Fluid Roles in Parenting Can be Satisfying, Stressful

I came to being a full-time stay-at-home mom late. I’m on catch-up with all those professional mothers who refined their style over the baby and toddler years. But I’ve found that I’m not measured against them, but against my husband — and sometimes I fail to measure up.

For the first three years of our son’s life, my husband, Simon, spent the better part of the day with him. When Simon was offered the perfect job, it meant giving up his time with Sam. The position was with a startup in full acceleration mode, so we decided that it made sense for me to stop working. Simon became the main breadwinner, and I stayed at home.

This switch is exactly what Hanna Rosin narrates in her book, “The End of Men.” She sketches the idea of “seesaw marriages,” in which the roles of breadwinner and child-care provider are fluid: “the division of earnings might be 40:60 or 80:20 — and a year or two later may flip, giving each partner a shot at satisfaction.”

With such a nice cultural definition for where I am, I’m feeling less conflicted about giving up my job for now. But as we all know, sharing is hard and waiting your turn can be harder.

When I first turned up at our son’s weekly Tot Gym, it was awkward. Simon had worked hard to be accepted by the nannies and stay-at-homes, to forge friendships with teachers, and to develop his own hands-free method. He had proved himself among all those women. And I was the interloper. I didn’t know who was who, how the cliques operated or even what happens at Tot Gym. I put the toys back in the wrong place, turned up in the wrong room. It was like being the kid who joins school midsemester and continually gets things wrong…

Read More: Claire Hodgson, parenting.blogs.nytimes.com 


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