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To Stay at Home or Return to Work?

Does Daddy Help, Or Complicate, the Situation?
Missing from many of our baby-makes-threesomes are spouses who share family duties equally, and defend our careers as energetically as their own. The men we married became more involved parents than their dads were. But the pledge they made to be "involved" – even actively – turns out to be a far cry from "responsible for" or "in-charge" to the extent most moms become.

How startling it is to find that although your spouse shares basic parenting with you, he does not experience the anguish and indecision, the guilt and frustration that tears at many a mom's soul every day. He leaves for work in the above-it-all way he always does, unaware of how many diapers are left, where the kids have stashed their cleats, or when tuition is due. And because the father of your children cannot relate to the pain and injustice of this, your sarcasm and rage start blacking out all the good stuff he represents.

The golden rule of the equal rights movement, that nature can be overcome by nurture, becomes a piñata in early motherhood. The impact of a husband's laissez-faire parenting style sets it reeling. Choices that are often too poor to be considered true choices dull the swing of our hopes, forcing them into a prescribed back-and-forth route. But the biggest blow is often from our own physiology – mammary glands, cuddle hormones, hairs on the backs of our necks, and frogs in our tummies that tell us we are mothers, body and soul, and indeed deep down in our bones.

Many moms believe their husbands' lapses as fathers are due to DNA. Because even dads who jump with two feet into the muddy waters of parenting don't get preoccupied about being good fathers and don't experience the constant gnawing of details and concerns that mothers do. I would venture that moms spend as much time thinking about kids as men spend thinking about sex.

In The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued, author Ann Crittenden sums it up well: "For all the change of the last decade, one thing has stayed the same: It is women who adjust their lives to accommodate children; who do what is necessary to make a home; who forego status, income, advancement and independence."


From What No One Tells the Mom by Marg Stark. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book, visit Amazon or click on the book cover.

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