In a recent blog, “I Look Down on Young Women With Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry,” Amy Glass made several stereotypical statements about stay at home mothers. As a stay at home dad I offer my take on her article.
Ms. Glass made three critical errors about life outside of the 20-something bubble of expected success and artificial invincibility. She asserted that raising children and managing a household are simply “average” and are not “real accomplishments.” She assumed that a woman “will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional” if she has a husband and kids. She also, humorously, said that men don’t care about such “stupid things” because they are conditioned to care about more “important” things.
Ms. Glass said anyone can raise children and manage a household. Why would we applaud women for doing nothing? I say we applaud women who raise children who do not bully others to suicide, children who do not shoot their peers at pep rallies, children who do not overdose on prescription drugs from grandma’s cabinet. I say we applaud women who manage households where divorce, bankruptcy and abuse are avoided. I say we even applaud women who raise children and manage households that are plagued by these negatives because they wake up the next morning and can’t take a sick day to get over the sorrow. Raising children and managing a household well certainly isn’t average and is quite an accomplishment in this age where suicide, bullying and divorce are becoming epidemic.
For the past four years, I have been a stay at home dad. Before that, I was part of the work force at large and a college student. I worked both tedious labor jobs as well as office jobs typing away at a computer doing tech support. Then, while my wife and I were in our fourth year of marriage and both going to school – me to get my degree in creative writing and her to obtain her law degree – we found out she was pregnant. We had our first child while my wife was in law school. Three of her female classmates did as well. Every one of them was back at school within 1-2 weeks of giving birth. In fact, one of them graduated number one in my wife’s law school class. Those women certainly were able to find the time and energy to be exceptional with husbands and children.
My wife and I were excited about adding a baby to the family, but we thought long and hard about who was going to care for a newborn. My wife considered taking a break from law school. Like Ms. Glass asserted, that is what many in society would expect. Even Ms. Glass expects that from women with children, who cannot be exceptional, in her opinion. In the end, we decided I would put school and work on the back burner while she continued law school and working at a firm. Why? Because as a modern man, I value caring for my children and managing a happy, healthy household.
Fast forward four years to the present day. We now have two little ones – a four year old and a one year old. Except for a time or two when I re-entered the work force to make ends meet after cross-country moves or the birth of our second child, I have been the sole caregiver for our children. I’ve woken up several times a night to feed the children. I’ve changed diapers that would make a garbage collector gag. I’ve been covered in projectile vomit at 3 a.m., and I’ve chased monsters from closets. I’ve gained countless gray hairs and a receding hairline. I’ve taken care of my kids even when I felt like I was dying. I’ve run an entire day on an hour of sleep and three pots of coffee after a night of being up with two sick kids. I cook. I clean. I wash more laundry than I thought could ever need washed in a lifetime, and I do it no matter how I feel because I don’t get sick days. These are the things Ms. Glass calls unimportant. These are what Ms. Glass refuses to see as real accomplishments. These are things that more men than ever before are doing as stay at home dads who know their doctor-wives couldn’t treat patients without clean laundry. Ms. Glass may not have appreciated what her primary caregiver did for her, but many modern men do know that raising children and managing a household are important.
What Ms. Glass is saying is that SHE doesn’t think husbands and children are important, and she looks down on young women who have them. How is this different than traditional thought that keeps women “barefoot and pregnant?” Ms. Glass refuses to see that young women have come so far that they have husbands, children, careers and more. Stay at home moms fill etsy pages with crochet hats and homemade soaps to contribute to the household income. Stay at home moms do so much more than “nothing.” Just look at Pinterest.
We stay at home parents, both men and women, take pride in the fact that we are the ones raising the next generation. We nurture the artistic, the creative, the little scientists in our children. We teach them the difference between right and wrong, and we teach them that no one has the right to look down on another person for doing an honest day’s work, even if that involves work at home. So when people out there like Amy Glass “look down on” stay at home parents as if they are more valuable members of society, it is up to us to inform the ignorant that we work every bit as hard as the reporter, the construction worker, the CEO, and the blogger who has a chip on her shoulder – and we don’t get paid for it.