"Taking care of kids is no picnic...it can be gruelling. When the kids are napping or late at night, it really kind of helps to get on-line and bitch or share stories."
Mommy bloggers? no, this quote is from an article in the Globe & Mail (http://www.globeandmail.com/ Lifestyles section Monday June 15)
about Daddy bloggers, lots of whom are newly at home because of the economic downturn. Bitching about childcare just got a masculine edge.
All of a sudden, these once upon a time important people with jobs are facing a lack of recognition, a lack of a way to measure their "own success" by promotions and raises. "Nobody's patting you on the back, nobody wants to take you to lunch," says Ron Mattocks, whose blog is www.clarkkentslunchbox.blogspot.com/. Welcome to the club Clark, the super woman club.
I remember feeling this shock to the ego, inspite of the joy of having children, and wondering why things hadn't changed much since the 50's when my mother was staying at home with her kids. Millions of women have experienced this lonely transition to working at home, feeling like you've disappeared into a black hole, and millions have gone back to work because they couldn't hack it being at home full-time. Nobody said it would be easy, but men are now having a chance to experience what women have known for a long time. And they are smart enough to be building on-line networks to cope with the isolation.
Another recent article by Margaret Wente in the Saturday Globe & Mail asks where women's happiness went. Apparently women now have more power, better jobs, more equality, but we are less happy than we were in 1970. Ms Wente should read more daddy blogs. They're venting about the same issues, "you're used to networking within your profession and now you're isolated at home. There's nobody there except for two kids and you're breaking up fights, you're doing laundry and you're finding barbie doll heads clogging up the toilet." Article by Sarah Boesveld on Daddy Bloggers (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/family-and-relationships/daddys-lost-his-job-now-hes-got-a-blog/article1180495/)
Men who stay at home with their kids at least are doing half of the job working women are now expected to do. Being a stay-at-home-most-of-the-time-mom myself and working from home, I have all the frustrations of the moms who work full-time and raise kids, but I probably get more sleep - at least I'm not doing laundry at 10 pm on a Monday night or spending my weekends catching up on housecleaning and errands. Happiness, for most modern mothers, would be having a cleaning lady come in once a week so they can enjoy their weekends. Having a wife would be even nicer.
I think that's why women are less happy. They don't have access to the free services of a wife. They have to pay to hire housecleaners, lawn and garden specialists, day care providers and babysitters, window washers and laundromats. Ergo, they forego these services unless they can afford to pay for them. And even some who can afford it would rather do it all themselves, even if it leads to exhaustion. Now I hope the women with daddies at home are getting more sleep and not feeling guilty that the men are carrying half of the load.
Women have been battling the lack of self-esteem and pats on the back for all the caring they do for a far longer time. Maybe having more men stay at home with their kids will turn out to be a boon for women and mothers. It may mean that the role of childcare, caretaking and house managing gets a boost in status, if more men take on this role. Or it may mean that the men who stay at home to care for their kids just lose status, get bored and return as quickly as possible to the 'real world' of perks, raises and bonuses. The end of the article on daddy bloggers states that he won't be a stay-at-home dad or "housebound" much longer - he's looking for a real job, to be back "being the primary breadwinner."
Does that mean his wife will go back to double time? doing the unclogging of toilets, driving kids to dentist appointments, and working full time? It doesn't say much for the real value of the real work parenting and housekeeping involves.
Either way, mommies and daddies are blogging about the ups and downs of being at home, while they're waiting for a 'real job'. One day, in my imagination, both women and men will agree that raising children is a very tough job indeed, and worthy of the highest recognition as a real job, if not the highest salary.
Meantime, let's welcome the dads into the blogosphere!