Reversal of Fortune

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

by Mary Knobler

My husband and I have a very traditional relationship except for one thing...our roles have been switched. It wasn't always that way. When we married 12 years ago we were both making the same amount of money. He had his own business in a creative field and I had a job I really enjoyed working in finance. A few years and a couple of kids later we decided that it made sense for him to stay at home. I know that there are many people who can't afford to have a parent stay at home with their kids, and we're fortunate to be in the position we are in.

Here's the rub: People don't know how to relate to us. My husband first encountered this when my eldest son started preschool. The moms bonded discussing childbirth as he stood on the outskirts with no real peer group. Meanwhile, I sat at my desk waiting for my husband to call or send digital pictures detailing each morning. Still, my kids had a parent with them, albeit not the typical one.

This arrangement works for us, though things are not perfect. Sometimes I feel marginalized when moms ask me about scheduling a playdate and I refer them to my husband. I'll never forget the first time I heard my husband ask a mom if her kid had any food allergies...a question I wouldn't have thought to ask. The last time I dashed out of work to attend a school assembly I was greeted with "What are you doing here?" by well meaning parents and teachers. I can't help but feel judged and resentful. I rushed back to my office feeling flustered, hoping I didn't miss anything too important. My office is very family friendly, but most of the professionals are men whose wives stay at home. I wonder if they feel as conflicted as I do.

Times have changed since those early preschool days. Two years ago, when my son was eight and my daughter was six, we decided that our family dynamic worked well enough for us to grow again so we decided to adopt a five-year-old boy from Ethiopia. I marvel at how effortlessly my husband manages the kids' schedule. Often times I hear moms from school compliment my husband on how well organized he is. He thinks he gets the extra attention because he is a man. I'm left wondering if I could do it as well if I was at the helm.

In any event, I know that our kids are getting the love and attention that they deserve from both of us. I hope that we are setting a good example for them. We are teaching them that women can be providers and men can be nurturers. And most importantly that we need to be flexible and to do what is right to care for the people we love.

Mary Knobler works as a bond trader for a money management company based in Los Angeles and is on the board of directors for the Worldwide Orphans Foundation.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 3, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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That's lvoely that you and your husband has found balance. However, I was just wondering why people always adopt from other countries?

Wasn't there any kids here who needed a home?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 7:03 AM

Someone writes a blog about how they achieve balance and someone has to nitpick some side issue in the blog...a part which does not address balance. So I'm sure the blog will be all about the merits of foreign adoption and the blogger trying to defend her choice.

Posted by: ditto | October 3, 2006 7:28 AM

Actually I was curious about what, if anything, the social workers and adoption agency had to say about your situation. did they make any comments about your "nontraditional" set up with a Stay at home dad? Would something like that make it harder to adopt? I thought I had read somewhere that lots of adoption agencies prefer to see a 'traditional' family with a SAHM.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | October 3, 2006 7:30 AM

Cheers to Mary - dads are not only capable but they do some things even better.

The role reversal doesn't bother me at all. My husband has a schedule that has always allowed him to volunteer at preschool and now elementary. The kids love it when a DAD comes in - and there is no resentment from the moms that he gets a lot of attention. I even have him helping out with the Brownie Troop. On the days that he is home and I am at work there are always extra kids at the house playing, doing homework and generally messing things up - he is much more relaxed then I am.

As a result everyone knows my husband at school and he knows everyone. I think this will pay off dividends when my kids get older - the middle school years are approaching.

Posted by: cmac | October 3, 2006 7:32 AM

Sounds like you guys have it all figured out. Good for you. I wonder though, does your husband ever worry about being able to get back in the job market? That's what we hear on here all the time about women. I'd be interested to hear how you and your husband feel about that issue.

Posted by: scarry | October 3, 2006 7:38 AM

It is not surprising that the adoption aspect of this blog entry was brought up early, because the rest of the post is fairly boring. Another rich couple is doing fine...great!

That the poster specifically named from where she adopted is at least mildy interesting, and worth some conversation.

Posted by: Doro Wat | October 3, 2006 7:44 AM

Can we all just ignore the nasty "Why didn't you adopt a child from the U.S." people - too early for people to be so mean.

Posted by: Betty | October 3, 2006 7:44 AM

Mary, thanks for your honest thoughts on going the "non-traditional" route as far as parent roles. So many people who parent "outside of the box" will tell you everything is perfect. Mary, you shared some of your surprises, concerns, and fears, and gave us a real idea of the "cost" of your arrangement. It does sound like your family is doing what works for them, and your candor is helpful for the rest of us still trying to figure it all out!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 3, 2006 8:03 AM

Sometimes I wonder why I read this blog - it just gets so ugly and judgemental at times.

I think that it is great that a family acheived a non traditional balance of having the dad at home; I wish that I had that option at times... it is such an important lesson for the kids, and other families seeing this dynamic work.

As for adopting from overseas; it is a wonderful thing to do. Children from around the world need love, especially in countries that have dire health and nutrition statistics for young children. As for adopting from the US, from what I understand it is very tough. There are very few caucasian babies available, and US practice prefers that white families adopt white babies, black families adopt black babies and so forth...once this becomes less of an issue, I am sure that more families will adopt in the US. I also read that Canadians are adpoting a lot of American babies these days...

Posted by: single mom | October 3, 2006 8:08 AM

"I was just wondering why people always adopt from other countries? Wasn't there any kids here who needed a home?"

Americans are perfectly capable of taking care of their own kids. Children are not starving to death in this country, none are homeless, and their are no orphanages.

If you have a big heart and really want to save a child from unavoidable poverty and suffering, you would adopt a child from a foreign country!

Posted by: Americans are Fat | October 3, 2006 8:08 AM

It is just shocking to me that people get labeled "mean" and "judgemental" for asking why/how the author made her decision to adopt from another country.

So, unless every entry is mindless cheerleading, affirmation or adulation, it's mean?

Some of us come here to learn things each day, and maybe just maybe every entry does not have to be back-slapping and yay-for-you.

Posted by: Wow | October 3, 2006 8:14 AM

My husband was a SAHD in the 1980's and 1990's. He was judged, shunned, and disrespected by a LOT of people. His manhood, role as a provider, and sexual proclivities were questioned, but he didn't give a hoot.

Why are you so insecure? Stop beating yourself up!

Posted by: Irish on Saint Patrick's Day | October 3, 2006 8:26 AM

Every time I read the comments, I'm amazed at how many BITTER people read this blog.

Posted by: Rockville | October 3, 2006 8:26 AM

To Wow-

It's not the question, it's the tone - read the first entry (around 7:03am) - rather than asking why the decision was made, it's more like an accusation. Further, the blog was about role reversal and how things are different when that happens - NOT about adoption, it just happen to add to her story about her husband's more non-traditional role.

Out for today - too mean way too early. fight amongst yourselves and I'll read you tomorrow.

Posted by: Betty | October 3, 2006 8:31 AM

Why are american children somehow considered more "deserving" of adoption?

Children don't get to decide where they are born. ANY child without a home is deserving of the love of a parent (or two), whether they are born in Ethiopia or Kansas.

Posted by: wondering | October 3, 2006 8:34 AM

I only have two children, but I've heard that adding #3 isn't so bad.

I wouldn't feel bad about skipping the 'giving birth' clique. They're the same ones who are ready to lay guilt on you for have anesthesia and not breast feeding. You can be glad your husband had a life!


Posted by: RoseG | October 3, 2006 8:45 AM

very nice guest blog, thank you. My friends accept and value the stay at home dads. Sorry everyone doesn't. I'll be back another day, when the posters aren't so nasty.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 3, 2006 8:45 AM

@Americans are Fat

You're ridiculous. Try drinking coffee instead of paint thinner in the morning. Just because America is wealthy on the whole compared to other nations doesn't mean there aren't children worthy of being adopted here.

"Americans are perfectly capable of taking care of their own kids"... well are you ignoring the fact that some people are bad parents, some kids have lost their folks, or any of the other many reasons someone could need to be adopted here?

That said, anyone juding someone else on this, why does it matter where someone adopts from? You might as well be telling them what race and country they should marry from too, it's their life, their choice.

@Mary

Good to hear you've worked through things, but the whole thing with people not knowing how to deal with you... it's just the way it is, unfortunately. Do you find yourself connecting with your children the way you really want to now that you've "switched roles", or are you feeling at all left out? I'm just wondering because I've heard other women in this situation express a yearning... not quite jealousy of their husband... but a kind of feeling that they wish they could be at home with their children to develop a strong bond.

Posted by: Five | October 3, 2006 9:07 AM

So the solution is that other countries need to take care of their children! WOW! Why didn't ANYONE think of that??? Thanks for the tip! Now if we can just get those poor people to stop being poor, the world would be sooo much better...
*sigh*

Posted by: Missicat | October 3, 2006 9:11 AM

To anonymous at 7:03 -- I'm amazed (though maybe I shouldn't be) that the painful judgemental questions toward adoptive families should begin so early this morning. As a prospective adoptive mom, I answer your question with another question -- why don't people ask biological parents "why did you give birth? Weren't there plenty of kids already born here in the US who needed a home?"
We deserve our privacy just as much as anyone who conceived their family biologically.

Posted by: Ann Arbor | October 3, 2006 9:13 AM

As an adult interracial, international adoptee, I would like to say thanks to Mary for sharing her story.

Posted by: Arlington | October 3, 2006 9:15 AM

I don't know why everybody adopts from foreign countries but here's my assumption.

My wife's cousins live in Colorado and adopted a baby born here. They were put in contact with the woman while she was still pregnant. They were in the delivery room and he cut the cord. They now have the baby. However, anytime between birth and 6 months of age, the birth mother can say "Oops, I changed my mind" and the baby goes back to the birth mother. Basically, her cousins are living 182 days not knowing if tomorrow they will lose their child. They could nurture this child for 5 months and 29 days and then she's gone.

Personally, I would not want to live like that. By going overseas, I assume once you are back in the US, the chance of the baby being taken back is nil.

Posted by: Father of 2 | October 3, 2006 9:18 AM

Congratulations on finding what sounds like a good balance. I think you are doing your children a great service by being a good role model. And I'm sure that you could do as good a job if you were staying at home. People adjust and you would figure out what needed to be done. And who knows? Maybe you'll be home with the kids at some point. The kicker is that no one's life or situation is perfect: Moms and dads in every combination of work and home life constantly second guess.

And for the record, adoption is a wonderful thing, no matter where the child comes from. Every child has an equal right to be part of a loving family. Why should anyone have to justify his or her decision about where to adopt to a complete stranger?

Posted by: Meesh | October 3, 2006 9:19 AM

I am so glad that you found a situation that works well for you. My dad was not stay at home, but he was the one who attended all my in-school events, as my mom worked as a teacher and could not get off from work. I have many fond memories of my dad reading during storytime, conducting a Chinese Cooking demonstration, and sharing his take on the civil rights movement. Sadly, in my own community I have noticed push back against some SAHDs. For instance, one wanted to join my babysitting co-op and many had a problem with it, just because he was male.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 9:22 AM

I can't get over the people that would criticize people for adopting children abroad. How many US children have you adopted? I for one, have not adopted any children. I would never criticize some one else for adopting a child from any country. Yes there are children in the US to adopt. But healthy infants and young children are in short demand. 1) Most people in the US can afford to keep their children. 2) Increase in birth control 3) less stimigatism towards single parenting 4) lower rates of teenage pregnancies 5) Stronger social services-- all contribute to why more US families stay in tack. Some of the older children come with a history of emotional, metnal and physical challenges. How can one criticize some one for not taking on those challenges. I know that I prayed every day that my daughter was born healthy and normal. Not that we would not want to keep her if she wasn't but we certainly did say, "Lord please send me a special needs child." Get real! And the article was predominately about the balance they created in their life. Not pro adoptions.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 3, 2006 9:25 AM

Sorry, but if you write something on a blog, you don't have the right to privacy. Isn't that what some of you tell people on here everyday.

Also, if you live in America, you should adopt kids from America. While I don't want to see any child in poverty, you should take care of this country first. I would never adopt from anywhere else.

Oh, Ann Arbor, birth parents usually don't adopy because we don't have too. Hence the term birth.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 9:26 AM

//I marvel at how effortlessly my husband manages the kids' schedule. Often times I hear moms from school compliment my husband on how well organized he is.//
I'm not surprised - if he could run his own business, he should be a good enough juggler to handle 3 kids.
It's no wonder that a big chunk of the ever-growing number of entrepreneurs are SAHM's. The jobs require many of the same skills.

Posted by: E | October 3, 2006 9:27 AM

"It's not that they are more deserving than other kids, it's that they are born here and if they need homes they should be the first priority."

Why should they be the first priority?


"Sooner or later other countries are going to have to start taking care of theirselves"

Sooner or later you might want to learn English if you're going to speak on issues involving our country - it's THEMselves. But aside from that, how exactly are people in AIDS-ravaged Africa going to take care of the millions of orphans themselves when such a high percentage of the population is dying of disease? Just WHO in their countries is going to take in all of these children?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 9:28 AM

To mom of 2 "Too many men are consumed with the idea that masculinity is tied to their work instead of realizing that sometimes priorities lie with their family roles."

You are right in some instances but I think things are changing. I know so many dads that go on field trips, drop off or pick up preschool, carpool for soccer - and most want to - even though there is a necessity to it for some. Also - I have noticed even for girls soccer about 75% of the coaches are dads. It is pretty normal in our area (Loudoun County) for men to be handling the logistics for kids.

Posted by: cmac | October 3, 2006 9:29 AM

yeah, another day with the timestamp issue!

Posted by: scarry | October 3, 2006 9:42 AM

To the posters at 7:03 am and 9:26 am who wrote:

---However, I was just wondering why people always adopt from other countries?

Wasn't there any kids here who needed a home?---

and

---Also, if you live in America, you should adopt kids from America. While I don't want to see any child in poverty, you should take care of this country first. I would never adopt from anywhere else.---

How many children in the US have each of you adopted?????

In every case that I've encountered, people who make comments like this haven't adopted ANY children themselves. Somehow they think that it's nobler to close their hearts and homes to all orphaned children rather than to adopt from another country?

Posted by: MBA Mom | October 3, 2006 9:49 AM

Another pampered and privileged yuppie parades her complaints.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 9:50 AM

To the bloggers who disapprove of international adoptions, here's my question to you. What have you done to improve the life of a child, here or abroad? Have you ever adopted a child? Have you ever even volunteered at a school? Shame on you for your hostility. America is still a free country, and those who do want to adopt should be free to make their own choices without the interference of morons like you.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 9:56 AM

Thanks for this column -- what a great topic.
I've been a SAHD and worked full-time, and I can tell you with complete confidence that staying at home is much harder.
And yes, I did feel a lot of eyes on me at the playground. I did it for two reasons: at the time I made less than my wife -- and daycare was so expensive that it was just barely profitable for me to work, and I remember my own father as someone who was at work so often as a kid that he missed much of my childhood. I understand today why he did what he did, but still, I wanted to be the opposite for my kids. I sacrificed some career growth and most moms looking at me like something was very wrong with me, but the relatioship I built with my kids was worth it. Today they're older, and I'm back in the workforce (and yes, it was extremely hard to get back in -- I found a real connection with the owner of a small business willing to take a chance on me and that's the only reason I've now caught up to my wife in salary).
I have to say that the support you find on forums like this is great, but as a SAHD, you don't feel it at all. I never felt supported or admired by moms in the community, but I do hear people express admiration for it now that I'm not doing it anymore. Think about that if you ever do meet a SAHD -- chances are, no one has ever complimented them on their decision in their presence.
And the ambiguity the writer feels about it is normal, too. I think my wife sometimes felt like our roles should have been more traditional. The good news is, now that we're pretty much equal in the workforce and the kids are in school, we're pretty much interchangeable -- we both know all the teachers, both volunteer with some of the kids' activities, and both sometimes wish we could SAH.

Posted by: sct | October 3, 2006 9:56 AM

Thanks for this column -- what a great topic.
I've been a SAHD and worked full-time, and I can tell you with complete confidence that staying at home is much harder.
And yes, I did feel a lot of eyes on me at the playground. I did it for two reasons: at the time I made less than my wife and daycare was so expensive that it was just barely profitable for me to work, and I remember my own father as someone who was at work so often as a kid that he missed much of my childhood. I understand today why he did what he did, but still, I wanted to be the opposite for my kids. I sacrificed some career growth -- and learned to deal with most moms looking at me like something was very wrong with me, and very little contact with other dads, but the relatioship I built with my kids was worth it. Today they're older, and I'm back in the workforce (and yes, it was extremely hard to get back in -- I found a real connection with the owner of a small business willing to take a chance on me and that's the only reason I've now caught up to my wife in salary).
I have to say that the support you find on forums like this is great, but as a SAHD, you don't feel it at all. I never felt supported or admired by moms in the community, but I do hear people express admiration for it now that I'm not doing it anymore. Think about that if you ever do meet a SAHD -- chances are, no one has ever complimented them on their decision in their presence.
And the ambiguity the writer feels about it is normal, too. I think my wife sometimes felt like our roles should have been more traditional. The good news is, now that we're pretty much equal in the workforce and the kids are in school, we're close to interchangeable -- we both know all the teachers, both volunteer with some of the kids' activities, and both sometimes wish we could SAH.

Posted by: sct | October 3, 2006 10:00 AM

I have a friend who is trying to adopt domestically. She wants a newborn of any race or ethnicity. But it is still hard. So far, she has had a birth mother back out after a couple of months. She also had an agency pressure her to take a newborn that was exposed to drugs in utero. She almost took him, until a doctor explained how impaired this child will be.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 10:01 AM

Thanks, Mary. As the wife of a SAHD this was very interesting, and I could really relate. Folks have also not known how to deal with us, and my husband was treated with suspicion for at least the first half-year of preschool dropoffs. Even now half the moms don't want to talk to him. It's really strange.

I was a SAHM first, and then we switched roles. I have found it hard when my younger daughter wants only my husband to comfort her when she is upset. I know it sounds a little petty, but I feel it anyway.

Posted by: Ms L | October 3, 2006 10:03 AM

This blog is out of control! Whoop Whoop!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 10:08 AM

I say, Good for you both! Keep it up. The other SAH moms and PTA members can just deal with the fact it's your husband that stays at home. The only way to get people to change their (very narrow-minded) views is to force them to deal with something different.

I don't have kids, but if we ever did, my husband would stay home (if that's the situation we took). I make over twice what he does, and more importantly, he has the patience of a saint. He just has that temperment that makes him a kid/animal/person magnet. And you're telling me people would have a problem with that? Sheesh.

And who cares where she adopted from. If that aspect is irking you that bad, then YOU adopt a kid from here and shut up about it.

And others can quit degrading her story because she's "just another rich person doing great." Money takes time, talent, patience, wise decisions, and hard work to make -- don't be so dismissive of their accomplishments.

Posted by: ilc | October 3, 2006 10:11 AM

Sometime I wonder why I read this blog - it gets so ugly and judgemental at times!!

Adopting a child that needs love is a wonderful thing, no matter where they come from. I am sure that if adoption laws in the US were easier and more compassionate that there would be more Americans adopting Americans. Unfortunately adoptions across racial and cultural boundries are frown upon... and most of the families adopting are middle class white familes. With waitlists over two years, going overseas is often the best option. Also, I believe that if more americans knew about the health and nutritional deficits that children in these countries face, especially if they are orphans, there would be more of a push to adopt children from these environments - also perhaps we should start adopting all of these HIV/AIDs orphans in Africa... there are millions!!!

Posted by: single mom | October 3, 2006 10:14 AM

Good for you guys! It's always hard for pioneers to fit in to society, and while I don't foresee a backlash against SAHDs, I'm sure it can't be easy. It doesn't seem that your husband gets called names or anything like that, and I think that's something a lot of men fear. My boyfriend's biggest fear is that he won't be able to support his family in the future...but that didn't stop him from jumping at the chance to tell me that he'd love to stay home with the kids if I make enough money. That works for me, because while he'd be happy as a SAHD (at least for a little while...I can't imagine him wanting to do that his whole life), I'd be miserable as a SAHM. Of course, I don't think we'll make enough money for one of us to stay home, and besides, we both love to work, so it probably won't happen. But it's nice to see that we're not the only ones considering this arrangement. You seem to have a very agreeable arrangement, and I applaud your decision, and your ability to look past social norms and do what's best for you.

Which may include adopting from another country. Who cares where your kid came from? The bottom line is that another child has a loving home. Isn't that what every child deserves? Who cares where the child comes from? This family has a big enough heart to open their home to a child. They don't have to do that. I bet their whole family is better for it. Kudos to them, no matter the origins of their children.

Posted by: Mona | October 3, 2006 10:14 AM

I've heard lots of people (in contexts other than this blog) ask the same question as the 7:03 AM poster "why not adopt from the US", but I'm also pretty sure that I've read a couple of articles (somewhere) reporting that there just simply aren't enough US children up for adoption (especially healthy infants and young children) to meet the US demand. Does anyone know if that's true? Intuitively, it makes sense to me that there are many less US kids available for adoption now than 30 or 40 years ago, when single mothers were much more stigmatized -- and I wouldn't be surprised if the US demand for adoption had significantly increased, since the average age of marriage has increased.

I did a quick search and came up with this website http://statistics.adoption.com/information/adoption-statistics-hoping-to-adopt.html which has some statistics (including some analysis why there's a trend that the percentage of US women putting their children up for adoption has decreased), but it doesn't completely answer my question.

While I really admire those who chose to adopt older US children who have already spent years being shuffled in the foster care system, or special needs children, I don't think that it's fair to judge those who chose not to take those extra challenges on.

Posted by: notyetamom | October 3, 2006 10:18 AM

Regarding the adoption topic...

Not to mention the fact that they already had two kids who were age 6 and 8, a time when parenting gets to be a bit easier. Most people would consider themselves "done." But to adopt a five year old? To take on that huge challenge? That's brave, that's kind, that's amazing.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 3, 2006 10:20 AM

It's very hard to adopt a younger child (<5) in the US. A lot of the older children who are available are only available in sibling sets and/or have SEVERE mental and emotional problems. I have friends who adopted three siblings and the agency was not real honest about the backgrounds of these children so that the adoptive parents were not aware of all of their problems so were not able to deal with the problems before they became much worse.

I support adopting US older kids but if you ever look at the websites that show available kids it is scary to take on the responsibility of children with these problems. In fact, for many of the kids, the agency wants parents who are experienced with problem kids.

Posted by: dai | October 3, 2006 10:41 AM

maria, I read both the articles you sited. Thanks for sharing. They were interesting.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 3, 2006 10:43 AM

I started reading this blog fairly recently because I was interested in the topic, but am rethinking visiting and/ or participating. Just had to finally comment that I cannot believe how many people use this forum to nitpick to make a negative point out of something positive or take out their bitterness on the guest bloggers and other posters with legitimate points of view. Cases in point: the very first post today and the sarcastic post by Doro Wat saying "another rich couple is doing fine -- great!" Maybe they worked hard to get to this place -- why begrudge them that?

I have never seen such rudeness and immaturity when the subject matter here is fodder for rich and interesting discussions. It is such a turnoff to have to wade through all the sniping and negativity to get to reasonable discussions. Guess it goes to show it's easier to complain and criticize than come up with positive solutions.

Kudos to those who try to bring back balance, evenhandedness and civility to the discussion. I want to compliment today's guest blogger for telling her story and describing the ins and outs of her situation. Her point of view is interesting and she provided good food for discussion.

I work in politics and I think the unjustified potshots and anger on this blog are even worse than what goes on in partisan politics! This place is just downright mean.

Posted by: Aghast | October 3, 2006 10:45 AM

Is everyone's posts going through?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 10:47 AM

Mary, thanks for your guest column. I work full time and my husband has his own business part time and takes care of our son. We've had similar experiences to you, marc, and other SAHDs who have posted. My husband said he gets a lot of suspicious looks when he's out and about with our son, as if people assume he's a deadbeat or a predator of some sort; but he's also had some very friendly interactions with moms who are pleasantly surprised to hear about his role.

I find one of the funniest results of the crossed roles is our interactions with my brother and SIL - my SIL often looks to me for sympathy as another mom, but I'm beginning to empathize a lot more with my brother as another working parent. It's a funny little dance.

And at work too - because I have created a very flexible and family-friendly position for myself, some of my colleagues treat me as if I'm just barely not a SAHM, and other SAHMs see me as a career mother. It's goofy, but we're happy and that's all that matters.

Posted by: Megan | October 3, 2006 10:49 AM

Why are american children somehow considered more "deserving" of adoption?


It's not that they are more deserving than other kids, it's that they are born here and if they need homes they should be the first priority. Sooner or later other countries are going to have to start taking care of theirselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 10:55 AM

@Americans are Fat

You're ridiculous. Try drinking coffee instead of paint thinner in the morning. Just because America is wealthy on the whole compared to other nations doesn't mean there aren't children worthy of being adopted here.

"Americans are perfectly capable of taking care of their own kids"... well are you ignoring the fact that some people are bad parents, some kids have lost their folks, or any of the other many reasons someone could need to be adopted here?

That said, anyone juding someone else on this, why does it matter where someone adopts from? You might as well be telling them what race and country they should marry from too, it's their life, their choice.

@Mary

Good to hear you've worked through things, but the whole thing with people not knowing how to deal with you... it's just the way it is, unfortunately. Do you find yourself connecting with your children the way you really want to now that you've "switched roles", or are you feeling at all left out? I'm just wondering because I've heard other women in this situation express a yearning... not quite jealousy of their husband... but a kind of feeling that they wish they could be at home with their children to develop a strong bond.

Posted by: Five | October 3, 2006 11:11 AM

Admire your husband for doing such a wonderful job. Not many men have what it takes to be a SAHD, much less do it as well as he has.

Most admirable though is that you adopted a 5yr old boy when you already have 2 of your own. To do something like that ranks way up there in the "selfless" category.

Congrats and keep up the great work!

Posted by: WorkerBee | October 3, 2006 11:13 AM

My father retired when I was in 6th grade due to health reasons (and he was 62 at the time). It was great having a stay-at-home-dad, even one that wasn't very physically active. I'm glad more kids are getting the opportunity these days to spend quality time with their dads. Too many men are consumed with the idea that masculinity is tied to their work instead of realizing that sometimes priorities lie with their family roles. Many women find a hard-working father more attractive than a hard-working employee!

Posted by: Mom of 2 | October 3, 2006 11:19 AM

You know, among adoptive parents I know, the decision whether to adopt domestically of from another country is often a hard one. For me, as someone who considers herself a world citizen as well as a US citizen, and whose mantra is "God Bless Everyone (no exceptions)", there was no thought that I should adopt from the US. Others I've known are very committed to domestic adoption. So while I disagree with the thought that US citizens should adopt from the US, I am familiar with the dilemma faced by many prospective adopters.

But I completely fail to understand the notion that the only people who would adopt are those who "cannot" get pregnant/give birth. I know many, many people who have chosen adoption in addition to, or instead of bringing new children into an already overcrowded world.

Posted by: single mother by choice | October 3, 2006 11:28 AM

Mary:
I admire your courage. I admit that it would be much easier for my husband to stay-at-home. I could more easily find a higher paying job which would allow him to stay at home with the kids. He has said that he would be more than willing to do this. It has been my jealously which has stopped us from making this move. I feel like if anyone gets to stay at home with the kids, I want it to be me. I like my current job because if offers flexible hours which allows me to be there for the family. I am in the advertising field, so entering management would mean long hours, tight deadlines and humbling myself to clients who have no time management skills of their own. Not to mention that when the Sh** hits the fan because an intern messed up the comps, I would somehow be all my fault because I am the boss. I would most likely never see my family. I really don't like the trade-offs.
So here we are, my husband and myself are both working just slightly better than entry level jobs, with low wages, OK benefits, but lots of flexibility, because neither of us wants to give up the flexibility to be more involved in our kid's lives.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 11:31 AM

Mary, you are an inspiration at least for one family! My parents were non-traditional in that 30 years ago, they were actually splitting the child rearing 50/50 (dad got kids out in the morning, packed lunches, etc. mom did afternoon duty). I would LOVE it if my husband was a SAHD, but I wouldn't ever expect anything from him that I wouldn't do - so we both work. Best of luck to you and your family!

And with regard to James, I'd ignore him. He seems like an illiterate toad.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 11:34 AM

Why do people worry so much about what other people think? Why do they accept the judgment?

Posted by: June | October 3, 2006 11:36 AM

To some people, American children aren't a "first priority" because their baseline of life is going to be so much better just having been born in America. They have a better chance of being literate, better fed, less malnourished (not a guarantee, but better odds) than children born in developing countries. If you want to know why some folks adopt from other countries, or work in developing countries, etc., check out www.miniature-earth.com

Posted by: To the 12:29 poster | October 3, 2006 11:39 AM

Why did we decide to adopt from another country? Actually my husband and I hadn't consider adding to our family until the fall of 2002 when my husband showed me an article in the NY Times Magazine entitled "What Will Become of Africa's AIDS Orphans?". The article, written by Melissa Fay Greene, discusses the AIDS pandemic in Africa and the children left orphaned due to AIDS, other disease and poverty. It was and continues to be a truly heartbreaking situation. A doctor quoted in the article says something to the effect of one day people will look back at the crisis in Africa like they do the Holocaust and ask what did they do to help. It was at that point that my husband and I started our journey towards adoption. Adoption isn't going to fix the situation in Ethiopia but it surely changed the life of one little boy. I'm still haunted by the children left behind and the families that had to give up their precious kids. I've met amazing people that are trying to improved the lives of orphaned kids. I was priviledged when Dr. Jane Aronson asked me to be on the board of directors of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. WWO is helping the kids that are left behind in orphanages around the world. Amazing how one magazine article has changed my life!

I would encourage anyone interested to check out Melissa Fay Greene's article on her website www.melissafaygreene.com

Posted by: Mary Knobler | October 3, 2006 11:39 AM

I've met amazing people that are trying to improved the lives of orphaned kids.

I guess her opinion isn't valid either since she doesn't know the difference between who and that.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 11:48 AM

"With waitlists over two years, going overseas is often the best option."

Especially if you're adopting from the same country your parents lived in.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2004/10/03/and_zoe_makes_three/?page=7

"...We expected assignment of a baby in June or July of 2004.

"Imagine our surprise when China replied in just 14 weeks...

"James's father's family actually comes from Jiangxi (we assume this is why our referral was expedited so dramatically)..."

Also, doesn't international adoption go both ways?

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1027/p11s01-lifp.html

"...The exact numbers are not available, but interviews with adoption agencies and families in Canada, Germany, France, and the Netherlands indicate that the US also sends babies to those four countries as well as Belgium and England. Most of the children are black newborns. Most of the adopting parents are Caucasian...

"...'Most of our families just want a baby as young as possible, and the US is the best place to go for a newborn,' explains Lorne Welwood of Hope Adoption Services in Abbotsford, British Columbia. 'They are not ignoring the race issues, but they don't think, like the Americans, that the less black the better.'"

Posted by: Maria | October 3, 2006 11:56 AM

Dear Leslie,

Have you noticed how many genuine, interesting posters have stopped appearing here?

Have you noticed how so much of this blog is dedicated to discussions of tone and vindictiveness?

I would hate to see this blog disappear because of the nasty comments of a few saboteurs. However, it really doesn't seem to be working.

How about changing the format to a chat? (I.e., including a moderator and a set time limit.) It would be more work for you (and the moderator), but it would preserve discussions of these genuinely interesting topics, yet allow for the weeding out that really needs to be done here.

After all, how much longer do you think this blog can run when what we see today is typical behavior?

Posted by: Mass. Prof. | October 3, 2006 11:57 AM

I really appreciated this post, one of the best in a long while. I am not married, but hope to be in the future. I currently make more money than my boyfriend and we've discussed the possibility of him being a SAHD if the situation were possible. For those of you out there who are in a similar position to the poster (especially SAHDs) how do you feel? I worry that my boyfriend would feel less manly if he was the SAHP or not be able to get the same level of respect from other guys if I was the breadwinner. I'd really like people's opinions who have been there about how this plays out. What about me as a working mom? How does it feel not being home with your kids every day?

Posted by: 215 | October 3, 2006 12:03 PM

SAHDs, don't be discouraged by negative feedback from other moms! I'd be psyched to hang out with you. I relate better to men and have always worked in male-dominated fields. We could take the kids on field trips to Home Depot! Haha.

Posted by: RMom | October 3, 2006 12:16 PM

The reason women snear at men who do more than their share of traditional hands-on parenting is simple. Shear jealousy. they wish their husbands would take a more active role. So long as a man doesn't decide to live the alternative homosexual lifestyle, other men don't care what another man does with his family life.

Posted by: Americans are Fat | October 3, 2006 12:17 PM

"Mary Knobler works as a bond trader for a money management company" and keeps her husband's jewels in a jar behind her desk. He sees them infrequently.

Posted by: james | October 3, 2006 12:29 PM

"A doctor quoted in the article says something to the effect of one day people will look back at the crisis in Africa like they do the Holocaust and ask what did they do to help."

Does anyone else see a problem with this statement? Comparing the Holocaust to aids is a bit of a stretch even for me. Now if you want to compare dafar to the Holocaust that is different.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 12:29 PM

Doro Wat is mad at bond traders for focusing so much on jobs reports and ignoring falling value of US dollar. The sarcasm was a reflection of that anger. He doesn't mind that the blogger is rich, he just finds it boring (he told me so).

Posted by: Gomen Be Sega | October 3, 2006 12:31 PM

when you start reversing roles, it really does seem to confuse some people and create identity issues (although this is hardly a problem when compared to AIDs, unwanted orphans, war, and being able to tell other people who to adopt). my wife works part-time (one day a week in the office and the rest from home), as well as running her own business from home, and it seems the stay-at-home moms generally think of her as a working mom and the working moms generally think of her as a stay-at-home mom. i'm home one day of the week with our 4 yr. old and i often get the kind of unwarranted praise from other moms (usually stay-at-home moms whose husbands are not as involved) for doing the types of things moms do every day. this type of setup (both parents working and getting some time at home) seems to breed some type of reaction, ranging from praise to resentment. but mostly, it's a setup we're also very fortunate to have and one that works for us. we're friends with a couple where the dad stays home fulltime and the mom works fulltime and i've seen the wife half jokingly get frustrated when other moms know where things are in her kitchen and she doesn't (because the other moms have been at the house for playgroup during the weekdays). and while even when this is not the case, it seems there's frequently the view that the dad who stays home couldn't make enough money, and the woman had to go to work (instead of choosing to do so). i didn't word that too well, but the gist is that the dad who stays home is sometimes seen as having failed in the workplace, but a man is never seen as neglecting his children for choosing to work fulltime; whereas, a woman who stays home is not often seen as a workplace failure, but the woman who chooses to work fulltime may be criticized for neglecting her children (especially if she reveals such information on a blog)...

Posted by: marc | October 3, 2006 12:33 PM

We, too, have my hubby at home as a SAHD. With our first child, we tried it with me as a SAHM, but quickly discovered that temperamentally, he was the better SAH parent. Our optimal situation would have been for us both to work part-time, but the software industry doesn't work very well with that.

For folks who've commented about SAH's being the privilege of the rich, I guess there's some truth to it, but it's not the only angle. When we first got married, we knew we wanted a SAH parent when we had kids, so we adjusted our budget to only live off of one salary. Granted, that salary has grown since we first worked up the budget, but we made our housing choices, car choices, etc, to stick within one salary throughout. Our mortgage broker was most disappointed with us. :-) We know other couples in our church who have jobs like security officers, plumbers, police officers: also able to support a SAH parent (all moms, in those cases). Our houses are smaller than others, our cars are older, and our vacations are much fewer, but those pieces are all necessary to support the SAH life choice.

As to differences for my husband: 1) Yes, he's interested in what he'll do when he goes back to work, as was I when I was home. We don't see it as a different problem for him, and in fact, see it as something that'll be an attractive conservation with potential employers, rather than a run-o'-the-mill mom wants back in the labor pool. 2) Play dates are a problem... it IS more awkward to set up play dates. Moms are more cautious with their kids, and frankly, there's the concern of making married folks uncomfortable with their spouses spending time over each others' houses. 3) There aren't many stay-at-home-PARENT groups, mostly just mom groups. I don't participate in the MOPS group at our church, as I'm not the primary caretaker and thus would rather spend that time in the evenings with my kids. However, those groups are set up exclusively for women, and they don't include stay-at-home-dads. 4) Other family members occasionally just don't "get" it, including his own extended family. His mom is a jewel, though, and I have to admit that the kids get more grandma time because he's home than I would avail myself of it if it were me at home.

Posted by: TrieditBothWays | October 3, 2006 12:33 PM

Congrats to Mary on finding a solution that worked for her family. I think it takes a very secure man to become a SAHD, as well as a secure Mom to let someone else take over the primary caregiver role without feeling guilty. I think it's pretty cool that both of you are taking non-traditional roles with a minimum of hand-wringing and guilt.

In addition to Mary's specific reason (wanting to do something to help African AIDS orphans), I think many families adopt from overseas because it is easier and quicker to get a baby under a year old(though it's never easy or quick in an absolute sense) than it is in the US. I also have the impression that interracial adoption is tougher here-- I always thought agencies try to place black children with black families at the behest of black activists who say whites are ill equiped to raise black children in our still racism plauged society. Some non-traditional families may also find it easier to adopt overseas-- particularly gay and lesbian couples. I was also shocked to find out that having had cancer in the past five years, or any mental health problem ever can preclude someone from adopting in the US. An ovarian cancer survivor I met couldn't have children and was also told she couldn't adopt for five years. Maybe international adoption is more flexible?

I also have the impression that families sign up with both domestic and international agencies and go with whoever comes through faster-- after all, many of these people are childless couples desperate to have a baby (Mary's example is obviously a different case). More facts from anyone who knows or has gone through the process would be welcome.

Posted by: JKR | October 3, 2006 12:37 PM

Leslie-
I have to second the comments I'm seeing about the blog being a target for folks with more venom than sense. I really like the days when you post on a topic like "how to handle the witching hours", and then everyone offers their suggestions and questions of their own. Provocative blogs are always good for generating discussion, but if you *really* want to help the Mommy Wars subside a bit, then how about providing blogs that help us out instead of deepening the divide. Here's some thoughts along those lines-
1. Best birthday party I ever threw for under $100 (or $50, or whatever threshold makes sense)
2. How to get your kids to eat
3. Best activity for kids that you wouldn't necessarily think of
4. Tips for helping everyone in the family get more sleep
5. When to start an allowance/ how to help kids handle money (would love to hear from moms of older kids on this one)
I've got more, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Or... do you enjoy providing targets at which all of the surplus bile in this country can be spewed? I really can't tell.

Just a thought.

Posted by: Dixie | October 3, 2006 12:42 PM

BTW- timestamps are out of whack again... but when aren't they?

Posted by: Dixie | October 3, 2006 12:43 PM

oh, James... go away

Posted by: Blog police | October 3, 2006 12:50 PM

I do admire those families that can make the reverse childcare scenario work. The family faces the dual impediment with the wife facing the challenges of being a working mother while the husband faces the challenges of not being accepted as a SAHP caretaker.

But, I for one am grateful for those families that make this work because they are enlightening the public so that in the future, it will be easier for families to make this lifestyle accepted. It's sad that so many people are afraid to let men be child caretakers or look sideways at leaving men alone with children. In order to get these choices to be accepted, we have to make them common. And thanks for the great blog topic.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 3, 2006 12:53 PM

No, Oprah I won't

Posted by: James | October 3, 2006 12:56 PM

I was raised in a 2-parent home where my father played the "nontraditional" role. It worked for our family 20-something years ago, and hopefully it will continue to work for other families in similar situations today. I think I'm a well-adjusted adult who generally has an open view about what a balanced relationship really is. Kudos to everyone doing what it takes to give their families the best. I enjoy reading the column and all the comments, even thoug I'm nowhere near being a wife or mommy!

Posted by: DaddysGirl | October 3, 2006 12:58 PM

"It's not that they are more deserving than other kids, it's that they are born here and if they need homes they should be the first priority."

Why should they be the first priority?

Why shouldn't they be? if you want to help so much go live in another country with them!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 12:59 PM

"We are teaching them that women can be providers and men can be nurturers."

Amen. My husband and I both work outside (and inside!) the home, but I admire how you've chosen to live life. Your children are lucky to have both of you!

Posted by: Arlington Mom | October 3, 2006 1:00 PM

For any couple to find a balance that makes their lives as partners and parents work, congratulations and thank your for the example you show.

As for the adoption issue, I am an international adoptee and frankly, the reason many people choose to adopt from foreign countries is because of the speed of the process and the emotional safety that comes with termination of parental rights. While I applaud the notion of keeping families intact that unlies much of US domestic adoptions, it often times proves too traumatic for all parties involved; adoptive parents, children, and birth parents. For the record, I am very interested in international adoption myself despite having given birth to two healthy, wonderful children.

Finally, for James, a stay at home dad is, IMO, a courageous, MACHO, man. My husband takes care of our children 3 hours a day and works nights as a cop. What could be more masculine than protecting his progeny and raising them to responsible adulthood? I love that my husband has no qualms about carrying our daughter's diaper bag in public. He sets a strong example of how a father SHOULD be for both our son and daughter. Hopefully, our daughter will marry a man as responsible as her father and our son will grow up to be as responsible and caring as his father.

Posted by: LM in WI | October 3, 2006 1:02 PM

The people who contribute to this blog are really mean. I'm outta here. You mean people all need shrinks.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 1:05 PM

America is a free country, and people can do what they like. If you want your rights limited, go live in another country that is not so free.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 1:09 PM

Leslie-
Suggestions:
on other WashPost pages where you can post, your userid (that you use to login and get content) is included in the post instead of having a box to type a name. That way you can only post as one individual and cannot post under a variety of names to make additional comments or disguise how many people are writing in. WHile some use same name frequently, others use a littel phrase about their post or could even impersonate each other. While usernames aren't real names, they would take away a bit of the anonymity that may encourage the particualrly obnoxious attitudes proliferating here.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 1:14 PM

"I have a friend who is trying to adopt domestically. She wants a newborn of any race or ethnicity. But it is still hard. So far, she has had a birth mother back out after a couple of months. She also had an agency pressure her to take a newborn that was exposed to drugs in utero. She almost took him, until a doctor explained how impaired this child will be."

This is a good example of how adopting in the U.S. has become a lot like shopping for an upscale new car.

First of all, everyone wants a newborn. No older, used models for these folks. Then, it has to have a really good warranty. No one wants to get stuck with a lemon. And ideally, it should be the same race as the buyer; most white buyers, however, are willing to take a colored model if all their other terms are met.

Yes, it would be great if Americans would adopt American kids. But, hey, there are only so many newborns to go around -- and far fewer white ones than other colors.

Until Americans who want to build families start opening their hearts and homes to kids of any age who need loving parents, we will continue to see babies coming from other shores to satisfy the wants of America's upper-middle class.

Posted by: brooks | October 3, 2006 1:22 PM

Just because everyone doesn't agree with international adoption doesn't make them mean, nasty, or even bad people. It doesn't mean that Leslie should change the blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 1:29 PM

You know, I've never had the chance to have my life reviewed by so many people before.
Yup, I'm Mary's husband.
I guess more than anything else, I find myself wanting to respond to the person who asked why my wife and I didn't just adopt a child from this country. We felt, in some way that I can't describe, called to adopt a child from Ethiopia and the child we did adopt was, I think, meant to be a part of our lives. There are many children in the U.S. who are in need. It's great that you feel so strongly about the problem and since you do, you should act, not by posting in an online forum, but by adopting a child in need or by becoming a foster parent.
As for the rest of the posts, I guess at least one of them proved that some people do have trouble figuring out what to make of my wife and I. On the other hand, the sorts of people who think that my wife "keeps my jewels in a jar by her desk" aren't really the people I spend much time worrying about.
That said, can I at least point out that if that were the case, it would have to be a really big jar behind a really big desk?

Posted by: Claude Knobler | October 3, 2006 1:31 PM

I just got back from my daughters school where one of the fathers was dropping off his daughter - very nice. One thing that did strike me though was how should I communicate with him... If I was overly friendly it would have been read as flirting, though it is the tone I take with other mothers. Or if I was more standoffish (for fear of a misunderstanding in communications) it is perhaps considered unwelcoming of his role of an involved parent - just a thought, today's blog make me consider this.. and perhaps come up with a reason why men in the sandbox/preschool seem to be held as outsiders.

Posted by: single mom | October 3, 2006 1:32 PM

James--by taking care of his progeny, Mary's husband has proven that he has family jewels, while with your weak, humorless backstabbing comment you have proven that you don't. Perhaps your comment was inspired by jealousy that he can father children?

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 3, 2006 1:34 PM

Hi everyone.

In the midst of some sniping and negativity I continue to hear lots of interesting, thoughtful reactions. Sometimes the nastiness is well, nasty -- but othertimes it seems the poster didn't mean to be rude, just came across that way by accident. Go figure.

People have very strong feelings about parenthood. In a strange way it's a relief to read what I've long suspected people were thinking but were too restrained to say out loud. Even though I don't always agree with the thoughts.

Amidst all this discussion of adoption...does anyone have any experience with fostering children? Seems there is a VERY strong need for that in the U.S.

Posted by: Leslie | October 3, 2006 1:37 PM

Mary, it's good that you and your husband have carved out something that works for you two. As a single mom with a soon-to-be ex that has dumped 100 percent of the child-rearing on me (except for every other weekend, of course), I appreciate when couples can communicate and work things out for the good of their children. No matter how "rich" you may be, I'm happy for you.

James, you get the snark of the day award. I'll refrain from the various sarcastic responses I could give you, so as not to besmirch this blog.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 3, 2006 1:42 PM

There are many children in the U.S. who are in need. It's great that you feel so strongly about the problem and since you do, you should act, not by posting in an online forum, but by adopting a child in need or by becoming a foster parent.

You and your wife are both posting on the blog, so how do you know that people talking about US adoption haven't already adopted a child from here? The balls joke was not funny. I admire people who take good care of their children.

Posted by: scarry | October 3, 2006 1:52 PM

No, not everyone wants a healthy baby. Many of us are choosing children who are older and/or have some disability or health condition that results in fewer people being interested in adopting them. These children are referred to as "waiting children," and I am the proud parent of a delightful former waiting child--and I would love to adopt another waiting child. Every child deserves to grow up in a loving home.

Posted by: single mother by choice | October 3, 2006 1:57 PM

Mary, thank you for sharing your perspective. I too am a working mom while my husband has stayed home with our now 4 year old. Our reasons were mainly a desire to have one parent be home and neither of us has family where we live. I was the only one of the two of us who could support us on one salary. We are not rich and it is hard but worth it. When my daughter was younger not being included in playdates with the SAHM's bothered me but now she has friends from preschool. At times, I feel overwhelmed from having sole responsibility as the breadwinner and want to be at home.... My husband is now trying to start his own business.

Posted by: momatwork | October 3, 2006 2:08 PM


I just got back from my daughters school where one of the fathers was dropping off his daughter - very nice. One thing that did strike me though was how should I communicate with him... If I was overly friendly it would have been read as flirting, though it is the tone I take with other mothers. Or if I was more standoffish (for fear of a misunderstanding in communications) it is perhaps considered unwelcoming of his role of an involved parent - just a thought, today's blog make me consider this.. and perhaps come up with a reason why men in the sandbox/preschool seem to be held as outsiders.

Posted by: single mom | October 3, 2006 01:32 PM

=====

As I previewed this answer, I realize that it could come off as somewhat prickly. It is not intended that way.

Why don't you treat him as you would any other person. Polite social interaction does not have to be flirtatious. You can interact with coworkers of opposite sexes without being flirtatious. You can interact with sales staff, other customers, and group members of community groups without overstepping the bounds of courtesy, so why not with other parents independant of their gender?

I have a vast array of friends of different genders and sexual orientation, of varying commitment/marital status, and varying number of dependents and I don't seem to have a problem differentiating between polite social and overly friendly interactions. To imply that there is an issue with interacting with SAHD's in this environment is as strange to me as the men in office settings who have difficulty dealing with women in a professional capacity. My reaction is "What's the deal?"

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 3, 2006 2:18 PM

The clucking hens are out in force here today. Cluck, cluck.

Posted by: James | October 3, 2006 2:22 PM

James, why are you on the blog? Are you a parent? A potential parent? A lurker? Just interested? Curious? You seem to enjoy "stirring the pot," but why?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 3, 2006 2:29 PM

Claude, I loved your response-- you two seem to have a great relationship and a great sense of humor.

Scarry, you asked a question at the beginning of the blog: "I wonder though, does your husband ever worry about being able to get back in the job market?"

I don't know how Claude and Mary would answer it, but in our SAHD family, my husband has made a big effort to keep in touch with his old contacts. He tries to go to some happy hours for his old company, will do some part-time work for another old company when they are short-staffed, and keeps in touch with his old bosses. Just this week the person his old company hired to replace him quit, and he was contacted to ask if he wanted his old job back. He doesn't want it right now, but he is trying to stay in the game, at least a little. We're not worried about his transition back to work.

Posted by: Ms L | October 3, 2006 2:36 PM

215, who knows if you will see this what with the time stamp issue, but here goes.

I do think that it is a struggle sometimes for my husband to not be the breadwinner, particularly as his business is still in the early stages and therefore not bringing any money at all in. He's worked all his life and supported himself since was 19, so it feels very strange to him to not be doing that now. That said, I think he's also discovering a lot of great things in his role as father and as an entrepenuer (sp?); and he is pursuing a dream he has always wanted to.

I think it takes a very secure man to be a SAHD - there will also be fatuous blockheads like James around who cannot accept the idea - so it really just depends on how comfortable he is himself with the idea.

Posted by: Megan | October 3, 2006 2:36 PM

The author's situation and opinion of her husband is so out of context with the situation families find themselves its hard to believe her story is actually in print.Lets run her for president and let her straighten out the horrible mess the nut cases in the womens movement and the courts have made of family life.Maybe she can bring back the word, normal to family life, again.

Posted by: mcewen | October 3, 2006 2:38 PM

I really think it is untrue that families with a SAHP must be rich. They make choices-- the choice to live on one salary, and the choice to be less consumerist and materialistic. I believe almost every family could have a SAHP if they thought it important enough; it is a shame they do not.

Posted by: -- | October 3, 2006 2:39 PM

To the anti-international adoption folks: why would anyone deny a parentless child a permanent, loving home because they happened to be born across artificial political boundaries?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 2:53 PM

re: intl adoption - I can't justify it but I imagine the impulse to suggest it's "better" to adopt domestically is similar to the impulse to wonder if people giving money/time/work to a save the African wildlife effort worry about the pollution in the Anacostia river or to wonder if those who give to support poor folk wherever overseas also give to local organizations. I am sure many people indeed do both. And I'm sure those who don't know the whole story have the impulse to hope that people don't shortchange the close-to-home for the exotic in their compassion.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 3:07 PM

I admire this family for being in a position to make a child's life better. At the end of the day or at the end of a lifetime, perhaps that is all you can hope for.
I know people make excuses every day for why they can't take a foster child or adopted child into their home, but many of them are "valid" excuses.

I have an obligation to my children to raise them in a healthy home and while I don't have a crystal ball to know how they are going to turn out, I do know our family has its own challenges. I already feel guilty about the kids I do have not getting enough one on one time with me or wondering if I'm emotionally available enough for them. For now, I can't imagine bringing another kiddo into the mix.

That doesn't mean that once these are out on their own, I won't become more active in volunteering or perhaps even becoming a foster parent. I don't know what will happen tomorrow. Maybe my work situation will change or I'll read an article that will move me and the time will be right and I and my family will be in a financially and emotionally secure situation where we could bring another kiddo into the mix.

Congrats on your family Mary and Claude! Thank you for raising your kids in the situation that works best for you and giving some of us an example of how to think outside the box of our societal expectations.

Posted by: LGB | October 3, 2006 3:12 PM

So glad to hear from the people with SAHD experience. My husband and I are also planning this "role-reversal" and I would like to hear about more issues we might face. One issue I've been concerned about is whether my husband might feel very isolated. Many SAHMs I've spoken to complain about this isolation and I can only imagine that it's worse for SAHDs. Any suggestions?

Also, I second the idea of changing this to a chat format to avoid some of the childish bickering that seems to overtake this blog.

Posted by: k | October 3, 2006 3:17 PM

To some people, American children aren't a "first priority" because their baseline of life is going to be so much better just having been born in America. They have a better chance of being literate, better fed, less malnourished (not a guarantee, but better odds) than children born in developing countries. If you want to know why some folks adopt from other countries, or work in developing countries, etc., check out www.miniature-earth.com


They also have a chance of being sexually molested, locked in a closet for three days until they die, and kicked out onto the streets with no one to help them. Yes, people in this country are better off than most people in the third world, but do you think that every child in foster care is better off being in foster care than adopted? You seem to think that just becuase the third world has problems that they are somehow bigger and better problems than the ones here. I have seen hungry children, I have seen mistreated foster kids, people like you make me sick.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 3:22 PM

let me understand it, some people want to change the blog because they don't like that others have a different opinion. Good plan, then you can sit around and talk about how wonderful you all are without anyone saying anything different.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 3:35 PM

k, in regards to isolation, in atlanta where I live there is a group for sahd's that get together for play groups, a social night out, etc. i know there are chapters in other areas or one could be started.

Posted by: momatwork | October 3, 2006 3:37 PM

"the impulse to hope that people don't shortchange the close-to-home for the exotic in their compassion."

I would guess this is an accurate description of that concern. It still seems a shame to me though (and I know the author was not purporting to justify the sentiment, so this commentary is not directed at you personally). Given how many problems are in the world, and how few people are willing to commit serious time and resources to them, it seems petty to criticize those who do for which issue they choose to focus on. Particularly when the person doing the criticizing isn't doing anything themselves - I have no idea if that's the case with the posters here, but I have certainly found that to be true in other situations. Mary and Claude have opened their home and extended their lives to someone in need, which is more than many of us have ever done (myself included). Far be it from me to criticize their choice of person.


Posted by: Megan | October 3, 2006 3:37 PM

And if you say "anyting different," but all means, please do it anonymously.

Like our made-up names we use here aren't anonymous enough.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 3, 2006 3:40 PM

"Also, I second the idea of changing this to a chat format to avoid some of the childish bickering that seems to overtake this blog."

Yep, wouldn't want people to disagree - some people might actually learn something or change their minds!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 3:40 PM

My husband is also a SAHD. That was the plan since before our first was born - he's 14 now, and is a high-functioning autistic. Thanks goodness we made the choices we did back then, because my husband had worked in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescents, and he understands and can work the various education and social service systems to get the best for our son.

It works for us. Yes, some people's reactions aren't the best. So what? Usually, hubby and I have a good laugh.

One of our favorite stories was of another couple whom we'd known for *ever* when I was pregnant with our second child. The husband of this couple commented to my husband about how he'd have to go back to work now.

Both of us looked at him blankly, and said, "Why?"

"Well, won't Sue want to stay home with this one?"

"No!" I was almost horrified by the idea.

Just be true to what works for your own family, and don't worry about what others do or think about your choice. Everyone is different, and different things work for different people. We want our children to be successful and happy adults, so lets give them lots of examples of people being happy and successful in all different ways.

Posted by: suemc | October 3, 2006 3:42 PM

"another rich couple is doing fine -- great"

And yet when F04 admitted to having credit card debt last week, he was taken to task for being financial irresponsible. I just don't get it.

Mary, thanks for your guest blog. My husband and I both work, but he does all of the cooking. We were out shopping for a new dishwasher over the weekend, and our kids were in a play area of the store with a toy kitchen setup. My son proudly explained to his sister, "I'm doing the cooking because I'm the daddy." Funny how they pick up on these things...

Posted by: niner | October 3, 2006 3:51 PM

"let me understand it, some people want to change the blog because they don't like that others have a different opinion."

Um, no, people don't like that others, are needlessly nasty when they post. Posters often disagree, yet some are able to have polite, informed discussion on their differing opinions. Those are some of the most interesting and productive days on the blog.

I particularly hate it when a guest blogger puts his or her life on the line, and all some can do is tear it down. When one invites a guest over, ought one punch them in the face?

Posted by: niner | October 3, 2006 3:59 PM

"I particularly hate it when a guest blogger puts his or her life on the line, and all some can do is tear it down. When one invites a guest over, ought one punch them in the face?"

Aren't you being just a wee bit melodramatic?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 4:04 PM

I applaud Mary and her "non-tradtional" family! Any family that works today is something to celebrate not criticize. As far as I can see this family is definitely part of a solution not a problem.

Posted by: claudia navarro | October 3, 2006 4:17 PM

There are a lot of nasty bloggers on the blog, and I can see that many of the regulars either have left or are posting less frequently. I have not seen F04 around since his blog was ripped apart by some of our charming bloggers. No one wants to be around a bunch of rabid bullies.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 4:18 PM

Megan, thanks for replying. I really appreciate hearing your insights on this.

Posted by: 215 | October 3, 2006 4:19 PM

Hello.
Mary - don't worry about the criticism that has been let out because of your story. What's important is that you AND your family are happy.

Posted by: M | October 3, 2006 4:40 PM

"America is a free country, and people can do what they like. If you want your rights limited, go live in another country that is not so free."
Posted by: | October 3, 2006 01:09 PM

As one matures, one realizes that just because "people can do what they like" doesn't mean that they should.

So if you're talking about expressing ignorant, thoughtless, nasty opinions on a blog -- you can, but you shouldn't.

If you're talking about the freedom to decide to adopt internationally, or domestically, or make a test tube baby, or stay childless, or be a SAHD -- those are rights you can feel free to take advantage of. And try your best to ingore all the know-nothings who are motivated by hate, jealousy, bitterness, who knows what.

Nothing wrong with being a SAHD (or int'l adopter), Mr. Knobler, and keep that sense of humor, lest you descend to the level of your detractors.

Posted by: spunky | October 3, 2006 4:41 PM

Oh, and international kids are just as deserving of having a good life as American kids are. Race & country -- these are artifical distinctions. A kid is a kid is a kid.

I love America, born here and have always lived here. But that doesn't make American kids any better or more deserving than international kids. Sing with me: It's a small world after all...

Posted by: spunky | October 3, 2006 4:49 PM

oh, the best post ever, a pick and choose freedom person. I can choose to do what I want, but you can't. What a lovely idea.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 4:50 PM

Sure, you can choose to be a jerk. In the end, other people can tune you out. You have to put up with your miserable self all of the time, so if you do choose to be a jerk, you hurt yourself more than anyone else. Ahh, divine justice.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 4:52 PM

To 4:50:

You didn't listen. There's no picking and choosing of freedoms -- I told you, you have the right. But sometimes you shouldn't exercise it. Sometimes politeness and respect for others choices are called for.

Posted by: spunky | October 3, 2006 4:54 PM

Spunky, why are you arguing with idiots?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 4:56 PM

People are jerks because they don't like international adoption? Do you hear yourself? Kids are kids, no one said they weren't but you would think that some people would rather help the kids here than go adopt kids from other countries. Nice argument to, it's always nice to call people with a different opinion a jerk because you don't agree. You are so mature, I can only aspire to be like you one day.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 4:57 PM

I don't think that people should discuss international adoption on a blog, it offends me and is disrespectful.

See you can't respect everyone all the time. People shouldn't post on a blog if they don't want to talk about or even defend what they posted.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 5:02 PM

To 4:57:

"People are jerks because they don't like international adoption?"
No, no one said that, so the rest of your post is meaningless. Do you intentionally misunderstand everything people write, just so you can argue with them?

To 4:56:

"why are you arguing with idiots?"
*sigh* You're right, it's pointless. No matter what you say, they turn it into something else, just to keep their anger going. Sadly, I've still got a few minutes until I can leave work. Hmmm, maybe I'll go see what TO is up to, I'm sure ESPN has a breaking report.

Posted by: spunky | October 3, 2006 5:08 PM

uum, that person is not arguing with you spunky, they just have a different opinion.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 5:10 PM

"I don't think that people should discuss international adoption on a blog, it offends me and is disrespectful."

OK, 5:02, please show me where someone said that.

You imagine what people say, and then you argue with them (yourself) about it.

Posted by: spunky | October 3, 2006 5:23 PM

""I particularly hate it when a guest blogger puts his or her life on the line, and all some can do is tear it down. When one invites a guest over, ought one punch them in the face?"

Aren't you being just a wee bit melodramatic?"

No, I'm not--it's simply downright rude to treat guest bloggers this way. (And Leslie, too, for that matter, as she's our hostess.) Go have a look at F04's guest blog again last week if you're unsure that guest bloggers are treated poorly. And as someone else mentioned, where has he been? Can't say that I blame him.

And sign your posts, please.

Posted by: niner | October 3, 2006 5:25 PM

"Never argue with an idiot. He will lower you to his level and beat you with experience."-- Mark Twain.

I'm curious about the difference between domestic vs international adoptions, international get more press, but it turns out Mary Knobler isn't really the person to ask about that. And I salute her and her husband for being able to follow her common compassion so successfully.

I've grown up with children who were internationally adopted-- deaf and with other disabilities. The situation facing the "waiting" children with disabilities in other countries can be truly awful.

Some URLs to refer blog readers to relevant WashPo articles on the subjects might go a way to address the issue of domestic vs international.

There are not enough black families interested in adopting black children. And yes, white people can adopt black children, but there is some resistance to it among black community, partly due to the reasons listed earlier in the blog-- racism, hair care, feeling they should take care of their own.

Personally I think it is a shame that interracial adoptions should have any kind of controversy.

I've always wanted to adopt a black girl (not a baby), but it looks like my health and financial situation is not going to make that possible, and I am not cut out to be a solo parent by any means. I simply know I'm not tough enough to be a parent alone by any means. But maybe the day will come when it's right.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 3, 2006 5:28 PM

Willbrod, my wife and I (white) did in fact try a few times to adopt a (presumably black) child from DC about a decade ago, and were not successful. We can't swear that it was because of racial issues, but it sure seemed that way. Anyway, we ended up adopting internationally, and it has worked out great (so far, anyway!).

Posted by: spunky | October 3, 2006 5:34 PM

As one matures, one realizes that just because "people can do what they like" doesn't mean that they should.

So if you're talking about expressing ignorant, thoughtless, nasty opinions on a blog -- you can, but you shouldn't.


Spunky this is where I got that from. I have an opinion, I can express it. If I follow your logic and you think my opinion is the above, then by your logic your opinion and the opinions of other people could be viewed the same way by me. That was my point, it was sarcasm.

I don't care how many kids from China you adopt, but if you come on a blog and talk about it, you will have to defend your choice like everyone else on here. Why is this poster special? And no one said American children were more deserving or better, it just so happens that as an American, I live here, so I feel an obligation to help the less fortunate here!


There is no need to call people names just because you don't agree.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 5:52 PM

wilbrod,

"Personally I think it is a shame that interracial adoptions should have any kind of controversy."

No one said this, they said international. There is a big difference.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2006 5:56 PM

Wilbrod's point is well-taken. Both have been discussed today.

Posted by: to 5:56 | October 3, 2006 6:29 PM

Mary,
Don't you love being called 'rich'? Yes, we are rich--in family. If we were $$rich we would be living on our investment income and painting watercolors. Thank you for sharing your journey, even though there were some harsh critics.

There was a sahd at my school. He was great, had lots of mom friends (I was one of them) at school. We swapped daycare, complained about the price of cheese, whatever. Maybe it is just at private schools that these things happen--dads being ignored, since the kids are dropped off and not on a bus or walking (usually). Public schools seem very different to me (and I have had lots of experience with both). Lots of dads in the D.C. metro area have a lovely schedule with the alternate work thing. The dads and moms at my old school were never asked--'where do you work' before being allowed to volunteer. It was more like, 'here's an apron, get busy!" Since 80% of the kids took the bus, there weren't many opportunities to get to know the other parents. Our current schools are the same way.

To the trolls who are kvetching about the guest blog. If you would like to share your experience about how you balance work and family, please do.

Mary, congrats on your new addition. One of my neighbors also adopted a five year old from another country. Adopting in the U.S. is very rare. The current stance is to keep the family together if possible, with the second option being foster care, with the hopes the child can soon rejoin the family. I feel pretty balanced, but adopting a five year old is way beyond my limits.

I work parttime, but my husband has logged a lot more time at school than I have.

Posted by: parttimer | October 3, 2006 7:46 PM

Oops. The sahd was at a private school! Go figure.

Posted by: parttimer | October 3, 2006 7:51 PM

"maria, I read both the articles you sited. Thanks for sharing. They were interesting."

You're welcome. :)

"No, not everyone wants a healthy baby. Many of us are choosing children who are older and/or have some disability or health condition that results in fewer people being interested in adopting them."

True. What about deafness? Do any deaf adults who adopt older children prefer to adopt deaf ones who are already native signers of the adopter's sign language?

"There are not enough black families interested in adopting black children. And yes, white people can adopt black children, but there is some resistance to it among black community, partly due to the reasons listed earlier in the blog-- racism, hair care, feeling they should take care of their own."

One of the articles I mentioned earlier lists another reason. It seems like sometimes white Americans trying to adopt black Americans get discouraged for being American instead of for being white:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1027/p11s01-lifp.html

"...Most adoption agencies encourage the birth mother to select the adoptive family for her child. Sometimes a black birth mother prefers having her child adopted overseas [Canada, Germany, etc.] because she believes there is less prejudice there than in the US..."

Posted by: Maria | October 3, 2006 7:56 PM

I have not seen F04 around since his blog was ripped apart by some of our charming bloggers.

=====

Sorry to be so late on this. But F04 has been posting regularly on the Achenblog. He just hasn't come back here since his oh-so-warm reception last week.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 3, 2006 10:45 PM

He has posted here since then, you must have missed it.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2006 6:39 AM

You can SAY that F04 hasn't posted here because some people attacked a blind man. Say that if you want.

But, it is equally true that folks here (even some of the regulars) had finally stopped cutting him slack on his sexist comments. Since the beginning he made a sexist comment every day and people would say "oh, he's just joking, what a kidder!" Then people started to realize he wasn't kidding.

I'm not saying he's not welcome and is not entertaining. But it would be revisionist to say that all negative comments directed at him were unfair attacks questioning whether he was blind.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2006 8:09 AM

I think this is a very interesting subject. In my family, my husband stays at home. He was laid off a few years ago and is working to start his own business from the house. My job became a career and I have become the major breadwinner in the family. As we have adjusted to this, I find balance to be a challenge. My husband feeds the kids dinner, coaches their sports teams, arranges after school events etc. I take time off to go on field trips and parent conferences as well. We both help with homework and read with them. That seems to be balanced and fairly easy to deal with.

The hard part comes with the balancing the household chores and keeping up with the daily grind. My three children are all in school (9,7,5) and at the ages of being able to help and participate in household duties. I am the one who needs to keep the calendar organized, RSVP to parties,and do all the major housecleaning, as well as the non-typical chores such as switch out clothing with season changes, cleaning out closets, etc and stay on top of everyone to pick up their things. My husband does the surface cleaning and daily grind. This is not a complaint, but I am interested in knowing how others in this situation keep balance. I am not looking for "fair" - but ways to do things better. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Former NoVa Mom | October 4, 2006 10:44 AM

I am a WOHM and my husband is a SAHD. He is an immigrant who is a tradesman (tile and other remodeling) and I'm a lawyer so for us it is the only sensible option. He takes projects when I'm on maternity leave or when his mother is visiting to take a break. He's also planning to do an in home business eventually.

He doesn't like particularly working on a schedule so it really is great for him. If he were to work and I stay at home he would be really a lot more stressed than I am working and of course we'd go from being comfortable to barely above the poverty level. He says that he doesn't have any complexes about it at all. I don't know if he gets strange looks-- he hasn't mentioned it, but he might not really notice either since he doesn't socialize with Americans that much of either gender and doesn't pay much attention to them. All of our friends from his country know our situation and take it for what it is and all the women at work that know think it's great and I've never heard of any guys saying anything about it. But I work in a civil service job where most people really want family time.

I wish he could have more contact with other SAHDs, since all of our male friends from his country are at work during hte week and he would like to socialize more, but it's a bit difficult since he's never really socialized with Americans much.

Posted by: kv | October 4, 2006 11:26 AM

I'm not saying he's not welcome and is not entertaining. But it would be revisionist to say that all negative comments directed at him were unfair attacks questioning whether he was blind.

Posted by: | October 4, 2006 08:09 AM

=====

Speaking for myself, I did not object to the critiques of his posting style or his comments that people found objectionable. However, there was a large volume of posts questioning whether he was blind, postulating that he had made up the story and that Leslie hadn't verified his status and was taken for a ride. Whether you agree with him or not, the skepticism and downright accusations were disappointing. For someone to have to tell a difficult personal tale and then have to put up with this type of behaviour felt like watching children circling the blind man poking him with sticks that he couldn't see. Cheap and degrading and among the low points for this blog.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 4, 2006 1:02 PM

My husband is a SAHD to our son, who is almost a year old. We've known for years that this would be our arrangement - well before we had children. We even talked about before we were married that we're fortunate to live in a time when men can be involved in child rearing and women can pursue uninterrupted careers. Prior generations didn't have that flexibility.

I know my husband loves staying home and enjoys the quality time he has with our son. Still, he is sensitive to the reactions of others - mostly SAHM's he encounters in our community. Some are friendly and accepting, but others seem suspicious and rejecting of him. Some assume he's with another mother - and seem bewildered when he says he's our son's primary caregiver.

He's encoutered biases against SAHDs in other settings. He's found a distinct lack of baby changing tables in men's bathrooms (and been advised to go into women's bathrooms by store managers). Most recently, he started taking our son to activities in our local community center - and found out that they don't register our child under either parents' name - just the mother's name (assuming that only mom would be with a child).

Posted by: chw | October 4, 2006 4:19 PM

I wonder if other moms with sahds ever feel left out. My husband works, but is a teacher in our kids' district and is home more than I am, so is the more involved parent. I often feel that other people are judgemental that I'm not the main child care provider. I also feel left out when the kids automatically go to him for things. Have dads always felt this way or is it different for moms?

Posted by: ec | October 4, 2006 5:12 PM

My wife's doctor just divorced her stay at home husband. She said that she just didn't respect him anymore. She told my wife that she felt like all the weight of supporting the family was on her. Future SAHDs beware, women often say one thing and feel another. Your proud independent wife may start to get that nagging feeling that you are a loser.

Posted by: James | October 5, 2006 4:36 PM

Don't know if anyone is still reading this blog, but if any SAHDs are feeling isolated, check out www.dcmetrodads.com. My husband is in one of the groups and they get together twice a week at a playground.

Posted by: wife of SAHD | October 6, 2006 1:25 PM

That's a sad commentary. It sounds like the kind of stuff SAHW/SAHM have dealt with for years where the husband trades her in for a newer model. Respect does seem to be a problem and whether SAHM or SAHD, people often put forth the attitude that, as a job, it's an invalid choice. As if people don't deserve respect for taking care of their children themselves. But I don't think there should be any more caution about being a SAHD vs being a SAHM. It's really the same situation and both deserve respect.

Of course, to be fair to the doctor, who knows what her exact situation was or what the deal was between her and her husband. Maybe he wasn't fulfilling some part of the "bargain." We don't know.

Posted by: To James | October 6, 2006 3:29 PM

So where did fortunes reverse? The title sounds more depressing than it is.

I think the adding of a 3rd kid to the mix -- and NOT an infant, I hope you noticed -- shows that the author/mom thinks dad is doing a fine job and is capable of doing miracles.

Posted by: Keith | October 9, 2006 10:39 AM

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