Similarities and differences

In a few hours, my husband should be back home.  He’s been on an out-of-town trip since Thursday morning, the longest he’s been away from the boys since they were born, and we’ve all missed him.  (I also have to admit that the house was a mess until I realized this afternoon how much of a stereotype it would for the primary caregiver to go away for a few days and come back to a disaster zone.)

My mother came down for a couple of days so that I wouldn’t have to take Thursday and Friday off from work, which was very sweet of her.  However, she doesn’t drive, so when he started complaining that his stomach hurt at preschool, I had to cut out in order to pick him up and bring him home.  It was a reminder of how much having an at-home spouse insulates me from that kind of hassle most of the time.  While I share many experiences with working moms in two-income families, there are also some important differences, and that’s one of the big ones. 

Jen at BuddhaMama had a nice post last week about some of the commonalities she found among women who are the wage earners in reverse traditional families.  Her summary sounds about right to me, although my family differs in a few respects (we earned about the same amount pre-children; he doesn’t go as thoroughly off child-duty evenings and weekends as many SAHDs; I write the checks for our household bills).  The only singificant addition I’d make to her list is the sense of responsibility/stress from being the only wage-earner.

In thinking about the ways in which my experiences are similar to, and different from, other groups of working parents, I realized that part of why I loved the recent article about GenX fathers from the Boston Globe is that I saw a lot of myself in these committed dads.  These fathers take their parenting responsibilities seriously and limit the ways in which they allow work to encroach on family — but they also take it for granted that they are going to work.  There’s none of the angst or defensiveness that are recurrent themes in most media coverage of working mothers. 

2 Responses to “Similarities and differences”

  1. bitchphd Says:

    That is an interesting list. I differ, too, in that I was definitely *not* the high earner (and still earn about 1/3rd of what my husbandn was earning before we switched); like you, I don’t take on all the childcare duties when I come home–sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, because I do take that “me” time (though I still feel conflicted about it); and I actually don’t work to provide Mr. B. with outlets or free time (if he were to do that, that would be fine, but I don’t take the responsibility to provide it, although I can see that his not having it is a problem). The rest of it is more or less true to my experience, especially the extreme lack of couple time, which is a serious problem.

  2. Ab_Normal Says:

    My darling husband, who is our at home parent, has been out of town since 1/21, and won’t be back until 2/13… my respect for single parents has gotten even higher.
    We were earning about the same amount when he was laid off and decided to take the opportunity to stay home. After eight years, I’ve finally earned my way to about where we were when we were both employed… and, yeah, the stress of being the sole wage-earner! No wonder my dad died young… things are going to shit here at work, and all I can think is, “I can’t afford to look for another job!” Yuck. :(

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