The Stay-at-Home Hypocracy

551 reactions. 124 comments. And 1 share.

This is what my old high school friend, Anil*, received from his Facebook announcement that he was becoming a stay-at-home dad while his wife returned to the workforce after 13 years.

551 reactions. 124 comments. And 1 share.

“I respect you.”

“Takes strong integrity for a man to stay at home.”

“This is incredibly inspiring.”

When I left my career two years ago when pregnant with my third kid, all I got was:

“Really, you’re gonna stay home with the kids.”

“What message are you sending your daughter?”

Maybe I got a “good luck” or two.

So why did Anil’s post receive so many accolades? Is it because he is leaving a successful career as a research scientist who worked on improving air quality in Nepal? Is it that he eloquently acknowledged that his role is “counter to deeply-ingrained gender stereotypes?” Or is it just because he is a man and therefore is applauded for simply parenting?

Recently I took a 24-hour hiatus from reality and escaped to a nearby spa, leaving my husband with our three young kids for some much needed alone time. Brian continued with our Saturday ritual of taking the kids to the farmer’s market, and even ventured out to a local street festival in the afternoon.

Oh the attention and admiration he garnered with his brood in tow! The adoring smiles from all who saw this brave and wonderful father out with his kids alone.

This is what moms do. Every. Day.

But maybe what grates on me is that Anil reported having a successful first day in his new role, listing his numerous parenting and domestic accomplishments, including a run (and those who know me, know that I hate people posting about their workouts on social media). Am I simply jealous that he had such a blissful day and didn’t need to resort to mac ‘n cheese and baby carrots for dinner because who has the bandwidth to peel and slice normal f-ing carrots?

But I should be happy for him. That he washed two loads of laundry. That he had the patience to guide his kids in making their own lunches. And that he had time and energy for some self care. I should wish that all parents everywhere lived everyday with such ease.

But why doesn’t anyone call me an inspiration for doing the laundry or going grocery shopping or remembering to feed the children? Oh yeah, because I’m a mom.

Now Anil is a good person, a really good person. Heck, he left lucrative opportunities and uprooted his family to help people and the environment in Nepal. And now he has returned to the states to support his wife’s career path. Like I said, he is a really good person. He wrote his Facebook message from a place of love and pride and fear. He doesn’t shy away from the fact that there will be challenges, though I do have to laugh when he writes that he “loved being completely in charge of my time.” Just wait until a kid is sick, and the next kid catches it, and then the next one, and then finally you. Or when the kids select their activities for the school year and “someone” has to drive them to every related event. And pick them up again.

Or maybe I am mad at myself, for not being able to take pleasure and pride in the mundane tasks that fill my day as Anil did. But I do wonder: How did Day #2 go?

*I changed his name, though this guy really is awesome, and would probably be totally welcome to having a conversation about this topic.

2 thoughts on “The Stay-at-Home Hypocracy

  1. I’m loving catching up on your blog posts! This issue of inequality in parenting makes me crazy. I go ballistic when I hear a dad say he “has to babysit” his kids. Um, no. You are parenting. When I go out of town people act shocked and ask “who is watching the girls?” Um, their FATHER, who is entirely capable of taking care of them. When he goes out of town, no one asks him who is with the kids. Thanks for sharing your experience and frustration so honestly. You are not alone in this!


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