I don’t know who Amy Ruble is, but I love her. She has an article up at Dad or Alive that is both clever and substantive. Basically she is faux-lamenting the demise of the cult of Stay At Home Moms.
This is how she starts off:
“Outwardly, I’m supportive and feminist. Inside, I’m more like Kit De Luca in Pretty Woman when she confronted that hooker for encroaching on her Hollywood Boulevard turf: “Yo, the moms and me, we work Mickey Mouse. We work Elmo. We work Barney. We work all the way down to Dora the Explorer. This is our turf. We got seniority. You better get off our corner.”
So she starts off by comparing SAHMs to street hookers, and since there isn’t one stray word in her article, this cannot have been by chance either. This is going to be interesting.
She identifies men’s competence as Stay At Home Dads (SAHDs) as the source of the problem in a tone that is anything but accusatory or critical:
“The number of stay-at-home dads has doubled in the past decade, partly due to the economy. But rather than bumbling through an awkward shift brought on by circumstances, the stay-at-home dads I know seem to be taking it all in stride. Thriving, even. Seriously, stay-at-home dads, your ability to just ease into the primary caregiver role like it’s a job folding sweaters at The Gap is making the rest of us look bad. At least Michael Keaton’s Mr. Mom had the courtesy to feed the baby raw chili and overflow the washing machine.”
And this competence is eroding the mystique of the worn-ragged, sainted mother who somehow does the magic of keeping a house and kids going. And that is starting to have real consequences! My God, what if everyone figures out how it compares to other work!
“My partner and I have a fairly traditional arrangement. He wins the bread and I butter it, staying home with our 21-month-old daughter. I like it this way. But if I complain about anything — a missed nap, a melt-down, a chunky bout of car sickness — instead of sympathy and appreciation, I get wistful jealousy. My man swears up and down he’d switch places with me “in a heartbeat.” And that’s your fault, stay-at-home dads, ….”
Wistful jealousy…. That is going to make it kind of hard to extort a baby ring or whatever the latest Golden Uterus gimmick is these days. SAHDs, you are subversive and transgressive!
And then not content to heap praise on SAHDs for their easy competence by way of staring down self-aggrandizing mommy-blocking SAHMs, she goes on to make a really insightful point:
“The modern stay-at-home dad’s evolution from clueless cartoon to sexy superhero is not the only part of this whole trend that annoys me. I’m bitter that since you’re men and not women, you’re easier on yourself and each other. How nice that must be for you.”
…as in “Why can’t we mothers show the same common sense?” She goes on:
“Moms, am I wrong? Take an alpha male out of the boardroom and put him in a parent/toddler class and you will see a parent who is not afraid to take pride in his accomplishments: “Yeah, potty training, I crushed that bitch!….. That’s why you never hear about “daddy wars.” Stay-at-home dads don’t have to judge and disparage other fathers just to make themselves feel better about their choices. They already feel fine. Because they’re guys. And that’s just not fair. “
Actually SAHDs do face special challenges that you could call daddy wars, as one of her commenters points out – they get their manhood challenged, as, thank God, no woman gets her womanhood challenged much anymore for climbing the corporate ladder (yes, I do know better than that.) and no SAHM gets suspected of being a sexual predator just for taking her kids to the park, or frozen out of support and social groups, or has notes from school addressed to her husband. But she’s making another point, I think. I think she’s saying that dads just roll with this better and moms would do well to imitate that a bit more.
And then to nail the tone:
“Plus they don’t have to lose the baby weight. “
Don’t you love writing like this, that uses tone to convey its message. IDon’t you especially like it when someone says something really substantive in a light-hearted way. And when you see someone who is clearly not the least bit threatened by any of this making fun of those who do, it’s priceless.
Of course there are plenty of mom’s already who parent the same way as these dads do and have been since long before Ms. Ruble offered her advice. My own mother was certainly on this same page and so were all her friends, so long, long ago. But Amy is preaching to the not yet converted.
The only thing that would make this better would be different timing, but that’s not even a quibble. This should come out around Fathers’ Day, as a counter-balance to all the dad-bashing chin stroking we are used to.
- The Woman Card - May 2, 2016
- Frat boy bachelorettes and the invasion of gay bars - April 15, 2016
- “Not my kid….” - February 22, 2016