Friday, August 01, 2008

discuss amongst ourselves

One cool trend that I've been noticing a lot lately are all the stay-at-home-daddies. Parents magazine always seems to be talking about it, I have friends and family gravitating that way, and every time we go to the library for storytime it seems like the proportion of dads to moms has risen again.

I love the fact that parenting is something that people are really seeing as worthwhile and valuable. How great is that--that not only are moms happy and excited to be home with their kids, but dads are too? I love seeing people thrilled by being involved with their kids' lives.

In the LDS church, we've been advised that "by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners" (1995). The Church also notes that "circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation," and I know a number of people who do adapt that. What I love is the fact that it's not spelled out in terms of "Men: Go work in an office! Women: Stay home and cook!" but instead it's noted that fathers preside in righteousness and ensure their families are provided for; women ensure that their children are receiving the nurturing necessary for their happiness and development.

For instance, Neil and I both work, so he stays home with the children while I run off and teach for a few hours in the morning, then he goes off to his lab and works ridiculously hard the rest of the day. Sometimes I really wish I was working full-time and he was home with the children, since sometimes I feel like all my talents and education aren't, um, being used. In fact, I made some cynical remark to Abigail the other day while we were flipping through books at Barnes and Noble about how "your mommy is ridiculously over-educated to be a mommy," then I thought, "Nope, mommies should be as educated as they can be so they ARE good mommies. I can explain why the sky is blue, what happens when a star dies, why water goes faster as the river narrows, the fine points between Verdi and Monteverdi, and instill a real love of reading."

Anyway, I'm just starting to ramble here (and we went to the library this morning and I REALLY want to go start reading!!!) so I'm done. But I am curious: are you home with your children? Do you wish you were working? Or that you weren't working? Are you happy with where you are, or does the grass look pretty dang green on the other side of that fence? What has helped you to be happy in your current role?

Do you split childcare with your spouse? Do you feel strongly one way or the other? Or do you feel that whoever is best suited should take on a particular role? (Note: one very valid reason, at least around our house, for me to be the primary at-homer is that Neil would remember to take care of the children, but probably not to do the laundry, clean the house, and pay the bills. He's good with lists, but the poor guy can't even empty the dishwasher while he talks on the phone. I think there's a reason why women, the Queens of Multi-tasking, are generally the ones home with their children. Is it like this around your house too?)

11 comments:

The Jones Family said...

Very thought provoking.

I grew up in a home where my mother worked and still does but I knew for sure that when I got married and had children that if I did not need to work, I wasn't going to. Luckily, my hubby felt the same way.

I think every family chooses what works best for them and therefore I try not to judge others choices. But for me, I love being at home. I graduated college, taught school for 3 years, and am now a full time at home mommy. And you know what? I love it and have no desire to be working. The thought of having to leave my baby for the day with someone else (you've got it nice that your hubby is available)or work at night during the only time I see my husband does not appeal to me in the least bit. But others have situations where they need or want to and can fit it into their lives just perfectly and that is great.

Is my education a waste? Not at all. I can still use my degree everyday teaching my little one and could potentially return to work if I wanted. But for now it's okay for me to be more concerned learning about potty training and how to refinish cabinets and install water heaters and other things that relate to my life right now than something offered through a job or college class. And as my baby wants to learn more and maybe something arises that I don't know the answer to or how to teach I know how to find the answer and can teach her how to continue on a path of lifelong learning. For now I continue to learn and be 'educated' on what applies to this season of my life. When that season changes so will my priorities and what I would like to learn about. But for the here and now being a mom (although sometimes the hardest job ever) is where I personally know I need to be.

The Jones Family said...

like the previous comment wasn't long enough

p.s. i agree on the whole hubby thing. If he stayed home all day the kiddo would be happy but as far as everything else goes...i'm not to sure about that :)

Sarah Harward said...

Despite my last post on my blog, I would NEVER trade places with my husband. I think the main draw to working out of the home is all the attention and praise you get. That's not something moms get as much (especially when you consider the work to praise ratio of staying at home vs working) But there is NO DOUBT in my mind that what I'm doing is more important than any other job. No amount of education is too much for this job. And the most important thing about the job of being a mom, is we are forced to use more than just 'formal education' to do a good job. We are forced to rely on the spirit, on other mom's for advice, and our spouses. It keeps us humble, and not so caught up into how great or smart or talented we think we are. I think that applys to all moms, whether they work or not. But there is something special about being a mom, and being the one who stays home. I believe very firmly that I am a stay at home MOM, not a stay at home house keeper. My top priority is my kids, not the laundry, not the dishes, not the dusting. Anyway, that's my two cents worth. Although being a mom can seem unappreciated (especially by the world) there's no question that I would NEVER switch places with my husband if it wasn't absolutely necessary. But like you said, everyone situation is different, so I would never judge someone for doing things differently. After all, I do this because I feel like it's the best for MY kids. So what other people do is up to them.

Kritta22 said...

I am a stay-at-home mom of Mr Connor. But I also work as a nanny for two boys, in my house. It works really well for our family because my husband is gone from 7-4pm. I watch the boys from 7-5:30pm. So my hubby comes home plays with everyone while I cook dinner. It works, for the most part.
I have to admit though, it's tough sometimes. Before I had Connor, i worked full-time. I HATE the girl drama but loved the feeling of owning my own money. I worked as a Medical Assistant. Part of the issue is, we are still PAYING for my schooling...so I should be using it. I think it's kinda going to waste. Yes I know the in's and outs of the human body. All kinds of symptoms for most things, medications to take and side effects. But it's something you have to use a lot of you loose it. Yes I get the occasional phone call from friends with symptoms and I try to help but it's not enough.
I am Happy to be a stay at home mom. I wouldn't want anyone else raising my baby. I just miss the actual paycheck...MY money. You know? Now I feel like it's our money. (Which is how it's suppose to be but back in the day, I could stop at the store and not feel guilty for spending $50 on shoes.) Is that just a mom thing or is it cause we share money now?
Anyway my husband and I just had this conversation last night about childcare for our munchkin. I think that I have a job and he has a job. When he comes home, we split the kid work, 50-50. I make dinner, he plays with the kid. I stay at home ALL the time with Connor, while he fishes and hunts and shoots. (This is where the drama starts) I had book club last night and asked him to be home from fishing to watch C by 6:30pm so I could pick up a friend. I leave WITH THE KID, at 715pm cuz he still isn't home. He calls me at 720, where are you? Gone, long gone. dude! We'll discuss it when I get home!!
Are you sorry you asked these question? I'm sorry. I guess you touched a sore spot! :)
Oh and I TOTALLY feel that women need to be the ones to stay at home. There's just something that we give our kids, that Dads miss. I'm not saying that Dads shouldn't watch them at all, NO WAY! But I think they should provide for the family and the mom takes care of the family. It's totally 1950'ish but that's the way it is.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the reverse if that's what is needed. Like if my hubby got hurt, or something but as for right now...this is the way it works.
I know this is where I need to be. At home with my baby.

Melissa Tate said...

Spencer loves going to work. He takes a lot of pride in being the supporter of our family. When he looks at what we have, he feels good that he was able to provide for that. I in turn, also love staying at home. We are a perfect fit for eachother. You will have good and bad days wether you work at home or outside the home, that's life. But I like Spencer, take pride in my job. When my kids always remember to say their pleases and thank-you's, I smile at the thought that I taught them that. When they smile at me and say, "I love you, mommy." I'm glad that I am at home to hear it. I have no regrets. I feel stimulated by them every day, they challege me to be the best mom and the best person that I can be, and that is better than any paying job. I can't image anything I'd rather do. (this doesn't mean that I don't miss adult conversation and such, I just have lots of play dates so that I can engage myself with other adults) NO one ever said that being a mom wouldn't be boring at time, but at least in my life, it's rarely ever boring! :)

Heatherbelle said...

I've been thinking about your post all week, Rachael. For the most part, I think I'm happy with where I am. I wanted to be a dentist, but quickly realized that a dental hygienist had more flexibility with being a mom. I like to think I am constantly educating myself with reading or attempting to learn some new skill. Yes, I wish I had my master's degree, but right now my time with my family is more important. I hope someday I can go back to school and get it. Sometimes I think of great thesis projects that I would love to research, but it’s more for just my curiosity than anything. I try to tell myself when I am comparing myself to more amazing women that the number of degrees I have is not going to guarantee me a spot in heaven, but how good of a mother, friend and neighbor I am, probably will. I think around here in such an academic environment, it is easy to be caught up the "pride of the world" and satisfaction that comes from getting honors and degrees and careers.
However, I really do wish that Jared could have a Mr. Mom-stay at home daddy experience. I feel like even though I'm working, I'm still expected to come home and get dinner on the table and do laundry and make lunches for everyone for the next day. I still have to get both Miles and myself ready to go in the morning. It is as if no matter what is going on Miles is always my ultimate responsibility. Which is true, but I sometime wish I had a little more help. Like the other night when my little guy was up at 1:30 screaming, I brought him in to Jared to hold for a few minutes so I could call the hospital and Jared got upset because he had gotten three hours of sleep the night before and was so exhausted that he didn't want to deal with Miles. I don’t have that luxury of passing the buck like that. I think I made it too easy on him when Miles was born and now he is so used to it. When I get on his case, then he pulls the "I'm in an highly stressful MBA program, and student body president and other husbands have more time than me" card. I just wish he could have two months of being a stay at home dad while I worked full time.

Malinda said...

my problem is that I'm too much like Neil. I CANNOT multitask to save my life. I can't even walk and talk at the same time. Or for that matter, run and catch a Frisbee (see my blog!). So, I'm curious to see how I'll handle being a mom when it's finally time to start that chapter of my life.

joanna said...

I found this funny, because I don't think there's any course of study that makes someone over-educated to be a parent! LOL! What class in college teaches you how to calm a screaming child in a Target, or helps you decide the best way to get a baby to sleep longer at night? It's all through experience. However, I do think education builds knowledge, and when combined with experience, can build character. I know some pretty educated people that think they know so much they actually don't survive well in real life.

So, I think I'm agreeing with you that education isn't a pre-requisite for mothering, but definitely enhances the experience. It's important to be able to teach our kids about the world and encourage them to get an education themselves.

To answer your other questions, kind of indirectly, I've noticed some great things by Kris working an odd schedule. He is home with Alex on Wednesday and Thursday. They have developed such a good bond together. I really feel like Kris and I play strong dual roles in the child-rearing and we balance each other out quite well. It gives Alex a lot of both mommy and daddy time.

I agree with you on multi-tasking. I do so much more around the house than Kris. Although he can and does clean a whole house by himself, sometimes I'll pick up the little details afterwards, all in one swoop. I'm better at laundry and paying bills because I'm more organized. :)

joanna said...

Sorry - one more comment. (As if I didn't ramble enough before.) I was thinking about this some more last night. You brought up some interesting issues. First, I hope Abigail knows that being her mom is your first priority and you’re not always wishing you were somewhere else. I can't imagine telling Alex (even jokingly) that I have to go to work because if I stayed home with him, it would demean my education. (And maybe I took your comment too seriously, so PLEASE FORGIVE ME if I did.)
I think preparing for motherhood is completely separate from obtaining an education. Preparing to have children requires we learn the gospel and develop a relationship with the Savior. Receiving a college education is one way to learn about the world and one way to prepare ourselves to support our families. However, those two paths only enhance each other; they do not require one to have the other.
One of my projects at work is to develop our company job descriptions and identify the key competencies of each job. So, let’s say I was writing a job description for "Mother" and I had to list the basic requirements. I wouldn’t list "college education", but if someone applied for the job and she did have a college education, I also wouldn’t turn her away because she was over-educated. The only education that matters in parenting is spiritually-related. My parents influenced me to get a college education myself, but the most important lessons involved the gospel, not making money or describing scientific facts.
So I guess my point is, I feel for the mothers who think they are doing a job (mothering) which is beneath them, because we all know mothering is the number one important job in the world. Believe me, I’ve dealt with people in my career that definitely needed better mothers!! I don’t think we’d need as many HR professionals if parents were better at their jobs!
You can be confident in your current circumstances.

Rachael said...

joanna, great comment--and yes, to clarify, that comment I made was one that I immediately realized (as I wrote in the post) was unfounded and actually flipped around to show me that mothers really do need to be educated, both temporally and spiritually.

rachel said...

Um, I have a lot to say about this but not the time to say it. I think I'll post about it soon.

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