Friday, April 20, 2012

The Rosen-Romney Faux Fight

As a father who doesn't work (outside the home - an important distinction to make these days) I didn't take offense at Hillary Rosen's CNN appearance in which she said, in part, Ann Romney "has never worked a day in her life." Why? I knew what she was talking about. She wasn't trying to divide working moms, stay-at-home moms, or fathers of either group. She wasn't trying to devalue the work that parents do. She was making a distinction about the choices the Romneys and other super-rich families have when it comes to career and parenting, and the limited choices available to the rest of us who don't have their vast wealth.

I felt like I had a dog in this faux fight since I don't work and am home with Spencer. Sure, there are different pressures men and women feel about their decisions to stay home with their children or go out to work. A woman can get it no matter what does: If she works, she's not a good mother; If she stays at home, she's hurting the progress of women's rights. Men are still "supposed" to go out and work to provide for their family. Staying at home isn't considered being a good father. The upside is that these pressures aren't as strong as they used to be, and that both mothers and fathers have the options available to them to do what's best for their family.

I haven't been on the receiving end of overt criticism for my decision to quit my job and stay home with Spencer. I get the surprised "Oh!" every now and then. You know, the "oh" gets high-pitched and is held out for a long time. I may be deluding myself, but I think it's mostly been surprise, not judgement.

Back to the issues brought up in the Rosen-Romney kerfuffle, do you know what might change some of the pressure and make decisions about whether to stay home or stay at work easier for parents? Paid parental leave. The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn't require paid parental leave. When parents don't have to worry about paying the bills and feeding the kids, they can make a better choice for their family about how to take care of those kids.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

First Class Surprises

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my first parent-baby group with Spencer. I was a little nervous because it felt like the first day of school.. for me.

There were two people from Holly's mommy-baby group at the pool. I had never met them before, but at least that was a couple I "knew." The anxious part for me, though, was that I hadn't interacted with Spencer, other parents and their kids. It's a strange dynamic to be talking to another baby through their parent, and have that parent talk to Spencer through. It's like four people having a conversation, but two of them are talking and the other two are drooling.

There was another reason the class was weighing on my nerves: It's a swim class. Even though I'm with Spencer a lot and we've gone to a lot of different places, I still get apprehensive taking him to a new place with potential logistical hurdles: Where are the changing rooms and how are they set up? Is there enough room for all the babies? What items (belonging to parent and baby) can be brought poolside? Where do we leave items not allowed in the pool area, like the stroller? They might seem like silly questions, but they're important for a planner like me. I don't like surprises when I take him out. I'm quickly learning, though, that surprises are just about the only thing I can count on.

And boy did I get one.