Friday, July 28, 2006

Can I post this without making a comment?

The culture has told her she's not a real mother unless she's the one getting up in the middle of the night with the baby. So her identity is inextricably linked to her actions, to doing the endless chores of parenting. Men can take it or leave it



When Moms Are Gatekeepers:
Women want their husbands to do more of the childraising — but some are having trouble letting go.


via Blogging Baby


~EDIT~ Okay, apparently I can't. Go without making a comment, that is.
The Blogging Baby folks ask: "What do you think? Are women the better nurturers? Or is it just a matter of wanting to be in control?"

Neither. For me, I really think it's internalized sexism.

I've really struggled with this. It seems that, despite my/our beliefs:
about equality, feminism/egalitaranism, how important we think it is to raise our son to be a man who loves home and family and treats people as individuals, how important we think it is to model flexible roles not limited by gender..
..the truth is when the going gets tough, I have felt like the kid is my job.

Reflecting on this, I found that I had strong default programming telling me that, no matter what else has been going on - who's been working all day, who's exhausted, who's feeling fresh - tending to the baby was my responsibility. And when World's Best Husband did some tending - got up with him while I slept, for example, which he has been happy to do - I felt like it was a really significant personal favor to me. Not like I was receiving grace, but more like I was borrowing time. Like he was covering for me.

Well, this is just stupid. Not only does this not line up with
my beliefs
my experience
logic or common sense
but I hasten to point out that I grew up with a STAY AT HOME DAD! My father cooked, cleaned, and did most of the caring for us, as well as working as general manager of the newspaper. (My mother was the proprieter and editor in chief.)

(This was a very unusual arrangement in the early 1960s in rural Cowpatch, PA. Believe me. None of the other Brownies had dads baking for the bake sale.)

Hmmm. It occurs to me - just this second - that my slightly unusual upbringing may be part of this programming. It may have something to do with the way I always felt closer to my dad than to my mom, always identified with him. I don't know. It also seems to be tangled up with feelings of superiority, perhaps a little mild martyr action.

Anyway, I've gotten a little better about this. You would not believe me if I told you how hard it was, how much discipline it has taken (don't be hatin') for me to leave SuperBaby with SuperDad and have a regular night off. I generally leave after my dinner but before baby's, and go hide out in the bookstore with coffee and magazines until they close.

And I come home, and everyone's intact. Of course. Nothing has burned down and no one has gone to the emergency room or the locked ward. Of course. I am a self-important ass, but a slightly-better-rested ass, and over time, perhaps a little less self-important.

3 comments:

april said...

fascinating...

blair said...

I have to think that the fact that we are the ones that physically carry that life inside us creates some sort of intangible connection that can't be denied and shows up in different behavior forms. Being raised by a single mom, I didn't come from a traditional house but my mother/wife role turned out to be pretty "traditional". I have to ask myself, "do I think the kid is my job, because no one else is going to do it," or "no one else can do it better?" It may be twisted and somewhat arrogant, and I trust and love my hubby like no other, but (in my opinion) there is no greater superpower than motherhood.

PaigeTurner said...

"For me, I really think it's internalized sexism."

Yeah, well there's that, and the fact that men really do do things wrong....
Beth