Thursday, August 28, 2008

Home Alone

I've always sort of liked the blog Mom 101, written by a breadwinning mom supporting a stay-at-home dad and two kids. Today she has a nice post about what it's like for her to stay home while the rest of the family goes off on vacation:

I'm heartbroken to think that Nate and the girls are leaving for nearly two weeks without me. That I have to stay behind and do the responsible thing and work, now that work has finally gotten busy again.

Friends have advised me, "Well you just shouldn't let him." Or scolded, "I can't believe you're allowing it." But then I think of all the working dads who stay behind while their wives tote the kids to the grandparents for a week. That's just what you do when you're the family's primary earner and it's the right thing to do.

The only thing is, I'm not a dad. I'm a mom.

Now, I know that some readers might be inclined to get bent out of shape by the implication that working dads don't get as upset by separation as working moms. But after having spent enormous heaping amounts of time thinking about the parallels between moms and dads and trying to understand what they have in common, lately I've started grappling with how they diverge from each other. And so right now I'm just listening to moms like 101.


Backpacking Dad said...

It was a good post.

Not bent out of shape in the least.

I think I can separate feelings and responsibility in a way that my wife has more trouble with. It doesn't mean I don't have them.

I just also have whiskey.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of Nate's wife's feelings are a direct result of nature vs. nuture. Does she feel "heartbroken" because her genes dictate? Better yet, does she feel this way does because society has always dictated that women take on this role of "mom" and all that it encompasses? Perhaps, it is a little of both...who knows.

I know that if I were left at home to work while my family traveled, I would be disappointed. Fortunately, as a stay-at-home dad, this will not happen.

Angela V-C said...

I think that "doing gender" is a big component -- we have a real need to behave in ways that are "appropriate" for our gender and it is very difficult to step out of those roles. A woman shouldn't be separated from her children because it isn't part of our script. My wife is away on a month-long trip right now, and I think she has a lot more angst about looking like a bad mother (and gets a lot more negative reactions) than a man on a similar trip would.

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

"I wonder how much of Nate's wife's feelings are a direct result of nature vs. nuture..."

Well, that's the 64-million-dollar question, isn't it? Or maybe I should say, 64-million-year question, since we're talking about the meaning of human evolution. There's something the scientist Robert Sapolsky once wrote that sticks with me: There's no nature alone and no nurture alone, just the interaction between the two. It's that interaction that shapes us as individuals and as a species.

AMR said...

Nice post -- thanks for pointing us to it.

I will admit that I actually enjoy the times, as infrequent as they now are, when I am alone without my wife and kids. Gasp! There, I said it.

It is not that I like being away from my family. I just miss being alone sometimes, having my time and thoughts to myself. Of course, I miss my wife and kids and I'm ready for them to return by the time their vacation is over, but those first couple of nights . . .

Do you remember when the only noise in your world was that you made yourself?

Mom101 said...

I can't even answer the $64 million question myself!

I am heartbroken because my genes dictate. No doubt I'm also grappling with what it means for a mom to leave her kids for work. And on top of it all, amr, I enjoy the alone time too! Just maybe not 10 days of it? Dammit, why can't I just be rich with a private jet and a trust fund. That would solve all problems, right?

Thanks for the thoughts DD. Much appreciated.