she wanted better for us.
And to someone
S comments- most everyone I talk with wants a family *different* than what they had (if you grew up an only, you want lots of kids, etc.). So finding a group of adults who were satisfied is amazing to me.

Posted by: atlmom | March 15, 2007 8:04 AM

"With a little guilt I will admit that I would probably not make a very good SAHM..."


Oh, CJ, let go of that guilt. I know more than a few women who feel the same way as you. My SIL is actually a better mother when she is working. I see that, Frieda sees that, her children see that, everyone but my SIL.

Frieda would have been just as happy staying home fulltime when all four kids were home and did for several years. But she enjoys her PT job so much as she is directly contributing to the physical and emotional health of society. So, in some ways she is a better mother for working also!

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 8:04 AM

My two cents/BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) - we adjust to whatever situation we are placed in. My mother worked for most of my life and it's what I see as my norm. BF's mom stayed home for all of his life -- that's his norm. We both felt loved and secure in our home environment and grew up to be productive citizens. If reading this makes a working mom feel more secure in her choice - great I guess. But most people know you have to look within and make the best choices for your family and let other people's judgement roll off your back. FWIW , when I asked my mother about the mommy wars she laughed at me... 1) they didn't exist and 2) if they had she had other things to worry about.

AF Mom/Fred- as a former Army brat I appreciate your service!

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 15, 2007 8:06 AM

Questions:

I have had that experience. Except my thought was more along the lines of, "oh, how boring that would be to just stand there all day picking out the perfect photo album." :-)

I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I just hate crafts and projects and that sort of stuff, so part of the reason I like working is it gives me an excuse not to have to spend any time on that sort of thing! Now if you were talking about a leisurely afternoon stroll through Wegman's, that would be a different story. . . .

Posted by: Laura | March 15, 2007 8:06 AM

I was a SAHM for 10 years. My husband was in the Air Force, so we could have used a 2nd income, but we decided that it was best for the children for me to stay home. Even when I got my real estate license, I only worked when my kids were in school. I am still available for sports events, school events, etc. We choose to forgo expensive vacations, cars, clothes, etc., and still do. My children think the rampant consumerism in this country is pretty stupid. My 20 YO son won't get a credit card, because he's seen his friends get into lots of trouble with debt. Our way worked for us, but it's not for everyone.

Posted by: Sue | March 15, 2007 8:13 AM

I think its about what (young) people are exposed to. Both my parents worked. All of my parents married friends worked at some point in life. One or two took time off when their children were toddlers, but out of the 4 or 5 couples that comprised our extended family, both spouses worked. My married aunts worked, my grandmothers worked. Despite all the research and essays against it, I don't see the problem. This is why its so hard for me to chime in on this debate regularly. For me its a non-issue.

Posted by: Cali Esq | March 15, 2007 8:14 AM

out of 359 comments yesterday 144 were posted by regulars:

Fred 36
Foamgnome 20
John L 17
dotted 15
KLB SS MD 14
moxiemom 10
emily 9
another lib mom 8
father of 4 8
atlmom 7


not counting what some of them posted on other blogs. People, get back to your kids/government jobs/briefs and stop inflating Leslie's numbers.

Posted by: numbers | March 15, 2007 8:14 AM

What should you be doing instead of counting everyone else's posts? :-)

Posted by: TO: Numbers | March 15, 2007 8:15 AM

I am number 1
I am number 1
I am number 1

Yea!

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 8:15 AM

So, you know what I mean? That wistful moment of wishing you could instantly switch places with someone. Then...I try to imagine what the rest of her day is like. Is she putting pictures in that album with her son playing happily at her feet? Or, are there lots of diapers to change? Crying to soothe? And she's ragged out by the time her husband gets home?

Posted by: TO: Laura | March 15, 2007 8:18 AM

" I am still available for sports events, school events,"

Your 20 year old son still needs you for this stuff?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 8:19 AM

" I am still available for sports events, school events,"

Your 20 year old son still needs you for this stuff?

But...I'll comment anyway. Yes...a 20 year old still needs you for this stuff!

Posted by: This wasn't my post | March 15, 2007 8:21 AM

Numbers,

1) How do you know that I was not off yesterday and today, spouse at work and kid in school?

2) I posted a lot yesterday because the subject was something that I have a lot of experience in and believe it or not, some people actually value my opinions

3) Leslie had stated that she is paid a flat fee for each column

4) These blogs are about public discourse. I happen to think that public discourse is one of the great things about this society and one of the best innovations of the internet.

5)I am Number 1!

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 8:21 AM

People, get back to your kids/government jobs/briefs and stop inflating Leslie's numbers.

I bet it took you a lot longer to do the counting than it takes me to write a quick comment.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 8:26 AM

Congrats Fred! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 8:28 AM

P.S. I could do without the stupid "First" comments.

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 8:28 AM

I'm a working mother married to a working father. On two salaries, we're comfortable but we're not rich. On just my husband's salary, we'd have to leave the area, which I don't want to do because my family is here. So I work primarily from financial necessity although if given the choice, I wouldn't stay home full time. (I long for a lucrative career that demands only 20 hours a week -- anybody got any ideas?).

Anyway, the truth is -- something IS lost. My children lost time that they might have spent with me, and that's a real loss. But it isn't a devastating one, because they did have time with me, just not as much as they might otherwise have had.

And I lost something (besides time with my children) which was the peace and calm of only trying to do one full-time job, instead of two. A stay-at-home friend of mine told me that after the kids go to bed, that's her time -- she doesn't do housework, that's when she reads or paints her nails or whatever. Well, after my kids go to bed, that's when I do laundry and dust and pay bills and ... the list goes on. And some things never get done. The photos have never been put into albums, the closets are a mess. Unlike my stay-at-home friends, I don't have a lot of "me" time in my life.

That's a choice I've made, and I'm ok with it. But there has clearly been more stress in our lives than there would have been if my husband's salary allowed us to live in Montgomery County and do the other things we want to do for our children, like letting them attend a small, nurturing private school. But, yes, we did lose something. And so, it is a relief to know that there may be an upside to it -- if my sons and daughter grow up with a more egalitarian view of the world, that's a good thing that I can hold on to. If, at the end of the day, they grow up realizing that we did what we did to give them a better life, that we did it for love, I'll be satisfied. Please, folks, don't begrudge us working parents this piece of hopeful news.

Posted by: Silver Spring Working Mom | March 15, 2007 8:32 AM

A 20 year-old does still need you. They like to have parent show up and see them get creamed at Rugby, or inducted into the history honor society. They also like the car to have a full gas tank and decent tires that don't leave them stranded.

I have to agree with workingmomX. What we grew up with is what we're likely to think is "normal."

This is not always the case, and many folks who've decided their childhoods weren't normal are now sitting in groups in church basements telling each other their stories.

Since 12-step groups for the children of working parents don't seem to be spouting up all over I think it's safe to assume kids get through it OK.

I still resent the implication that a stay-at-home parent doesn't "work." But that's another blog.

Posted by: RoseG | March 15, 2007 8:34 AM

"I am still available for sports events, school events,"

My bf and I have had a debate about this. One of my parents would come to each of my HOME soccer games (three years of one sport). Bf had a parent at all games (which was four years of school and three sports). I think the away game thing is unnecessary, he thinks parents should be present at everything. There were no parents at any of my away games and we loved it. We ate bad fast food, horsed around to no end, and probably turned the (very understanding) coach's hair white with the stuff we talked about. They were some of my best hs memories. I'd hate to spoil that for my kids.

Posted by: running | March 15, 2007 8:43 AM

to Questions-- very powerfully writen comment.

Yes, i was a stay at home mom and indeed there were times when i was a bit jealous of working moms-- and it was for exactly the things you expect-- having your lunch hour to yourself and being able to go to the bathroom without feeling like something terrible may happen in your very brief absence. i went back to work when son was almost 2 and obviously eager fo more social interaction with other children. co-workers said "welcome back from your vacation!"

HA! No, sorry, in fact coming back to work often felt way more relaxing than staying home with baby/toddler-- - lunch hour all to myself-- ahhhhh . . . . complete freedom to organize my day without pushback from a petulant toddler.

I think it is totally understandable that you felt the way you did and I honestly doubt that at that moment the other mother would have wanted to switch places with you. She was probably enjoying it and you are right that her son was probably very happy and content. but I'm sure there are other times when that mom wishes she were back at work just to get a little time to herself and times when the child wishes that he would expereince things beyond the love and care of his mother. If you are thinking that the other mother judges working mothers as less than her, I can speak confidently that it is highly doubtful. Mothers of all types are typically so engrossed just with making sure that they are doing the best that they can do, they really don't have the time or energy to waste judging the choices of others-- caitlin Flanagan is certainly not the voice for all SAHM-- she is a sad, sad woman that has obvious unresolved issues stemming from her own upbringing.

Posted by: Jen | March 15, 2007 8:44 AM

"I bet it took you a lot longer to do the counting than it takes me to write a quick comment."

Ha, that is a laugh - many of the posts by regulars could best be described as short stories, with the occasional novel thrown in for good measure! But it is your time to waste, so post away.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 8:45 AM

I have not held a paid position for 19 years. Prior to that I was making over $100,000 per year in sales. I am glad I have been home with my children, but not everyone has the option to be 'at home' or wants to give up their job, and I think that's fine, we should all feel free to do as we wish, without guilt or the critisism of others.
I've seen many children grow up with at home moms, nannies, and in day care. They are all fine. Child care situations can change over time, once a care decision is made you don't have to stick with it for years.
My advice is, if you only want to take a few years off, take off the first year of the child's life, or even six months. Then work until the child is 12. I think ages 12-16 are when the children really need the parent to available. Even working part time during the early teen years seems help the family function.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 15, 2007 8:45 AM

My mom regrets that she didn't or couldn't give us some of the domestic skills we needed as adults. All of us struggled to figure out how to efficiently run a house, cook, clean, plan family events. I am currently in the process of teaching my tweeners these things. We have a schedule, cooking lessons (they switch off each week), a rotating chore list, etc. We have so many more tools and resources than my mom had, or even I had when I first had children. The internet was in its infancy. As far as staying home with the kids, I cannot understand why this is still an issue. This is the wrong topic. The question should be 'are you meeting your children's needs'? A depressed SAHP may not. Some kids with Sahp watch a lot of t.v. (insert good and bad examples of both situations here,please).There are good and bad examples of both. And needs change! I was very happy to stay home --at first. I could not have left my baby after 8 weeks. By the time she was two, I had no problem taking her to daycare for half the day. She loved it and I got to jumpstart my adult vocabulary again. I did have some feelings of envy as I watched my husbands career take off. I felt compelled to stay home, but wanted to be in the trenches. I had to accept that was not to be for the moment and do the best with the circumstances my decisions had left me.

Posted by: anon to altmom | March 15, 2007 8:48 AM

"I bet it took you a lot longer to do the counting than it takes me to write a quick comment."

Ha, that is a laugh - many of the posts by regulars could best be described as short stories, with the occasional novel thrown in for good measure! But it is your time to waste, so post away.

And you are reading all of them, so you are wasting your time as well. How old are you, anyway? I am going to guess that you are an under 40 male.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 8:53 AM

Funny, we had to work two jobs to support the modest household above proverty level. Now, with just one income and a little bit of child support (post divorce) I am able to maintain the same household and actually have more money in the bank. Yes, some raises and job promotions came along the way to help boost the "one income" but technically - the SPENDING habits of both partners in the household required the dual incomes. This even includes basics such as food - my food budget dropped substantially with just the reduction of one adult in the household. Once the expenses were reduced, the one income to support a household worked out fine. What is wrong with this picture?

If both parties need to work to sustain the household; both parties need to learn to live within a budget; and both parties need to work together financially to always put the best interests of the family first - and this does not include having a big new vehicle in the driveway for personal self esteem purposes.

Posted by: C.W. | March 15, 2007 8:53 AM

Several people have mentioned they think that what a person is exposed to when they are young is what they will see as the norm/best situation when they are adults, but if you read the essay in full you'll see it compares three different types of family situations--the traditional family with mom at home and dad working, the single-parent family, and the dual-income family. For the first two groups, just about half (give or take, and no actual numbers were cited so I don't know if "little more than half" is 51% or 63%)of the young adults thought the situation they grew up in was the best arrangement, while 3/4 of those who grew up with two working parents thought that was the best arrangement. That's what is meant by "least ambivalent" (and not "at least ambivalent" as Tessa misquoted).

And clearly individual situations vary so no one situation can be held up as the absolute best for all circumstances. FWIW, I grew up with dad working and mom at home, but as a teenager I remember being very impressed with the way they balanced their relationship--Dad kept his hours at work short and Mom pursued a semi-professional singing career/hobby evenings and weekends. I remember very clearly how unhappy she was prior to taking that up when I was four years old (yes, even at that age I was aware of my parents' relative happiness--maybe not the details, but unhappiness affects young children and the memory sticks). She was truly miserable being "only" a SAHM even though that's what she thought she wanted all her life. Choosing to pursue her own interests and develop her own talent while also being primarily a stay-at-home-mom made a huge difference in her life and her kids' lives. This is the version of single-income/SAHM families that I see more and more these days. The moms at home spend their time volunteering for organizations they believe in and getting more actively involved in their kids lives and schools than moms ever were when I was growing up. I can completely see their children, as adults, commending their parents for the balance they found.

But now for my vent: what is it with stay-at-home-moms who assume that mothers who work only do so to afford nice vacations and good cars and fancy clothes? Would you quit that already? Might be true of some people, but not most. Me personally, I work so we can have health insurance (DH's job doesn't offer it) and a roof over our heads--and that roof only covers a 1009 s.f. house, not a luxury McMansion in the suburbs. The parking lot at work, filled with the cars of other working moms, is dominated by the cars you can buy used for about $10,000--five year old Toyotas and Hondas. My own car is a 19 year old Oldsmobile we bought for $1 two years ago. Today I'm wearing my luxury clothes--a hand-me-down skirt from my sister and a sweater from the clearance rack at Target. I'm happy to take my family on vacations camping in state parks. This is the reality of life for most working stiffs--whether they are working mothers bringing in a second income or the sole working parent in a family.

Posted by: Sarah | March 15, 2007 8:53 AM

"...many of the posts by regulars could best be described as short stories, with the occasional novel thrown in for good measure."

Yup, we are all frustrated Hemmingways and Fitzgeralds. I am a Fitzgerald myself.

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 8:54 AM

I'm getting a bit sick of this - it seems to be another example of someone trying to prove that their way is best.

When a working mom says her family needed the money (or whatever her reason for working may be) and that they've worked it out so the kids are well taken care of, that doesn't mean that staying home is bad.

When a stay-at-home mom says that she sees some real advantages to staying at home, and that for her family they outweighed the potential benefits from her working, that doesn't mean that working is bad.

Neither of these is an attack on other moms - unless someone like Gerson, Reid, or Steiner makes it one.

Or are people really that insanely insecure about their choices?

Posted by: Demos | March 15, 2007 8:57 AM

OT: If Fred will forgive me for usurping his Latin gig for a day, I'd just like to note:

"...caveret periculum, quod non ultra Martias Idus proferretur."

In other words, Beware the Ides of March!

Posted by: catlady | March 15, 2007 8:58 AM

et tu Brute?

Posted by: experienced mom | March 15, 2007 8:58 AM

"Are stay at home moms better moms??????"

No, a good mom is a good mom whether she works or not. Also, I took my daughter to the doctor with me for one of my appointments and the doctor thought I was a stay at home mom, which I am not, so you really can't just assume the other lady was. Maybe she was on vacation; she works shift work, works from the house, etc. I am not being snarky, but is there a way to scope out a SAHM?

I am not envious of SAHM because I like what I am doing. I do not feel guilty and I never will.

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 8:59 AM

Whoo-hoo cj! Clap Clap Clap! Honesty in this area seems rare. I'm with you - would make a lousy SAHM, know it, no apologies. My mom was a SAHM, unsatisfied about it, happy as a clam to get back to work once we were all in school, and worked until she was 72. My DD is in excellent care and loves her routine - no worries.

Posted by: Olney | March 15, 2007 9:00 AM

TV Trivia,

The Ides of March is considered the beginning or rerun time!

(At least until Fox changed all the rules!)

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 9:01 AM

that should be "beginning of rerun time"

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 9:01 AM

People, get back to your kids/government jobs/briefs and stop inflating Leslie's numbers.

I bet it took you a lot longer to do the counting than it takes me to write a quick comment.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 08:26 AM

Not only that, KLB, but if we were to count all the snarky messages that certain regular (but anonymous) cowardly trolls posted here throughout the day, I imagine they'd add up to a whole lot more than anyone else's!

Posted by: catlady | March 15, 2007 9:03 AM

Contrary to popular belief, they really don't care if I post all day as long as my papers get published. I actually completed 50% of my research requirements for this calendar year already.

On topic: I don't see the need to defend dual income families. For most it is just a necessity. But I would hestitate to make generalities that SAHPs are unhappy or unproductive. Clearly, we spend a large amount of work time doing non work related tasks (blogging, setting up appointments, talking on the phone etc...) Also I might add that SAHP vs WOHP might change at different point in a families life. Some people would love to stay home with very young children. I went to a birthday party and about 1/2 of the parents were SAHMs. But all of them said they would like to go back to work full time when their kids are in school. Main reason: $$$. It is just really tough here to make it on one income. Even if that income is pretty good (professional).

Off topic: sometimes when I look at the blog link from the main WAPost page, I just get yesterday's blog. It doesn't update till later in the day. But I see comments with time stamps earlier. Do you know why that happened?

I never could see a new on parenting blog yesterday.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 9:05 AM

Fred, there is no such thing as official rerun time anymore. The networks just run a couple of weeks of a show, give us some re-runs, go back for a couple of weeks of new episodes, then more re-runs. And in between they might change the day of the week or the time of the show so you have to search for it.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 9:07 AM

Our kids benefit the most when they are safe, loved, and fed. Don't restrict that role to only the biological parent(s).

Our kids also benefit when we, as parents, are fulfilled whether through staying at home, working for someone else, or owning our own business. They see it, they know it, they learn from it.

Posted by: ParentPreneur | March 15, 2007 9:08 AM

I think when kids are small and very needy that it is less stressful to have someone at home. I think that this is especially true if the kids have any kind of health or developmental issues. Also at this time the money is not as big an issue. School systems, expensive activities, vacations etc. Are just not that important to the under two set.

As the kids get older and less needy then both people working is far less stressful and very often beneficial to everyone.

I know for me being at home those first two years made our lives so much less stressful, allowed my husband to take a higher paying job and allowed me to get our premature baby to what seemed like hundreds of doctors appointments, therapists and keep the peanut as germ free as possible.

But she will never know the benefit to our family then. And if asked I think she would say she respects both of us and our decision to work. By asking kids how they assess a sitution in which many of them have lived in households that have experienced both two worker and one stay at home parent but most cannot remeber the stay at home portion of their lives the survey is very skewed.

Posted by: Tessa Again | March 15, 2007 9:08 AM

Fred

"Yup, we are all frustrated Hemmingways and Fitzgeralds. I am a Fitzgerald myself."

Frustrated is the word. You don't the talent to turn a page of The Great Gatsby.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:09 AM

Funny, why a mildly sarcastic comment would immediately be labeled as belonging to a "male under 40 ". Since it was said negatively, I suppose some overweight over 50 females really don't like this type? Sour grapes, anybody?

Don't know about the author of that comment, but I've been accused in similar evil thoughts I would not keep to myself. I'm a female past40 with all the obnoxiosness (and some looks) of 20-something. Think Angelina Jolie. Btw, when Angelina was 14 her mom let her adult lover move into their house, hoping to get at least some control of what her wild child was doing. How many of you would scream child abuse? And it's not ancient history either.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:09 AM

"" I am still available for sports events, school events,"

Your 20 year old son still needs you for this stuff?"

Hey Sherlock, she said she had children. You don't know how old the others are.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:09 AM

Bless you, Sarah. I too am sick of that theme.

Posted by: to Sarah | March 15, 2007 9:10 AM

Funny, why a mildly sarcastic comment would immediately be labeled as belonging to a "male under 40 ". Since it was said negatively, I suppose some overweight over 50 females really don't like this type? Sour grapes, anybody?

Don't know about the author of that comment, but I've been accused in similar evil thoughts I would not keep to myself. I'm a female past40 with all the obnoxiosness (and some looks) of 20-something. Think Angelina Jolie. Btw, when Angelina was 14 her mom let her adult lover move into their house, hoping to get at least some control of what her wild child was doing. How many of you would scream child abuse? And it's not ancient history either.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 09:09 AM

HUH? Are you on drunk this early in the day 'cuz this doesn't make any sense at all.

Posted by: DC lurker | March 15, 2007 9:11 AM

I'm a female past40 with all the obnoxiosness (and some looks) of 20-something. Think Angelina Jolie.

Yeah, right. Big claim to post an anonymous blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:11 AM

I suspect that posts to ALL blogs (including, but not limited to, this one) will drop precipitously just after noon today, with the start of March Madness -- yay!!!

(On a personal note, 3 of DH's and my 4 teams are in the NCAA tournament, with 2 seeded in the top quarter of their respective groups -- & I think our other school is in the NIT -- so we're hoping at least one of them does us proud this year!).

Posted by: catlady | March 15, 2007 9:11 AM

20-year-olds like me still kind of need their mothers, but I really see myself in this research, because I truly needed my SAHM to be emotionally available when I was 11. And I love her dearly, we've kind of dealt with the issues, but she wasn't. So on a visceral level (besides the fact that I deeply believe I'm called to public service) I'm uneasy about staying home with future children, because I know its possible to hover-parent and still leave your child unsupported. I'll probably always be nagged by the question of "What if she had worked, would less time to worry about every minute physical need allowed her to see my emotional needs?"
But you don't see 12-step programs for young adults like me in this rightist society that guilts working mothers.

Posted by: Lydia | March 15, 2007 9:12 AM

AF Mom and Product of a Working Mom,

Thanks for your kind comments. I am pretty much from a family of citizen soldiers. Grandfather was a soldier, dad was a soldier, sainted mother was a Marine (until the day she died) and 5 of 7 brothers were in the military. My older son was in the Army and dau is now in the AF.

The interesting thing about Dau is that it was truly her own idea. I never pushed her one way or the other about military service. I was really surprised when she told me that she joined.

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 9:12 AM

What she said:
I'm a female past40 with all the obnoxiosness (and some looks) of 20-something. Think Angelina Jolie.

What she is:
Roseanne Barr before facelift.

Posted by: DC lurker | March 15, 2007 9:13 AM

Although March Madness is the pinnacle for some fans, there are actually those of us who CAN'T STAND BASKETBALL.

Posted by: to catlady | March 15, 2007 9:13 AM

Advice from a lonely #2: Really, this is why more people should study math. Because math/stat jobs are usually well paid with absolutely NO STRESS. The only ones that are stressed out are the consultants. Every one has a wicked amount of free time between data collection and analysis phase. Blog away, oh yea math people.

PS: Fred shocked you out ranked me.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 9:14 AM

I have worked since my son was two months old. Even with a sahd in the beginning, it was hard during the first two years. Babies take a lot out of you. But it gets easier every day. And now that my son is in school, I can't imagine what I would do if I stayed at home all day. There is only so much cooking, cleaning, and laundry to do. My husband is in school, so his schedule is fairly flexible and he spends afternoons after school at home. I also don't have a killer job, so I am home for dinner every night, and can devote my entire weekend to my family. Yes, sometimes things feel a little busy. Our schedules are certainly full, and sometimes, I would like a little more leisure time. I love it when my husband is on break from school, because he becomes Mr. Supermom for these brief periods and spoils us immensely. But honestly, if I did not have a job, I would have too much time on my hands, and would probably be pretty bored and unhappy. And my husband has stated that he would feel the same way if he were not in school.

I think that working or studying or some other like activities are very important to balance in the long run. Kids don't remain little forever, and parents don't have to stay at home indefinitely (although it can make sense for a few years if you have a few preschool toddlers/babies). Parents need to have a life after their kids grow older, and for many, a satisfying career is one way to achieve this.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 9:15 AM

"So, you know what I mean? That wistful moment of wishing you could instantly switch places with someone."

Yep, I do (just not with the photo albums!). Usually when I'm having a tough time in my own life, feeling like I'm failing everyone (kind of like I can judge my current happiness level by how often I play the lottery!). You see someone else in a perfect moment, and it's easy to fantasize that life would be so much better if you had just made the same choice she did. Same way that $390 million seems like it would solve all your problems. :-)

But I've also gotten really good at reality checks. The fact is, I have been a lot closer to that than I am now (telecommuted very part-time for several years right after my daughter was born), so I know from experience that someone else's version of the "idyllic" life leaves me frustrated, bored, and snappy. Which is not what I want for myself OR my kids.

What I REALLY want isn't that other woman's life -- it's my life with less work stress and more help (the real reason I want to win the lottery is just to have someone else take care of all the dang chores!). :-) If I had to choose, I'd rather stick with my life, and just keep trying to improve the things that bug me by tinkering around the edges.

Posted by: Laura | March 15, 2007 9:16 AM

To Anon Today;I feel the same way-about work and being away from my child-but I also agree with what poster "Mary B" wrote. Basically, that her child is happy with being in child care and she, as a mom, knows she is okay and spends quality time with her when she gets home.

To reaffirm the second poster, today my hubby told me that our little girl has her first friend in daycare, and she is only 14 weeks old. How neat is that? The fact that someone else can adore my child as much as I do makes me feel great because I won't always be able to be there for her. But it won't stop me from running out of work at quitting time to go be with her!!! I treasure every moment and make sure that our time together is full of fun and snuggling-time.

Posted by: Formerly Soon to be Mom | March 15, 2007 9:18 AM

Frustrated is the word. You don't the talent to turn a page of The Great Gatsby.


Posted by: | March 15, 2007 09:09 AM

is there a verb missing in the second sentence?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:19 AM

"what is it with stay-at-home-moms who assume that mothers who work only do so to afford nice vacations and good cars and fancy clothes? "

Who gives a damn what SAHMs assume? They are too busy getting fat watching their "must see" shows and talking about kid poop all day to know what is going on in the real world. I feel like shoving their 24/7 attitudes down their Book Club WTF? throats.

What is wrong with a mother working to afford the big house, nice vacations, good cars, and fancy clothes (AKA "funny money")? No one says a word about the fathers who do the same thing!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:19 AM

Sarah: Do you think the bias comes from the medium of the message? Meaning that this an internet blog. So it caters to professional people who have work internet access. Also a bit to very interested SAHPs. But if you have not noticed after about 5 PM, most posters ditch to return to their "real" life versus a "virtual" life. I also imagine as work loads change, bloggers time will also change. We are in a research phase and things are mind numbingly slow. So I do blog constantly. But when we go back into the field, I will be pretty busy at work. Also there could be a skewed distribution because it is a DC blog and the Washington DC area has a disapproptionate number of white collar professionals. But anyway, I think your message is a very good one. Across American most 2 income families need the money.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 9:20 AM

I agree with the essay. I had a SAHM, but my childhood was very difficult because of economic circumstances. I always wished my mother would have worked like some of the other mothers so we could have had more financial security. I worried at a very young age (elementary school) about $$$. When my father got ill, very ill, I worried what was going to happen if he was no longer around.

This is why I decided that I would be a WOHM and be able to support my family independently if the need ever arose. I love my children and my DH with my whole heart. I spend 2/3 of the day with them. 1/3 of the day DH, the kids, and I are at work/school/daycare. That does not mean that I let others completely diaper and feed them as other posters seem to think. I don't have a lot of my own social activities and I devote a lot of home time to my family.

While "balance" may mean different things to SAH and WOH moms, it does not mean both can be good moms.

My SAHM could not wait to get "adult" time and get out of the house when my dad came home from work. When I come home from work, I spend time with my kids. And, thinking back to my dad, he was no less a parent when/because he worked. A lot of these arguments that women use about working are invalid because when used in the context of fathers would never be used!

Posted by: Mom of 2 in PA | March 15, 2007 9:21 AM

You don't the talent to turn a page of The Great Gatsby.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 09:09 AM


And you haven't the talent even to put a verb in your sentence.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:21 AM

I work full time but I really wanted to be the school recess monitor. Three hour work days, school days only, snow days off, and a little pocket money besides. What's not to love?

Posted by: Not type A | March 15, 2007 9:28 AM

"Have you ever had that experience? Does the opposite happen? Could she have been envious of me because I was there without a child in tow and had my whole lunch hour to myself?"

Yes the opposite happens. Also, it may be petty but I routinely get jealous of the nice clothes working moms get to wear everyday. It's just not feasible for me to be wearing high heels and a nice dress as a stay home mom to two kids who play in the dirt 6 hours out of the day.

"Are stay at home moms better moms??????"

Of course not. Good moms are better moms.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | March 15, 2007 9:28 AM

Everybody wants a job. Nobody wants to work!

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 15, 2007 9:34 AM

"And the kids were more satisfied being taken care of by babysitters and daycare providers than they would have been having their diapers changed by their moms and dads. Give me a break. Kids are so unaware of their parents finances when they are very young which is when most parents are staying home with their kids."

Children in diapers are rarely cognizant of who is changing them. (If they are old enough to know the difference, maybe it's about time to start potty training.) I highly doubt that an infant will care one way or another who's changing its diapers and feeding it formula. I agree with many posters on here that a more beneficial (for the kids) time to stay home with them is in their teens; that's when they need your guidance the most.

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 9:37 AM

I want to second Sarah's post. Not all families with two working adults are rolling in money. Not all professionals are lawyers making six figures. My friends (one of whom has a college degree) who have two kids are barely making $50,000 combined and live in a double-wide. They clearly both need to work. My husband and I make a combined income of less than six figures. We have a house, one older car and one newer car. As it stands, we can barely afford a local vacation to the OBX. We can't run off to Milan (as much as you parents think we DINKs have the freedom to do so). My closet is full of Old Navy, not J Crew. If we added kids to the mix, we would absolutely need to keep both jobs.

The fact is that not everyone has high-powered jobs that pay loads of money. For every CEO out there, there are 50 admin. assistants.

Posted by: Meesh | March 15, 2007 9:38 AM

How can a stay at home mother (we're talking about a mom of teens, not infants) have any moral suasion when it comes to the importance of education, work, and independence?

My mom stayed home. Heck, I'm 30 and she's still at home. It made those "you must always be able to take care of yourself-- never rely on a man" lectures just another thing to feel contemptuous about. (I have a great dad. Anyone would be lucky to have him to rely upon. But that's for another day.)

I believe my mother and I would have had a better relationship if she had done anything I could respect her for when I was growing up. And no, a teenaged girl does not need a cooking/cleaning/ladies-book-club-attending role model.

Posted by: WDC | March 15, 2007 9:38 AM

Mathgeeks unite-foamgnome. I was out of work almost 4 years and it took no time to find a position. Doesn't hurt that the economy is ripe for these jobs. Most of the. Moms in our community worked at something when the kids were a little older, but my momflat out refused. As I've said, she wasn't home for me after school, so her working more than part time wouldn't have been so different(what did she do all day? Take care of the house while we were in school- and shopping- but she was eventually a grandmaster in bridgesn so she was addicted to playing- she did that all the time. Where's mom? She's at the bridge club).

Since we weren't in the best shape financially, I always wondered why she didn't go back to work even part time. It would have helped immensely. My mother could definitely squeeze a penny better than anyone, but it still was not enuf. Especially when dad's business wasn't soaring and he eventually wasn't working either- it would have been nice not to be yelled at all the time that we couldn't afford anything(except the ridiculously expensive house that momdidnt want to leave.).

Posted by: atlmom | March 15, 2007 9:39 AM

Lucky for me, I am a stay at home mom and a dual income household - I work from my home office and bring in just as much money from my business as I would if I was employed in a more traditional work environment. So in a way, it's the best of both worlds - I spend time with my daughter, but I still get outside the house, interact with adults, work at something I'm passionate about.

But I would never tell anyone how to raise their children. Some parents truly relish their roles as SAHP, and more power to you - I love being there with my daughter during the day. But I know that if I wasn't running my business I wouldn't be happy. I enjoy what I do. As always, it boils down to the fact that there are as many ways to raise a family as there are families out there.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:45 AM

There is a couple in our neighborhood who have two school aged children. The youngest just started school 18 months ago. The mother, who has been a SAHM since the first came into their lives, is refusing to go back to work because she says "it's better for her children" for her to be 100% available to them. Her husband vehemently disagrees and says she needs to get a job making around $1000 a month (not a lot of money) so that they can afford the activities the kids want to do. Their older daughter had to quit swimming because it was too expensive. Now both kids do nothing. It is becoming a critical issue for them.

I do not understand what she thinks she needs to be home to do all day if both children are in school. I do not understand why she doesn't see that the additional money she could bring in would provide value to her family.

Do you understand this?

Posted by: Crispy | March 15, 2007 9:47 AM

'Here's a line from that article that I think is B.S.

"If a supportive, egalitarian partnership is not possible, most women prefer individual autonomy over becoming dependent on a husband in a traditional marriage."'

Why? I happen to agree with it. I don't want to have to depend upon my husband for money. I don't see why I should have to beg for the money to replace a 30 year old washing machine the way HIS mother had to with HIS dad.

Found out about the family dynamics AFTER we wed.

Posted by: Bedrock | March 15, 2007 9:50 AM

To Crispy -
I don't understand her either, probably because I don't know her, her family, or her situation entirely. But really, what business is it of anyone's what this family does? Why do you care so much? It's not really your business.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 9:51 AM

Thanks for your snide comments, Emily. I care because she's my friend and I don't know what to tell her. Is there something wrong with that?

Posted by: Crispy | March 15, 2007 9:52 AM

Isn't the question misplaced? Do what is best for YOU, not your children, husband, parents or relatives, then you won't need any defense. When children see you in pursuit of happiness, they learn to be resorceful themselves, and they don't consider their childhood as "the best time of their life", as my husband's children from the first marriage do. They are actually looking forward to adulthood, because that's the time when you supposed to do WHAT YOU WANT.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 9:52 AM

And most of this debate is kind of silly. My grandmother always worked, and I'm sure as a kid, my great grandmother took care of the kids. As my grandmother helped out when we were kids (as well as the live in nanny til I was 4). I think it was rare for both moms and dads to not work- except for something like mary poppins, where mom wasn't around, but still didn't work. It used to be, tho that momcooked all day and made clothes for the fam and farmed, etc, but we are a different society today.
So we go to our jobs- but the kids are with good people- it used to be aunts and grandmothers and now it is with caring people. We rarely live near family these days, so that's not feasible.

Posted by: atlmom | March 15, 2007 9:52 AM

That was pretty b!tchy for you.

Posted by: Gee, Emily | March 15, 2007 9:53 AM

To Crispy -
You did not frame your comment as your friend asking your for advice. You simply referred to her as a stay at home mom in the neighborhood. If she is asking for advice, then tell her what you think. If not, then you really shouldn't be judging her for her choices, as you seem to be doing.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 9:55 AM

Addendum (I posted before I read all the comments): As you all know, I'm not a mom, but I can't say I've ever wanted to trade places with someone who doesn't work. I have a dear friend who was brilliant in college, medical school-bound, straight A's. But she was also the future trophy-wife type, got a Master's at GWU, and now does absolutely nothing with it. She spends her time hanging out with her boyfriend (who is planning to propose in the next few months), getting her nails done and shopping with her mother. I look at her life and all its accoutrements, and don't envy her one bit. I love her to death, but thinking about how she lives just bores me. And while I'm sure nothing about motherhood is an boring, I'm just the type of person who thrives under pressure. I can find things on my desk more easily if it's a mess. I work better when I'm disorganized. I actually LIKE not having my photos in albums! And if I had time to stand in Hallmark all day leafing through every photo album they have, I'd probably go crazy. I'm just the type of person who needs her schedule to be a little packed to keep from getting bored. Many people may enjoy having "enough" time to do everything you want, but not all of us envy those who have more time. And no, SAHMs are not necessarily better moms--nor are working moms--it's an individual quality that can't be defined by a paycheck.

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 9:57 AM

Emily, as I said, I don't understand why she is so unwilling to return to any kind of work. The reason I posted is I was hoping someone who's felt this way could better explain it to me. I actually think it's bad for parents to be available 100% of the time.

Posted by: Crispy | March 15, 2007 9:58 AM

Crispy, maybe she has no plan on what to do with her young children on days when there is no school, or if one of them is sick and can't go to school. And what about Summer?

Posted by: experienced mom | March 15, 2007 10:02 AM

Bedrock, that is one of my greatest fears. I know many men can be trusted, but you never know--some of the greatest boyfriends can become controlling a-holes as husbands. I always vowed I'd have my own income and earning capacity. I don't want to have to rely on a man for money, and I don't want to have to ask 'permission' to spend it.

That's not to say I don't think married couples should consult each other for large purchases, or stay abreast of the family's finances. I just don't want to have to ask permission to spend.

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 10:04 AM

To crispy: she coudl work- even as a sub, at the preschool her kid(s- attend, and get a discount or make some money.

Then she'd be available but bring something home. I know plenty of moms who do this. Of course some women just want to not work- but it does sound as if her marraige is suffering because of this. That's a serious problem in my opinion.

Posted by: atlmom | March 15, 2007 10:04 AM

Crispy: It is a tough one because there is no right answer and clearly she and her husband are not on the same page. She has the upper hand because it would take active effort on her part, to get a job. It is just easier to keep the status quo. Another thought, would she consider a home based business while her kids are at home. I am not kidding, that I know several SAHMs that sell enough on ebay to make up the difference. The answer emails and ship their packages while their kids are at school. It does take some effort on their part. The ones that are the most successful, seem to buy things at rock bottom clearance prices and sell for regular retail a year later. The only trick is you have to lay out some money a head of time. But it seems to work for them.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:10 AM

It's hard to get a job with school hours outside of a school, and not everyone is cut out to work there. I love my kids, but a schoolful makes me shudder.

Maybe she reads this blog and is terrified that she will be called out of work for a sick child and put under tremendous pressure.

Maybe a whole lot of things. Maybe she is willing to give up cable, dinners out,etc to pay for kids activities but her spouse doesn't want to address the lack of money any way other than her working.

BTW, if the only issue is kids activities, then $1000 per month sounds like a lot.

Posted by: amused | March 15, 2007 10:11 AM

There is also some new research being conducted by Elizabeth Sterling in NYC that shows for women, the most important indicator of future peace with their work/at home motherhood choices is NOT whether their mom worked or not, but whether she was happy with her choice. Happy moms tend to breed happy daughters, apparently. There were lots of cases of happy SAHMs who raised happy WM daughters and vice versa.

To me the bottom line is: accept your choice and feel good about it!

Posted by: Leslie | March 15, 2007 10:12 AM

I grew up with two working parents. They worked only 40-hours a week in professional positions in state government (a gig harder to find these days). They rarely brought work home and always were home by 5:30 pm. They were generally content with their jobs, and I loved being able to talk with other kids about what my parents did.

My husband's mom was a SAHM from the birth of her second son until they left for college, and he was ambivalent about it. He always felt like she could do more with her talents, especially after he and his brother were in school.

As her daughter-in-law, I expect she will freak out when I return to work within a year after we have our first baby.

Posted by: Product of Dual Earners | March 15, 2007 10:13 AM

There are so many variables at play, I don't think any one solution will work for every family out there. Do what is best for you and your family, and let the naysayers' comments go.

I don't have kids myself, but I can tell you what my parents did and how I felt. Mom stayed at home until I (the youngest) started kindergarten. Then she returned to work. I never once felt deprived. My parents were always there when I needed them. I think it helps that my father was an involved parent as well and that both of them are just freakishly organized people. Later on, Mom went to graduate school. She knew that working full time, going to school, and raising kids was going to be tough so she asked for our help. We expanded our chore lists to include one night of cooking a week. Even me, and I was only about 11! Mom just picked simple meals and left detailed instructions and my brother was home in case I needed help. Again, I never felt deprived. For some, it isn't the amount of time as the quality of it. I also got a good lesson that kids are not the focus of parents' life, just a big part of it.

I won't pretend that this would work for everyone. I think my parents got lucky in a number of factors, including that neither of the kids were particularly difficult.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | March 15, 2007 10:13 AM

to crispy: Maybe your friend is afraid of putting herself back in the job marketplace? Try asking her what she fears about going back to work (over and above the obvious juggling work and her family)? Does she think her skills are rusty? Not know where to start looking?

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 15, 2007 10:14 AM

There are a lot of reasons why she might not want to go back to work. It may be that her husband does not chip in around the house, and is not the type who will change, and that she feels that if she were working, the household duties would still fall completely on her and be too much. It may be that she enjoys her sahm life too much and does not want to push herself. It may be that she does not feel confident about going back into the working world. It may be that she feels like she would not be making enough money for it to be worth it. It may be that she really feels like she needs to be there for her kids, and that the time she spends with them is more important than extracurriculars. It may be that her marriage is on the rocks and she wants to make sure that she is entitled to alimony after the divorce. Who knows? You are her friend, apparently. I am sure that you would have more insight into her reasons than people on the blog who don't know her at all.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 10:14 AM

"The youngest just started school 18 months ago"

"To crispy: she coudl work- even as a sub, at the preschool"

Why is it that I think kindergarten when someone refers to starting school, but others assume preschool?

Thinking about a child who is 5 is different than one who is 3 or 4.

Posted by: funny | March 15, 2007 10:18 AM

It sounds like your mom was just lame, I don't know what working or not had to do with it.

Posted by: anon so I'm not attacked | March 15, 2007 10:18 AM

Another zinger from Emily. Got up on the wrong side of bed today?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:20 AM

I assumed kindergarten because 2 or 3 hours a few days a week (preschool schedule) does not afford a lot of work hours. But that was my take. Actually DD goes to school 3 hours 5 days a week. But that seems unusual.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:20 AM

To me the bottom line is: accept your choice and feel good about it!

Posted by: Leslie | March 15, 2007 10:12 AM

I think people like to assume there is some magic recipe or panacea. There's not. You can be a terrific feminine or masculine role model at home or at work.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 10:21 AM

Does anyone think that moms *not* working outside them home is actually harmful (to them and their kids)?

I'm curious if anyone has read that book "Get to Work" by Hirshman? She talks a lot of about economic independance and self-determination.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:22 AM

Okay, here's the scoop: by school-aged, I mean both kids are in school full time. And I think the $1000/month is so that they can do activities for the kids and afford a car (their cars are each about 10 years old).

My question is why is this woman sticking to her guns when it is causing a problem in her marriage AND impacting her children because they can't do the activities they love? I do see some poster's points about what happens when the kids get sick, but that happens and people deal with it. She seems to feel that she NEEDS to be there all the time. I don't get it.

Posted by: Crispy | March 15, 2007 10:24 AM

Does anyone think that moms *not* working outside them home is actually harmful (to them and their kids)?

I'm curious if anyone has read that book "Get to Work" by Hirshman? She talks a lot of about economic independance and self-determination.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 10:22 AM

Nah, but my my own mother stayed home till youngest went to middle school. I figured I turned out OK. Alright, maybe not OK but I am not exactly a serial killer. Putting my weak attempt at comedy aside, I can't imagine unless the parent was abusive, how could it harm the child in any real way? And a WOH abusive mother is just more dangerous during certain hours. Hirshman is a bit of an extremist for my taste.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:25 AM

I think I made a perfectly good point. Sorry, Crispy, but I just don't see what you don't understand. If she is your friend, and you have talked about it, then she must have some reasons. Her apparent reason is that she feels it is better for her kids for her to be at home. Perhaps you don't agree, and perhaps I don't either. But I certainly 'understand" the reason, and I don't feel that I have to agree with it to respect it.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 10:25 AM

RE: Contrary to popular belief, they really don't care if I post all day as long as my papers get published. I actually completed 50% of my research requirements for this calendar year
already.


Didn't you do a guestblog recently -- "to have or not to have"? A second baby, that is.

Suggestion: Negotiate a new work arrangement whereby you work less hours yet produce the same amount of work (and should thus not suffer a decrease in pay). Then take that new found time, that is, the "work time" that you are now using to blog at the office, and devote it to the family, second baby and all. Problem solved.

Posted by: tofoamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:27 AM

RE: Contrary to popular belief, they really don't care if I post all day as long as my papers get published. I actually completed 50% of my research requirements for this calendar year
already.


Didn't you do a guestblog recently -- "to have or not to have"? A second baby, that is.

Suggestion: Negotiate a new work arrangement whereby you work less hours yet produce the same amount of work (and should thus not suffer a decrease in pay). Then take that new found time, that is, the "work time" that you are now using to blog at the office, and devote it to the family, second baby and all. Problem solved.

Posted by: tofoamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:27 AM

That would be wonderful but the federal government has this pesky thing called face time. I am already pretty vested into a federal pension to just walk away. But your suggestion is a good one for people working in the private sector.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:29 AM

I do not feel the need to defend our dual income household because I enjoy my work and have a flexible job where I see my kids alot. However, I am curious as to whether any other working parent has had the experience of going to a playground during a weekday and having the SAHMs totally snub you??? It is really bizarre -almost like the movie "Mean Girls." When I was on maternity leave last summer with my newborn, I would be at the playground (and there were several I would go to) with my two year old, and the SAHMs were pretty much all the same with a few exceptions. Why is that? Before anyone asks - I am a pretty outgoing person who can usually strike a conversation with most people. I dread when my kids start kindergarten and I really have to deal with these type of self-absorbed, inclusive mothers.

Posted by: another working mom | March 15, 2007 10:29 AM

I'd like to second Leslie's post and also point out that making assumptions about what SAHMs are thinking about you (I'm looking at you, Sarah and Meesh) is not advisable either. When I was a SAHM I didn't have the time or energy to make those assumption about working outside the home moms and i think it is much healthier for everyone to work with the assumption that all parents are spending their time making life the best posible for their family--- and that just doesn't allow time for judging other families.

Working mothers, don't flatter yourself with the idea that SAHM spend a lick of their time judging you! SAHM DON'T CARE that you are working-- don't care if it's for fripperies, don't care if it's for health insurance and a roof over the family. It's just not on their radar screen of things to worry about.

Posted by: Jen | March 15, 2007 10:29 AM

If I were to put myself in Crispy's friend's place, I'd say that she's probably just nervous or afraid of getting back into the work force. Some people, when they're faced with something difficult, prefer not to act at all. This is something I am getting over myself (which is why I stayed in my current job for three years before going back to school). On the other hand, maybe she just likes staying home. Some people just prefer it.

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 10:30 AM

"I don't see why I should have to beg for the money to replace a 30 year old washing machine the way HIS mother had to with HIS dad."

And yet, some of us men are criticized by our spouses and other women for giving appliance for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's day, etc.

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 10:31 AM

"She seems to feel that she NEEDS to be there all the time. I don't get it."

I don't get it either, but she probably doesn't get why others, including her husband, don't think she needs to be there.

We all have our own ideas of what is most important. The problem is when ideas of a couple don't always mesh. I have friends who are a traditional couple and both very happy with their set-up. DH and I both work and we're happy with our set-up. If we traded spouses, all of us would be miserable.


Posted by: to crispy | March 15, 2007 10:32 AM

It is funny, when I was pregnant, my MIL kept telling me about studies where it showed how wonderful SAHMs are, etc since she was convinced I'd go back to work. But I didn't . Then *her* daughter went back to work and it is the best thing ever.

Posted by: atlmom | March 15, 2007 10:32 AM

$1000/month, after taxes?

You can earn that at the grocery store during "normal" business hours. More, if she stocked shelves at night. Not saying it would be ideal though!

But as stated elsewhere, there may be more at play than "I feel I should be able to go running to the school at the drop of a hat, 'just in case', a child should forget lunch, take a tumble on the playground, etc."

I don't know. Have you invited her over for a girlfriend's dinner? Everyone needs a buddy sometimes.

Posted by: to Crispy | March 15, 2007 10:34 AM

Another working mom - don't worry when your child starts kindergarten - there will be other children where both parents work and those are the people you can deal with. And the Mean Girls - grown up version - can be just as hard on the SAHM's in some ways even worse - you have your work friends to go to.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM

RE: That would be wonderful but the federal government has this pesky thing called face time. I am already pretty vested into a federal pension to just walk away. But your suggestion is a good one for people working in the private sector.


If you hadn't done the second baby handwringing, I'd say fine. Given your guest blog, I have to say, you're not trying hard enough to think outside of the box, federal gov't job and all, if, in fact, a second baby is what you really want. That's what it all comes down to -- and not the fact of your federal employer wanting face time.

Posted by: tofoamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM

turn is a verb.

Posted by: verb | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM

Women judge other women--sometimes openly, sometimes subtlly. Can anyone honestly say this is not true?

When Brian took care of RebelKid full-time, you should have heard some of the nasty, nasty things SAHMs said to me (about me and about him). But you should have also heard the kind and wonderful things other SAHMs said.

The same goes for our situation now--I get snide comments from SAHM about my part-time work in the area of sex discrimination. And I get snide comments from "working" moms about how I "should" be working full-time instead of being home with RebelPreemie.

Women are sometimes other women's worst enemies. Sad.

Posted by: RebelMom | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM

I worked until from age 14 until age 35, after the birth of my second child. I am home now, with two kids in school. My husband has been successful enough that any money I earn from employment will be cut in half by taxes. Instead, I volunteer at my children's school and tutor other people children, I work out, and take courses to keep my career prospects up to date. We have moved 5 times in 20 years, so I would have had to start over each time. who else would take my kids to the orthodontist, tennis, and help them with their homework? I will return to work when the kids are older, and have made sure I will be in demand. I will gladly work until I die, because I consider this time my retirement. I have so much fun with my kids, I adore my husband and he worships the ground I walk on. We are having fun now -- why work now only to retire at age 65? My mom is still working at age 74, and it keeps her healthy. I have 4 sisters, none who were a stay-at-home mom, and all are happy. Some women make better choices in partners and can make either working or staying home the right decision. It is such a personal decision. It is sad the working moms seem bent on justifying their decisions by demeaning SAHM, and SAHM moms are so defensive about being portrayed as stepford wives. Hasn't the feminist movement been about making choices?

Posted by: Karen | March 15, 2007 10:38 AM

"Negotiate a new work arrangement whereby you work less hours yet produce the same amount of work"

Slightly off topic, but how easy is this really? I know we all feel good about our work contributions, but I don't think we are as indispensible as others seem to think. I could ask for anything, but I'm sure the answer would be no. Also, if incredibly busy times and slow times fluctuate, I doubt that you could work parttime during the busy times and I doubt that you could take off completely during slow times in order to work 12 hour days during busy months.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:38 AM

"I am curious as to whether any other working parent has had the experience of going to a playground during a weekday and having the SAHMs totally snub you??? "

Yes, I have noticed that, too. I work part-time and find that I am "snubbed" both at work and on the playground. Maybe not snubbed, but I definitely feel I don't belong in either world. I don't really think, though, the SAHMs on the playground exclude us on purpose - they just form cliques based on how much time they spend together at the same place and on where their interest/priorities lie. Much like at the office.

Posted by: Ajax | March 15, 2007 10:38 AM

RE: That would be wonderful but the federal government has this pesky thing called face time. I am already pretty vested into a federal pension to just walk away. But your suggestion is a good one for people working in the private sector.


If you hadn't done the second baby handwringing, I'd say fine. Given your guest blog, I have to say, you're not trying hard enough to think outside of the box, federal gov't job and all, if, in fact, a second baby is what you really want. That's what it all comes down to -- and not the fact of your federal employer wanting face time.

Posted by: tofoamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM

Oh, just a catch up. My DD has been diagnosed with some developmental delays. So we decided to only have one child at this time. But the diagnosis only happened a little while ago (after the blog). I didn't see my blog as a gut wretching decision. Just contemplating a second child.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:39 AM

"I do not understand what she thinks she needs to be home to do all day if both children are in school. I do not understand why she doesn't see that the additional money she could bring in would provide value to her family. "

She is lazy, plain and simple. She found a sucker who bought her line of bull and now she doesn't want to change the status quo.

There are lots of 24/7 martyrs like her. They don't care about putting their husbands under tremendous financial strain and they are completely baffled when their husbands dump them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:40 AM

"I don't see why I should have to beg for the money to replace a 30 year old washing machine the way HIS mother had to with HIS dad."

And yet, some of us men are criticized by our spouses and other women for giving appliance for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's day, etc.

Fred,

I'm not one of them. I asked for, and received! a dandy air-compressor for MY birthday last year.

And having opened up my BGE bill and almost fainted, there is going to be a happy trip to Sears so I can get a dishwasher that doesn't waste so much water and electricity.

Of course, my h was home during much of the month where the electricity use DOUBLED due to his penchant for roasting us in the winter and freezing us in the summer (and so did the price--it wiped out the credit I'd managed to earn!), so I know EXACTLY whom to blame for the bill. I wonder if he will pay it (close to $600).
It's in my name alone, but this time around, I damn well want him to chip in.

Hell will freeze over first, no doubt.

I'm an angry MdMother today. Very, very upset.

So, if I tell you what I want, will you buy me a new range? We're down to one burner now...please? ;-)

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 10:41 AM

"Women are sometimes other women's worst enemies."

If by sometimes, you mean most always...

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 10:42 AM

They don't care about putting their husbands under tremendous financial strain and they are completely baffled when their husbands dump them.


Or when they die.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:42 AM

Jen--I'm not making assumption; I was referring specifically to two comments made today (AnonAgain at 7:49 and Sue at 8:13), but I've seen these comments before many, many times--that if you want to live on one income, you can do it if you just give up all the luxuries you must be indulging in with that second income! My suspicion is that these comments come from people who had to do just that to make it possible to have one parent at home FT, but they lack the imagination to think that other people, even the majority of people, living on two incomes are not that fortunate.

Posted by: Sarah | March 15, 2007 10:43 AM

"My question is why is this woman sticking to her guns when it is causing a problem in her marriage AND impacting her children because they can't do the activities they love?...I don't get it."

Well, why don't you just ASK HER and stop asking us to speculate.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:43 AM

'Some women make better choices in partners and can make either working or staying home the right decision'

So, a better choice in a partner is one who makes enough to support the family on one income? How condescending. My husband is the kindest, most decent person I know, but doesn't make a lot of money. Should I have chosen someone else?

I never was able to stay home because we needed both incomes. I really regret that I had to work, but if that's what it takes to have a family with my husband, then that's just one of life's twists of fate.

Posted by: to Karen | March 15, 2007 10:44 AM

"Does anyone think that moms *not* working outside them home is actually harmful (to them and their kids)?"

Yeah, definitely.

For daughters, it sends the message that you should rely on men and that you're not good for anything beyond cooking, cleaning, and childcare.

For sons, it sends the message that women are servants and should be treated that way.

How can these messages not be harmful to children's development?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:47 AM

RE: "Negotiate a new work arrangement whereby you work less hours yet produce the same amount of work. Slightly off topic, but how easy is this really?"


Balance for working parents will become more and more of a reality once more folks take the initiative to realistically enter into conversations with employers for more flexibility with work arrangements (working from home like Leslie does) and work hours. I think that would be more a more productive use of foamgnome's office time (if in fact she wants more flexibility and that second baby) rather than spending so much of it posting here.
She could maybe negotiate working 20 hours per week from home, then get her work done in the office, and the 20 hours that she is now home, rather than blogging at the office, she can do the mom thing. The work is still getting done. And, yes, even federal agencies have employees with various flexible work arrangements.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:47 AM

Hey Fred,
sniff sniff...You're the man of posting yesterday. Yesterday was a good blog day in that there was a lot of learning by all. Those of us who have experienced teenaged children had something to say. And since we were all once teenagers, there was a lot of sharing.

You're #1.

All-One thing I don't understand is why people feel the need to post about how they hate something: like basketball, sports, whatever. I don't really hate anything. I honestly believe people who express hatred of some cultural/sporting experience are making mountains out of molehills.

Go UNC and let the madness begin!

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 10:48 AM

She could maybe negotiate working 20 hours per week from home, then get her work done in the office, and the 20 hours that she is now home, rather than blogging at the office, she can do the mom thing. The work is still getting done. And, yes, even federal agencies have employees with various flexible work arrangements.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 10:47 AM

OK, give us a little credit here. Don't assume we have not asked to telecommute before. From what I have found certain federal agencies are very resistant to telecommuting because of data security issues. So I could only work on nonconfidential data at home. Besides some managers are just not keen on the idea. But please do not think that I have not investigated telecommuting options.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 10:50 AM

I hate responding to anon posts, but anon at 10:47-
it is the height of irony that someone like you obviously spent so much time contemplating and then complaining about how someone else spends her time. Methinks you think too much. Foamgnome already spoke about this issue. It is at rest.

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 10:51 AM

"'Some women make better choices in partners and can make either working or staying home the right decision'

So, a better choice in a partner is one who makes enough to support the family on one income? How condescending. My husband is the kindest, most decent person I know, but doesn't make a lot of money. Should I have chosen someone else?""

This is funny - I did not take this comment to mean that a better choice in a partner was one who could make enough money to support the family on one income. I took it to mean that a better choice in a partner is one who has compatible views on parenthood, whether that means working or staying at home or whatever arrangement suits both parties. For my family, it meant that my husband stayed at home for 2 years. And I feel that I made a better choice in partners for me, because I married a guy with whom I am compatible.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 10:52 AM

"'Some women make better choices in partners and can make either working or staying home the right decision'

So, a better choice in a partner is one who makes enough to support the family on one income? How condescending. My husband is the kindest, most decent person I know, but doesn't make a lot of money. Should I have chosen someone else?""

This is funny - I did not take this comment to mean that a better choice in a partner was one who could make enough money to support the family on one income. I took it to mean that a better choice in a partner is one who has compatible views on parenthood, whether that means working or staying at home or whatever arrangement suits both parties. For my family, it meant that my husband stayed at home for 2 years. And I feel that I made a better choice in partners for me, because I married a guy with whom I am compatible.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 10:52 AM

If your friend wants to be home to meet the school bus, then even earning $1000/month would be difficult -- given the hours. Where we live, the kids get on the schoolbus at 7 and off at 2:30, so you'd essentially be looking for a job where you could work 7-2. And I know Fairfax County has those pesky half-days on Monday as well. Not too many jobs out there where you can work 7-2 four and a half days a week-- particularly where you have all the school holidays and summers off.
(BTW, substituting isn't as easy as it sounds. Where we live, most of the jobs are on the HS and Middle school level -- which starts an hour later than the elementary school, and gets out an hour later. So moms with little kids can ONLY work at elementary school jobs, if they want to meet the school bus. As you might imagine, the competition for those slots is fierce.)

Is it also possible that her husband wants her to earn money but isn't actually willing to alter his lifestyle at all -- in terms of pitching in, adjusting his hours so he can watch the kids while she's working, etc.

I know my husband made comments like that until we actually sat down and looked at employment ads and he started to realize that the employment scenario he was describing (7 til 2, 4 days a week, no summers or holidays) didn't actually exist. Not even at McDonald's. Not even at the public library.

Posted by: to crispy | March 15, 2007 10:53 AM

The ultimate flexibility, for me, has been being my own boss. I get to choose which 80 hours I work in a week (except that I rarely work over 40 and still get the job done!).

Posted by: ParentPreneur | March 15, 2007 10:53 AM

'One thing I don't understand is why people feel the need to post about how they hate something: like basketball, sports, whatever.'

One thing I don't understand is why people feel the need to post about things they love like basketball over and over on a non-sports blog.

If people can post about their likes, why not their dislikes? equal opportunity and all that.

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 10:55 AM

"So, a better choice in a partner is one who makes enough to support the family on one income? How condescending. My husband is the kindest, most decent person I know, but doesn't make a lot of money. Should I have chosen someone else?"

How the heck did you come to that conclusion from the statement "Some women make better choices in partners and can make either working or staying home the right decision?"

Clearly what Karen meant was that EITHER staying home OR working can be the right decision, but it takes the commitment of BOTH parents to make it the right decision--one that works for everyone in the family. Having the kindest, most decent husband in the world who doesn't make a lot of money is exactly the sort of "better choice" in a partner that she meant--someone who may not make a lot of money but whose nature and committment to the family make a dual-income family work well.


Posted by: Sarah | March 15, 2007 10:55 AM

My own mom stayed at home when my sister and I were growing up, but returned to work when my (much) younger brother was still in kindergarten. The difference in her outlook was phenomenal. When her her world was very small -- basically our family -- she would freak out at the smallest setbacks (overflowing toilet). When she went back to work, all of a sudden she didn't sweat the small stuff and had a circle of friends and newfound confidence and pride in the fact that she had an identity outside being our mom. And for his part, my younger brother's a great person and very successful.

Posted by: Ashburn, VA | March 15, 2007 10:56 AM

"Is it also possible that her husband wants her to earn money but isn't actually willing to alter his lifestyle at all -- in terms of pitching in, adjusting his hours so he can watch the kids while she's working, etc."

Very good point. Something has to give.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:58 AM

I didn't post at 10:55 (really 11:55). It was some anon posting as me.

dislike is so much weaker than hatred. Are you back pedalling already?

I talk about sports because that is something I share with my children. Along with music, reading, writing and arithmetic. I pity those who can't or won't share.

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 11:01 AM

In my agency, there is very little telecommuting authorized due to data integrity issues.

There are ceilings on the number of parttime positions. The only way to go parttime is to switch with a current parttimer who is interested in going fulltime. The switch can be done even if the jobs are different. It's the parttime or fulltime status that matters, not the job.

Immediate supervisors are generally not allowed to negotiate anything. Those decisions are usually made several levels higher. Even if your manager buys into it, he may not be able to convince whoever will be making the decision, and may not even be able to speak with that person. It depends on the chain of command.

On balance, the all the benefits I receive from being a federal employee are the best for my family right now, even if it means full time in the office.

Posted by: fedworker | March 15, 2007 11:01 AM

Frustrated is the word. You don't the talent to turn a page of The Great Gatsby.
Posted by: | March 15, 2007 09:09 AM

and

turn is a verb.
Posted by: verb | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM

Try this, "you don't have to talent to turn a page" rather than "you don't the talent to turn a page"


Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:02 AM

Rebel Mom

How are your family finances set up?

Posted by: Trixie | March 15, 2007 11:03 AM

I hate responding to anon posts, but anon at 10:47-
it is the height of irony that someone like you obviously spent so much time contemplating and then complaining about how someone else spends her time. Methinks you think too much. Foamgnome already spoke about this issue. It is at rest.


dotted - it wasn't a complaint, it was an observation followed by a couple of suggestions. foamgnome can choose to spend her time any way that she pleases. When she shares that on the blog then she opens herself up to observations and suggestions.

As for it being "at rest", it seems you're telling me to shut up. Not very nice, you know.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:04 AM

"$1000/month, after taxes?

You can earn that at the grocery store during "normal" business hours"

I know someone who worked at a grocery store. They would only hire parttime, did not offer benefits, and required weekend work.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:06 AM

So, if I tell you what I want, will you buy me a new range? We're down to one burner now...please? ;-)


Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 10:41 AM


Sorry, the appliance budget is shot this year. Frieda received a new fridge, washer, dryer, stove, oven, dishwasher and ice maker in the last 8 months!

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 11:09 AM

RE: On balance, the all the benefits I receive from being a federal employee are the best for my family right now, even if it means full time in the office.


That's great and I don't disagree with anything that you say. I do wonder though how many folks who are unhappy with their situations ever bother talking with the boss.

Posted by: tofedworker | March 15, 2007 11:09 AM

What bogus 'science' this is! Yes, let's ask children to allay our fears that a dual-earner household is the same or better than mom staying home! We'll take anything we can get, because we all know deep down what the real truth is, let's face it. I love the line that kids in a dual-earner household were more "impressed" with that arrangement than a traditional household. Boy, that's the whole point of parenting, huh!

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:11 AM

Try this, "you don't have the talent to turn a page" rather than "you don't the talent to turn a page"

Posted by: Correction | March 15, 2007 11:11 AM

turn is a verb.

Posted by: verb | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM


There's still a verb missing from the sentence.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:12 AM

anon at 11:04
Have to run, but telling someone the issue is at rest means it has been discussed already. Foamgnome had already said why your suggestions wouldn't work, both today and on prior days. Reading 'shut up' into it is incorrect. Please read the blog before casting aspersions on me.

Serves me right for responding to an anon in the first place....

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 11:12 AM

***"So, a better choice in a partner is one who makes enough to support the family on one income? How condescending. My husband is the kindest, most decent person I know, but doesn't make a lot of money. Should I have chosen someone else?"

How the heck did you come to that conclusion from the statement "Some women make better choices in partners and can make either working or staying home the right decision?"***

I came to that conclusion because staying home is not a possiblity for me financially. We truly need both incomes, and not for extras. So it seems that the statement was saying to be sure to choose a partner who could support you so that you will have a choice to stay home. My husband supports me completely in all the ways that matter, but those ways don't pay the bills :-).

Posted by: to sarah | March 15, 2007 11:13 AM

RE: What bogus 'science' this is! Yes, let's ask children to allay our fears that a dual-earner household is the same or better than mom staying home!


You hit the nail on the head regarding today's blog.

Posted by: totim | March 15, 2007 11:13 AM

"turn is a verb.

Posted by: verb | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM


There's still a verb missing from the sentence."

Sheesh!

I wish Hemingway would get in here and kick some ass!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:15 AM

Dotted, since you are too nice to say it, I'll say it to anon at 11:04- "Shut up."

Yes, I know that wasn't nice, but then again, I think "nice" is really overrated.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 11:15 AM

"Sorry, the appliance budget is shot this year. Frieda received a new fridge, washer, dryer, stove, oven, dishwasher and ice maker in the last 8 months!"

I'm jealous.

I had a close relative whose name was Frieda (Alfrieda, actually). I think it's a lovely name. Not that I'm prejudiced or anything.

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 11:15 AM

Regarding crispy's friend:

I agree with the posters that think fear of the workplace may factor in here. It is not only SAHMs who may be this way. I know several married women without children who are supported by their husbands and give many reasons why they don't have a vocation (paid or unpaid), but to me it looks like fear of succeeding in the labor market. At the same time, it looks to me like they put up with stuff in their marriages they would not put up with if they had an economic basis of their own. And add some laziness in there too, possibly. Personally, in today's world I cannot understand why any couple, unless fabulously wealthy, would not want both parties to be able to contribute to household and retirement finances, barring some extreme situation. Also, such a dependent life is totally unbalanced, in my opinion.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | March 15, 2007 11:16 AM

What bogus 'science' this is! Yes, let's ask children to allay our fears that a dual-earner household is the same or better than mom staying home!

Well, I'm in my 40's and both of my parents worked outside of the home when I was growing up, as did my grandparents, and my great-grandparents. I do it too. I'm happy with it. I never felt deprived by it. I still don't.

Too bad they didn't ask me.

Posted by: Bedrock | March 15, 2007 11:17 AM

..roasting us in the winter and freezing us in the summer

In my house, I feel like he freezes us both winter and summer.

My question for you though, who determines the right temperature? And I also never understood his and her bills. don't you both live there?

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 11:19 AM

If this BS were true (that dual working parents is superior to mom staying at home), can someone show me any real substantive research (meaning not based on the opinions of children but actual empirical data)or perhaps a pediatrician's opinion that says that? Because this whole article seems like a big after-the-fact rationalization to make dual-earners feel better.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:20 AM

MdMother,

Trust me, the circumstances that caused the buying of the new appliances were not pretty.

and I would have a strong rebuttal to the comments @10:47 a.m. but I would wind up No.1 again

The comment was "How can these messages not be harmful to children's development?"

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 11:22 AM

Let's dig a little deepere here. Did your Mommy work? Are there scars?

Posted by: to Tim | March 15, 2007 11:23 AM

Two working parents doesn't mean you are a "two career family". There is a doughnut hole that no one talks about in regards to work and family. Ironically, once a family no longer qualifies for any kind of assistance, such as rental or childcare support, things get complicated. At certain income levels, two incomes are a must, just to pay the bills and have a semblence of a lower-middle class lifestyle. These folks don't necessarily have the income to buy a home, new cars or any of the perks we all associate with two income families. They are exhausted, drained and often never see each other because they are trying to reduce the overwhelming bite childcare costs take out of their checks. However, they are working towards a more comfortable place, and after a few years they usually get there. Then, especially when both start making a combined income in the "middle range", taxes start to take a toll. By then, they may have found a way to qualifiy for a mortgage, which is a longterm benefit, but a short term stressor financially. Then the doughnut hole starts to creep over the horizon--that place where you make "so much" money you pay more taxes, and get no breaks, such as non-loan based financial aid for your college age kid. Now you start to see that making 80 to 100K per year is actually a hardship. You are so burdened with expenses, even in families that live modestly, that you are probably not even saving a penny for retirement. Unless you break that bubble and both of you make somewhere around 80 a piece (depending on where you live in the US), you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. I decided a few years ago that my 35K income combined with my husbands 50K income was basically being spent on taxes, child care and coming out of my hide in the form of stress. So I quit, and for a few years, I have been preparing to re-enter the workforce in a medical field in which I will have some flexibility, good income, retirement and marketablity. Then we can put both of those incomes into the "career" category, jam it into savings, and put the rest of our kids through college. But not now.

Posted by: LMG | March 15, 2007 11:24 AM

Underachiever - someone who overachieves at peace and contentment. Stop and smell the roses.

Posted by: anon this time | March 15, 2007 11:24 AM

RE: but telling someone the issue is at rest means it has been discussed already.


Ha, ha. Really, in the few short weeks that I've followed this blog, it's ALL been discussed already. It's pretty much the same couple of things said over and over in a somewhat different way.

"Then why do you bother coming???!!" came the outraged cry from the regulars.

Well, I thought it might be interesting, that there might be good ideas, novel ways of looking at work and family. But, in fact, it's gotten real old, real fast. I am, after this short time, pretty surprised that the Washington Post online company devotes what I presume to be a not insignificant amount of resources to a product that seems to serve the very narrow needs of a handful of regulars.


Posted by: todotted | March 15, 2007 11:24 AM

'Frieda received a new fridge, washer, dryer, stove, oven, dishwasher and ice maker in the last 8 months'

Fred, are these appliances only for your wife, and you never use them? My Dad would have said they are gifts for the house.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:25 AM

I'm new to the DC area and now I'm realizing some of what I heard about it is true: people here are all about the almighty dollar and if that means having their children raised by paid caregivers, then so be it. No thinking person can possibly believe that having mom away from young children for 8-10 hours of the waking day is better than having mom there.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:25 AM

another working mom: I too have had many occasions to be snubbed by SAHMs. They seem to clique together and I suppose it's only natural. They bond over their similiar existences and interests. I have one child, (daughter), who is a sophmore in college. I've worked more or less full time since I was 12 and having a child seemed no reason to quit. When she was in grade school, I did stints as room mother, Daisy, Brownine, GS cookie mom, etc. I have to say most of my fellow volunteers were like myself, working moms! The SAHMs always seemed to be too busy.

Posted by: Iworksowhat | March 15, 2007 11:26 AM

turn is a verb.

Posted by: verb | March 15, 2007 10:37 AM


There's still a verb missing from the sentence.


No sh--, but they didn't say there is a verb missing, they said you can't even use a verb, which they did. God, who cares.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:27 AM

"In Defense of the Dual-Earner Household

Why the need to defend?

Against whom or what?

Another phony war."

Anon at 6:59, meet Tim.

Posted by: Laura | March 15, 2007 11:29 AM

You don't the talent to turn a page of The Great Gatsby.

I thought this was a typo.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:30 AM

RE: No thinking person can possibly believe that having mom away from young children for 8-10 hours of the waking day is better than having mom there.

While I agree with you that this blog is bogus science, I can't agree with the rest of your thinking. Lot's of families where both mom and dad work function very well, and there are lots of reasons why people choose to work -- very often because they simply have to work to make it financially.

I do think that Leslie needs to do a better job of picking blogs. I already see the clock ticking down on this regular feature, column, blog, call it what you will.


Posted by: totim | March 15, 2007 11:32 AM

at least we're not disucssing -- in great detail -- breastfeeding again!

Posted by: sunny side | March 15, 2007 11:35 AM

"My question for you though, who determines the right temperature? And I also never understood his and her bills. don't you both live there?"

I feel that as it is a bill in my name, and paid for out of my checking account, I get the final say. I keep it at 65 F in the winter (75 F in the summer) and tell the kids to wear a sweater and socks if they're cold. I provide the bedrooms with ceramic heaters if there is a real need for more warmth.

But as he was hanging around the house for several weeks (not at work), playing on the computer, etc., he kept moving the thermostat up and running the dishwasher when 3/4 empty, etc. Well, it's time to pay the piper. This is not an insubstantial sum and I expect him to take my concerns seriously. I know the kids will.

And no, while he was off he didn't pick up any of the kid chores either. He didn't get them up, didn't ensure they got to the bus stop, didn't pick them up, take them to any activities...nothing.

I guess it's time to speak with his pdoc and therapist. Again.

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 11:35 AM

I'm new to the DC area and now I'm realizing some of what I heard about it is true: people here are all about the almighty dollar and if that means having their children raised by paid caregivers, then so be it. No thinking person can possibly believe that having mom away from young children for 8-10 hours of the waking day is better than having mom there.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:25 AM

So Tim, are you at home with your kids? or is it only your wife who should stay home so you can relax in peace at work knowing your kids are cared for by a parent but without actually providing that care, and taking the risk that your employment-related skills will atrophy, yourself?

As a thinking person, I think I'd have a great deal more respect for you if you were concerned enough about a parent being home to tell us that you either are currently a SAHD or intending to be a SAHD when you have children.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:36 AM

If a couple needs to work two jobs to make ends meet, that's one thing and people have to do what they do, there's even nobility in that. But for mom to work when she doesn't have to, she's doing that for purely selfish reasons, putting the child's best interests at bay so she can pursue her own agenda at their expense. Some here want to cloak it in other terms, I'm particularly saddened by those women who want to characterize it as a power struggle between a man and a woman, that's really unhealthy and ultimately those kinds of attitudes will destroy the marriage in most cases. In a healthy marriage, the woman wants what's best for the child.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:37 AM

You don't the talent to turn a page of The Great Gatsby.

I thought this was a typo.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 11:30 AM

There is a preview button for the comments. Maybe people should use it and actually read what they post before pushing the post button!

Posted by: correction | March 15, 2007 11:37 AM

My mom was a SAHM (in the 60's-70's). She was a college graduate and former teacher. She encouraged my sisters and me to get good educations so we could decide for ourselves (as she and my dad had) what we wanted. Unfortunately, I was the only one who paid attention -- the others finished high school (barely) and since then have worked as waitress, admin assistant, and office temp. All have kids, all had no choice but to WOH for financial reasons.

So my advice to my children (boy & girl) is the same as my mother's to me.

And to nasty WDC who posted this morning -- my mom was a GREAT role model. She is now in her 70's and she's my best friend. We talk about literature, law, and politics. How dare you suggest that a SAHM is automatically not a good role model?

Posted by: Lawyermom | March 15, 2007 11:39 AM

at least we're not disucssing -- in great detail -- breastfeeding again!

Posted by: sunny side | March 15, 2007 11:35 AM


Ha, ha -- as in ha, ha funny, not ha, ha sarcastic.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:40 AM

There is a preview button for the comments. Maybe people should use it and actually read what they post before pushing the post button!


Maye peopel shound''t cre os umch aout a tpyo.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:42 AM

Tim,

Wow, Black and white, right and wrong. You really do have it all figured out -- in such a way that makes me think you don't have kids -- and probably no wife yet either. Come on, am I right?

Posted by: to Tim | March 15, 2007 11:42 AM

"But for mom to work when she doesn't have to, she's doing that for purely selfish reasons, putting the child's best interests at bay so she can pursue her own agenda at their expense."

And what about dads who work but don't have to?

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 11:43 AM

"I was thinking how secure and happy he must feel since he's not in daycare."

This comment is so weird. She thinks her own child is insecure and unhappy because they are in a daycare environment? If this is how Questions??? feels about her child and her daycare provider, and the impact of her daycare on her child, she needs to make a change as soon as possible.

My children are not only secure and happy, but they are both easy sharers and very caring children. They have been getting along with children their own age, plus younger and older, in group childcare environments since they were young. If they were not secure or happy, and if those attributes related in the slightest way to their full-time environment, we would make a change.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:44 AM

"Personally, in today's world I cannot understand why any couple, unless fabulously wealthy, would not want both parties to be able to contribute to household and retirement finances, barring some extreme situation. Also, such a dependent life is totally unbalanced, in my opinion."

Hmm. I am one of the rare people who has been in almost every position in dual-spouse parental work-- a SAHM, the working spouse of a SAHD, and a dual-working family.

We're new to the dual-working role, but so far *for us* it has been the least balanced of the three models. We are more stressed, more cranky, and feel like we're not living life at home according to our values (for instance, making healthy, home-made meals). One of my kids was sick and out of school for an entire week, and it completely threw us. My husband's new job is all-consuming and he's traveling at least once a week. You can bet that staying at home is looking pretty good to me right now.

Maybe we are the extreme case that you are mentioning, but I would not feel "dependent" if I were to be come a SAHM again. Neither did I feel my husband was dependent on me when he was the SAHD. We are more financially secure than most and live fairly simply and frugally, so that makes it easier, I suppose. But balance is in the eye of the beholder-- and right now, for us, the balance is too far towards work and too much away from family.

This is not at all to judge two-earner families-- more power to those who can make it work! I just want to point out that situations in families -- and how people choose to live their values-- are more complex than they can appear.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 15, 2007 11:44 AM

I guess my earlier comment got bumped because I tried to type A..h..e, maybe I should have just chosen an ethnic slur and that would have made it. Anyway, I think Rebel Mom is right, there are jerks everywhere, SAHMs don't have a corner on that market.

As a SAHM, I can say that often at the park there are groups that meet regularly so they may just be hanging out and not intnetionally excluding you, they are just talking to their friends. I've met and talked with lots of WOHMs that are great. It is however, very hard to develop a relationship with a WOHM and/or their child because it is harder to get together. WOHM (and I'm generalizing here folks - don't innundate me with your exceptions) families seem not to be available after school when my children play with most of their friends. They do like to get togehter on weekends, but for both families that is also a busy time for family time or getting things done. So, the freqency with a WOHM is such that the relationship takes a lot longer to develop than with the other SAHMs I see regularly. If other families have found a way around this I'd love to hear it.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 11:44 AM

For the record, I have 3 children, ages 9-7-5. My wife stays at home with them, I work. We're not wealthy, but our bills are paid and we live in a nice neighborhood. My wife could go off to work but our kids are only going to be young once, so she stays at home with them. We'll never get these years back, so we're making the most of it, for our sake and for the sake of the children.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:48 AM

I'm curious about where in life the people who talk about staying home with teens are, in terms of the ages of your children.

My two teens do lots of extracurricular stuff. Teen #1 leaves the house at 6:30 am to catch the bus to get to school in time for band practice at 7:30. Teen #2 leaves at 7:00 am to get to the drama rehearsal at 8:00. Teen #1 has sports practice (different sport depending on the season) from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm twice a week, jazz band from 4:00 to 6:00 pm three times a week. Teen #2 has drama practice from 4:00 to 6:00 pm three times a week, and works 4:00 to 7:30 pm twice.

So I have teens, and work full time, and I'm still home before they get home every day of the week. Why would I not work "because teens need guidance" when I would just sit at home (or, blech! do housework) waiting for them to get home well outside working hours? Do most people have kids who arrive home at 2:00 pm, or a similar schedule?

Posted by: Grimm | March 15, 2007 11:49 AM

"at least we're not disucssing -- in great detail -- breastfeeding again"

Or designer name clothes for kids - talk about the decline of a civiliztion!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:50 AM

RE: I think "nice" is really overrated.


Just one of the things wrong with this blog.

Posted by: toemily | March 15, 2007 11:51 AM

"We'll never get these years back, so we're making the most of it, for our sake and for the sake of the children."

"Won't somebody please think of the children!" It reminds me of a line from the Simpsons.

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 11:51 AM

There is a preview button for the comments. Maybe people should use it and actually read what they post before pushing the post button!


Maye peopel shound''t cre os umch aout a tpyo.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 11:42 AM

If the posting is intelligible, OK but this anon poster was trying to make a point about writing and he/she could not even construct a sentence properly.

Posted by: correction | March 15, 2007 11:51 AM

Nobody has yet defined what a "regular" is on this blog, so I'll go ahead and post a guideline:

12 posts using same name, 2 weeks.

Sound good?

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 15, 2007 11:54 AM

I haven't read through all the posts, but there are many families I know that have the mother stay home when the kids are young then went to work outside the home when the kids get into Jr HS and HS. In this case the kids remember their mothering staying home when they were young but also see their mothers working in their later childhood years.

Also, I know my "view" of my upbringing changed as I got older. Right out of HS it was probably not as appreciative as it is now, and my mom was home most of the time (she actually went back to work PT when I hit Jr HS). Ask a kid at 18 what they think of their upbringing then ask them again 10, 15 or 20 years later and you could get a different recollection everytime.

Posted by: CMAC | March 15, 2007 11:56 AM

"I talk about sports because that is something I share with my children. Along with music, reading, writing and arithmetic. I pity those who can't or won't share."

Like your ex or soon to be ex husband?

You really discuss arithmetic with adults?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 11:57 AM

To tim:

And are you the one to decide who is allowed to work and who is not? Under what circumstances is it okay? where do you draw the line?

Posted by: atlmom | March 15, 2007 11:57 AM

"Fred, are these appliances only for your wife, and you never use them? My Dad would have said they are gifts for the house."
Posted by: | March 15, 2007 11:25 AM

As Frieda picked out the color and features of all of them, they are hers.
Long time readers of this blog know that I use the washer/dryer (male way of washing), the dishwasher and the stove.
But the stand alone icemaker is solely hers!

And, sniff, sniff, we are not talking about breastfeeding today?

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 11:57 AM

RE: Serves me right for responding to an anon in the first place....


... another thing wrong with this blog.

What's wrong with being anonymous? Shouldn't the discussion be open to everyone? And isn't everyone anonymous anyway? After all, the "regulars", as well as anyone else, can choose to post anonymously anytime they please.

Seems to me, the regulars like their cozy kaffeeklatsch of a blog and often would rather the rest of us would not intrude upon their coziness.

If you disagree with me, fine, state the why of your disagreement. No need to shut someone out for the fact of the poster having been anonymous. Pretty absurd reasoning for an open blog like this one.

Posted by: todotted` | March 15, 2007 11:59 AM

Tim,

I could not be happier that you and your wife met and married each other, since you believe there is only one parent - the mom - who matters to children, and only one approach that works best. Regular posters here include several single parent dad and several SAHDs who could teach you a thing or two about what a great dad can do for a child, but you appear to be too close-minded to think you have any role other than bread-winner and back-up parent. I hope for your family's sake that you are never laid off, and that you never experience a job interruption or long-term disability, and that you and your wife never have to consider any alternative approaches to meeting the needs of your children.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:01 PM

"Seems to me, the regulars like their cozy kaffeeklatsch of a blog and often would rather the rest of us would not intrude upon their coziness. "

A lot like the Queen Bees of high school.

Most of the time, I can't make head nor tail of the private feuds and lovefests.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:02 PM

The Anons are 90% trolls-- perhaps because they don't have *any* accountability for what they say. It's not exactly hard to put something in there. Tends to be the same type of rabble-rouser.

I suggest we 1)ignore them; or 2)Address them all as "Dude" in every response. Sound good, Dude?

Posted by: A semi-regular | March 15, 2007 12:02 PM

I'm changing my posting name--I think my profession combined with some of the demographic details (kids' ages, etc.) would make it to easy for someone who knows me in the real world to ID me. Eh, just don't feel like having that happen. I used to be just a lurker here but have been posting more.

So this doesn't look like I'm going anonymous in terms of this forum to any of the regulars--my new name is Marian.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 15, 2007 12:05 PM

Tim, it sounds like you've got everything figured out for your family.

"No thinking person can possibly believe that having mom away from young children for 8-10 hours of the waking day is better than having mom there"

A thinking person would have written about parents in general instead of moms specifically. A thinking person probably knows that both mom and dad (or second mom or second dad) can take care of kids equally.

I'm a thinking person and I know better than to assume that my way of doing things is better than everyone else's. I'm positive that in some families it's better to have the kids in daycare.

Posted by: Meesh | March 15, 2007 12:05 PM

Grimm,

My teens get on the bus for school at 6:40. school ends at 2:10. Sports practices are from 2:30 - 4:00/4:30 with no way to get home. Games are generally longer, but I actually like to watch some of the games (not helicopter, just some). They don't play every sport, so come home on the bus by 2:40 during the off-season.

I do work full time, but I can understand why some don't, and I wouldn't if I didn't have to. The juggling act is actually harder than when they were in after-school programs. The recreational sports practices were in the evenings, about 5:30 or 6:00, so I actually had until 5:15 to pick them up, not 4:30 like it is now.

Hanging around the school after practice is discouraged by the school. I think they are actually told they can't hang around, but there is usually so much going on at the schools, it is not always obvious they shouldn't be there. Many kids don't hang around the school, but leave school grounds and hang out at a nearby shopping center. Not really where I want my kids to be.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:06 PM

RE: Most of the time, I can't make head nor tail of the private feuds and lovefests

Like I've said before, pretty surprised that the Washington Post online company devotes what I presume to be a not insignificant amount of resources to the narrow needs of a relatively few.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:07 PM

I hope for your family's sake that you are never laid off, and that you never experience a job interruption or long-term disability, and that you and your wife never have to consider any alternative approaches to meeting the needs of your children.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 12:01 PM

Sooo angry that someone believes something different than you. You doth protest too much methinks. Anytime anyone says they chose a mom at home because they felt it was best you get up in arms and toss out the old: hope he doesn't die or divorce you lines - so mean so stupid and it speaks volumes about how comfortable you are with your situation. God forbid someone be happy in this joint!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:07 PM

good afternoon 11:57 (really 12:57)
Yep, I discuss math with my husband. We've been married now for quite a few years (26, 24, 16 and now 12 year old kid). In fact, we talk math way beyond our finances and such...we're both PhDs in engineering. Lately, we've been discussing "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil. It is about the impact of AI, when humans transcend biology, how computing changes are so rapidly changing society and the definition of 'human'. Engaging reading and discussions.

If you don't discuss math finances with your significant other, I strongly suggest you begin.

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 12:07 PM

To atlmom: I'm not 'deciding' who should work or not, I'm merely expressing the viewpoint that the healthier thing, for young children in particular, is for the mom to stay home and be the primary caregiver, as compared to an arrangement where the mom is absent from the home for 8-10hrs per day. In those cases where that's not a financial option, I totally understand that and applaud the efforts of those who are in that situation. But for those women who enter into the workforce needlessly, that is they put their own children's self-interest on the back burner so they can pad their bank accounts at the kid's expense, I'm saying that's wrong no matter how they want to spin it. Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. And deep down, they know I'm right.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 12:08 PM

Meesh - please re-read your post just for the laughable hipocracy of your statments.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:09 PM

The Anons are 90% trolls-- perhaps because they don't have *any* accountability for what they say. It's not exactly hard to put something in there. Tends to be the same type of rabble-rouser.

I suggest we 1)ignore them; or 2)Address them all as "Dude" in every response. Sound good, Dude?

Posted by: A semi-regular | March 15, 2007 12:02 PM


Any need not be in *s. There is no accountability, period. Doesn't matter if it's a regular or not.

What's the point of your suggestion? To maintain the notion that this blog really "belongs" to the regulars?

Leslie, it would be great to hear you weigh in on this.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:11 PM

Thanks 12:06! Chopping the day up like that would make it a lot harder, for sure.

Posted by: Grimm | March 15, 2007 12:12 PM

As far as play ground wars, I have not actually found this. For the past two years, I have only worked M-Thursday. So I often took DD to the park on Fridays right smack in the middle of the day. I almost never see anyone else. The few times I have found other families, I have made small talk with them. Most have been SAHMs and they seemed very happy to talk to me. Maybe it is different in DC because so many families need two incomes just to own a condo or a town house. But I never felt any animosity. I only saw a large collection of SAHMs on Friday Gymboree classes and birthday parties of kids whose mothers stayed at home. Almost 90% of the mothers stated they wish to return to work when their child got to school because they needed the $$. All had professional husbands but they were stretched a little slim by staying at home. I never felt like they judged my choice to work but rather saw it as something that they will probably be forced to do in the future.
moxiemom: Two of our couples with kids that we routinely socialize with are traditional families. We need to book way in advance (3-4 weeks in advance), always on weekends (partially distance and partially to include their WOHHs), and they are always accomodating of our scheduling needs. I think the main difference is we know these two families because we worked together prior to any of our kids being born. So we had built in things in common. I have a harder time scheduling family outings with 2 working parent families because they are as busy as I am. But we do manage a few a year. That is the biggest draw back living in DC. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is too darn busy or tired of the traffic to hang out together. You don't really know your neighbors so you can't pop in for coffee. I keep hoping it will get better when DD is in elementary school. Because then I would know the parents have to live within a reasonable distance.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:12 PM

"She is now in her 70's and she's my best friend. We talk about literature, law, and politics"

My mother and I talk about family, tv, decorating, and shopping. We are also best friends.

Sounds like you have a little intellectual snobbism going on.

Posted by: amused | March 15, 2007 12:13 PM

11:59, dude, it's like this.

When you have a name, you have a reputation. You usually try to make good points and avoid nastiness when you have a reputation.

The anon posters don't care how they look, so they usually contribute the most nastiness.

Posters with names disagree (see Tim, for example). They just try to do it politely and constructively.

Just pick a name. It makes it easier to respond to you, which promotes discussion. Isn't that the point of the blog?

Posted by: Meesh | March 15, 2007 12:14 PM

Marian (used to another librarianmom)

I'm sure I'm not the only one who started humming "madame librarian" !! :)

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 12:14 PM

Tim --

"And deep down, they know I'm right." No, they don't. Different arrangements work for different families, and this blog demonstrates that there are many paths to happiness.

Brian made the point in his original post: "Every family has a different dynamic, and there is no one-size-fits-all family arrangement."

Clearly, this statement cannot be made too many times. Why can't we respect each other's decisions?

Thanks for telling us a bit about your family -- no doubt the "Zero Population Growth" folks will come after you soon. (Fine, you got me, there are some views expressed on this board that I find ridiculous, so who am I to preach about respecting each other's views?)

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 15, 2007 12:15 PM

"I'm merely expressing the viewpoint that the healthier thing, for young children in particular, is for the mom to stay home and be the primary caregiver"

"Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. And deep down, they know I'm right."

Spoken like a father, not a daddy.

Posted by: Elle | March 15, 2007 12:15 PM

Okay, I'm game.

Hmmm, nope, not laughing.

Care to explain, Dude?

Posted by: Meesh | March 15, 2007 12:18 PM

I bet that some of the anon postings are from regulars who don't want to tarnish their 'reputations'.

Posted by: to Meesh | March 15, 2007 12:19 PM

Man, there are some really unhappy trolls here today.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:19 PM

Tim

"But for those women who enter into the workforce needlessly, that is they put their own children's self-interest on the back burner so they can pad their bank accounts at the kid's expense, I'm saying that's wrong no matter how they want to spin it"

I'm going to take a wild guess. Your wife didn't make much money at her former job?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:19 PM

Elle - - so poetically put!! Now, what does that mean? My 3 boys adore their dad, I know because they tell me all the time. Even just yesterday when we were playing roller hockey in the cul-de-sac. I guess the spin I'm now hearing is that because I work I'm somehow less of a dad? Please elaborate....

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 12:20 PM

Tim,

You are entitled to your opinion and I think that your family model is a valid one. However, what is right for you is not necessarily right for everyone.

I don't think that having both parents work is "better" for the children, but I don't think it is "worse" either. It's just different.

Posted by: anon | March 15, 2007 12:21 PM

Guys, this blog doesn't belong to the regulars. Besides the regulars is a large list then people realize. If you don't believe me, see the field day that Tim caused.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:21 PM

I bet that some of the anon postings are from regulars who don't want to tarnish their 'reputations'.

What?? and not make the top ten poster list?

Posted by: the original anon | March 15, 2007 12:22 PM

What is "entering the workforce needlessly"? I see preserving skillsets and employability alone as a highly legitimate need. Also, it's not necessarily a black and white choice between "stay home and be a primary caregiver" and the mom being "absent from the home 8-10 hours a day".

I know very few families with two parents working hard-driving inflexible schedules. Even where two parents are working 40+ hours, at least one parent doesn't have to be in the office all 40+ hours (maybe one is in sales or another job that doesn't have rigidly set hours). My guess is that when both parents have full days, most parents stagger schedules to minimize as much as possible the children's time with a non-parent caregiver.

Also, a lot of parents try to ramp up and scale back working hours throughout their children's growing up years according to developmental needs.

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 12:23 PM

"But for those women who enter into the workforce needlessly, that is they put their own children's self-interest on the back burner so they can pad their bank accounts at the kid's expense, I'm saying that's wrong no matter how they want to spin it. Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. And deep down, they know I'm right"

Tim, weren't you the one asking for objective, statistical proof that a WOHM doesn't harm the family? Where's your scientific data that it does? If you want scientific analysis, I suggest looking at Freakanomics. But I don't get the impression that you're really looking to discuss statistical interpretation, since your argument seems to be based on the presumption that "deep down," everyone already "knows" that you're right.

I work. So does my husband. We don't need both of us to work to pay the bills. We have looked at a bunch of options, tried a bunch of things, and have settled on our current plan as the best for all of us, for about 10 different reasons (which, btw, do not include padding the bank accounts at our kids' expense). And our kids are happy and well-adjusted. So where's the problem?

I'm glad you found something that works for you. But you don't know me or my family, so why in the world would you presume to know what's best for us?

Posted by: Laura | March 15, 2007 12:24 PM

Hey foam, glad to know we are not alone in having a hard time getting together with other families.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 12:24 PM

I bet that some of the anon postings are from regulars who don't want to tarnish their 'reputations'.

What?? and not make the top ten poster list?

Posted by: the original anon | March 15, 2007 12:22 PM
Nah, the regulars already know we have our own hate clubs.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:24 PM

"Like I've said before, pretty surprised that the Washington Post online company devotes what I presume to be a not insignificant amount of resources to the narrow needs of a relatively few. "

Most blogs are like that. Check out the "Faith" blogs and the fights between the dunkers and the sprinklers.

Talk about "special interest groups"!!

Posted by: Trixie | March 15, 2007 12:25 PM

"Sooo angry that someone believes something different than you. You doth protest too much methinks. Anytime anyone says they chose a mom at home because they felt it was best you get up in arms and toss out the old: hope he doesn't die or divorce you lines - so mean so stupid and it speaks volumes about how comfortable you are with your situation. God forbid someone be happy in this joint!"

Amen to that!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:27 PM

Bottom line folks, the day you pick your kid up from daycare and discover that an employee has been charged with molesting some of the kids...it puts this whole discussion in prospective. I've been there, it was the worst few days of my life trying to figure out if my kid had been touched inappropriately.

No hourly employee is going to care for your child like you do. Can anyone truly claim that putting your child in daycare is the preferred method of child rearing? It's an absurd debate!!!

Posted by: Tillman | March 15, 2007 12:27 PM

Neighbor, points well taken.

However, I did not mean to imply that all relationships in which one person does not work are unhealthily dependent, just the ones I mentioned in which a person was perhaps afraid to try to work again, had become economically dependent and was putting up with an unpleasant situation.

That does not mean I think I really know what is going on in anyone else's family, obviously.

As far as my opinion on the need for sources of financial resources, it is just that there is little job security for working people and few decent jobs available unless you have specific qualifications, etc. I think it is good to have the backup of another person. That does not mean both people have to work all the time. A non-working spouse could have qualifications that enable him/her to get a job if necessary, for example, even if he/she has not been working for awhile.

As long as people are happy with their choices, I'm not going to criticize them, by the way. However, I don't like to see anyone stuck in a situation that looks abusive because he/she doesn't have any money.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | March 15, 2007 12:29 PM

What's wrong with being anonymous?

The Post states that "entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed." But then they don't follow up on this. If they did, that would cure the trolls of posting anonymously. Not that they couldn't find other ways to game the system, but still it'd be a start.

Leslie, can you ask the Post to enforce this rule? Maybe require the Name box be filled before the Submit button will work, with an error message to the poster if the Name box is left empty?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:29 PM

I actually think that kids get more from a dual income household in which BOTH parents have jobs that are not highly demanding, with regular schedules so that the parents SHARE parenting duties.

I've been a SAHM and now we're a 2 income household and life is much better and everyone is happier now that the pressure is off my husband to be the sole provider. He traveled a lot in his previous job and didn't get to see us much- I stayed at home then.

A few months ago he switched to a lower paying lower profile job and I found a job with the same kind of laid back regular schedule. I drop off, he picks up, i cook dinner, he cleans up, we do bath and bedtime together. And then we get husband-wife time.

Our daughter is so much happier with this arrangement than when I stayed home and she never saw daddy. Now she gets both of us, which she needs.

What's the point of even having a daddy if you don't see them?

I think these tradtional roles are actually worse for the child/dad than it is for the mom.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:29 PM

to numbers.

Please provide a further breakdown of the "regulars" postings

1. No. of On Topic Posts
2. No. of Off Topic Posts
3. No. of responses to On Topic posts
4. No. of responses to Off Topic posts
5. No. of Lovefest Posts

and you may further want to charactize the post by other catagories such as responses to/from regulars, to/from anons, Leslie Bashing, breastfeeding, laundry, etc.

Posted by: the original anon | March 15, 2007 12:29 PM

"Anytime anyone says they chose a mom at home because they felt it was best you get up in arms"

No, it's not that you thought that your wife staying home was best-- it's that you said every wife staying home is best. I know many women who are not cut out to be full-time moms. Their children would be miserable were they to stay home. Why fit square pegs into round holes?

Posted by: Neighbor | March 15, 2007 12:30 PM

If you disagree with me, fine, state the why of your disagreement. No need to shut someone out for the fact of the poster having been anonymous. Pretty absurd reasoning for an open blog like this one.


Posted by: todotted` | March 15, 2007 11:59 AM

to todotted, It's not absurde to consider that the purpose of the blog is twofold: the initial communication between you and another poster like dotted with whome you disagree, and second, to provide comments and information to lurkers. Readers later in the day reading through 200+ messages find it difficult to understand the thread when responses have to be addressed to, "anon at 11:59". Maybe it's all about you, but if you have any interest in the many lurkers who seek to glean thoughts, ideas and opinions from this blog, you might consider picking a dang name, any name, to post particularly aggressive, argumentative comments so that another poster, like dotted, can respond to you by that posting name.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 15, 2007 12:31 PM

"I guess the spin I'm now hearing is that because I work I'm somehow less of a dad?"

Yes, as you have stated that moms who work are less than mothers. Why, in fact, you said, "But for those women who enter into the workforce needlessly, that is they put their own children's self-interest on the back burner so they can pad their bank accounts at the kid's expense, I'm saying that's wrong no matter how they want to spin it."

Why do you feel it is needless? How do you define needless. Why makes you think you are qualified to judge? "

"Pad their bank accounts"? Have you never heard of having a financial cushion? Ever faced down unemployment due to cut-backs? Do you truly feel you are so invaluable as an employee that you are immune from getting the sack? If a business owner, you are so confident that you will never see it go under?

Either your wife has a degree or special qualifications that will enable her to land a job that will pay all of those bills without your being employed, immediately, no waiting involved, despite being out of the workforce; or you are sitting on a very large chunk of cash.

I certainly hope you keep HER IRA (in her name alone) paid up, yearly, just in case.

Posted by: Elle | March 15, 2007 12:31 PM

Tim

"when we were playing roller hockey in the cul-de-sac."

roller hockey
cul-de-sac
Ha ha ha

What a bozo.


When is the next key party?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:31 PM

A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself. "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job or are you just a......?"

"Of course I have a job," snapped the woman. "I'm a Mom."

"We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation, 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.


I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."

"What is your occupation?" she probed.

What made me say it? I do not know. The words simply popped out.

"I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day , (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3.
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.

I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!
And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mom."
What a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door.

===
Seriously, the point of this little fable isn't to dis WOHPs, but rather to recognize that SAHParenting is still a job - a tough job that not everyone either wants or is able to do. Just because a SAHP doesn't go to the office/factory/retail outlet/etc., doesn't mean s/he's not working. Can we all try, for at least 5 minutes, to remember that? Please?

Posted by: a rose by any other name... | March 15, 2007 12:32 PM

"the day you pick your kid up from daycare and discover that an employee has been charged with molesting some of the kids..."

Never happened as my father provided the child care while we worked. He had the odd work schedule, flexibility and wished to do it. He didn't balk at being given some money too.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:34 PM

I kinda like to think this blog as a virtual playground where some of us like to meet.

And the anonymous poster likes to sit in the sandbox and throw around dirt, (not that there's anything wrong with that.) Actually, I think I've made some good friends here, and one can never have enough friends.

I've also learned a thing or 2: no matter how pleasant you are, you can't be liked by everybody.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 15, 2007 12:36 PM

Bottom line folks, the day you pick your kid up from daycare and discover that an employee has been charged with molesting some of the kids...it puts this whole discussion in prospective. I've been there, it was the worst few days of my life trying to figure out if my kid had been touched inappropriately.

Ok that is the heart of the matter, Tim. I am very sorry that you had to go through that and I can't even begin to understand the pain that caused your family. But I hate to break it to you. There have been teachers, clergy, neighbors, relatives, child youth activity leaders who have molested children. Should parents pull their kids from school, churches and other houses of worship, t ball, neighborhoods, or divorce everyone in their extended family because they just might molest their kid? It was a really horrific thing that happened to you but it is a rare occurence.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:36 PM

to numbers.

Please provide a further breakdown of the "regulars" postings

1. No. of On Topic Posts
2. No. of Off Topic Posts
3. No. of responses to On Topic posts
4. No. of responses to Off Topic posts
5. No. of Lovefest Posts

and you may further want to charactize the post by other catagories such as responses to/from regulars, to/from anons, Leslie Bashing, breastfeeding, laundry, etc.

Posted by: the original anon | March 15, 2007 12:29 PM

please add,

6. no. of toxic posts directed at a particular poster and not at an opinion of poster

that should keep her busy for quite some time.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:37 PM

RE: 11:59, dude, it's like this.

When you have a name, you have a reputation. You usually try to make good points and avoid nastiness when you have a reputation.

The anon posters don't care how they look, so they usually contribute the most nastiness."


Your painting with a very broad brush there on the character of anonymous posters.

So how about the anons who contribute constructively? dotted snipped the anonymous poster (moi) for being anonymous and for discussing something that had already been discussed, not for being nasty. Upon stating that I didn't think it was nice for dotted to tell me it was not appropriate to comment on foamgnomes comments (that she'd told me to shut up - my word), emily roundly proclaimed that "being nice" is overrated. Regulars rule, anons drool!!!

Reputation??? Give me a break. The ability for anyone and everyone to be anonymous anytime, as well as to post under any name or combination of names makes the ideas of reputation, identity (as opposed to anonymity), and accountability, all of them, kind of a joke.


Posted by: tomeesh | March 15, 2007 12:40 PM

What Elle said.

Plus, if someone works in the private sector, a merger can be a quick way to lose a job.

I don't think that being a SAH parent relieves anyone of the responsibility of being able to contribute to the financial security of the family, even if that parent isn't contributing income during a given time period. I'm not saying it's wrong to stay at home with kids in the least. I just think that hiring managers are not that forgiving of long time lapses that allow skills to erode or become outdated.

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 12:44 PM

Foamgnome, the posting to which you refer was from Tillman, not me. I'm the one being verbally accosted because I dared to say that moms should stay home with their kids if that's a financial option. I mean that as a generality, not as a black and white rule for everyone, of course there can be extenuating circumstances.

Anon - - what exactly is a key party? Sorry, you got me there...

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 12:45 PM

12:40 your right. Sometimes regulars can be rude just like anyone else. But the fact is because they post a screen name they are held "accountable." I have offended people and most of the time it is unintentional. BTW, I did not tell you to shut up. But I can say except for the rare foamgnome bashing that went on a few weeks ago, I almost always apologize. Because I have no desire to offend anyone. Why would I care to do that? Why would any reasonable person want to make virtual enemies? Also some people were complaining that regulars take over the blog. But if you don't post a screen name how will we ever get to know if one or multiple people are making the same comment? I don't get that we ignore nonregulars. Because if you post something even quasi controversial, it gets lots of attention. A few couple that felt they were being left out a couple of weeks either posted anon (so we have no idea who it was) or never cared to post anything involving topics after their initial complaint. You get to be known by giving yourself a screen name. But that comes with the very minor responsibility of accountability. Minor meaning, what can anyone really do about anyone else.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:47 PM

Tim, sometimes I think faster or clearer then I type. Yeah, I mean people sure have a lot to say about Tim today.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:48 PM

Marian - - spoken like a great employee. Not so great as a mother.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 12:50 PM

Regarding Tim's comments: women have always worked and you cannot make broad statements about the value of women staying home based upon your own wife's situation. In my family, my g-g-grandmother worked, as did her daughter, my grandmother (mothering in the 1940-50s) did not, my mother (mothering in the 1960s) was a SAHM until kids were in school, I have always been a WOHM. I can't think of any children born to the women in my family who were not adored and nurtured and loved to the same degree. I work full time , leave early and am home when the bus drives up. I don't thnk Tim's wife or women like her are spending any more time with their school age kids than women and men like me. To each his own, but like other posters have said it is rather silly to tell other women aside from your own wife what is best for them & frankly if my husband tired to tell me I ought to stay home because it was best for the children, I'd gently tell him to jump in a lake orconsider staying home himself.

Posted by: Pink Plate | March 15, 2007 12:51 PM

Hey, my mother worked and I grew up just fine---got a engineering degree from a military academy, became a pilot and went on to become an astronaut. Nothing abnormal about me.

Posted by: Captain Nowak, Maryland native | March 15, 2007 12:52 PM

Tim,

You don't really know anything about me or what kind of mother I am.

At least you signed your post though.

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 12:52 PM

RE: BTW, I did not tell you to shut up.

No, you didn't, nor did I say that you did. I said that dotted was strongly implying that I should shut up as a response to my comments (on your comments). emily then told me to shut up. She was the first, and only, one to use the "s" word. And this I used as an example of regulars taking over the blog. I had not been nasty, yet I was slammed. Why on earth would I want to post under a name?? Anons sometimes post anonymously to test the waters. In this instance, the response was that my comments were not welcome ESPECIALLY because I was anonymous!

Posted by: tofoamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:53 PM

"Like I've said before, pretty surprised that the Washington Post online company devotes what I presume to be a not insignificant amount of resources to the narrow needs of a relatively few. "

Most blogs are like that. Check out the "Faith" blogs and the fights between the dunkers and the sprinklers.

Look at some of the political blogs on the WashPo!

Posted by: the original anon | March 15, 2007 12:54 PM

"Every family has a different dynamic, and there is no one-size-fits-all family arrangement. Indeed, that should be the point: You can predict very little about the future happiness of a kid who goes to daycare or stays home with dad (or mom) or gets taken care of by grammy or a nanny." (Brian Reid)

Rebeldad's essay shows how easy it is to speak "in defense of the dual-earner household" without simultaneously bashing the one-earner household. But that's not enough for some people. An anonymous poster at 10:22 AM writes:

"Does anyone think that moms *not* working outside them home is actually harmful (to them and their kids)?"

This looks like an attempt to start up the "Mommy wars" again -- especially since the same poster adds:

"I'm curious if anyone has read that book 'Get to Work' by Hirshman?"

Obviously, the poster knows full well that there are people (e.g., Prof. Hirshman) who think that SAHM's are harmful As foamgnome writes three minutes later: "Hirshman is a bit of an extremist for my taste." Remember that Simone de Beauvoir went so far as to tell Betty Friedan in 1975 that no woman should be allowed to choose to stay home an raise her children. Still, the troll worked, and the SAHM-bashing side of the Mommy wars got out its artillery:

"Yeah, definitely.
For daughters, it sends the message that you should rely on men and that you're not good for anything beyond cooking, cleaning, and childcare.
For sons, it sends the message that women are servants and should be treated that way.
How can these messages not be harmful to children's development?" (anonymous poster at 10:47)

I disagree. Take an example from the Nineteenth Century. Simon lives in a big house. Every day, he sends Tom out into the fields to pick cotton, while Simon sits on the verandah and sips mint juleps. Simon sells the cotton to support his good life. Is Simon then Tom's servant, because Simon stays home while Tom goes out to work?

An example from the Twentieth Century: My mother stayed home and ran her insurance business from the dinette, while caring for us children. My father commuted an hour each way by bus and subway, sometimes not getting home before 10 PM. Was my mother a "servant" to my father?

Tell the guy out on his driveway at 6 AM scraping ice off his windshield so that he can get to work that his wife -- who is asleep inside in her warm bed -- is his servant. See what reply you get.

No. The message a happy two-earner home sends to its children is that they, too, can form happy, successful two-earner homes. And the message a happy one-earner home sends to its children is that they, too, can form happy, successful one-earner homes. They don't have to, of course. Many girls who grew up in two-earner families, including many of the "Times Brides" in Prof. Hirshman's notorious American Prospect article ("Homeward Bound"), are now staying at home to raise their children -- even though these mothers have advanced degrees or what Prof. Hirshman calls "prestigious" bachelor's degrees. And conversely, many sons and daughters of one-earner families have formed happy, successful two-earner families with a good balance between work and home.

Ordinary people don't go around believing that SAHM's are harmful to their children. That's the kind of nonsense that ideologues spout, ideologues with an agenda. I agree with Lawyermom's posting at 11:35 AM: "my mom was a GREAT role model. She is now in her 70's and she's my best friend. We talk about literature, law, and politics. How dare you suggest that a SAHM is automatically not a good role model?"

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 15, 2007 12:54 PM

"There have been teachers, clergy, neighbors, relatives, child youth activity leaders who have molested children. Should parents pull their kids from school, churches and other houses of worship, t ball, neighborhoods, or divorce everyone in their extended family because they just might molest their kid? It was a really horrific thing that happened to you but it is a rare occurence."

I'm sure the excuse of it could have happened anywhere will make you feel better when it happens to you. Sorry, I don't buy it.

Posted by: Tillman | March 15, 2007 12:54 PM

"I don't see why I should have to beg for the money to replace a 30 year old washing machine the way HIS mother had to with HIS dad."

And yet, some of us men are criticized by our spouses and other women for giving appliance for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's day, etc.

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 10:31 AM

Yes, Fred, well that would be because appliances should come out of household money. Wives shouldn't have to "beg," but likewise applicances aren't "gifts" for them.

How would you like getting a new plumbing snake for your birthday?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 12:55 PM

12:53: I did not mean to imply that you said I told you to shut up. I was just clarifying that as a regular, I was quite polite to you. I don't understand testing the waters thing. Could you just test the waters as say X and then if you don't like it. Just stop posting? Just a thought.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:55 PM

Marian - - I didn't mean to suggest you weren't a good mother. I just meant to say that your point is valid, but from the point of view of an employee as opposed to being the point of view of a mother. I'm sure you're an excellent mother.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 12:58 PM

I'm sure the excuse of it could have happened anywhere will make you feel better when it happens to you. Sorry, I don't buy it.

Posted by: Tillman | March 15, 2007 12:54 PM
I did not mean it should make you feel better. I am just saying just because your kid was molested doesn't imply that every child in day care will be molested. Again, I am very sorry that this happened to your family.

Hey, Tim, I just figured out who Tilman is. Sorry for the confusion.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 12:59 PM

Tim

A key party is something you need very soon before you become more of an elitist snob.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:01 PM

Well, I certainly hope that Tim's wife AGREED to stay at home, rather than being told to it, "Or else!"

But that is their situation. His one-size-fits-all solution doesn't work 100% of the time, for 100% of the people.

But that's also because he tacitly recognizes that he is not a good daddy or father. He's not needed for anything more than his money. His wife is the only necessary parent--that's why she stays at home.

His role is simply a walk-on part. Or maybe a cartoonish "Father Knows Best" episode.

I think of it as a straitjacket, personally. It doesn't work for me or my family (two-income); nor would it if we could afford to have me (woman) stay home. I do not do well with children 24/7/365, and I know it. I'm miserable in that role. I need the variety and stability of a job that keeps my skills sharp and I need adult companionship.

Whatever.

Did anyone besides me go and read "The Man Who Mistook his Job for a Life"? That was a good recommendation that someone, MdMother I think, made. I found it at my local library.

Posted by: Isabel | March 15, 2007 1:01 PM

Look, I am not looking to go out and offend everyone and anyone out there, but I also like the blog and its anonimity because it frees you to be honest. Sometimes, you are going to have an opinion that others just don't like or appreciate. And sometimes, you don't want to tiptoe around the bush hemming and hawing and walking on eggshells around someone that is just being ridiculous. It is nice to cut the hogwash on occasion and just state the obvious. Yes, it's better to be diplomatic and constructive most of the time, for the sake of civility. But you know what? Sometimes it's refreshing to just hear an honest reaction from someone. It's a blog for heavens sake. This is not your neighborhood pool party. Why are some people so susceptible to other people's opinions. Does it really matter so much what some anonymous person on the internet (with or without a screen name) thinks about you? Are people really that insecure?

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 1:01 PM

Yes, Fred, well that would be because appliances should come out of household money. Wives shouldn't have to "beg," but likewise applicances aren't "gifts" for them.

How would you like getting a new plumbing snake for your birthday?

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 12:55 PM

Actually, I could use a new snake! (seriously)

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 1:01 PM

Thanks for listening. At first glance, the distribution of posts is already changing. For those who cares, the script with about 20 names I remembered ran a fraction of a second, so I have a life, don't worry.

The Original Anon has good suggestions, and the script that takes care of this would take maybe 15 min to write, a fraction of second to run.

Do you want me to really scare you? Don't ask me to run a program that combines all explicit references to your families and places of work/residence over several months and posts such profiles. There is no anonymity on the Internet, and for government employees there is monitoring software and the office of general counsel. Don't take your chances. As somebody said here, your direct supervisor sometimes is more lenient than decision making people 2 levels up.

One more: I would make an exception for Army Brat. He rings true. His postings are thoughtful, he doesn't brag or scatters cheap jokes. Some of the regulars don't sound psychologically real, random people are even more unreal (the Roseanne with the ambitions of Angelina Jolie), but it's another project.

Posted by: numbers again | March 15, 2007 1:02 PM

RE: Could you just test the waters as say X and then if you don't like it. Just stop posting? Just a thought.


OK, so if I "don't like it" -- and, yes, I did not like it that I was slammed for stating an opinion (dotted said it had been discussed and was now at rest, no need to discuss it further. emily told me to shut up.) THEN I just stop posting.

You've made my point. The regulars have bullied me out of the discussion and I've barely gotten my foot in the door. I don't think that it would have made any bit of difference it I'd posted as X.

Now, of course, that was dotted and emily, and not you, who were "not nice". So why don't you take it up with them?

Posted by: tofoamgnome | March 15, 2007 1:03 PM

I agree that in general appliances aren't gifts, however, while a run of the mill Maytag is something that helps keep the family running - the top of the line, cranberry front loader on the pedastal with 9 million functions, I would consider a gift. I must disclose that i asked for and got a circular saw, air compressor and nail gun for mother's day and was totally psyched so I come at it from a different perspective.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 1:04 PM

I read and post here (semi-regularly) but my friend only reads. We have discussions about regulars, the dust-ups, etc but more often we talk about an idea we got from here or debate the finer points of an issue raised here. I would venture to guess there are lots of regular lurkers who gain something from this blog and probably skip right on by the off topic stuff or get a good chuckle out of it. This isn't an exclusive clubhouse -- it's blog attached to a major daily newspaper.

Posted by: going anon for this | March 15, 2007 1:04 PM

Marian wrote:"...if someone works in the private sector, a merger can be a quick way to lose a job. I don't think that being a SAH parent relieves anyone of the responsibility of being able to contribute to the financial security of the family, even if that parent isn't contributing income during a given time period. I'm not saying it's wrong to stay at home with kids in the least. I just think that hiring managers are not that forgiving of long time lapses that allow skills to erode or become outdated. "

How right you are. We had trouble right here in River City - Trouble with a capital M for merger - not 6 months after I stopped working when DS#1 arrived. DH and I both started looking immediately. Fortunately, DH is blessed with uber skills and an awesome network, so he landed a consulting gig within 6 weeks. That experience convinced me (not that I needed much convincing) that I needed not only to maintain my skills, but also to carefully tend my own professional network indefinitely. I see this as just another part of my responsibility to my family. I don't plan to go back to work for several years, but I have little doubt that I could do so within a 2-3 month window if necessary.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 1:06 PM

To tomeesh

Fine, if you don't like my explanation, try Megan's Neighbor's idea at 12:31 PM (See how easy that is? Now you can search for her comment by her name).

And I can find you again by your new name (tomeesh), but your comments won't always be directed to me, so it doesn't always work.

Back to the topic, as we've seen by a few of the posts today, some people feel judged for their decisions. Brian's post helps those people who feel guilty working. I don't see a problem discussing it, especially since it leads to discussions of other types of arrangements. It's great to talk about the ways parents make everything work. However, it's very tiring to hear four or five people dictate about how we should all be supporting our families.

Posted by: Meesh | March 15, 2007 1:06 PM

Isabel - - I don't think I can address all your mischaracterizations of what I've said. I never said stay at home moms were right in every situation. I never said, tactitly or otherwise, that I wasn't a good daddy, or that my only contribution as a father was my income. I think when you hit too close to the truth, the last defensive resort for people is to lash out at the messenger. You have openly admitted you're not a good mom, you said yourself you can't do it on a fulltime basis, so I agree that in your circumstance, you should work outside the home.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 1:08 PM

I don't know why, but I always thought Army Brat was a woman. Maybe because of the great qualities that "numbers again" attributed to him/her. ::ducks and runs::

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 1:10 PM

On the subject of anon posters, and the idea that some of the anons are named folks who don't want to tarnish the reputation of their moniker -

What about all those people called "to X"? These are obviously named folks who have a bone to pick with X, and don't want to admit that their moniker is doing anything so awful as to say something that isn't nicey.

Well, why shouldn't they have a bone to pick, and say so? that's fine with me. That is what a blog is.

And if that is ok, what makes someone temporarily calling themselves "to X" better than someone who saves the 2 sec and just leaves it blank?

Posted by: sdfsdfsdfsdf | March 15, 2007 1:11 PM

Tillman - Sadly, children are more likely to be abused by parents and relatives than individuals outside the family. It does not make your situation any more bearable, it simply may put in to perspective the misguided notion that children are invariably safer in their own home. If only it were so.

Posted by: montgomery3 | March 15, 2007 1:11 PM

My wife initially began working because she was bored at home, then she worked to help us save enough money to afford a better place to live. Somewhere during that time she found she enjoyed working and kept at it rather than staying home.

When she was laid off from work, we fortunately were able to continue on using just my salary, but it was tough and some bills piled up that we're just now getting rid of. She went back to school and finished her degree, and then went back to work.

Now we've discussed what will be done when we have a child to care for, and she intends to take off at least a year or two to avoid daycare costs. We can afford it and that's what she wants to do, and she's planning on working part time after that.

Whether to work or not is a personal choice for any woman/mother, and should not be subject to the approval of others before going along with it. Obviously there are situations that require women to work out of the home when perhaps staying home would be better, however.

Posted by: John L | March 15, 2007 1:11 PM

I just really feel it's part of my responsibility as a mother, not just an employee, to remain employable. I've sat in the interview chair for a volunteer position and had a three-year leave of absence for childcare questioned.

My own mother never went back to paid employment after having children. She always said how lucky she and my father were that nothing ever happened. She would not have had marketable skills if a twist of fate had required her to provide financially for her family.

I'm staying at home for now. I don't want to stay at home full time until my younger is grown. My ideal is to find a part-time professional position. I like working, and if I want to work I have to operate within the realities of the marketplace.

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 1:13 PM

"I did not mean it should make you feel better. I am just saying just because your kid was molested doesn't imply that every child in day care will be molested"

Thankfully, my kid was not molested. Unfortunately, one of his friends was.

Is your argument that you think an hourly employee at a daycare facility of your choice is going to care for and mentor your child in the same manner as a parent? Better than a parent? If so, I would like to hear your reasoning. If not, how is working and putting your child in daycare a more preferred option than having a SAHP? Obviously we are talking about kids pre-kindergaten here. I would apply a different standard for kids in and beyond kindergarten.

Posted by: Tillman | March 15, 2007 1:13 PM

Moxiemom,

Re: Mother's Day gifts. I gave my wife some computer equipment she'd been wanting for her birthday a few years ago. She was just as pleased as you sounded when you got your circular saw; to each his (or her) own!

Posted by: John L | March 15, 2007 1:14 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Diane. I agree with you completely.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 15, 2007 1:14 PM

Moxiemom,

You are a woman after my own heart! If Frieda would just appreciate the 12" compound miter that I bought recently!

My comment about appliances as a gift was a bit tongue in cheek. But the comments reflect the perception of some men (such as my dad and myself) that a new appliance is more valuable to the family in the long term than a box of chocolates or a lacy card.

BTW, all the appliances were white.

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 1:14 PM

John L has introduced the operative word here: "we." Any household works best when approached as a partnership.

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 1:15 PM

Numbers, I have to say that I was a little curious about what program you used to generate your numbers. For 1 thing, the counts were inaccurate for about half the posting names. And yes, it took me a few seconds as I did check.

there is a program out there that was written specifically for WashPost blogs... and it's still there if you know where to find it.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 15, 2007 1:15 PM

Moxiemom wrote: "I must disclose that i asked for and got a circular saw, air compressor and nail gun for mother's day and was totally psyched so I come at it from a different perspective."

Moxiemom you're my hero. Just the other day I spent 20 minutes explaining to DS#1 (5yo) that the cordless drill really was Mommy's. Am still trying to get to the bottom of where this came from, but I'm guessing it's some weird carryover from "Handy Manny" on the Disney Channel.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 1:16 PM

Did I miss a post? Where did Tim say that every mother had to stay home? Did I miss it and am I a snob for playing football with the neighbors where I grew up.

Just asking because I have not read all the posts and man is Tim taking a beating.

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 1:16 PM

I'm sure the excuse of it could have happened anywhere will make you feel better when it happens to you. Sorry, I don't buy it.

Posted by: Tillman | March 15, 2007 12:54 PM

I did not say at all that an hourly employee can take better care of my children or anyone else's children. It would depend on the parents and the hourly employee. I was responding to what you said about a child being molested in a day care was a reason no one should put their child in day care. I was only responding to this portion of your post:
Bottom line folks, the day you pick your kid up from daycare and discover that an employee has been charged with molesting some of the kids...it puts this whole discussion in prospective. I've been there, it was the worst few days of my life trying to figure out if my kid had been touched inappropriately.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 1:17 PM

Tim,

I never said I wasn't a good mom. I am. I said I wasn't cut out for being on-site 24/7/365. That it makes me grouchy and I want adult conversations. This makes me a happier person and better able to interact with my kids. They are happy kids.

And I second someone else who pointed out that if I were told to stay at home simply because my husband desired it--he would be out on his ear.

Posted by: Isabel | March 15, 2007 1:20 PM

Emily, I think you should be given the sage green cave closest to the sandbox for a day or 2.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 15, 2007 1:20 PM

tilman was the daycare center and in home center or a regular center?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:20 PM

Sorry, Fo4 - Time outs never worked for me. I'm pretty much incorrigible.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 1:22 PM

How come when we talk about women working or not, the discussion is always framed around "contributing financially to the household" or somthing like that. The assumption is that the man is ALWAYS responsible for the household finances. This is the compliment of the assuption that the woman will be responsible for taking care of the house. This is even in the cases where the women work and even when they make more than the man.

I was raised to believe in equality, and this doesn't seem like it to me. All this discussion about choice to work is totally foreign to me as a man raised in the USA. I will never have that choice and neither will 90% of the men in this country.

While we are now expected to raise our boys to support the houshold both financially and with the housework/childcare. Why do we not raise our girls with the same expectation of providing the sole financial support of a family (and themselves)? Why do girl get choice and boys get none?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:22 PM

Is your argument that you think an hourly employee at a daycare facility of your choice is going to care for and mentor your child in the same manner as a parent? Better than a parent?
--------------------------------
Of course, there are NO abusive parents anywhere in the world!

*rolls eyes*

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:23 PM

Isabel - - I never told my wife to stay home, she leaped at the opportunity when a promotion for me made that a possibility. And she's never been happier. I'd be out on my ear too if I tried to dictate such a thing...

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 1:24 PM

'she intends to take off at least a year or two to avoid daycare costs'

I would hope she was taking time off to be with the baby and the lack of daycare costs would just be a bonus.

Posted by: to John | March 15, 2007 1:24 PM

"Underachiever - someone who overachieves at peace and contentment. Stop and smell the roses."

Underachiever -- someone who could do more but chooses not to. Sit back and enjoy the breeze.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:26 PM

1:22: You make a perfectly valid point. I am not sure what the answer to it is. My guess it is just one of those very obvious reverse discriminations. My hope is that SAHDs will hope to bring that issue to the forefront. Speaking from personal experience, we have only a daughter. But I would like to think I will raise her to think either she or her future male partner has the choice to stay at home. I guess our culture has been so ingrained to believe that a man should work that we forgot the message is everyone should have a choice. Maybe we are just afraid everyone would choose to stay at home and no one would work? Just kidding. I really don't know why that happens. But I know lots of guys who have expressed this very same issue. I don't think they like shouldering the burden all the time.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 1:27 PM

Scarry - see Tim's posts at 11:25, 11:37 and 12:08. Don't think he ever explicitly said all women should stay home, but his early posts certainly seem to imply it.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 1:28 PM

"But for mom to work when she doesn't have to, she's doing that for purely selfish reasons, putting the child's best interests at bay so she can pursue her own agenda at their expense."

To Tim - So would you say the same thing about a dad? In other words, if the mom makes more $$ than the dad, then would you say that the dad working is selfish? Or what if they make equal amounts of money? How do you make the call that the mom should stay home? Are you basing this on some outdated sexist belief that women should be at home with the kids if at all possible? I would tend to agree with the concept that in some cases, it is good to have a parent at home. But I would never insist that it has to be the mother. It could be the father. And if mothers are considered selfish for opting to work when it is not a flat out necessity, why aren't fathers equally considered selfish when they decide to work when they could stay home and let their wives work instead? Who made the rule that a man has to be the breadwinner and the wife the homemaker?

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 1:29 PM

"I am, after this short time, pretty surprised that the Washington Post online company devotes what I presume to be a not insignificant amount of resources to a product that seems to serve the very narrow needs of a handful of regulars."

Actually, the resources are minimal, and WaPo loves the high poster counts this blog gets because it generates oodles of advertising.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:29 PM

Fred, wow a 12 in. mitre saw - very sexy. May I ask how tall your baseboards are????? wink, wink! I'm very very into trim!

2terrific - glad to hear another handy mom! Keep on keepin on.

In defense of SAHMs contributing, I am in charge today of ensuring a constant connection to the CBS web cast of the NCAA tournament so Dh can sit right down when he gets home! I get the Golden Globes and he gets the NCAA.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 1:30 PM

"turn is a verb."

Correction: "to turn" is a verb. "Turn" can also be a noun: Now it's his turn.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:30 PM

Tools tools and more tools. I just bought new cabinets and shelving for tools. I too have a electric compound mitre saw, workbench, cordless drill, etc. My dad said that when I bought my first house I should have these things and for years I would get a tool for birthday and Christmas presents. My brother continues the tradition.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 1:31 PM

If a mom works at a daycare is she a working mom or just a mom with FICA? FICA seems the only difference.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:31 PM

"No thinking person can possibly believe that having mom away from young children for 8-10 hours of the waking day is better than having mom there."

Tim,

There are a lot of thinking people on this blog -- from all over the country, not just D.C. -- and that's exactly what many of us do think.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:32 PM

"Actually, the resources are minimal, and WaPo loves the high poster counts this blog gets because it generates oodles of advertising."

LOL - I NEVER look at the online ads. Print edition, maybe, but not online.

Posted by: h | March 15, 2007 1:33 PM

Equality is a legalistic, civil rights notion, properly applied in the arena of our public lives. But as you may have noticed, men and women are not the same, and how they relate to their children is not the same. You may have noticed that women actually bear the children, nurse the children, and in most cases provide the majority of the child's care. Not by learned rote, it comes quite naturally because that is the way we are made. And virtually everywhere you look in the animal kingdom, it's the same way. Now, I know someone's going to say I'm saying that ALL women HAVE to be the primary caregivers or some such nonsense. What I'm really saying is that it's in the natural order of things for women to be the primary caregivers for children. It's always been that way, and always will. Tim didn't make it that way, or say it SHOULD be that way, it just is.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 1:33 PM

KLB - do you remember that Home Depot commercial where the single girl restores her home in spite of her dad's doubts?

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 1:33 PM

moxiemom,
I sure do - that would be me! I enjoy it as much as I do cooking/baking. It is just messier.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 1:35 PM

Fred, wow a 12 in. mitre saw - very sexy. May I ask how tall your baseboards are????? wink, wink! I'm very very into trim!

7 1/2" and they are hardwood. No plastic for Fred. I stained them a natural color. Had the wood especially milled for me at a real lumber mill, no big box store for Fred! The baseboards compliment our #1 Red Oak and Heart of Pine floors.

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 1:35 PM

KLB, I always tell dh to be glad his wife has a hobby that actually increases the value of our home. I could blow the same amount of dough on scrapbooking (please don't hurt me scrapbooking people. I know they are timless mementos)

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 1:36 PM

What I'm really saying is that it's in the natural order of things for women to be the primary caregivers for children. It's always been that way, and always will. Tim didn't make it that way, or say it SHOULD be that way, it just is.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 01:33 PM

OK Tim, I hope you have a thick skin because you will creamed on this blog for that one. BTW, I think it is great that such a controversial topic comes up so late in the day. Usually this blog detoriates about 2 pm. Thanks for taking one for the team.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 1:36 PM

What bogus 'science' this is! Yes, let's ask children to allay our fears that a dual-earner household is the same or better than mom staying home! We'll take anything we can get, because we all know deep down what the real truth is, let's face it. I love the line that kids in a dual-earner household were more "impressed" with that arrangement than a traditional household. Boy, that's the whole point of parenting, huh!

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:11 AM

If this BS were true (that dual working parents is superior to mom staying at home), can someone show me any real substantive research (meaning not based on the opinions of children but actual empirical data)or perhaps a pediatrician's opinion that says that? Because this whole article seems like a big after-the-fact rationalization to make dual-earners feel better.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:20 AM

I'm new to the DC area and now I'm realizing some of what I heard about it is true: people here are all about the almighty dollar and if that means having their children raised by paid caregivers, then so be it. No thinking person can possibly believe that having mom away from young children for 8-10 hours of the waking day is better than having mom there.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:25 AM

For the record, I have 3 children, ages 9-7-5. My wife stays at home with them, I work. We're not wealthy, but our bills are paid and we live in a nice neighborhood. My wife could go off to work but our kids are only going to be young once, so she stays at home with them. We'll never get these years back, so we're making the most of it, for our sake and for the sake of the children.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:48 AM

If a couple needs to work two jobs to make ends meet, that's one thing and people have to do what they do, there's even nobility in that. But for mom to work when she doesn't have to, she's doing that for purely selfish reasons, putting the child's best interests at bay so she can pursue her own agenda at their expense. Some here want to cloak it in other terms, I'm particularly saddened by those women who want to characterize it as a power struggle between a man and a woman, that's really unhealthy and ultimately those kinds of attitudes will destroy the marriage in most cases. In a healthy marriage, the woman wants what's best for the child.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 11:37 AM

Elle - - so poetically put!! Now, what does that mean? My 3 boys adore their dad, I know because they tell me all the time. Even just yesterday when we were playing roller hockey in the cul-de-sac. I guess the spin I'm now hearing is that because I work I'm somehow less of a dad? Please elaborate....

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 12:20 PM

Isabel - - I never told my wife to stay home, she leaped at the opportunity when a promotion for me made that a possibility. And she's never been happier. I'd be out on my ear too if I tried to dictate such a thing...

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 01:24 PM


Posted by: wool-gathering | March 15, 2007 1:36 PM

"In defense of SAHMs contributing, I am in charge today of ensuring a constant connection to the CBS web cast of the NCAA tournament so Dh can sit right down when he gets home!"

I actually had to fill out DH's brackets for the office pool and give him the crash course on why the Big East rules! Guess that's my monetary contribution to our partnership for the month *wink*

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 1:37 PM

"turn is a verb."

Correction: "to turn" is a verb. "Turn" can also be a noun: Now it's his turn.

It was a verb in that sentence.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:38 PM

keep talking Fred, I'm going to go take a cold shower. our baseboards are just 7 and a quarter! ....... custom milled - someone get me some smelling salts I may swoon!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 1:38 PM

Tim - It is very obvious that you feel that way. And in fact, you are wrong on some counts. Yes, women do the childbearing and nursing, but these two facets of childraising are limited in terms of the length of time that a mother needs to do them. If you look at hunter/gatherer cultures, that existed for thousands of years longer than the agrarian societies from which we have evolved, you will find that the natural order of things was for men and women to have roughly equal responsibility for childraising. This, in fact, has been the "natural" order of things for far longer than the paternalistic set-up which you describe as the natural order.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 1:38 PM

No, "is" is the verb in that sentence.

"Now it's his turn."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:39 PM

2terrific, lets remind them of how awesome we are tonight!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 1:40 PM

Okay, Tim you are on your own!

Thannks wool-gathering.

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 1:41 PM

"I guess it's time to speak with his pdoc and therapist. Again."

MdMother,

You speak to your husband's therapist? Repeatedly?

Seems like something you'd do with a child, not another adult.

Do you normally treat your husband like a child? If so, that might explain why he acts like one.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:42 PM

On a different note, I feel more like the subservient one than my wife does. I'm the one who has to go out into the world, be separated from my wife and children, and scratch out a living. She gets to stay home and be with the kids. I'm the servant, not the master.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 1:44 PM

""No, "is" is the verb in that sentence.""

"Now it's his turn."

god, i hate the grammar arguments and here i am perpetuating one. In the sentence above, "turn" is a noun meaning "a time or opportunity for action which comes in due rotation or order to each of a number of persons, animals, etc.: It's my turn to pay the bill." see dictionary.com for the 100+ other definitions of "turn" as a verb and a noun.

can we please stop now?

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 1:45 PM

"And no, while he was off he didn't pick up any of the kid chores either. He didn't get them up, didn't ensure they got to the bus stop, didn't pick them up, take them to any activities...nothing."

Seems like he was happy to do dishes! Does that count for nothing???

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:45 PM

"Actually, the resources are minimal, and WaPo loves the high poster counts this blog gets because it generates oodles of advertising."


All too true.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:46 PM

Yes, women do the childbearing and nursing, but these two facets of childraising are limited in terms of the length of time that a mother needs to do them.
-------------------------------------
36-42 weeks
0-18 months

This is what bottles are all about. Anybody can figure out how to warm up some milk and feed an infant. At 6 months of age, many babies are messing around with more substantial fare. Most of them can have solid food, in smaller sizes, by a year.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:46 PM

Scarry: Here are the things that Tim has said that I suspect are what have provoked the backlash. From first post:

"But for mom to work when she doesn't have to, she's doing that for purely selfish reasons, putting the child's best interests at bay so she can pursue her own agenda at their expense."

And later:

"for those women who enter into the workforce needlessly, that is they put their own children's self-interest on the back burner so they can pad their bank accounts at the kid's expense, I'm saying that's wrong no matter how they want to spin it. Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. And deep down, they know I'm right."

And most recently to Isabel when she tried to explain why being a WOHM is better for her family:

"You have openly admitted you're not a good mom, you said yourself you can't do it on a fulltime basis"

So, at least as I read this, WOHM = bad and selfish unless absolutely necessary to to avoid going on welfare. And if you admit that you're not cut out for being at home with kids 24/7, then you're a bad mom. Oh, and condescending to boot ("and deep down, they know I'm right" -- give me a break!).

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:47 PM

Yeah, Tim, I surrrre, I believe it. You are the servant and your wife lords it over you, as she fixes you dinner and cleans your toilets. Good try though.

The problem is, too many women fall for that sorry line.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 1:48 PM

Speaking of mothers:

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- About five hours after giving birth to her first child, University of Nebraska at Kearney women's basketball coach Carol Russell was out of the hospital and on the bench to help coach her players in the North Central Region basketball tournament.
"I could have watched the Webcast, but I wanted to be there for the girls because they've been working so hard for this all year," Russell said.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 1:48 PM

Wool-gathering - - thanks for compiling some of my pearls of wisdom. I can take it, 'sticks and stones'....you know the rest...

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 1:48 PM

"I guess it's time to speak with his pdoc and therapist. Again."

MdMother,

You speak to your husband's therapist? Repeatedly?

Seems like something you'd do with a child, not another adult.

Do you normally treat your husband like a child? If so, that might explain why he acts like one.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 01:42 PM

No, I don't. Actually I have spoken with his pdoc twice in two years, and his therapist once.

And the reason I feel I must is because not only does he have bipolar disorder he also has borderline personality disorder.

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 1:48 PM

"You may have noticed that women actually bear the children, nurse the children, and in most cases provide the majority of the child's care. Not by learned rote, it comes quite naturally because that is the way we are made."

OK Tim you have confirmed it you are sexist - I guess I shouldn't have spent money on the parenting books or time asking my pediatrician questions, and the schools can save all that money in health classes and Frieda can quit her career because women know how to bear children, nurse them and do child care "naturally"

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | March 15, 2007 1:48 PM

Speaking of mothers:

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- About five hours after giving birth to her first child, University of Nebraska at Kearney women's basketball coach Carol Russell was out of the hospital and on the bench to help coach her players in the North Central Region basketball tournament.
"I could have watched the Webcast, but I wanted to be there for the girls because they've been working so hard for this all year," Russell said.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 01:48 PM


That is the on parenting topic today.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 1:49 PM

Tim, you're not being verbally accosted because you dared to say that moms should stay home with their kids if that's a financial option. You're being verbally challenged because you posted the following:

"But for mom to work when she doesn't have to, she's doing that for purely selfish reasons, putting the child's best interests at bay so she can pursue her own agenda at their expense."

My husband doesn't have to work because I make enough to support us comfortably. Is he being selfish because he continues to work instead of being a stay-at-home dad? My husband is putting his children first by making sure that if something happens to me, he can support his family and himself, by selecting and supervising a great in-home caregiver and by appreciating that parents have to look out for their mental health and anticipate the possibility that bad things happen.

The most offensive part of your accusatory posts is not your sexism, but that you cast your families' choice as the only moral choice and the only choice that considers the best interest of the children. You need to get out more.

Posted by: to Tim | March 15, 2007 1:49 PM

foamgnone,
I haven't been over there - are they fer or agin' what she did?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 1:51 PM

I think Tim is the one who belongs in a cave, but please not the neanderthal cave, because, ironically, they were more advanced than he is.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 1:52 PM

I only skimmed it. Most seem against. I mean really, I do think that is above and beyond the call of duty.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 1:52 PM

Sorry, the 1:47 post was me.

Posted by: Laura | March 15, 2007 1:53 PM

I am sure the girls would have understood but it must have been a tough call.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 1:54 PM

I think mostly against. People seem to think that 5 hours after childbearing is just too soon. I'd have to agree on that one. But whatever. I think it was the last game, so she can probably devote the rest of the next few months to the baby. The baby won't remember.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 1:54 PM

"For the record, I have 3 children, ages 9-7-5. My wife stays at home with them, I work. We're not wealthy, but our bills are paid and we live in a nice neighborhood. My wife could go off to work but our kids are only going to be young once, so she stays at home with them. We'll never get these years back, so we're making the most of it, for our sake and for the sake of the children."

Tim,

This is all very nice -- for you and your family.

However, it's not a way of life that must be embraced in order to be "good" parents. Or to have a healthy, happy family. Or to gain the approval of complete strangers who stand in judgment.

Your lifestyle is laudable but not because it's the "right" way to do things. It's laudable because you and your wife made your choices (I hope your wife was in on the decision) and have found ways to make them happen.

Families in which both parents work may operate differently than yours, but they can function effectively and produce independent, capable, happy kids who have respect for their parents.

Your generalizations are pointless to the discussions on this blog because they are given as absolutes from which positions you are immovable.

Continue to participate if you like, but don't expect people to hail your comments as meaningful.

Posted by: pittypat | March 15, 2007 1:55 PM

2terrificboys

You are way behind. There is another sentence where turn is the verb.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:55 PM

to Anonymous at 149pm: to answer your question, it's not your husband who I think is selfish, it's you. Please see my earlier posts.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 1:56 PM

Good one, Marian!

Perfect new name for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:57 PM

"So Tim, are you at home with your kids? or is it only your wife who should stay home so you can relax in peace at work knowing your kids are cared for by a parent but without actually providing that care, and taking the risk that your employment-related skills will atrophy, yourself?" -- Anonymous at 11:36 AM

Quick, someone hand me a washcloth so that I can wipe my monitor clean of the ENVY and RESENTMENT that simply *dripped* from this posting! "He's got a stay-at-home wife taking care of his kids, and I can't have one. It's not fair!"

Shi'a Muslims await the coming of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, who will bring about a just and happy world. Pre- and Post-millenialist Christians hope for the same thing at the Second Coming. Rhona Mahoney's "Kidding Ourselves" (1994) proposed "concrete steps that we can take to bring about a future in which the sexual division of labor has melted away." Susan Moller Okin Ph.D. '75, who wrote "Justice, Gender, and the Family" (1989), believed that "as long as women bear most responsibility for the care of the family, social justice can never be fully achieved." All of these ideologues, all these dreamers, are harmless as long as they don't bash ordinary people who live their lives in ways that slow down progress toward the ideologues' chiliastic vision of the future.

If you envy the man with a stay-at-home mom for his children, get yourself a stay-at-home dad for yours -- but quit criticizing other people's life choices. The Millenium is a long way off, and meanwhile Tim and the rest of the men with stay-at-home wives are going to keep living their lives their way.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 15, 2007 1:58 PM

To MdMother:

I feel for you. I've been there. When a bipolar spouse is in a depressive phase, sometimes someone needs to intercede on his/her behalf. One of the crueler parts of the disease it that it interferes with one's ability to care about one's own health. Stay strong, and don't forget to take care of yourself, too.

Posted by: FutureMom | March 15, 2007 1:59 PM

Tim wrote: "On a different note, I feel more like the subservient one than my wife does. I'm the one who has to go out into the world, be separated from my wife and children, and scratch out a living. She gets to stay home and be with the kids. I'm the servant, not the master."

FYI - I'm serious here.

Don't have the time to give this the response it deserves, but do have a suggestion. Perhaps you should take some vacation and use it for a little role reversal. Have DW follow your schedule and you follow hers. See what happens. Maybe you'll find that being a SAHD is really what you want. Maybe you won't. My DH practically begged me to let him off the hook after a week alone with DS#1 and DS#2. (Grandparent support arrived in the evenings just as DH currently arrives to support me.) He just wasn't cut out to do some of the stuff I do every day. Similarly, he'd die if he had to work in my former profession and I'd kill myself if I had to work in his.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 1:59 PM

Tim - the role reversal post was mine - the finger is quicker than the brain today.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 2:00 PM

Foamgnome said: I guess our culture has been so ingrained to believe that a man should work that we forgot the message is everyone should have a choice.

I don't think this is the message that will work. The message should be that everyone needs to feel finacially responsible for their family. Because choice is actually dependent on the abilty of the other partner to shoulder that burden. If the message is "everyone should get the choice", as a man I can't accept that, I will fall back on the assumtion that it is my responsibilty (who else can I count on) and we are right back where we started. I think this is one of many issues that the feminist movement fails to understand, because women still look at the world from a women's point of view (duh).

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 2:02 PM

No one is criticizing Tim for having a stay at home wife. He is being criticized for this outdated, sexist, and unfounded belief that the mother is naturally fit over the father to raise children by virtue of her x chromosome.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 2:03 PM

I really didn't want to take the bait on this one, but I can't help it.
My boyfriend works for a nonprofit. I am a lawyer. As a result I (unfairly, but that is a whole separate debate) earn about 3 times what he does. And yet Tim, you are saying that if we were to have a child tomorrow and he stayed home with the baby while I worked, that would be selfishness on my part? But if I stayed home and he worked and we scraped by on his salary alone, that would be just dandy?

Posted by: Charlottesville | March 15, 2007 2:05 PM

I meant to say xx chromasomes.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 2:05 PM

I've been in that role reversal and recognize that I'm not up to the task of being a SAHD. Thank goodness my wife is.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 2:06 PM

2:02: Couldn't choice be at different times? Like the guy stays home for a while then later enters the work force. Women then takes over the domestic duty. I think your right that part of the message is we are equally responsible for the financial future. But equal doesn't have to mean both people work a 100% of the time.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 2:07 PM

Anonymous at 1:22 PM wrote:

"I was raised to believe in equality, and this doesn't seem like it to me. All this discussion about choice to work is totally foreign to me as a man raised in the USA. I will never have that choice and neither will 90% of the men in this country."

That's right. If you wanted that choice, you should have been born a girl. Then you would have a better chance of finding someone who would support you while you stay at home. There ain't no equality, and there ain't gonna be equality in this area unless we take away some women's freedom and force them to marry and support stay-at-home husbands. And we won't do that because this is America, the Land of Freedom. As long as there is freedom, there won't be absolute equality. You were born a boy, you are a man -- now, make the best of it!

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 15, 2007 2:07 PM

Well, then, Tim. By your own definition, you must be a bad dad. Didn't you tell Isabel that she was not a good mom because she is not cut out to be a stay at home mom?

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 2:08 PM

How does a woman carry and deliver a baby and then not want to spend time with the baby. "I'm not cut out to be home with them". If you are cut out to make them, then you should be cut out to raise them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 2:08 PM

Anon at 1:49:
My husband doesn't have to work because I make enough to support us comfortably.

Tim:

to Anonymous at 149pm: to answer your question, it's not your husband who I think is selfish, it's you. Please see my earlier posts.

Posted by: Scorpio Fire Ram | March 15, 2007 2:08 PM

Marian

Have you checked opm.gov recently? There are a lot of Librarian positions.

Here's something different in the Fed Courts.

http://156.119.80.126/vacancies/view/index.cfm?doc=JobVac2007-02-09--15-16-16-918--0.894509155528

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 2:10 PM

Emily - you miss the obvious point, motherhood is not the same as fatherhood.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 2:15 PM

Tim,

Maybe one of our tender, nurturing females could hook you up with a little ointment that can treat your knuckles with that case of roadrash you got today...

But I wouldn't count on it...

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 15, 2007 2:16 PM

Hi FutureMom,

You know, it's not the bipolar that is the hardest thing to take, it's the personality disorder. At least the meds he currently(?) [I don't know, I refuse to monitor it--it's a lose-lose if I do or not. At least this way I can pretend that he is nominally an adult] takes keep the rages and depression mostly at bay.

To the person who asked, his running an old, inefficient dishwasher once a day, when all it has within is a few plates, is NOT contributing to the household. Instead it ran our bill up to close to $600! Particularly as he was in a LWOP situation, AGAIN, due to his irresponsible behaviour at work. He did not off-set this with performing at a higher level than is his norm at home during that time, either.

See "personality disorder", above.

Therapy--it's a wonderful thing. Keeps me ticking along like an overfunctioning adult. Helps the kids immensely too.

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 2:16 PM

Emily - you miss the obvious point, motherhood is not the same as fatherhood.

Posted by: Tim

It's called parenting Tim. What would you have done if something horrible had happened to her during childbirth? Or what if something happened to her today?

Posted by: Bedrock | March 15, 2007 2:19 PM

Well it's been fun today, thanks for letting me stir the pot. Gotta go, I know you'll miss me when I'm gone!

Love,

Tim

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 2:21 PM

Tim, YOU miss the obvious point. A parent is a parent is a parent is a parent. In other words, when it comes to parenting, I am sure that everything I can do you can do equally as well (with the exception of pushing the baby out -- but since you pushed it in, I guess it evens out :)).

Yes, I get it, you don't want to. You are not cut out for it. But some men do want to and are cut our for it (my husband was), and some women aren't (I wasn't). It doesn't depend on the gender. It depends on the PERSON.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 2:22 PM

Md Mother - sounds like you are in a tough situation. Mental illness is so different than something like cancer, an illness, but the impact on those around you is so very different. I'll keep you in my thoughts. Good luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 2:22 PM

MdMother: I will be thinking of you too.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 2:23 PM

Hi Moxiemom,

I'm counting down the minutes until the Glen Echo carousel re-opens.

I mean, if my life is going to be in a whirl, why not enjoy a FUN ride?

Now if only I could find another double-ferris wheel. I loved that ride when it came to town and I miss it.

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 2:25 PM

"having the SAHMs totally snub you??? It is really bizarre -almost like the movie "Mean Girls." When I was on maternity leave last summer with my newborn, I would be at the playground (and there were several I would go to) with my two year old, and the SAHMs were pretty much all the same with a few exceptions. Why is that?"

I'm a SAHM, and I get snubbed plenty by the cliquish moms. Not all of them are that way, though . . . but some women just never grow out of high school. You're right - it's bizarre for an adult to behave that way.

Posted by: Fairfax | March 15, 2007 2:25 PM

MdMother

My husband grew up on a champagne budget but keeps forgetting he earns a beer budget salary cause he got a dumb ass degree from a dumb ass college and won't leave a rust belt city.

I refuse to waste energy and money.

He walks around in his underwear in the winter and is "afraid" of the electric blanket on his bed. Clothes must be put through the washer's rinse cycle at least 4 times because of "germs".

Big time loser? You betcha!

Too bad people who are dating aren't required to share FICO scores and medical records. Can't predict all of the future, but at least point out some of the red flags.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 2:27 PM

Maybe one of our tender, nurturing females could hook you up with a little ointment that can treat your knuckles with that case of roadrash you got today...

I don't have any oinment, but a good dousing of rubbing alcohol will do a good job of disinfecting a little roadrash. Plus, he's a man. I'm sure he can take a little pain, right Tim?

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 2:28 PM

Tim, I'm truly interested in your answer to Emily's (I think it was Emily) question about reversing the situation--if the woman makes more money (or if they make equal money and could survive on one salary), would you think it was selfish for the man to choose to work instead of staying home to be a FT SAHD?

The reason I ask is because this is the situation I'm living. I work, as I said earlier, for the health insurance and to keep a roof over our heads. My husband's job has no benefits and pays less than mine. We could, in theory, live off of just my salary (although admittedly it would be very tight, and we wouldn't be able to save anything for retirement, and probably one or the other of us would have to take some kind of PT job to make ends meet, but the idea is still there--I'm the primary breadwinner) and in fact when I got my current job I told DH he didn't have to keep working. He chose to keep working. Was this a selfish decision and bad for the kids? Or in this situation, is it better to have two working parents rather than a SAHD? In other words, are you just generally opposed to using childcare except in cases when it's absolutely necessary, or are you only opposed to mothers working when it's not absolutely necessary?

Posted by: Sarah | March 15, 2007 2:28 PM

having the SAHMs totally snub you???

ha, snub me! I wish they would stop parking in from of my drive way while they sit and wait for the bus. They live like three doors down. I can see in bad whether, but nope, every day they are out there. I made one of them move the other day just for the fun of it. I went around the block and came back, so she had to move twice. Serves her right for parking in front of my drive way.

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 2:30 PM

MdMother -

I was just reading up on BPD at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bpd.cfm, and I guess I am very lucky DH does not have that problem! I really do not know very much about it. I do know how hard bipolar disorder can be all on its own, and I can't imagine adding that layer to it. I feel for you. Yes, therapy and marriage counseling are wonderful things. I'll be pulling for you from afar.

Posted by: FutureMom | March 15, 2007 2:30 PM

Scarry,
You actually went around the block just to make the sahm move? LOL.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 2:31 PM

Well Sarah, I was going to make my exit, but you snagged me with your question.

I'm not OPPOSED to childcare per se, though I think you could make a pretty strong argument about that, but at least that's not the point I was trying to make today.

I'm not necessarily OPPOSED to mother's working, and by that I mean there could be myriad reasons for that being a necessity.

What I'm FOR is for mom's to stay home with their children when at all possible, and the point I was making is that IN GENERAL (the many exceptions listed above notwithstanding) mom's staying home with their children is better than them not doing so.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 2:33 PM

Too bad people who are dating aren't required to share FICO scores and medical records. Can't predict all of the future, but at least point out some of the red flags
-----------------------------------
Yeah, but he was fine then, even his FICO looks great now.

It wasn't until after the first child was born that things started to unravel, and then they started to unravel FASTER about 2 years ago. He just couldn't keep up the facade, or something.

*shakes magic 8 ball some more*

But really, thanks everyone, I do appreciate the warm thoughts.

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 2:34 PM

Yes, because they park in front of my house every day for like a half hour. They block me in. One day, they were in my drive way. I mean, I may have to rush out and get my kid or something.

I think it makes me mad because it is rude. They don't like me anyway because I won't get involved in their fueds. You'd think I was living in a soap opera with some of the things that goes on.

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 2:34 PM

I'm glad that you wrote about this topic today. Although I don't have kids yet, I believe in continuing to work after I have children. I've put too many years into school and my career development to completely drop out for X years when I have a child. I feel especially compelled to continue working since I'm in a service profession with the potential to positively impact many others' people's lives, in addition to my childrens.' As a sahm I would limit myself to impacting just my children, and perhaps doing some community service here and there. We were told we could "have it all" when we were little girls and I guess I still believe that...however naive that may be! At least I want to try to achieve that ideal before giving up on it to stay at home. I feel that my husband doesn't have to sacfrifice his career staying at home so why should I? Because I'm a woman?

Posted by: Michelle | March 15, 2007 2:34 PM

Funny scarry, that would make me crazy too - but let me note that SAHMs do not have the corner on the market when it comes to inconsiderate behavior. I could provide an equally annoying anecdote about a WOHM who practically runs my kid over at drop off because she has to get to work and can't get her act together. Thing is, both groups have members they'd rather excommunicate.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 2:35 PM

www.bpd411.org

Holy cow! That is some SCARY stuff!

You take care, MdMother.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 2:35 PM

If things started to unravel after the 1st child, why on earth did you consent to a second child? Or did you not realize what was happening?

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 2:36 PM

Thing is, both groups have members they'd rather excommunicate.

Okay, I can't resist. Doesn't this just bring to mind the old "Far Side" cartoon, with god in a chef's hat and the caption, "Just to keep things interesting" as he shakes out "jerks" from some can or another?

I doubt I remembered that completely accurately, but you know what I mean!

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 2:37 PM

No, I am not labeling all SAHM, I mean I had one! I am labeling the ones where I live. :) No worries moxiemom, I know the types you are talking about too.

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 2:39 PM

Funny Md Mom

Scarry - no offense taken. Sometimes I have to stand up for my "sisters" sometimes I'd like to be the first one in line to poke them in the eye. Depends on the day.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 2:42 PM

to Emily:

Because after child number one we (I) thought we were dealing with depression, and he did the things that were recommended. I didn't follow around after him, insisting he follow-through with what he was advised to do by his docs/therapist. I didn't even know what, exactly, they had in mind.

It wasn't until well after child number 2 that the bipolar was properly diagnosed AND it wasn't until after THAT that I realized he was borderline to boot. Let me tell you, it's not easy to convince therapists/doctors of an Axis II disorder, they really, really don't want to admit to it. Why? Because they are nearly impossible to overcome and if it goes on his official docket, he could be denied health benefits in the future if I should happen to lose my job. (I provide the health care and it wasn't a pre-existing condition when I was hired.)

The older people get, the harder it is to hide these things. It takes ENERGY to keep this hidden from view. And I don't know about you, but I'm not as energetic as I was in my teens. Neither is he.

Posted by: MdMother | March 15, 2007 2:43 PM

Tim, you still didn't answer the question--what if the Dad could stay home and chooses not to? Is that selfish? From the answer you gave (that you aren't opposed to childcare in general) it sounds like you think it isn't selfish, but it is if the Mom could stay home and chooses not to. Could you clarify?

Posted by: Sarah | March 15, 2007 2:43 PM

MdMother: I just briefly looked at that website and wow. I am really truly sorry for you. I had no idea. I have to ask a dumb question but is bipolar the same as manic depressive? You hear a lot about manic depressive people.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 15, 2007 2:46 PM

scarry - 1) you made diet coke come out my nose when i read that you drove around the block - still chuckling now that i've recovered.

2) i am a sahm, and i can't for the life of me figure out what the H##L those people are doing. They often block the egress from our development in the mornings - and they live like 1/2 a block away from the bus stop. and this is virginia - not alaska! sadly, if i miss my pre-bus window, i will actually wait and take my boys to preschool late rather than try to navigate the traffic jam. have we grown so paranoid that we can't let kids walk to a bus stop we can see from our front porch? what's up with that?

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 2:47 PM

Foamgnome -
"Manic depressive" is the old term for bipolar disorder. I don't think it's considered completely PC anymore.

Posted by: FutureMom | March 15, 2007 2:48 PM

Tim! Tillman! There are other reasons for working besides $. There are also many ways to love. If you could see our children's daycare providers love them up, how much *more* attention they get on their daycare days than on their at-home days, and how much I've learned from the knowhow and patience of those caregivers. And working in the world, paid or unpaid, says that the public good matters, not only my own nuclear family. And fathers, feeding and burping and changing diapers, playing games and reading stories, researching school choices and shuttling to birthday parties, they surely manage to overcome the destiny of biology.

Posted by: kittkicks | March 15, 2007 2:50 PM

"Foamgnome -
"Manic depressive" is the old term for bipolar disorder. I don't think it's considered completely PC anymore."

And apparently the term adopted isn't PC either - who knew?

Posted by: Jimmy Dean | March 15, 2007 2:51 PM

Incidentally, maintaining balance while battling mental illness (for one or both partners, with or without kids) would make a GREAT topic for this blog, and I don't think it's one I've seen here.

(Hey, Fo4, am I up to 12 posts in two weeks yet? I don't think I'm really a regular, but I read if I can, even if I don't contribute.)

Posted by: FutureMom | March 15, 2007 2:51 PM

2terrificboys,

Well, I work from home, but my daughter is in daycare down the street. I live in torado alley, so if for no other reason, I want my path clear to the daycare if the alarms go off.

I also don't understand why they don't walk to the bus stop. Some people are raising lazy kids who are going to be overweight. Walking is good!

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 2:52 PM

Scarry, those same ladies will then DRIVE to the gym to hog the stairmaster for 60 mins!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 2:55 PM

Best Line of the Day

I wish Hemingway (sic) would get in here and kick some ass!!!

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 2:57 PM

Scarry, those same ladies will then DRIVE to the gym to hog the stairmaster for 60 mins!

And limo their fat ass kids to gymboree!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 2:58 PM

Please alert the authorities, I am being held hostage by CBS and this ridiculous NCAA broadcast. I have to clik on this pop up that comes about every 20 mins to keep the connection active and I'm feeling chained here waiting for the button so I can go get dinner going. Luckily, DH appreciates it, but nonetheless, arrrgh!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 3:01 PM

My mother worked - she was, still is, an excellent mother. I stay at home with my kids - it works for us. My best friend of 20 years works and she is a terrific mother.

It seems there are so many studies - each to prove a different point about what's best for kids.

I think there are many ways to have a happy, healthy family - I am not sure why we are all still arguing about it. In the end it seems that it is probably about a lot more than who works and who doesn't.

Posted by: CO mom | March 15, 2007 3:01 PM

Sarah, He did answer.

to Anonymous at 149pm: to answer your question, it's not your husband who I think is selfish, it's you. Please see my earlier posts.

Posted by: Tim | March 15, 2007 01:56 PM

I make enough that my husband could stay home, and my husband does not make enough for me to stay home - not even close -- I am selfish for working and my husband is not.

The scariest thing is that Tim's not even embarrassed to accuse other parents of selfishness based on nothing more than his own families' choices and preference.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:01 PM

I love hemmingway. He would have been a great tech writer.

The ladies where I live all ganged up on one woman because she put up a fence and a pool. The poor woman would not leave the house all summer because of this. The ladies were mad because their kids could not longer play in the pool ladie's yard.

We are getting a swing set this summer and next year getting a fence. Look out ladies because I hide from no one. :)

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 3:02 PM

Johnny Depp's daughter has been released from the hospital. He is not going back to work until she is completely recovered.

Great parenting decision !!!


The crew of Sweeney Todd is out of work until Johnny Depp returns, then they will be recalled.

Sucks for them.

Best wishes to Johnny, his daughter, and the unemployed crew. Hope it turns out well for all.

Posted by: food for thought | March 15, 2007 3:06 PM

what was wrong with her?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:08 PM

oh, scarry, i love you! alas, i must now drive my skinny kids to gym class...

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 15, 2007 3:09 PM

Scarry - you single-handedly saved today's blog from humorless ignominy. THANK YOU!!!!

p.s. at least in North Carolina, we walk with our kids to the bus stop :>)

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 15, 2007 3:10 PM

"Johnny Depp's daughter has been released from the hospital. He is not going back to work until she is completely recovered.

Great parenting decision !!!"

Yep, hope he didn't have to use up all of his leave and that he cleared it with his boss beforehand. Get real - how exactly does this apply to normal people?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:15 PM

Scarry, if someone had left their car in front of my driveway, I'd be VERY tempted to leave the parking brake off on an icy day. Then again, I drive an old sedan, not a $50,000 SUV, so I doubt many homeowner's associations would allow me to even drive a car worth smashing!

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 3:16 PM

Mona,

At least you don't have a creep van!

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 3:17 PM

Scarry, at least a fence will keep their bratty kids and chocolate lab out of your yard!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 3:17 PM

Thanks guys,

Thanks guys, I am usually my funniest when I don't even try.

Well, I am off to my family to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I wish you all a peaceful and happy St. Patrick's Day.

Éirinn go Brách

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 3:19 PM

Yes, the pregnant lady is to tired to blog. PLease forgive my typo! :)

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 3:20 PM

FutureMom, I think you are a regular. I try to keep the requirements easy and flexible, you know, to be all inclusive.

Ot: My daughter is headed up to the DMV to take the test for a learner's permit.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 15, 2007 3:20 PM

Fo4 - I don't know which idea scares me more - your teen daughter driving or you? Good luck - don't forget your nitroglycerin pills!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 3:23 PM

"Yep, hope he didn't have to use up all of his leave and that he cleared it with his boss beforehand. Get real - how exactly does this apply to normal people"

I actually thought that this was a good example of a father who chose to be with his daughter even though he has enough money to hire help and even though she has a mother.

It shows that a man chooses family over career at certain times in his life. I don't know how many other men in his position would take time off from show biz careers.

It applies to normal people as much as anything said here by the 6 figure professionals, or as much as any of the discussion about opting-out by high level professional women.

Posted by: food for thought | March 15, 2007 3:23 PM

"Johnny Depp's daughter has been released from the hospital. He is not going back to work until she is completely recovered.

Great parenting decision !!!"

Yep, hope he didn't have to use up all of his leave and that he cleared it with his boss beforehand. Get real - how exactly does this apply to normal people?

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 03:15 PM

Normal dads can consider whether it is important enough to them to ask the boss or use their discretionary vacation time when their children need them, instead of saving it for the annual vacation to Ocean City. My husband would use any remaining vacation days to stay with our daughter, without a second thought.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:25 PM

Thanks, Father of 4 - feels good to have your blessing! ;-) I do enjoy the blog most of the time, even when people squabble or make inside jokes.

Posted by: FutureMom | March 15, 2007 3:26 PM

'Scarry, if someone had left their car in front of my driveway, I'd be VERY tempted to leave the parking brake off on an icy day'

Mona, this just makes you sound mean and spiteful. Scarry, have you tried just asking nicely if they wouldn't block the driveway? Maybe the former residents didn't mind and they aren't even considering what they are doing. If you plan on living there for a while, you might want to keep things non-antagonistic, even if you never form relationships with them.

Posted by: to mona | March 15, 2007 3:27 PM

To helpful 2:10 poster:

Alas, I no longer live in the DC area. Thanks for the thought though.

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 3:36 PM

If you envy the man with a stay-at-home mom for his children, get yourself a stay-at-home dad for yours -- but quit criticizing other people's life choices. The Millenium is a long way off, and meanwhile Tim and the rest of the men with stay-at-home wives are going to keep living their lives their way.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 15, 2007 01:58 PM

Matt,

Tim started out the day deeming anyone with a different life choice, "Selfish" - nice little word there to apply to those who make other life choices. No one gives a rat's a$$ what Tim or his wife do or don't do.

I never wanted to have a stay-at-home wife, or be a stay-at-home wife, and I'm not about to start calling Tim or any other WOH husband selfish for his life choices.

I see no evidence in any of the many posts on this topic that there is even the slightest hint of envy for the life choices of a man so insecure and narrow-minded.

Projecting your own insecurities much?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:37 PM

Scarry, have you tried just asking nicely if they wouldn't block the driveway?

I though that it was illegal to block any driveway!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:38 PM

"But for those women who enter into the workforce needlessly, that is they put their own children's self-interest on the back burner so they can pad their bank accounts at the kid's expense, I'm saying that's wrong no matter how they want to spin it."

Tim,

Women who enter the workforce rarely do so "needlessly." (And you're not in a position to judge what circumstances constitute "needlessly.") Women have reasons for the things they do, the choices they make.

Many women want to use the skills they learned in college or developed on the job; that is, they want to work AT something. Is this needless? Many women want to work in fields where they contribute to society. Is this needless?

You'd probably answer "yes" to both of these scenarios, but you'd be wrong.

Children are not sacred. Neither is motherhood. Two-income couples are not committing a sin, a crime, or even a mistake. They're raising their children differently than you're raising yours. That's all.

So climb off it and lose the smug.

An earlier poster asked if you had lingering resentments over a mommy who worked. Do you?

Posted by: Had enough | March 15, 2007 3:39 PM

Scarry, have you tried just asking nicely if they wouldn't block the driveway?

I though that it was illegal to block any driveway!

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 03:38 PM
People in my neighborhood park at the intersection right in fron of the stop sign with their flashers on - sometimes one on each side of the road. When you are trying to enter or exit the development you basically have to pray that someone isn't coming from the other direction. All they would need to do to be safe is move about 20 feet. It is illegal to park either 10 or 15 feet (I forget) from an intersection but I guess they figure that since the car is running and they are in it they aren't "parked".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 3:42 PM

I wondered the same thing, 3:38.

Posted by: Mona | March 15, 2007 3:44 PM

"Scarry, have you tried just asking nicely if they wouldn't block the driveway?"

If these people had a considerate or thoughtful bone in their body, they wouldn't need to be asked after having to move to let her out. Believe you me, asking the neighborhood ninnies nicely to do something is asking for trouble.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:45 PM

--Scarry, have you tried just asking nicely if they wouldn't block the driveway?

I though that it was illegal to block any driveway!--

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I would respond more favorably to someone saying, "Hi, would you mind not parking at the end of my driveway? I never know when I have to leave in a hurry." than "Move your illegally parked car."

I have had bad relationships with crazy neighbors in the past. I would much rather have a polite, cordial, somewhat distant relationship than what I lived through with former neighbors. If that means biting my tongue a little, even when I'm in the right, then it is well worth it. Just a suggestion.

Posted by: food for thought | March 15, 2007 3:48 PM

Fred, can I borrow the creepy van to go over to Scarry's house and bash up a few SUVs a la the parking lot scene in Fried Green Tomatoes?

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 3:48 PM

"My 3 boys adore their dad, I know because they tell me all the time."

Now, Tim, wasn't it you who said, earlier today, "Yes, let's ask children to allay our fears that a dual-earner household is the same or better than mom staying home"?

So why are you making a point about your kids adoring you? You're not using them to demonstrate approval of your lifestyle, now, are you?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:48 PM

Scarry, is that you at 3:45 ?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 3:51 PM

Marian,

Sorry, I am putting my expensive luxury car in the house garage for the next few days that I am off. I will be driving the creepy van until Monday.

Besides you might run into Frieda's SUV and break the breastpumps!

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 3:53 PM

Fred,

I refuse to believe that Frieda would ever block anyone's driveway. Oh, well. I'll use any excuse to use the term "creepy van"--I'm not proud. :-)

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 3:57 PM

a rose... said:

"Just because a SAHP doesn't go to the office/factory/retail outlet/etc., doesn't mean s/he's not working. Can we all try, for at least 5 minutes, to remember that? Please?"

Yeah, well, the thing about that is...WOHMs come home from work and have to do all the same things the SAHM spent her day doing -- except in about a quarter of the time.

So, who works harder? Think about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 4:01 PM

So, who works harder? Think about it.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 04:01 PM

--bitter much?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 4:03 PM

anon probably isn't a SAHM (just as it obvious that Tim is not) and Sue was just talking about HER life and HER family. I wouldn't assume that just because she said that, therefore she thinks that moms who work are doing it for non-essential reasons and therefore are bad mothers. i can see how reading the two posts side by side could lead you to that, but I think it's a stretch. sue is just talking about her family-- not yours. I'm thinking that as long as your kids are healthy and loved and aren't disruptive to her life and her family, she really doesn't care about how your family gets that altogther.

But more importantly, why do you even care what Sue thinks? I really doubt she cares what you think of her. don't give anonymous people control over your happiness.

Posted by: Jen | March 15, 2007 4:06 PM

so far everything is rather staid in march madness, isn't it?
Sometimes I wonder if too many people treat family life like march madness-you must win or go home as losers. Everyone in the family must have everything in life-from things to achievements-(winning) or else we aren't being good parents (losing). I'm more comfortable with a more non-competitive changing-with-time definition.

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 4:10 PM

Yes-- working mothers have it tough-- very tough. It's a miserable extentence for us all isn't? we work so hard and then we get home and have to do all this work that they have all day to do (I mean, besides the time they spend actually taking care of the children-- all that extra time beyond that -- eye roll) and whose fault is it? SAHM! we should blame them!

Or maybe we should get them to stop beign SAHM and making us feel bad(?) about our lives by telling them . . . how terrible our lives as working mothers are. Yeah . . . that'll be effective.

Posted by: Jen | March 15, 2007 4:10 PM

"Ordinary people don't go around believing that SAHM's are harmful to their children. That's the kind of nonsense that ideologues spout, ideologues with an agenda. I agree with Lawyermom's posting at 11:35 AM: 'my mom was a GREAT role model. She is now in her 70's and she's my best friend. We talk about literature, law, and politics. How dare you suggest that a SAHM is automatically not a good role model?'"

Matt, the truth is that mothers and daughtters who say they are "best friends" are not generally very healthy emotionally and mentally. There's a developmental arrest happening there benefits neither of them and often does the daughter long-term damage.

So, you might reconsider your endorsement of lawyermom's posting, as she's not describing a particularly healthy scenario.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 4:11 PM

all I can say is anon at 4:01 doesn't speak for anyone but herself.

*backing away from obnoxious WOH poster*

p.s. and someone thought Army Brat lacked humility? don't look now, but AB's hubris, if any, pales in comparison to 4:01.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 15, 2007 4:15 PM

Matt, the truth is that mothers and daughtters who say they are "best friends" are not generally very healthy emotionally and mentally. There's a developmental arrest happening there benefits neither of them and often does the daughter long-term damage.

I disagree completely. How can discussing adult, generic topics (altho politics isn't exactly generic) be unhealthy? These women are adults. If the mother was in her 30s and was trying to be her 13year old daughter's best friend that would be an entirely different story.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 4:16 PM

To moxiemom: Again, thanks for setting the bar!

Early in my marriage I wanted a power sander for my birthday, which DH bought me. I was so happy because we were trying to furnish our tiny starter house, and could only afford well-used furniture that needed refinishing -- and after I sanded the first chest-of-drawers all by hand, I realized how much I wanted a power sander. DH heeded my wishes, bless his heart!

However, when my mother found out about this she was absolutely horrified, and tried to lay a huge trip on me about how DH must not really respect me or think I was feminine enough if he gave me a power sander instead of a glamorou gift, blah, blah, blah. Fortunately, I was living 3,000 miles away at the time, so reminded myself that I was (and still am!) married to DH, not to her, and if she was going to act that way, in reality it reflected poorly upon her, not me. As a favorite saying of mine goes, I wore it as a badge of honor!

Posted by: catlady | March 15, 2007 4:17 PM

I don't normally do this but I read Brian's blog and a few of the first posts and a few of the last ones and not the 400+ in between. So this might have already been said and I apologize if it has.

"There are always snide commenters who like to trot out the old saw that if you have kids you should forgot about balance, quit your job, and be an at-home parent."

I would agree that this is an "old saw" if you had said "there are always snide commenters who say that you shouldn't have children if you're not going to stay home with them." But what's up with the assumption ("forget about balance") that the only way to have balance is to work outside the home for their entire childhood? What about those whose balance consists of being an at-home parent for a year or 3 years or 5 years and then returning to work part-time? What about those whose idea of balance is quitting their former career job and starting an at home business they can do with their children present? Or even what about those whose perfect balance is staying home for their child's entire childhood and returning to work in a different field than they were in before?


Posted by: momof4 | March 15, 2007 4:20 PM

Catlady,
The first time I hung vertical blinds all by myself I was really proud of myself. Until a friend came over and pulled them right out of the wall!
I learned a lesson about anchors that day.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 4:20 PM

In my car this afternoon I heard the following songs one after another:
"Call me" by Blondie
"Country Roads" by John Denver
since my last thoughts about John Denver were reading others posts on this blog, I thought you might get a giggle out of a)the justaposition of songs and b)it was on the radio.

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 4:26 PM

I used to love "Leather and Lace" - I had noooo idea what THAT was about!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 15, 2007 4:30 PM

"Yeah, well, the thing about that is...WOHMs come home from work and have to do all the same things the SAHM spent her day doing -- except in about a quarter of the time."

I will never get this reasoning. How much time did WOHM's spend bathing, feeding, nursing, rocking, diapering, soothing, teaching, playing with, reading to, and disciplining their kids while they were at work? THAT'S what a SAHM spend her day doing. So no, the WOHM does not do the same thing in 1/4 the time. They do different things than the SAHM during the day.

Posted by: Becky | March 15, 2007 4:32 PM

"It's always been that way, and always will."

Always will? Why?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 4:44 PM

I will never get this reasoning. How much time did WOHM's spend bathing, feeding, nursing, rocking, diapering, soothing, teaching, playing with, reading to, and disciplining their kids while they were at work? THAT'S what a SAHM spend her day doing. So no, the WOHM does not do the same thing in 1/4 the time. They do different things than the SAHM during the day.

Do they do this all day without pause or a break?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 4:51 PM

moxie-half the time I don't know what any song is about. More than half the time I think I hear another word than what the singer is really saying. It is embarassing to be discovered singing the song incorrectly.

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 4:52 PM

Do they do this all day without pause or a break?

They do it simultaneously.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 4:53 PM

"It's always been that way, and always will."

That is a convenient myth. It's not true at all. And thankfully, it will not continue to be that way for long. Society is on its way to changing that pattern. More wives and mothers are working these days. More dads are beginning to equally share in the childraising burden. It's just a matter of time.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 4:54 PM

"And the reason I feel I must is because not only does he have bipolar disorder he also has borderline personality disorder."

If this is the case, isn't it pointless to be angry with him over the heating bill? I understand that people with BPO can be infuriating to live with, but if it's primarily the depression phase of bipolar that he's battling now, being angry about money isn't going to help you feel any better, is it?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 4:55 PM

"Do they do this all day without pause or a break?"

Depending on the number of and age of kids - sometimes yes. Some days there's not even time to read the "On Balance" blog :-)

Posted by: Becky | March 15, 2007 4:56 PM

"Do they do this all day without pause or a break?"

"They do it simultaneously."

Right. And while walking uphill, in the snow, without shoes, against the wind, and in the dark.

Posted by: Emily | March 15, 2007 4:57 PM

If you are cut out to make them, then you should be cut out to raise them.

This makes no sense

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 4:58 PM

"Tim, YOU miss the obvious point. A parent is a parent is a parent is a parent. In other words, when it comes to parenting, I am sure that everything I can do you can do equally as well (with the exception of pushing the baby out -- but since you pushed it in, I guess it evens out :)).

Yes, I get it, you don't want to. You are not cut out for it. But some men do want to and are cut our for it (my husband was), and some women aren't (I wasn't). It doesn't depend on the gender. It depends on the PERSON."

Brilliant, Emily. You nailed it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 5:01 PM

Sam Cooke song - Twisting the Night Away

There are the lyrics:
Twistin' the night away-ay
He's dancin' with the chick in slacks
She's a-movin' up and back
Oh man, there ain't nothin' like
Twistin' the night away

For years I wondered what "chicken slacks" were.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 5:05 PM

"I made one of them move the other day just for the fun of it. I went around the block and came back, so she had to move twice. Serves her right for parking in front of my drive way." Way to go scarry. youve got style

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 5:05 PM

"Let me tell you, it's not easy to convince therapists/doctors of an Axis II disorder, they really, really don't want to admit to it. Why? Because they are nearly impossible to overcome"

MdMother,

In reality, docs don't like to diagnose Axis II disorders because the mental health community -- both research and clinical -- are not comfortable with their categorization as a separate type of disorder. It's a battle that's been going on for years, and the trend nowadays is toward understanding personality disorders as more severe manifestations of other, more established disorders (e.g., mood and anxiety disorders, among others). This is partially because they're finding that some aspects of these disorders that were considered untreatable are, in fact, treatable to some degree.

It's important to understand that the concept of personality disorders -- and their categorization as a separate axis -- has not been embraced by a very large portion of the psychiatric community -- and for good reason.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 5:15 PM

momof4 said:

"What about those whose balance consists of being an at-home parent for a year or 3 years or 5 years and then returning to work part-time? What about those whose idea of balance is quitting their former career job and starting an at home business they can do with their children present? Or even what about those whose perfect balance is staying home for their child's entire childhood and returning to work in a different field than they were in before?"

Thank you, momof4 for bringing up these points so eloquently! I think all of these options are great, and I'd love to hear from parents who have made some of them work. I've done the SAHM, then work PT, then SAHM again. I plan to do PT again, and maybe even move into another field when the children are grown. You've described my ideal.

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 5:15 PM

To KLB: Maybe "chicken slacks" are those white frilly things they could put on the ends of drumsticks the same way they do on lamb rib roast?

Posted by: catlady | March 15, 2007 5:20 PM

From the song Century Plant by Victora Williams:

So he went back to college at the age of sixty-three
Graduated with honors with an agriculture degree
And he joined up the Peace Corps at the age of sixty-nine
And he rode the grand rapids at the age of eighty-five
Now he brings roses to his sweetheart
She lives most anywhere
He sees someone suffering
He knows that despair
He offers them a rose
And some quiet prose
About dancing in a shimmering ballroom
Cause you never know when they will bloom

Posted by: Marian | March 15, 2007 5:22 PM

"They do this all without a break?"
...
"Right. And while walking uphill, in the snow, without shoes, against the wind, and in the dark."

I assume from the tone of both of these - especailly Emily's - that there was offense taken in my original statement. None meant. I was just pointing out that unless you wait to change one dirty leaking diaper in the evening, the WOHM is not doing the SAME thing as the SAHM in 1/4 the time.

Look, the SAHM is not earning a paycheck. Both caregiving and providing can be included in the definition of "mothering". My point wasn't that WOHM's are inadequate as mothers or less-hardworking that SAHM's. My point is that neither are SAHMs not less hardworking than WOHM's, as the "1/4 of the time" poster seemed to suggest.

Posted by: Becky | March 15, 2007 5:25 PM

I'm sure you understood that last sentence :-) You know what i meant.

Posted by: Becky | March 15, 2007 5:26 PM

And my daughter just called me and told me she passed the test for her learner's permit.

Just letting you all know. When she gets the license, I'll issue a warning.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 15, 2007 5:27 PM

Fred,

I refuse to believe that Frieda would ever block anyone's driveway. Oh, well. I'll use any excuse to use the term "creepy van"--I'm not proud. :-)

Oh no, blocking driveways is not a problem where we live. I just don't want to see any innocent breastpumps destroyed!

Posted by: Fred | March 15, 2007 5:27 PM

"I was just pointing out that unless you wait to change one dirty leaking diaper in the evening, the WOHM is not doing the SAME thing as the SAHM in 1/4 the time. "

I think it's fair to say that a WOHM does the same amount of *housework* as a SAHM in 1/4 the time. It's possible (dare I say "easy") to do the laundry and vacuum and clean the bathroom simultaneously with caring for your children. But it's pretty hard to do the laundry when you're at the office.

Posted by: momof4 | March 15, 2007 5:36 PM

yeah father of 4! No, Fred I can't imagine that fredia would block my drive way. As far as being sweet to the neighbors, I smiled and waved while they moved and smiled and waved again when I came back.

The thing is, if you give some people an inch, they take a mile. The same women are on the anti-fence "board." (joke) That board exists so their kids can run hog wild through any yard they want, while I assume that they sit in the house doing more than I do. :)

I say bring it on Barbie, I've never meant a queen bee I was afraid of.

Posted by: scarry | March 15, 2007 5:42 PM

klb-I'll never look at skinny legged/fat behind women in capris the same way again...or fat bellied men in golf shorts for that matter. Chicken slacks!

You're the best!

Posted by: dotted | March 15, 2007 5:44 PM

dotted,
It's a gift.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 15, 2007 6:12 PM

----Yeah, well, the thing about that is...WOHMs come home from work and have to do all the same things the SAHM spent her day doing -- except in about a quarter of the time.

So, who works harder? Think about it.----

Sorry, outsourcing childcare does not count as "doing all the same things." Nice try.

----Do they do this all day without pause or a break?----

What's your point? Unless WOHMs work in sweatshops, they have lots of pauses and breaks.

----I think it's fair to say that a WOHM does the same amount of *housework* as a SAHM in 1/4 the time. It's possible (dare I say "easy") to do the laundry and vacuum and clean the bathroom simultaneously with caring for your children. But it's pretty hard to do the laundry when you're at the office.----

I disagree. First of all, houses get a lot messier and dirtier when there are people (especially children) living there all day than when they (the houses) sit empty and uninhabited all day. That means more cleaning for SAHMs. Secondly, it's easier to clean and do laundry when a spouse is home to watch the children, which is not the case for SAHMs during the day.

So who wins the "who works harder" battle? Single mothers who don't have anyone to help out or pick up the slack work harder. Being a good single mother looks like the hardest job in the world.

Posted by: MBA Mom | March 15, 2007 7:50 PM

"First of all, houses get a lot messier and dirtier when there are people (especially children) living there all day than when they (the houses) sit empty and uninhabited all day. That means more cleaning for SAHMs."

This argument doesn't hold any water with me. My housework consists of laundry, cleaning bathrooms, preparing meals (including lunches taken to work/school), cleaning up after meals/doing the dishes, vacuuming, dusting, making beds and straightening bedrooms, changing beds, cleaning up after pets (cages, litter boxes, dog poop scooping), sweeping/mopping, outdoor work (mowing, weeding) and taking out the garbage, among other things. Oh, and I also help my son pick up his toys that he strews about during the day and wipe up a few crumbs after he eats lunch.

Let's see....how many of those things would I have to do whether I was home or not? *All* of them except for cleaning up a few toys and crumbs.

"Secondly, it's easier to clean and do laundry when a spouse is home to watch the children, which is not the case for SAHMs during the day."

So basically, because it might take 2 minutes less for a WOHM to do something because she doesn't have to make sure her children are entertained and safe before she vacuums or throws in a load of laundry, it automatically negates the fact that a WOHM has been outside the home for 10 hours with no chance to vacuum or throw in a load of laundry?

Posted by: momof4 | March 15, 2007 9:03 PM

MdMother,

In reality, docs don't like to diagnose Axis II disorders because the mental health community -- both research and clinical -- are not comfortable with their categorization as a separate type of disorder. It's a battle that's been going on for years, and the trend nowadays is toward understanding personality disorders as more severe manifestations of other, more established disorders (e.g., mood and anxiety disorders, among others). This is partially because they're finding that some aspects of these disorders that were considered untreatable are, in fact, treatable to some degree.

It's important to understand that the concept of personality disorders -- and their categorization as a separate axis -- has not been embraced by a very large portion of the psychiatric community -- and for good reason.
--------------------------------------
Take him. Please. When you've had to live with it as long as we have, you may find yourself agreeing with those who feel it is a separate thing entirely.

Basically, if the meds do not damp it down significantly, if the outrageous behaviours continue despite the meds, it's a habit/personality.

Theory vs. reality.

Use him for your abnormal psych class.

Enjoy.

Posted by: MdMother | March 16, 2007 7:57 AM

After the birth of our twins, my wife and I were able to share child-care duties at home. I had MWF and she had TTH. However, when our very active boys turned three, we decided that that all four of us would be happier and healthier if they went to preschool every day from 9-5. The school is wonderful, and the boys are prospering there. We do not feel guilty because we think we will do quite enough parenting from 5-9 p.m. weekdays, two entire days each weekend, and five weeks of vacation each year (generous employers). I think sometimes it is forgotten that even if the children go to preschool every day there are still plenty of hours for many working parents to bond, play, teach and even eat with their little ones (though my boys are not the best dining companions).

Posted by: Working but Still Parenting | March 16, 2007 3:27 PM

Sample size was 120. Assume 40 1-working parent married, 40 2-working parent married, and 40 divorced. Slightly over 50% of 1-parent kids were happy with it--let's call that 22. 3/4 of 2-parent kids claimed satisfaction--30. 22 vs. 30. That's some differential on which to hang your hat!

Wishful 2-working-parent thinking.

Guess which category Kathleen Gerson is in?!?

Posted by: John H. | March 19, 2007 9:09 PM

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