Slugs in Recliners

Last year, I told you about some fascinating University of Maryland time-diary studies from the past 40 years analyzing how moms and dads in America spend their days. Yesterday, a Washington Post recap of the research cited sociologist Suzanne Bianchi's key findings that working and non-working mothers today spend 14.1 hours per week tending "primarily" to their children -- feeding them, caring for them, playing games -- vs. only 10.2 hours per week for moms in 1965. Despite all our guilt, moms today spend more time with our kids, on average, than our mothers did. And more time than fathers -- mothers today put in twice as many hours as men in terms of childcare and housework.

And dads? Well, the changes are equally noteworthy. Fathers today have nearly tripled the hours they spend with their children. They have more than doubled weekly housework from 4.4 hours in 1965 to 9.6 hours in 2003. Unfortunately, we are still finding our way -- clumsily -- in publicly honoring these positive shifts in fatherhood.

"It's not the case that men are slugs," says William Doherty, a family studies professor at the University of Minnesota who studies fatherhood. The quote appeared in a secondary article in The Post yesterday titled Fathers Are No Longer Glued to Their Recliners.

I am sorry, but the mental image of a slug glued to his recliner is almost too much for me to take. Does Slug Daddy have a Bud can in his slippery hand, resting on a large beer belly? (Not that there is anything wrong with either.) As much as my blood boils at the saintly and ridiculous images of the perfect American mom placidly taking a child's temperature, cooking spaghetti sauce on her GE stove, and giving herself a manicure -- simultaneously -- I am even more stunned by this portrayal of American dads.

I've led the charge against men, including my own husband, many times. But I can't deny -- and I don't want to ridicule -- the very real shifts in American fatherhood today. Among my kid's circle of friends, dads drop their kids off, pick them up, bring hot dishes to potlucks, volunteer on committees, organize playdates, go to pediatrician's appointments, move for their wives' careers, coach soccer and basketball and have mastered the art of putting tights on four-year-old girls. On average, yes, Bianchi and Doherty's research finds that wives do more orchestrating of daily family life. But maybe we could learn from the damage done by stereotyping moms in this country and not make the same mistake with dads. Dads deserve recognition, not ridicule.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  March 21, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads
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first

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 7:29 AM

Second

Posted by: Wanted to be First! | March 21, 2007 7:41 AM

I was rather irritated by that article. It felt like once again men were being hailed as heroes for doing what women have been doing for a long time. I am not trying to impugn men and any progress in this area is good. It's just that women are still BY FAR bearing the brunt of the childcare and household stuff, in addition to (for many of us) holding down a full- or part-time job. I know I'm being kind of hypocritical, because I'm a bit of a control freak and in my own home I like to be the one who knows/remembers/schedules.

I think this article probably also caught me on a bad day, one where I said to my husband "I don't mind remembering everything as long as you remember SOME things".

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 7:46 AM

Dads don't care about recognition. We don't need it or crave it like you do. Thanks, but...whatever.

Posted by: bubba | March 21, 2007 7:47 AM

Oh yeah, we also don't care about ridicule either. So fire away...

Posted by: bubba | March 21, 2007 7:48 AM

In the article about moms it was interesting to note that most of their actions were motivated by guilt which is a terrible reason to be doing anything, let alone spending time with your kids. Maybe this explains the narcissism so prevalent in our youth today.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 7:54 AM

I can already see this may become a point of contention between my wife and I, but not the way you'd think. She's a notorious procrastinator, not dealing with anything until it is a near-crisis. I am proactive and take steps to keep things from become major problems as early as possible.

Obviously she wants to start a family as I do (or there'd be no starting at all), but I wonder just how the work is going to be shared once there's a baby to take care of as well as everything else. We've discussed this and while she greatly appreciates the things I do around the house, she doesn't offer to do much more than what she's already doing.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 7:59 AM

The thing I wondered about in the original article was the fact that while today's Mom is spending more time directly with the kids, I wonder if yesterday's Mom was "around more" with the kids. Yea, it took my mom longer to do chores and make meals and as such she couldn't play games, etc, but she was there between 8-5 and could answer a 2 minute question at 9, spend 3 minutes to settle a fight at 11, spend 5 minutes to apply a band-aid at 2, and yell at us to turn off the TV at 4 (for about 10 minutes).

I kind of wonder if this study yesterday was more of this 'quality time' stuff vs. 'just plain time'.

Posted by: Andrew | March 21, 2007 8:01 AM

From the article:

"Perhaps even more striking, the total workloads of married mothers and fathers -- when paid work is added to child care and housework -- is roughly equal, at 65 hours a week for mothers and 64 hours for fathers."

So, in an experiment with all of the vagaries of self-measurement, the delta is less than 9 minutes per day...

[To put it another way -- the high average for household / childcare for women is completely compensated for by the high average of employed hours for men.]

Can we now finally agree that on average men and women are working equally hard to support their families?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 8:02 AM

Not sure what the guilt thing is about or if it's more of the Madonna Martyr thing.

Most people (fathers and mothers) come home from work, eat dinner, and then sack out in front of the boob tube for the evening (judging from the AI water cooler conversations).

That's pretty much what parents in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s did.

The only real difference seems to be that a lot more kids are getting limoed around today to a lot of silly activities.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 8:03 AM

I think its great that dads are doing more. I know that my dh is an invaluable part of our family life. I also agree with Andrew re: being around. I think there's a lot of value to being available. Good point Andrew.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 8:04 AM

"The thing I wondered about in the original article was the fact that while today's Mom is spending more time directly with the kids, I wonder if yesterday's Mom was "around more" with the kids."

And you point? I hope it's not that women should be at home to just be "around more" with the kids. So what if women were "around more"--it doesn't mean it was better for children.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 8:09 AM

John L.

"We've discussed this and while she greatly appreciates the things I do around the house, she doesn't offer to do much more than what she's already doing".

Rethink your plans to start a family. Kids create a ton of thankless child care and housework that is pure drudgery. If your wife isn't a team player now, she never will be.


One way or another, you'll end up doing the extra work or paying for it to be done.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 8:09 AM

regarding John L, why should she do the work if he's going to do it. good for her! What you two need to do is communicate, about this issue and everything else.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 21, 2007 8:11 AM

I agree with Andrew about the "around more" comment, but I'm not sure how to fix it. I think that growing up where either mom or dad were always around (or both in the summers, as they were in education) gave my siblings and I a measure of security that I don't know my husband and I can provide -- unless we make some big changes.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 8:14 AM

aaawwwww, ridicule is fun!

Leslie has come a long way from ridiculing DH for calling on the cell phone to make sure he bought the correct brand of ice cream for the birthday party.

Anybody notice that last night was one of widespread spousal contention? Friction w/DW, new moon, cold and snow/ice cover up here in New England made for an unpleasant first day of spring...

cue Twilight Zone theme...

Posted by: Fo3 | March 21, 2007 8:15 AM

Anybody notice that last night was one of widespread spousal contention?

It was here - apparently its not just the kids who don't think 8:00 is a hard and fast bedtime. We've been putting the kids to bed at 8:00 for 6 years and yet, dh still acts like its a surprise every night. What's up with that?

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 8:18 AM

"We've been putting the kids to bed at 8:00 for 6 years and yet, dh still acts like its a surprise every night. What's up with that?"

DH is far too busy fantasizing about his hot, juicy assistant to remember when the kids' bedtime is. Can't the kids tell time yet?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 8:23 AM

I find it strange that Leslie is suddenly sticking up for dads/men. She claims she has never met a man that takes on the day care resposibilities but knows dads that do everything else including putting tights on girls.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Leslie's defense of dads - it is just unprecedented as far as I can remember and I have been posting for 9 months or so.

BTW: I dream about laying in a recliner drinking a Bud Light every evening - too bad we don't have one (recliner that it).

Posted by: CMAC | March 21, 2007 8:24 AM

CMAC,
I used to have recliners - they aren't all they are cracked up to be. You can't take a nap in one. Give me a sectional sofa with a chaise anyday.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 8:26 AM

more like household contention:

dh yelling at ds's for constantly fighting/annoying each other in car (not abusive yelling, mind you, just "cut it out now" kind of stuff), general kid crankiness combined with state testing for older two, youngest acting out,
I will blame it on the new moon. Everyone but mom was cranky!!

Fo4, I toasted your beer last night with my Hornsby's cider once everyone was settled down and in bed.

Posted by: jessker | March 21, 2007 8:26 AM

It's not that my wife does nothing around the house, it's just that she has a blind spot about things like general housekeeping, while it bugs me to see clutter sitting around. If I clean it up, though, she gets upset that I got rid of stuff she considered useful and "she was going to put away eventually". That's the problem; "eventually" never gets there.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 8:30 AM

"recliners - they aren't all they are cracked up to be. You can't take a nap in one."

Dads can take a nap anywhere. I could nap on wet rocks. But the great thing about a recliner is...it's mine. No one else can snuggle up to me. No one can put there feet on me. It's all mine. My space. Now let me nap in peace...

Posted by: bubba | March 21, 2007 8:33 AM

'No one else can snuggle up to me.'

My dad could hold three of my (small) children while he lounged in his recliner!
Super Grandad!!

Posted by: experienced mom | March 21, 2007 8:40 AM

Sounds like more man-bashing to me. I spend a lot of time with my kids. So does DW. So do the other moms and dads in our neighborhood. Not news. Feh. Back to sleep.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | March 21, 2007 8:40 AM

When my daughter was in second grade (she is now a senior in high school), I was fairly livid when her father received endless praise and fawning over for bringing in store-bought cupcakes for a class event. Even hours later the wonder of his parenting skills was being gushed about to me. Why would this make me livid? Because when I had brought in a home-baked treat a few weeks earlier, I'd gotten a cursory thank you, and nothing more was said about it (an appropriate reaction, by the way, as it would have been when her father brought in treats).

I'm pleased to say that a decade later the teachers at our son's day care make an equally big deal, or non-deal, over the actions of both fathers AND mothers.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 8:44 AM

"Despite all our guilt, moms today spend more time with our kids, on average, than our mothers did."

And yet someone will still feel the need to post about how working women are still not raising their kids. This stat should be reason enough for none of us to feel guilty.

"Mothers today put in twice as many hours as men in terms of childcare and housework."

This is what needs to change. I'll be thrilled when the 64 and 65 hours are more evenly divided between housework/childcare and paid work for both men and women. That means that men will be allowing women to work more hours because they are contributing more to raising the kids. If people can ask working women "why did you even have kids if you don't want to raise them," can't we ask men the same thing? I would be suspicious of any man who claims to want children but who expects me to put in twice as much time raising them than he does.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 8:45 AM

I think it's funny that dads or just men in general can list all of the things they do that are typical "women's" jobs in a milisecond. DH and I had a "conversation" this weekend about this very subject. He likes to contend that he does more of the chores around the house than I do. His case in point was that he had finished 3 loads of laundry that morning after I hadn't even looked at the pile in days. My counterpoint was that he did 3 loads of laundry completely wrong. He put dry clean only and hand wash items in the wash with no regard to the damage to the clothing. I appreciate when he pitches in and even when he doesn't do things exactly the way I would, I don't usually criticize. However, if a job is done extremely haphazardly (as was our laundry)...it is just as well left undone.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 8:46 AM

There are women on this blog that can also list (in a millisecond too, I bet) the traditional "men's" jobs they do, though.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 8:50 AM

A few weeks ago, DH said he would pick up the living room while I got ready to go to the gym. I said "Thanks honey" with a smile. He said "That's it, That's all you have to say?". My response was that I was not going to give him a gold star every 2 months when he decided he wants to get attention by wiping down the counters or folding a blanket. Don't tell me men don't care about praise or ridicule.

Posted by: Gold star | March 21, 2007 8:52 AM

John L, Your wife sounds like my husband, pre-baby. Once our bundle came into our lives he stepped to the plate. He had no choice. It's the only way we are surviving but I will also say that a lot of things are also just not as important either. Cleaning gets done but not like before. Food is made but not like before. We don't watch TV except for two shows we can't live without and those are recorded for the weekend. Nothing else is as important as hanging out with the baby and seeing her smile and hearing her babble. Plus, I went through nine months of pregnancy, 26 hours of labor, three weeks of bed rest- pre and post baby- and we ended with a 9 lbs + child out of my 5'1" frame. He can NEVER slack again. I am a saint:) He has said as much!

Posted by: Formerly Soon to be Mom | March 21, 2007 8:52 AM

Napping is wonderful and I wish I could do more of it. I love falling asleep on the couch after the kids have gone to bed (and a load of laundry folded, dishes put away, counters cleared....) - the cat usually curls up on my chest, dog at my feet - and then the phone will ring! DANG! I always forget to bring the phone to the couch with me.

RE The study: I saw a "childhood expert" talking on this Univ of MD study and unfortunately "spending time with the kids" can be a detriment if you become the helicopter parent. Kids never learn independence, decision making, you know the rest. It can go both ways.

Posted by: cmac | March 21, 2007 8:56 AM

Gold Star, I guess I should rephrase. We might care about praise or ridicule from our spouse, but not from the media, or our neighbors, or the teacher, or any one else who really doesn't matter.

Posted by: bubba | March 21, 2007 8:58 AM

If you think that some of these "dads in the recliner" attitudes are merely relics of the past, then I suggest you spend some time watching "House Hunters" on HGTV. For some reason, we've been watching it a lot lately, and it provides some really interesting cultural fodder for this discussion. Generally, the guys walk through the houses making comments and stupid jokes related to how they're going to spend their leisure time: "Gee, I hope there's enough room for my widescreen TV in here." "My barbecue would fit great on this deck." "Does this couch come with the house? Ha, ha, ha."

The women tend to notice the laundry room, the kitchen and whether or not the yard/stairs/street would be safe for the children. There was one recently where the guy spent the whole time talking about where he was going to keep his 9 bicycles -- they were in the living room in his old house -- and the woman talked about whether the tub would be appropriate for bathing their child. Interestingly, they were both professionals living in Alexandria, VA.

Occasionally on the show, a guy shows an interest in the kitchen, but as you watch them examine the spaces, it appears that the men are worrying about how they're going to recreate in the house, and the women are thinking about how they're going to work in it. Interesting . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | March 21, 2007 9:01 AM

CMAC,
Why is it that when you just settle down to either watch something on tv or read the phone rings and you don't have it next to you to either answer or ignore? If I can see the caller ID I don't mind ignoring it but if I don't know who it was it bugs me until I get up and look.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 9:01 AM

I can't think of any stereotype that does not have some basis in reality. My husband has a recliner and, yes, he sits in it from time to time. Meanwhile, I do, in fact, do more housework.

Obviously, if men don't like this stereotype they are fully empowered to change it by uniformly improving their behavior over time. Whining about it will just create a new stereotype!

Posted by: catmommy | March 21, 2007 9:01 AM

What I found interesting about the UM study was that single mothers were spending less time with their children over the same period. Both mothers and father time increased, but single moms decreased. It looks to me that single moms need to take on more than one job to keep the family afloat, and fathers are not ponying up financial support.

Posted by: single mom | March 21, 2007 9:02 AM

FormerlySoontobeMom, OUCH!

I hope that's what happens with my wife as well (not the 9 lb baby thing; she's about 5'3"), but the 'step up to the plate' thing. She is getting better about picking stuff up, but there's plenty of room for improvement.

Part of it is no doubt my willingness to do it if she doesn't, and part is her mom refused to let her do anything to help around the house. I almost feel like some of the mothers here who did have to put your feet down and get your husbands to start helping out more around the house once the baby shows up, though.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 9:05 AM

"It's a new generation of fathers, and they are internalizing some of the very high expectations that mothers have... Today, married fathers compare themselves to the example their wives set with children and housework -- not to what their own fathers did."

So, "bubba," that's actually noted in the article. Men are doing more because their wives are doing more. They deserve some praise if they are contributing a fair amount. It seems that "Gold star's" husband, however, needs to do more for that praise. I happen to agree with her. I'll thank my husband for sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping, but he's not going to get a thank you for letting the laundry sit in the washer for a week while he's "taking care of it."

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 9:05 AM

My single mom friend fortunately has a responsible partner that is helping her raise her young daughter, but she's still the one that does the bulk of the child care. From what she's said to me, he takes care of his daughter only when mom has to go to work; the rest of the time (even when both are there) she's the one that is taking care of the baby.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 9:08 AM

Looks outside... nope... hell hath not frozen over. What gives? Has she gone soft?

In any event- no matter what, we can not continuously be held accountable for the "sins" of our parents. So any progress made by dads is ALWAYS an individual's progress, and thus a praiseworthy thing. I do not see why it must always be downplayed or given the trite statements that always go: "I do not see what the big deal is, women have been doing this forever..." Were the same to be said of the many breakthrough accomplishments of women this past century, the one who opened their mouth to say them would be made to suffer tremendously...

People lose sight of the trees in the midst of the forest- it is wonderful that people on average are spending more time with their kids, but when you reduce it to petty jabs at our other halves who had nothing to do with the past generations of parenting, you do not set a good example. If you mock good behavior, rather than encourage it, you slowly wear away at society a little bit more... I am not talking about good natured needling and teasing, but the outright resentment at the praise the other sex receives when as a whole it finally gets something right, or accomplishes something. I see no reason to resent these advances of our partners. There should be enough thankfulness and praise to go around for everyone. That said, I would be thankful if you would quit your griping and get back in the kitchen. Bring me a beer while you're there... :-P

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 9:08 AM

Meesh:

"This is what needs to change. I'll be thrilled when the 64 and 65 hours are more evenly divided between housework/childcare and paid work for both men and women. "

So, if the hours were split more evenly but the overhead cost of doing that [since now both people have to be equally skilled at childcare / household support / employment ] was that the numbers were now 75 and 75 -- you would be happy and call that progress?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 9:09 AM

I think the articles were actually pretty interesting. I grew up with a full-time teacher mom and an army dad- but surprisingly, as long as he was actually local (and not deployed), my dad was the one who was more available for those sick school-day pickups, early softball practice, etc--- teachers are less flexible than you think. I myself am a reservist, and every month I go away from Fri- Sun. Normally I stay home with our one-year-old, but once a month it's a daddy-baby weekend. And I come home to a cooked dinner, folded laundry, and a happy baby- the same things my husband and I do together during the rest of the month. So yes, maybe some fathers are doing more, or maybe America's just finally paying attention to the fact that not all dads sit in their recliners (we don't own one...) and watch TV. Although baby sure enjoyed visiting Grandpa and sitting with him in the recliner :)

Posted by: reservist | March 21, 2007 9:11 AM

Is it possible that a lot of women (not all, but a lot) are just wired to handle day-to-day things? I handle most of the day-to-day planning, but my husband is excellent at broader, weekly tasks, like getting the garbage and recycling out (not a small task), changing oil/filling up gas in both cars, sweeping/vacuuming once a week, household repairs, shoveling/mowing, etc. And I HATE to do those things. We split day care drop off and pick up, but in general I make sure that stuff is ready for daycare and set up playdates. If it works for us, why is that a problem? We probably end up with the same amount of time spent on tasks, but differently. He's just not a detail person, and if I were responsible for the garbage getting out, I'd forget 50% of the time. So we aren't perfect.

Posted by: Ann Arbor, MI | March 21, 2007 9:11 AM

"Armchair mom," that's a fascinating observation! I want to watch the show now.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 9:11 AM

John L, second the recommendation that you guys talk your way to a compromise before you have kids -- if you hate mess now, oh BOY will it be a whole new ballgame!

Question is whether this is just about habits, time for cleaning, etc., vs. a real psychological need. Sounds stupid, doesn't it? But I know my mom goes nuts if the house is disordered -- she's a control freak, and having everything not precisely where it's supposed to be makes her feel anxious and unsettled until it is picked up (sort of "I can't control the big bad world, but dammit, I CAN control my house"). Whereas when "everything's in its place," I feel stifled and claustrophobic, and can never really relax without at least a little disorganization -- plus I'm very visual, so I fear that if I put something where I can't see it, I will forget it's there (thus explaining how we ended up with two baby backpacks).

I this is impossible to resolve if you just focus on the surface issues ("your cleaning standards suck!" "you're such a neat freak!"), because usually the messier person tries to suck it up for a while (because they feel like they "should" be neater), but can't really do it long-term. Frankly, to me, your proposed solution seems great -- I'd much rather someone pick up after me than nag me and make me feel like I'm an idiot because I can never meet their standards (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt). But the fact that she gets annoyed and frustrated when you do that may mean that it's not really about "oops, my stuff moved" -- maybe it's just the fact that it's TOO neat, or that she needs her stuff right in front of her. Or maybe she doesn't mind the order but has other priorities and interprets your picking up after her as an implicit criticism. I don't know what it is, but you can always ask her.

There are solutions, but they vary depending on what the "need" is you're trying to address. If you need neat and she needs mess, maybe you can agree that certain areas will stay clean, but others can be messsy. If it's about not knowing where her stuff is, maybe you can agree that you will put it all in one designated spot. If she thinks you're criticizing her, maybe you can reassure her that it's not a question of you being "right" and her being "wrong," but just that, right OR wrong, you just need the control and order of knowing everything's in its place (even if that seems completely weird to her!).

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 9:13 AM

Wow (as always)! Are we a little obsessed, or what? If my wife really spends her time observing my behavior and keeping score, she thankfully keeps it to herself. As it is, she is the one with the recliner (and a heating pad) in which she sits after a full day of this and that and watches some crap on TV.

The kids (teenagers) wonder in and out from jobs and sports, eating and talking a mile a minute and the day gradually settles into the night.

Sometimes you need to let it go.

Posted by: Dave | March 21, 2007 9:15 AM

For those of you unfamiliar with "reality" TV, (especially 'soft reality' like House Hunters, or other HGTV shows), it is SCRIPTED. It's not like you are catching the candid reactions of the men or women. The producers encourage comments, and often times there are many, many takes. I wouldn't take away too much from your observations.

Posted by: bubba | March 21, 2007 9:18 AM

to help John L. because he is politely raising an interesting issue in search of real assistance, and now I feel bad for being snarky.
anyone remember the name of the book that was such a best seller about housekeeping? Not the Martha Stewart one. I understand there are lots of practical ideas about keeping a house. Professionals have developed organizational systems for those papers that have the potential to overwhelm us all.
I'm naturally not neat, but read somewhere that if the house is neat and organized, the we feel less stress and more peace. I think this is true, and I will be working towards this goal (probably for the rest of my life)!

Posted by: experienced mom | March 21, 2007 9:18 AM

Does anyone else think it's tragic that parents are spending only 14.1 hours a week focussed on their kids? There are two weekend days in there. What does that mean - 3-4 hours each day on the weekend and less than an hour a day during the week! This does not mean that a parent must SAH but I am a firm believer in quantity time, not quality time. Kids don't care if you are doing the most amazing, bonding activity. They just want to know their parent is around.

Posted by: anon | March 21, 2007 9:23 AM

Meesh:

"This is what needs to change. I'll be thrilled when the 64 and 65 hours are more evenly divided between housework/childcare and paid work for both men and women. "

So, if the hours were split more evenly but the overhead cost of doing that [since now both people have to be equally skilled at childcare / household support / employment ] was that the numbers were now 75 and 75 -- you would be happy and call that progress?

Posted by: | March 21, 2007 09:09 AM

That might be true for a few months while you learn new household skills, but not in the long run. There just isn't much to learn in terms of house work and child care - for the most part you just do it. My husband and I split child care and chores fifty/ fifty and we both work outside of the home for 40ish hours a week in areas that emphasize our actual skills. I put the kids to bed while he puts in a load of laundry, cleans the dinner dishes and makes lunches, then the next night we switch. It always makes you appreciate all that goes into making a household run smoothly.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 21, 2007 9:23 AM

I can honestly say that when things are neat I like it better but it is so much easier to just leave the mail on the table in the foyer and deal with it later. By the time Friday arrives the table is clutterd with mail and stuff I bring home from work, etc. Ridiculous.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 9:23 AM

John L, I know of what you speak, as I was once that person. My husband is orderly, and I was a wanna-be. When we were LIS, he was annoyed with two minor things that I did/did not do. We talked about them --nicely--and he asked me if I could make more of an effort in doing one and/or not doing another. He even took it a step further to alleviate the offending habit (leaving the newspaper strewn all over the table for later reading) by buying a container for it so I could have a place to put it and not put it in some random place.

As far as household chores go, the biggest hurdles are 1) having a place for everything, 2) knowing where those places are and 3) maintaining. It used to irk me that I could never find stuff after my husband or kids emptied the dishwasher, so I labeled shelves and drawers (on the inside) with exactly what went where. It took some time, but worth it. I also had my kids clean the kitchen with me about 20 times before they did it without supervision. They absolutely LOVE the results of their handiwork, the praise, and the feeling of instant gratification for having done something well that Mommy does (o.k.--they are 9 and 11 and still call me mommy. I am o.k. with that). But the real help for them was an absolute list of what had to be done. I laminated it and they can check it off every time. Since they each clean the whole kitchen by themselves instead of together (no griping that one is doing less, no blaming the other for something, and they each get a week straight of no dishes--sweeet!), they can quickly see what needs to be done and what doesn't.

It sounds like your wife needs to consider your feelings or need for a clean and orderly environment a little more. If you don't get this sorted out now, it will most likely cause resentment when you have kids, because kids do not lend themselves to order. I hope you communicate with her. My oldest spent quite some time cleaning the kitchen the other night, and because she started off the week with a very clean kitchen, the subsequent nights were much shorter. She came down this morning and told me I was messing up HER kitchen (I was cleaning out my bag!! It just gave her ownership.

Throw a party--that always gets our house spotless!

Posted by: Frankly | March 21, 2007 9:28 AM

I'm a realtor, and I can attest that Armchair Mom is exactly right. That doesn't just happen on House Hunters. When I show houses, the husbands gravitate to garages, family rooms, measure walls for big screen TV's and wonder how much work the lawn is going to take. Wives focus on how houses flow, closet size, whether the kitchen has enough room/counter space. The joke I hear most often involves the master bed room closet, and usually the husband says, "Well here's her closet, where's mine?"

Posted by: Sue | March 21, 2007 9:28 AM

Consider that most likely that slug worked and paid for his recliner, as well as the food on the table and the roof over your head. SAHMs must keep that in mind when they whine about husbands/partners/live-in boyfriends not doing enough around the house. Mom is at home all day; the father is out there in the dog-eat-dog world paying for her privileges.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 9:28 AM

I know this is primarily focused on married couples but single parents, especially us fathers with full custody, get no recognition what-so-ever from anybody other than ourselves. I have TWO recliners and reward myself in front of the big screen with some XBox 360 when my "chores" are done. My other reward? THe satisfaction of knowing my children are healthy, happy (somewhat. they obviously miss their Mom) and taken care of.

Posted by: Sterling Park | March 21, 2007 9:28 AM

Ironic that those comments came from someone named "Armchair Mom." Maybe those guys want to know they can relax in their new home because they know they have been and will continue to work a big chunk of their lives just to pay for it. ;-)

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 9:30 AM

To "9:09," who wrote "So, if the hours were split more evenly but the overhead cost of doing that [since now both people have to be equally skilled at childcare / household support / employment ] was that the numbers were now 75 and 75 -- you would be happy and call that progress?"

Well, I'm not sure that there are any associated costs with "being skilled at childcare and household support." An explanation of dry clean versus washable would take about 5 minutes, for example. The numbers are not clear, but let's assume some things.

Men might traditionally work 55-hour weeks (including commuting). That leaves 10 hours leftover (from the 65) for house and kid stuff.

On that assumption, and on the statement that women still do twice as much house and kid stuff, we can say that of the 64 hours women work, 20 is devoted to housework, which leaves 44 for work (including commuting).

What I'm saying is that, if men really want to contribute more and help the family and spend time with the kids, he should work less and allow the wife to work more. Then they would each be working about 50 hours (including commuting) and both would spend 14 and 15 hours with house and kid stuff.

As it is now, men want to have a fulfilling career and think they need to be the breadwinners. So they work longer hours, forcing their wives to pick up the slack at home. If they expect their wives to put their careers on hold or take jobs that pay less, the husbands should be willing to do the same.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 9:32 AM

Laura, yes, we've discussed our approaches to keeping the house clean and neat(er). I'm not constantly nagging her about these things, but if I never say anything then she never seems to notice that the clutter is starting to overwhelm the entire house.

For example, with our family plans in mind, last year I built a library/home office out of an unfinished room in our house. I put in two wall-to-wall bookshelves, a work desk with filing and storage space in and around it, and a computer desk.

The plan was to move all our books (scattered around the house in portable bookshelves) into the built in bookshelves, move her computer in the room, which then allows us to empty one of the bedrooms for use as a nursery.

She has moved her computer into the room, as well as most of the books into the bookcases, but then proceeded to go out and get MORE books from library sales for use in an online used book store she's setting up. Now the library is as cluttered as the rest of the house, and there's still books that need to be moved in there before we can begin working on the nursery!

Also, she is still trying to get her mom's estate resolved, and she wants some of her mom's furniture moved in to replace what we've already got. Of course, that means making space for it, but she insists she be allowed to do the triage on the stuff in some of the areas, not me (I throw out too much of what she wants to keep). Nearly six months later, she's yet to start this process...

It's all frustrating to me. If there's a job that needs doing, my nature is to start working on it. Her nature appears to be to wait until there's no time left at all before it HAS to be done, and then work herself sick trying to do it all at once.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 9:38 AM

Chris wrote "Maybe those guys want to know they can relax in their new home because they know they have been and will continue to work a big chunk of their lives just to pay for it. ;-)"

Maybe those women need a recliner too to know they can relax in their new home because they know they have been and will continue to work a big chunk of their lives just to clean it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 9:41 AM

"no matter what, we can not continuously be held accountable for the "sins" of our parents. So any progress made by dads is ALWAYS an individual's progress, and thus a praiseworthy thing. I do not see why it must always be downplayed or given the trite statements that always go: "I do not see what the big deal is, women have been doing this forever..."

Chris, I think you made some really good points. I think studies like these are very helpful, because they give a little perspective. I suspect that a lot of the frustration and sniping comes from different expectations: the woman compares the time she spends taking care of the family and house to the time her husband does, and feels things are not fair; meanwhile, the husband compares what he does at home to what his dad did, and thinks, wow, I'm really doing a great job here. So both feel underappreciated and overworked, because they are comparing different things. I suspect this is what leads to a lot of the sniping.

Personally, I find it incredibly useful to compare my husband to his dad and my dad -- it makes me really appreciate the fact that he takes for granted that he is equally responsible for the home and that my career is equally as important as his (even if his understanding of what that means on a day-to-day basis isn't always what I might like). To me, the most noteworthy statistic here was that modern dads have almost tripled their time on home/family stuff. That reaffirms that my husband has every right to be proud of his contributions, because he had to figure this all out without being raised that way, without any role models, without society indoctrinating him that this is what he's supposed to do.

But still, the effusive praise about dads doing fairly basic dad things is a little grating (store-bought cupcakes? Argh!). I do praise my husband for a lot of little things, because that's how I like to be treated as well. But when people are just blown away by the most basic things (I once got a "you mean your husband actually takes your daughter to birthday parties???"), it irks me. But then again, that's one more thing I appreciate about my husband: that stuff annoys the bejeebers out of him, too, because he resents the implication that he WOULDN'T care about or be competent to do those things!

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 9:42 AM

Meesh, while I generally agree with things you post, I think we're going to start the "equality doesn't mean everything is split 50-50" discussion again. I'm firmly in the camp that parents should split responsibilities for their households/families/kids, but that doesn't mean we each cook 50% of the meals, do 50% of the laundry, help with 50% of the homework. We each have our areas of specialization, and we work better as a team when we apportion the responsibilities that way. (Why yes, I *am* an engineer, thank you. :-)

In our house, that means I do most of the cooking/grocery shopping; DW does all of the decorating; etc. (The kids now do a lot of the cleaning/lawncare stuff, but that was split before.)

I help with the math and science homework, and coaching the sports teams; she helps with the English homework and runs some of the fundraising.

In terms of hours working outside the house, DW works as an instructional assistant for the school system, so that's generally about 40 hours per week, no more. That job was her choice; she used to be an analyst for the Feds but quit because she hated it. So I work more hours at my paying job than does she, but I can't see any reasonable way of making that equal - she doesn't want a job that requires more hours, and I'm happy with my current job situation too, which is realistically about 50 - 55 hours a week, some of which is done at home.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 9:46 AM

John L

A lot of child care is Johnny-on-the-Spot stuff. It can take hours to clean up the messes from projectile vomiting and diarhea and sometimes the mess starts all over again in a few minutes.

Is your wife up for that?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 9:46 AM

John L. can you make a date to work on the house for X hours, then go out to dinner? That's how we do yard work.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 21, 2007 9:47 AM

did anybody catch the discussion yesterday on the study? somebody, i'm assuming a woman based on her comments, talked about how much better it was to overspoil a child than under spoil. no, i don't find it sad that parents don't spend more time with their children. i love my son very much but he is not the center of the universe; mine or anybody elses. he needs to learn how to amuse himself. when i'm making dinner he can play by himself. when i'm finished whatever i'm doing i'm not interested in playing rescue heros or pokemon. we do somethings together but not everything.

Posted by: quark | March 21, 2007 9:48 AM

I meant the two of you together. it could be fun!

Posted by: experienced mom | March 21, 2007 9:49 AM

In response to the furthering of stereotypes with men and house-hunting: When we are looking at new homes I am very critical of any problems and point them out in hopes of knocking the price down by an extra thousand or so as all the little things add up... My wife of course is always piping in at just the wrong time to say, "oh that's no big deal" to everything I point out... and I am always stuck explaining later how all those no big deal things add up to an extra grand or two we will now have to spend. She always says, oh you should have cut in (which would have gotten me in big trouble!), and lays the blame on me. There is just no winning! Maybe this is another reason why guys just shut up and talk about where to stick the TV and couch... it's relatively safe.

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 9:53 AM

KLB SS MD, you should get talking caller id. I suggest it for everyone.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 21, 2007 9:54 AM

Father of 4,
If I got talking called ID then what would I have to complain about?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 9:56 AM

Laura, I agree that looking to the past generations to see the positive improvements is good and can be rewarding- but doing it out of context as a means of throwing daggers is just rotten. :-)

9:41... as if. :-P

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 9:57 AM

Chris,

Maybe you should discuss your plan for bring down the price of the house with your wife before you go house hunting. I might not have thought about it either, but I would certainly keep my mouth shut if my husband had let me know his game plan - or chimed in to help.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 21, 2007 9:57 AM

My wife's no idiot; she's well aware that babies tend to produce fluids in copious quantities from all sorts of orifices at unexpected times, and none of them smell good. She has begun helping watch her boss' new baby when he brings him to the office, too, so she's getting some firsthand experience in what to expect (although in a small way, of course).

This is an improvement; in the past (before we decided to start a family) she reacted to babies a lot like Angelina Jolie did in the movie "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" when she had to hold one at a party.

So far she's not screamed "you're crazy if you think I'm going to help you make one of THOSE!", so I'd say she's OK with having to clean them up.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 10:00 AM

I used to have recliners - they aren't all they are cracked up to be. You can't take a nap in one. Give me a sectional sofa with a chaise anyday.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 08:26 AM

Those chairs they use at NIH are darned comfortable. I did apharesis there once and not only was I treated like a queen, I actually fell asleep!

Nuts to spring cleaning, anyone else want to virtually join me in donating blood instead?

Posted by: MdMother | March 21, 2007 10:00 AM

Oh, John L, I both feel your pain and AM your pain. :-) I tend to organize in spurts -- I have tried all my life to do better, but end up back to that once-a-month binge when things hit the "I just can't stand it any more" phase.

And now my husband's doing the same thing, but on "his" stuff -- ironically, also involving our office. We just finished a remodel, but there are a lot of cats and dogs we wanted to do ourselves. His priority has been trim -- he's looking at it as "who can we get out of our house for good?" and figures if he gets the trim done, the painters will be gone. But he just hasn't had time (two kids + loud compressor = no work after bedtime or during nap -- and when the heck else are you supposed to do it??). End result: trim has already taken a month -- and that's just for the bedroom/bathroom!

Meanwhile, I'm thinking in terms of "how can I get my house back the quickest"? For me, that's finishing the office cabinets and countertop -- our office stuff is currently on the dining room, which is in the living room. So if we can just get the dang office done, I can get half my house back! But, you know, it's his area of expertise, so I'm just letting him do it his way, and telling myself that in a year, it'll all be forgotten.

Maybe you and your wife can plan in advance to set aside some weekend time to make progress on some of this? And if she's just in the process of starting a business, maybe the real problem is that she just needs more space for her books -- maybe you can work with her to figure out some designated spot for that, away from the nursery and preferably away from the office since you need that more organized. (You know better than me, just throwing out ideas).

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 10:00 AM

Another cushy Fed Court job:

http://156.119.80.126/vacancies/view/index.cfm?doc=JobVac2007-03-20--11-59-34-198--0.640937843114

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 10:00 AM

John L,

I would not expect that, under the theory that she must simply rise to the occasion, your wife's sensitivity to clutter and disorganization will miraculously improve when a baby arrives. She will have less time. Her tendency to procrastinate will only increase. She'll be tired.

I'm donning my flame-proof suit and just tossing a possibility out there for your and your wife's, of course, consideration. Insert caveat here that it may be entirely irrelevant to your wife's pattern of behavior. Have either of you considered whether she may have ADD? procrastination, clutter, saying she'll do things but not following through, . . .

Our marriage almost broke up over behaviors that sound alot like what you're dealing with, but once we understood what was behind it, I stopped being so angry at the imbalance, and he didn't feel like such a schmuck.

As always, your mileage may vary. *waving from downtown Raleigh*

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 10:04 AM

Laura, you may be right about setting up "her space" in the library, and to devote specific time together on the weekend for cleaning and tidying.

Believe me, the two bookcases I built easily absorb the books we owned with space left over (think 8' tall bookcase, 14' long, with 8 shelves 11" wide), and a smaller one 8' long.

The desks were for her to organize the house finances and she's moved that stuff in there too; basically, this room is hers except for me putting my books in there too. It's these other, new boxes of books that are now taking over.

It really appears to me that she gets an idea on what she wants to do, realizes the size of the job she's looking at, and draws back from even trying to start in on it, while I just start working on it and eventually get it finished. To her it is "too much to do right now" and puts off doing anything.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 10:07 AM

I think you're makings something of nothing. The article said men were NOT slugs. That's a positive thing, no?

And, yes, the article does say that despite the progress, women still do more on the homefront (or words to that effect). That is hardly male bashing. It is -in many, not all- families still the truth.

My first is on the way and I have a very, very involved husband (involved in the pregancy and he wants to be so with child-rearing). Nonetheless, he still has to be nudged to do things to prepare for baby and to consider changes in his life (not just mine) post-baby. These are things I've already changed or committed to doing (or have done). He has to be reminded and I'm not sure why. I have made it clear that this is a partnership and we will both be carrying the responsibilities, which he fully agrees with me. I don't hold it against him and fully expect that these sort of reminders will not be needed in the future.

As for "publicly praising" fathers, I'm all for a big thank you when they help out (if they are also thanking their wives) but public praise is a bit much. Why should they be hailed for doing what they should be doing and what mothers have been doing for years? GMAB. I will say this, however. I think the factual reporting on the increase in active fathers has a good aspect to it, that is, that it conveys that such a role is "normal" and acceptable. That might help decrease the views of people like my father, who felt childrearing and house cleaning was "woman's work." Ugh. And, it might make more women feel empowered to ask non-active fathers to step up and help out more.

Posted by: JS | March 21, 2007 10:09 AM

Army Brat, I generally agree with you that chores do not have to be split 50/50. If I always clean the toilets (I do) and he always mops (he does) then I consider that equal because we're both doing "chores." We don't have to each do 50% of the mopping (thank goodness).

And as far as individual situations, it's fine that she doesn't want to work more hours and you want to. What I'm talking about is the norm. The day that the majority of households are closer to equal is the day that women are actually being given choices and feeling empowered to make them without worrying about how their familes will survive. That is not the case now.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 10:09 AM

I do, but my wife gets caught up in the moment when we find THE house... as we just did... LOL.
I still managed to get a great deal, so I'm not too distraught... but there is still work to be done! Oh well- working near DC and hopefully renting it out over the next few years will enable us to pay for all our "lavish projects" (like removing the ugly pink tile from the guest bathroom) before we decide to "retire" there.

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 10:10 AM

ok, maybe this is stating the obvious, but men probably spend less time doing housework and childcare on average, because of the large numbers of women who choose to stay at home.

I don't measure my husband's involvment at home in total hours spent doing housework and caring for the kids. Since I stay at home, I would obviously come out on top. My feeling is that he works all day, and so do I. When he gets home, we share things 50-50. While he's at school, during the day, I try to get as much done as I can, but after he gets back, we share everything.

I do want to say my experience with him and my friends' husbands has supported Leslie's position that fathers today are full partners in raising children. Perhaps that's because most of the dads I know are well-educated and come from upper-middle class families, but I do think it's a trend, and a good one.

Posted by: runnermom | March 21, 2007 10:10 AM

Back on topic- I think perhaps Fred's wonderful guest article might have softened Leslie's heart and brought us some balance. ;-)

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 10:12 AM

True, to the comment regarding recliners being not all they are cracked up to be. I personally have to avoid the left corner of one particular love seat in our living room.

I have been known to sit there, ask the question "What's on?" and the next thing I know I wake up and it's three in the morning and everyone has long since gone to bed. It's better than any sleeping pill, that love seat.

Of course, around the holidays, I compete with any of a dozen young adults crashed here and there, on love seats, recliners and floors.

So, on second thought, this is a season-critical discussion. Speaking of which, does anyone have a hammock out in the yard or on the porch for the summer time? If so, who uses it, he or she, adults or kids?

Posted by: Dave | March 21, 2007 10:21 AM


John L,

It sounds like your wife's issues are more with long-term managing 'stuff' than with day-to-day maintaining a household (like clean dishes, clean laundry, food in pantry, meals). With babies/young kids, the load will swamp what you're doing now, and it will be maybe 2/3 - 3/4 immediate keep-up-with-kid-needs versus longer-term (schedule ped visits, clear out outgrown clothes and toys, buy clothes and toys one stage ahead, etc, etc). Feed baby, change baby, bathe baby, clean out pooped-in baby tub, play with baby, these are all pressing and immediate needs that can be invisible as the longer-term tasks sit around undone. Is it possible these longer-term tasks are just the last priority for your wife, only when immediate keep-things-going requirements are completed? Is it possible being executor of her mom's estate and starting an in-home business are sapping your wife's appetite to start even more open-ended organizational projects at home?

Also, I would tread easy with a wife settling her mother's estate. It must be a sad and nostalgic time, a time when the objects in your life seem extra precious and hard to let go of. Maybe she is coming to terms with finding room for her mother's items at a slow pace because it will mark an acceptance of the loss and going forward . . . .

Posted by: KB | March 21, 2007 10:21 AM

I agree with those who've pointed out the problems with "time diaries" and "self reporting". How many people do you know who hardly eat anything and never lose a pound?

The other thing I think is that the media loves to diss Dads. They are the butt of many jokes. Don't know why, it's just their skewed perspective on things.

So I think the whole survey has a "correctness" bias because the reporting was by the people themselves.

Posted by: RoseG | March 21, 2007 10:26 AM

We're a dual income house with 1 child- we easily spend 25 hours focused on our daughter- about an hour of pure playing per day during the week from 6-7pm (not counting time spent cooking, cleaning, getting to and from school- which I think can be GREAT quality time- we sing songs on the way to school, talk about our day on the way home, she cooks with me and washes the dishes with us too) That's 5 hours during the week on just playing/reading with her.

On the weekends she's up around 5:30-6am and goes to bed about 7pm. Naps for about 90 minutes and we're together all day. Playgrounds, museums, errands, playdates, soccer. If my husband and I go out at night, it's at 7pm bedtime. So we spend quite a bit more time than 14 hours with our child- I'm very happy with that. I think 14 hrs is a very low number.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 10:29 AM

This does not mean that a parent must SAH but I am a firm believer in quantity time, not quality time. Kids don't care if you are doing the most amazing, bonding activity. They just want to know their parent is around.

Posted by: anon | March 21, 2007 09:23 AM

I think the 14.1 hours was defined as Focused one on one time and there were different classifications of time spent. So time helping with homework was secondary time I think. I'm not sure what the total time was. Hope that helps to clarify.

John L. I'm the less tidy one in my house but I can clean like crazy. Luckily dh is a super straightener - so he straightens and I clean. I'm sure he would like a tidier house but this whole thing is about compromises.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 10:31 AM

Meesh:

"What I'm saying is that, if men really want to contribute more and help the family and spend time with the kids, he should work less and allow the wife to work more. Then they would each be working about 50 hours (including commuting) and both would spend 14 and 15 hours with house and kid stuff."

My response is that this would result in a net drop in family income -- most careers that offer opportunity for advancement will require more than 40 hours per week on average. Thus, for the average couple to maintain the same income level, both husband and wife would need to increase their total weekly average.

So again, would you be happier if the numbers were equal at 75? Would that be progress?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 10:36 AM

I actually think my husband does a lot. Maybe not as much as me but he does a lot. He has taken DD to the last three doctors appointments, he does drop off, and takes her places when we are at home. I think we have to keep encouraging men when they are participating or how else can they get positive feed back. I just called DH and thanked him for doing all this running around. I don't agree that men don't need positive feed back as much as women. Parenting is a really tough job and people do need feed back.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 10:37 AM

Dave, "does anyone have a hammock"

My wife bought me one for Father's day several years ago. I did lay on it but only a few times, because when I did, my kids would sneak up on me and pounce. After about 3 times you get a knee in the nads from a flying leap, there becomes a fear factor that gets associated with laying in one.
Also, it's hard to drink beer laying on your back. But, if:
1. You can see them coming,
2. You get a cup (like the catcher uses) and
3. you get a long, flexible straw,

it could be worth the investment.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 21, 2007 10:45 AM

"I find it strange that Leslie is suddenly sticking up for dads/men. She claims she has never met a man that takes on the day care resposibilities but knows dads that do everything else including putting tights on girls.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Leslie's defense of dads - it is just unprecedented as far as I can remember and I have been posting for 9 months or so."

Well, gosh, she's been rebuked often enough that maybe she's trying to balance her approach a little bit.

Can't you give her some credit for trying to learn from posters' criticism?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 10:48 AM

On the issue of quality time versus quantity time, I can just speak from my OWN experience. So please do not attack me. But I have to be honest, that I am not sure I buy into the quality time motto. Because we are dual income family, we do spent an enormous amount of our free time devoted to our daughter. Of course our couple time and personal time takes a huge beating. But I find that at the end of the day, DD is exhausted. And even though I am all ready to pull out the books, crayons, the games, sometimes she is too tired from day care and preschool at 6-7 to actually get a lot out of that time. Of course we read to our daughter each day. And sometimes she is more engaged then others. But they are little people ( 3 years old) and just because I have an agenda from 6-7 to do X, doesn't mean that she feels up to it. I do think if I stayed home more, we could work in the enrichment more naturally. Because the day I spend at home, I notice I may read 5-6 books with her through out the day versus a marathon reading session at night. But that is just my observations and I do NOT mean to say it doesn't work for other families. I think the "quality" time issue may work better when DD is older.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 10:49 AM

14 hours a week spending time with your kids is absurdly low. I think it begs the question, who is raising them? Even when I am traveling, they see more of me than that and mine are older.

Regarding the money situation and excluding for a moment, gotta have it to live money, it has always seemed to me that the point of prosperity is to provide a good environment for the raising of children, including time spent with them. If the pursuit of large sums of money is taking away from that, I would seriously question that person's sincerity in parenting.

"On balance", you need to make enough to cherish the opportunity you have as a parent.

Posted by: Dave | March 21, 2007 10:50 AM

So many self absorbed people, so little time!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 10:51 AM

Meesh, you're definitely my spokesperson today (as well as your own, of course). Thanks! I agree that the exact division of each task 50/50 is NOT the goal of equal sharing. It is the approximate division of the overall TIME required to take care of the household (and childraising and breadwinning) that should be 50/50 if that is goal. How each couple then divides out this time is up to them, and can be right down the middle for some tasks, or by person for others.

As far as the argument that equal division of breadwinning, childcare and housework leads to a need to put in additional hours at work for both parents, I say that this may be true in oddball cases but NOT in many, many cases. It does take some planning (or luck) to land jobs that do pay well enough (and I do mean well ENOUGH - we don't need to be rich to be happy) on the 'Mommy track' for both parents. But these jobs are out there and I hate to see us collectively dismissing equal sharing just because we think it is too hard to overcome the job barriers. The more of us who break those barriers and ask for the hours and pay we need at reduced hours or 'Mommy track' positions, the more this will become commonplace.

Posted by: equal | March 21, 2007 10:51 AM

"What I'm saying is that, if men really want to contribute more and help the family and spend time with the kids, he should work less and allow the wife to work more."

But you're making the assumption that men in general want to contribute more outside of paid work and that women in general want to have more paid work, when the reality is that many couples where the man works more hours for pay and the woman works more hours at home prefer the lives they have rather than your idea of equality.

Posted by: jean | March 21, 2007 10:53 AM

Father of 4,

Thanks. Actually, my wife wants the hammock and my kids are way past the pounce on Dad stage, thank goodness, since the youngest one goes 195.

I was wondering if it would get used and would I ever get the chance. Of course, I could always get two.

Posted by: Dave | March 21, 2007 10:54 AM

to anon at 10:36 - as these are aggregate numbers it would be easier to be equal if we as a society accepted that the part time or the person whose career to second place or that staying at home could be equally divided. After all if two families have SAH's and one is the mother and one is the father then the numbers would be equal. This is equality too - when men are also free to make the choice to stay home or go part time etc. Then that disproportinate hours that someone is working to advance thier career could be either the mother or the father and the overall statistics could be equal without impacting family income (actually it could be even better after all whose career to persue would be based more on individual talents that are less limited by societal sterotypes)

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | March 21, 2007 10:54 AM

ninetieth!!!!! Is modern day parenting in America really making for better kids???? Recent studies show they are very narcissistic. I know my nephews seem very spoiled to me. When I was a kid, parenting consisted of making sure all the kids were out of the house until dark and in winter time, night sledding was encouraged. Of course that we in the days of howdy dowdy as opposed wacky, drug addled role models like Britney Spears. No gangs in my neighborhood, just cub scouts.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 10:54 AM

"The more of us who break those barriers and ask for the hours and pay we need at reduced hours or 'Mommy track' positions, the more this will become commonplace."

No, this only puts more of a premium on those willing to take on the additional work associated with 'non-mommy track' positions. Thus, the delta in pay between mommy track and non-mommy track will increase.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 10:56 AM

Hammocks only really work in an environment where there are no pesky bugs, (New England, but not when the no-see-ums are out) or if you are willing to build a screened-porch and devote the square footage in your brand new porch entirely to your hammock.

Otherwise, there are about 14 days per year when the weather and the lack of bugs is conducive to hammock-use.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 10:56 AM

(waving back at Megan's Neighbor in downtown Raleigh, from East Raleigh)

Yes, I think part of her reluctance to prepare the house for her mom's things is because they ARE her mom's stuff, and she's reluctant to make an end of it. Same with actually settling the estate for good (selling house and what belongings she doesn't want). But, she's said herself that she's impatient to get the furniture over here and make space for it.

None of her current behavior is new, either; it's just become more urgent considering everything we are planning and doing right now. And, she --is-- organized, she just doesn't always follow her own organizational plan, and stuff tends to get put away in odd little places until they become Big Piles.

ADD? Maybe, but she's had regular checkups and never had anything like that diagnosed. I just think she's more comfortable than I about having piles of things sitting around. I don't mind having lots of stuff, as long as there's a place to put it and it --is-- put away.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 10:58 AM

Foam - I agree with you. I'm grateful that I'm able to be here to kind of spread things out. At the end of the school day I'm available to talk about the day when it is fresh. I think there is real value to being there when things happen or questions come up. I know not everyone can do this but, like you, it works for us.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 11:00 AM

And oh yeah, my dad raised me. Men aren't as good at it as women can be --notice I say can be, cuz it ain't a give. He did a pretty good job looking back at now in light of having my own kids. Kids are a lot of problems.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 11:01 AM

We have a hammock and I absolutely love it. We are going to hang it up this weekend. I plan to lie in it on weekends when my son is napping and read lightweight novels. Hooray!

Posted by: Megan | March 21, 2007 11:01 AM

Divorced Mom of 1:

"After all if two families have SAH's and one is the mother and one is the father then the numbers would be equal. This is equality too - when men are also free to make the choice to stay home or go part time etc."

Agree. My main point is that equality can be defined as overall contribution [the some of all three tasks], aggregate contribution per task [as you indicated], and individual contribution per task [which most of those on this blog preaching 'equality' seem to desire].

There are efficiencies in specialization -- and so one should expect a family in which one spouse had a lead role in each of the tasks to spend a combined amount *less* than a family in which each spouse contributed equally to all three tasks.

Some may be willing to increase the total time spent by each spouse to achieve this -- others may not.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:01 AM

JOhn L.--get a storage unit and a housekeeping service. Cheaper and less time consuming than marriage counseling, therapy, or divorce. A good investment.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:06 AM

Is modern day parenting in America really making for better kids???? Recent studies show they are very narcissistic. I know my nephews seem very spoiled to me. When I was a kid, parenting consisted of making sure all the kids were out of the house until dark and in winter time, night sledding was encouraged. Of course that we in the days of howdy dowdy as opposed wacky, drug addled role models like Britney Spears. No gangs in my neighborhood, just cub scouts.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 10:54 AM


Makes for lots of teary eyed memories. I sometimes feel sorry for all that my kids are missing out on. My boy, especially, loves spontaneity and only rarely finds a pal with a bit of free time, unplanned time after school or on a Saturday afternoon.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:06 AM

Not to argue but most of the hammock use I have seen has been in the tropics - Belize, the Philippines, Thailand, etc. I'm thinking bug zappers and bug spray might work. That is the strategy for the porch, after all.

I'm still mostly concerned that I will never get the chance to use it, should I get it, greedy bastard that I am.

Posted by: Dave | March 21, 2007 11:06 AM

moxiemom: That is the number one reason, I will switch my work schedule when DD goes to kindergarten from a 9 hour day with alternate Fridays off to a 5 * hour days. That way, I will get home an hour earlier and be able to talk some to my child. She would still need to spend 1 hour a day in day care but the other hour can be spent decompressing. In my ideal world, I would work part time then 7 5 hours a day and just pick DD up right after school. She would still need day care for Mondays because we have 1/2 days on Mondays here. But at least 4 days a week, I could be there right after school. It would suck to pay for those days but beats the alternative of making her stay in day care. I keep hoping that dream job will come up. I still don't understand why employers are so resistant. It isn't like I can't do the job in that amount of time. Except when surveys are in field and we are doing a lot of work, the rest could easily be accomplished in 30 hours a week never mind 35.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:07 AM

I meant to say 5 8 hour days.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:09 AM

foamgnome, it sounds like your interpretation of "quality time" is different from mine. I really don't spend much time on "enrichment" activities -- certainly not after a full day at kindergarten/daycare. We'll just do whatever my kids feel like -- the girl may just want to snuggle and talk, the boy may just like to chase a ball around (or try to push the girl off my lap). It's more decompression/relaxation for all of us, rather than feeling that I need to fit some specified activity or accomplishment into this available hour or so to have it "count."

So for me, that's all quality time. Whereas the time that I spend cooking dinner while trying to carry on a conversation with Ms. Chatterbox, or running to Home Depot with the kids along, or taking them to lessons and such, is not. Question in my mind is whether I am really focusing on my kids, or whether one of us is just along for the ride.

And I have to say, my kids do get more focus from me and my husband than I ever got from my mom and stepdad. We were always in the same house together, we love each other very much, we did chores together and always had dinner together, but somehow it seems like dinner time and the occasional game was the only time we really focused on each other and just enjoyed being together -- otherwise, we were all doing chores, or homework, or work, or I was doing after-school activities or expected to entertain myself. So even when they were there, they weren't really "there" a lot. So I guess that's why I don't feel too guilty about "depriving" my kids in some way, because I am much more focused on them and their lives than my parents were.

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 11:10 AM

Foam - I can imagine its tough. Unless you have a profession that lends itself to flexibility (nursing, teaching etc..) it is hard to find something that is challenging and PT. Good luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 11:12 AM

Gosh! The cat and dog fart stories are far more interesting than this dreck!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:13 AM

I keep hoping that dream job will come up. I still don't understand why employers are so resistant. It isn't like I can't do the job in that amount of time. Except when surveys are in field and we are doing a lot of work, the rest could easily be accomplished in 30 hours a week never mind 35.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:07 AM


OK, so last week when I suggested that you should look into trying to get some more flexibility - after all, you had said then that you get your work done in way under 40 hours - you had dismissed my suggestions with stuff like boss requires face time, can't walk away from the fed gov pension, office security concerns wouldn't allow for telecommuting. Then I was roundly slammed by dotted for having made the suggestions -- the issue was at rest, in her words.

Now you're dreaming again. What gives? You ain't gonna get nothin' by dreaming. You've got to either keep pushing your bosses, or push yourself to keep looking for other possibilities.

So go ahead now. Slam me again.

Posted by: ANONYMOUS | March 21, 2007 11:15 AM

laura: I agree that I spend far more time with my DD even working then my SAM did with me. Number one, we just have one kid and she had 3. But after a certain age, I just sort of entertained myself. I guess because DD is speech delayed, it isn't like we are having casual conversations yet. Maybe I would feel differently when she is more verbal. I just mean time that I am not trying to cook dinner, clean house, make phone calls and am totally devoted to her as quality time. I can see when she is older and can talk, just going for an errand together can be quality time.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:16 AM

"10:36" wrote "My response is that this would result in a net drop in family income -- most careers that offer opportunity for advancement will require more than 40 hours per week on average. Thus, for the average couple to maintain the same income level, both husband and wife would need to increase their total weekly average."

Ah, I see. So in your view, the women always worked part-time, even before the kids were born? Because you don't take into account the loss of income associated with mom scaling back her job in the first place. How can you "maintain the same income level" when the income levels have already changed? The "family income" you're talking about is the one in which mom has already gone on the mommy track. If both go on the mommy track in the first place, both are making full-time incomes, getting benefits, and securing their careers. I think it's a win-win situation.

You're also basing this on the assumption that the only way to be promoted and make more money is work over 40 hours. That is not the case in my family or with all of my non-lawyer friends. The only jobs you're missing out on are the ones with fast tracks.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 11:18 AM

Anonymous: I have asked my current boss but that is not an option now. I am currently looking for other positions. I don't see any with the two statistical agencies that I am currently working with. Confidential data is not something that can work as a telecommuting option. That is an OMB mandate. Doesn't mean that times won't change. As far as part time, well I can keep looking but I can't change my current bosses out look.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:18 AM

John-you are describing my DH and I perfectly. Honestly, I do think I have some sort of add some days. We have learned to live with each other and dh knows that if the office is to get a real go thru he will have to do it (he loves his label maker). We have someone clean the house every other week cause we know we aren't so good at it and we don't have the time.

Also I highly recommend a roomba to all. After the initial fun(ie, we didn't save any time cause we were watching it work) it is great. We set it when we leave, freak out the dog and come home to a cleaner house. So nice.

I look at tasks the same way as your wife, john. I get very overwhelmed. But I've learned what works for me- I will say-okay I can't clean up the whole fridge right now, how about one shelf. And inevitably once I get going, I clean more than that. Or whatever task is at hand.

Posted by: atlmom | March 21, 2007 11:21 AM

to ANONYMOUS, On the left side of your keyboard is your CapsLock key. Depress it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:22 AM

"Not to argue but most of the hammock use I have seen has been in the tropics - Belize, the Philippines, Thailand, etc. I'm thinking bug zappers and bug spray might work."

Dave, that's my experience as well. In fact, the hammock I have is one I bought in Belize ages ago. Light some citronella coils and ignore the bugs best you can, that's what they do there. Of course, I have it easy here in CO, where we don't get a whole lot of bugs since it's so dry...

Also, I think there's something nice about having it even if it doesn't get used much

Posted by: Megan | March 21, 2007 11:23 AM

I think it's all quality time. Is that nuts? When I'm cooking and they're watching, I'm explaining about ingredients and measuring and stirring (and sharing). When we're driving somewhere, we're learning what everyone's favorite songs are (and how to get along in the car when you're bored). Maybe I'm delusional, but I feel that any time you spend with your children -- with the possible exception of sitting next to them while they watch TV (although that can count as cuddling time, I guess) -- is quality time.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 11:24 AM

Anonymous: I have asked my current boss but that is not an option now. I am currently looking for other positions. I don't see any with the two statistical agencies that I am currently working with. Confidential data is not something that can work as a telecommuting option. That is an OMB mandate. Doesn't mean that times won't change. As far as part time, well I can keep looking but I can't change my current bosses out look.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:18 AM


Good luck with your search.

PS It would have been helpful to last week's conversation if you'd mentioned that you were looking for another job. Clearly, for you, the issue is not "at rest", nor should it be. You may eventually, hopefully find the flexibilty that you want. Again, good luck. Truly.

Posted by: ANONYMOUS | March 21, 2007 11:24 AM

My parents didn't devote every waking hour they had to looking after us kids; but then, I was the 3rd one so maybe they were over that phase by then. Their parenting style was more like that of lions; feed us, take care of us, but leave us to entertain ourselves. They never obsessed over whether they spent enough time with us.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 11:25 AM

to ANONYMOUS, On the left side of your keyboard is your CapsLock key. Depress it.


WHY??

Posted by: ANONYMOUS | March 21, 2007 11:26 AM

Meesh:

"The only jobs you're missing out on are the ones with fast tracks."

I think it really just comes down to this. One path to balance is one spouse specializing in a fast track career that significantly increases family income while the other spouse specializes in childcare and household management [both participate in all three activities, but one has the lead in each].

A separate path to balance is that each spouse chooses a non-fast track position and they equally split all three tasks.

The advantage of the first example is that the combined hours of both spouses is less. The disadvantage of the first is that it requires one spouse to take a lead role in each of the three areas.

Both pathes seem to me to be equally valid choices -- I see no moral imperative as a society to value one over the other.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:26 AM

I am seriously considering quitting my job when my oldest starts school next year. We live where schools are year-round and the problem is that she'd have to be in before and after care as well as having a full load of track out options every 9 weeks for three weeks, with the exception of possibly two weeks a year when we take vacation. It is such a hassle and the expense, while not as large as her daycare currently is, is still sort of amazing. And then there's this idea that there's no continuity for the poor child, that she just goes from one thing to another. I feel like I don't know how other dual income families deal with this!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:30 AM

14 hours a week spending time with your kids is absurdly low. I think it begs the question, who is raising them?

I think you may have to factor in that older kids, as a rule, spend a fair amount of time in school. When older still they spend more time hanging around school doing things (sports, stage stuff, etc.).

Posted by: to Dave | March 21, 2007 11:31 AM

CMAC -- now hold on, don't stereotype ME. true I have plenty of criticism for men today. but i have also learned from the men on this blog about their side of the story. it's an evolution of thought and opinion. perhaps pathetic to admit, but it's true that Fo4, Rebeldad, John, Fred, even Glover Park (wherever he is) etc have had an impact on me.

Posted by: Leslie | March 21, 2007 11:32 AM

ANONYMOUS: Sorry about not mentioning. A lot of this blog is on going dialogue with people, so you assume that you have said all this. I do believe federal agencies will one day see the light. You would be shocked, when I requested working 4 9 hour day weeks, I was the first person in my entire division to ever request part time. It was conditional on the survey being out of field. Which is obvious. But when the mandatory transfer took place, I lost it because current boss likes everyone to be there each day. So I keep looking. Heck, if I am allowed to dream, maybe one day I will just stay at home or telecommute. But it takes a while for times to change. It takes many people asking over and over again. Actually, I would love to work those 7 hour days 5 days a week when DD is in HS. No real biggie that she spends one hour a day in day care in elementary school. But having a HS kid alone for 2 hours after school each day is a recipe for disaster. HS gets out at 2:30 here. What is the deal with that? Am I forgetting things but I could have sworn when I was in school, all schools went from 8:30-3:00PM. But we lived in a community where there were no busing except for grades 7-8. All other schools were walkable.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:33 AM

"The Man Who Mistook his Job for a Life".

It sounds as though more men are reading this book, and perhaps more women should be too.

There is ALWAYS going to be a need for people who are willing and able to work long, miserable hours (hospital staff, cops, etc.), but I think that on the whole, most of us could at least fret about our jobs a little less.

Obviously not everyone--Seasonal Employee had a point yesterday--but we're just not THAT important, mostly.

Posted by: A little tired today | March 21, 2007 11:34 AM

11:30 does your school have on site child care program? We don't have round the year schools. I always thought they did that to save money and not all the kids were in the school at the same time. I am curious how that works. Best of luck, it sounds like a nightmare.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:35 AM

ANONYMOUS, we hear you. with two more references today, you have spent more keystrokes making sure all readers know that you continue to feel wronged by your exchange with dotted than with whether foamgnome does what's best for her.

you are insecure.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:35 AM

Foamgnome, they do have onsite child care. But bad things have happened -- nothing like abuse of any kind or anything, just not being in compliance for ratios, kids going missing (briefly) and getting hurt, etc. It sounds kind of a bit like Lord of the Flies if you ask me. And don't even get me started about bussing. The elementary kids in my neighborhood ride with middle school kids. Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:38 AM

I had a question. Are public school grade 1-12 jobs really all that flexible? It is obvious that they get summers off and school vacations off( at least mostly). I know they have teacher in service days and teacher work days. But do they really stop working at 3:30 when the bell rings? I know my DD preschool teacher is there before the class starts and still has a whole lot to do after the class ends. Sometimes I wished I could have been good at elementary ed. I think I would perfer their schedule to mine. Of course there would be a huge difference in $$. But $$ isn't everything.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:38 AM

Recent studies show they are very narcissistic.

But let's factor in the fears that are being trumpeted all over the place.

There is less of a social safety net, on the whole. There is more concern about jobs disappearing overseas than ever before. Many of them are being told to prepare as though there will be NO ONE to help them when they are old and infirm (I'm Gen X--and no, I don't think I will ever get a thin dime from social security, for example).

Think 19th century. Or Sinclair Lewis. Or Upton Sinclair!

Posted by: to Katman | March 21, 2007 11:38 AM

11:38: I would consider quitting too if I was in your shoes. Please do not run out and quit your job. But if the on site day care is as bad as you say (kids go missing) then I couldn't leave my kid there either. My other thought is in a school like that, you would think there would be some SAHPs that wanted to earn a few extra bucks on this off school times. And they would have bulletin listing. I am still amazed that doesn't go on in Fairfax with these nutty half day Mondays. If I was a SAHM and wanted to make a few extra bucks once a week, I would watch a kid from 1:30-3:30 for a few dollars. Especially if the kid was friendly with my kid. I guess because of liability schools don't engage in day care advertisements.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:41 AM

Meesh writes:

"As it is now, men want to have a fulfilling career and think they need to be the breadwinners. So they work longer hours, forcing their wives to pick up the slack at home. If they expect their wives to put their careers on hold or take jobs that pay less, the husbands should be willing to do the same."

I agree. If the husband is asking his wife to give up something, he should be willing to give up the same.

Alternatively, if a would-be groom is looking for a bride who will do the housework and most of the child care, he should find someone who feels that not working outside the home is an advantage, not a forfeit. This is the traditional husband-works-outside, wife-stays-home marriage. It works only if that's what both spouses want before they get married, if neither of them feels he or she is "giving up" something.

It is a bad idea to marry someone with a career and then ask her to give it up. And it is even worse, if she does give it up, for the husband to sit in his recliner and not do his fair share of the child care and housework.

However, if both parties agree that a traditional marriage what they want, that kind of marriage, with its specialization of roles, can confer the same sort of economic advantage on the couple that specialization within a business confers on the business. With the support of a stay-at-home wife and mother, the husband can rise to the top of the business or professional world faster than his competitor whose hours and travel are limited by not having a stay-at-home wife. This advantage for the traditional husband is what so burned up the late Professor Susan Moller Okin Ph.D. '75, in her book, "Justice, Gender and the Family." Still, as long as both parties are happy in such a marriage, it is not the place of outsiders to try to discourage that form or marriage, just as it's not the place of outsiders to try to make WOH mothers feel guilty.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 21, 2007 11:46 AM

Girls, What does George Bush and women have in common. They both repeat over and over again the same lies and crap in the belief that the more you repeat it the more people will believe it.Slugs, with upwards of 60% of you tipping the scales way north of 200 lbs and TV programming is exclusively all about women and statistically you do 80% of the shopping,I know who the trus slugs are.

Posted by: mcewen | March 21, 2007 11:47 AM

Megan,

Sold! I'll get the hammock. It's a shame I don't know where to buy some Parrot rum and ska tapes to complete the Belize experience.

Does it count as quality time with the kids if I'm laying in the hammock, sipping pina coladas, watching them play badminton in the yard? Should I officiate from afar to count toward my 14 hours?

If I get up to make another batch, do I have the right to return or do I have to give up my place to my wife? I don't know hammock ettiquette, after all. She makes better pina coladas, by the way. Perhaps I should cede the hammock in return for her making the drinks. Tough choice.

Sorry, I'm just trying to suggest that all this worrying about the division of labor and the time spent child rearing is not quite so serious as perhaps it seems in this discussion.

Posted by: Dave | March 21, 2007 11:47 AM

But it takes a while for times to change. It takes many people asking over and over again. Actually, I would love to work those 7 hour days 5 days a week when DD is in HS. No real biggie that she spends one hour a day in day care in elementary school. But having a HS kid alone for 2 hours after school each day is a recipe for disaster. HS gets out at 2:30 here. What is the deal with that? Am I forgetting things but I could have sworn when I was in school, all schools went from 8:30-3:00PM. But we lived in a community where there were no busing except for grades 7-8. All other schools were walkable.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:33 AM


I hear you, believe me. Lots of stuff is different today - "when I was your age" - for better or worse. My kids are in HS now and get on the bus at 6:40 a.m., dismissal is at 2:00 p.m., home nlt 2:30 on non-sport/activity days. Even with a part time schedule I'm usually not home before 5:15. I'm a single parent (widowed) as well, so I have to do it all, all the time.

The key with the older kids is trust. And you have to be real honest with yourself in making that judgement. My daughter is easy, I don't worry much with her. My son, well ... we talk ... a lot. And he knows that if I can't be able to trust him to make the right decisions then I WILL find SOMEONE to be there in the afternoons which, of course, neither of them would like very much. "Just because no one else your age has a babysitter (ha ha) doesn't mean I can't / won't get one for you."

Posted by: ANONYMOUS | March 21, 2007 11:50 AM

Matt

"Still, as long as both parties are happy in such a marriage, it is not the place of outsiders to try to discourage that form or marriage, just as it's not the place of outsiders to try to make WOH mothers feel guilty."

How can one tell in advance if the parties would be happy in such a marriage?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:51 AM

Dave,
If you move it you lose it. You either have to train the children or wife to make your pina coladas or face the possibility that your hammock will be occupied when you return - dems the breaks.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 11:51 AM

"Are public school grade 1-12 jobs really all that flexible? It is obvious that they get summers off and school vacations off( at least mostly). I know they have teacher in service days and teacher work days. But do they really stop working at 3:30 when the bell rings?"


In a word, no.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:52 AM

CMAC....I agree with your early point. I remember a wwek or two ago on this blog leslie was saying she knows no men who take interest in daycare the way women do and that most men think it is the women's job. Now today she knows men who are putting tights on their 4 year olds, coaching every sport under the sun and providing limo services to their kids. I guess Leslie met a lot of new people in the past 2 weeks!! Don't get me wrong, I am glad to stop hearing the negative stereotypes of Dads because it is just not true anymore. I have 2 kids under 3 and I am involved in every decision that effects them, including daycare. My wife and I are equal partners in everything that invloves them. This is true about all of my friends with kids too. it is a new day and age, Dads spend every minute they can with their kids too and I know of no Al Bundys sitting in their recliners drinking beer and watching Baywatch!

Posted by: HappyDad | March 21, 2007 11:52 AM

"How can one tell in advance if the parties would be happy in such a marriage?"

You can't -- in much the same way you can't tell in advance whether a spouse will be happy to have children [or more than one child].

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:52 AM

McNasty (I mean Mcewen)is back! It was good while it lasted. Maybe some day he will have something to offer other than venom against women.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 11:54 AM

"11:26" wrote "The advantage of the first example is that the combined hours of both spouses is less."

We're obviously going to disagree on this, which is fine. I respect your opinion. But I have to ask on what that assumption is based. The hours are 64/65. My examples of equality were based on the same hours.

Also, it would be one thing if "one partner" contributed the majority of the money while "the other" contributed the majority of the house and kid care. It would be fine for me if this were actually the case (instead of both people working reasonable hours and both getting to raise their kids). But the divide is between women and men. Once that changes, even if one parents works to death and never sees the kids, it would at least be equal among husband and wife.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 11:54 AM

"When we're driving somewhere, we're learning what everyone's favorite songs are (and how to get along in the car when you're bored)."

And causing accidents. Please shut the f up and drive responsibly.

Playing taxi driver for your kids is not quality time!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:55 AM

Where are all of these families where the man is forcing the woman to quit her career job to care for the kids and house so he can keep climbing the corporate ladder of success? I don't know anyone like that except characters in books.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:57 AM

"How can one tell in advance if the parties would be happy in such a marriage?"

"You can't -- in much the same way you can't tell in advance whether a spouse will be happy to have children [or more than one child]."

Yeah, and we wonder why the divorce rate is so high? No one communicates expectations. So it's *such a surprise* after 2, 3, 4 kids that the marriage disentegrates. Please. No sympathy for any of them, except for the kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 11:57 AM

Matt in Aberdeen -
You say that if both husband and wife are happy in a traditional marriage, then that it is not the place for outsiders to discourage it any more than it is the place for them to criticize WOH mothers.

What do you mean by discourage? I am all for discussion and dialogue on these matters, even when the discussion is robust -- actually, especially when it is robust. If by discourage you mean analyze it, point out its flaws, and critique it, I am all for it. If the arrangement is defensible, it will withstand its critics. Same for the arrangement where mothers work. It has been and is daily discussed, critiqued, and dissected. And it has and continues to withstand its critics. Why should traditional marriage arrangements be exempt from such discussion. It shouldn't.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 11:58 AM

Matt


Is this the only or the last you've read?


Susan Moller Okin Ph.D. '75, in her book, "Justice, Gender and the Family." Still, as long as both parties are

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 12:00 PM

"Are public school grade 1-12 jobs really all that flexible? It is obvious that they get summers off and school vacations off( at least mostly). I know they have teacher in service days and teacher work days. But do they really stop working at 3:30 when the bell rings?"


In a word, no.

Posted by: | March 21, 2007 11:52 AM
That is what I was thinking. But wasn't sure because I am not a teacher and neither is DH. I know one teacher who told me that it is not a flexible job and she does a lot of work from home. But she is a fairly young new teacher. I wasn't sure if that is true for veteran teachers.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:02 PM

John L:
Your posts sound very similar to my husband's fears about me before we had our baby. Like your wife, I am a procrastinator and have a higher tolerance for mess and clutter than my husband. He was actually reluctant to have a baby for a while because he was afraid that all the "work" around the baby would fall to him. He was genuinely suprised and relieved when the baby came, and I ended up doing a majority of the baby care. I think, pre-baby, he was thinking of taking care of the baby as another household "task," or similar to taking care of our dog, and since I let alot of household chores - including dog care -default to him, I might do the same with the baby.

If this sounds at all familiar, a couple points might reassure you.

1) while I hate household chores, and admittedly let the dog responsibilities default to my husband, I don't put taking care of our child in the same category at all, and that became obvious to my husband after the baby arrived. I wanted a child, and was 100% focused on that child when she arrived. Also, I breastfed, which meant that at the beginning, the majority of baby care just defaulted to me, even though my husband was involved as much as he could be.

2) I am very good at taking care of immediate needs - it's non emergencies and longer term projects I procrastinate on. Especially at the beginning, 90% of childcare is about meeting that child's immediate needs. The baby needs to be fed, changed, bathed, put to sleep, etc. constantly. It's impossible to procrastinate, and even if you preplan how things should go, a baby's needs often don't follow a plan. Sometimes I think it's actually easier for people who don't need things planned/organized, and are comfortable going with the flow, to deal with the variable needs of an infant than super orderly people.

If your wife can deal with isolated tasks that need to be done right then, she'll be fine. You might actually make a good team during that initial, infant stage. After that, I would strongly recommend hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it (it is cheaper than therapy). And when you have a child to think of too, your wife might not care as much about how you organize things - there's so much to do. I know I'm just happy that something gets done, and I didn't have to do it!

Posted by: anon for now | March 21, 2007 12:03 PM

ANONYMOUS: I hear you on the baby sitter issue. I think I will try to find a HS or college student to baby sit DD after school till 4:30. I know it is unsual to get child care at that age but I don't feel comfortable leaving her alone as a 6 th grader. Not because I think she will be wild. But more because I think she might be immature. I am not sure who would be willing to sit for a HS student. Only a college student and boy oh boy the uproar your son will put up. Good luck.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:05 PM

Matt in Aberdeen, I agree with you on not judging other people's situations. I have not done it today.

And I agree that each family can choose its own arrangement.

The point I made was that until families splitting the paid jobs and house and child care equally are the norm, I can't believe that women are given the same choices as men. I also conceeded that if the "one partner" doing twice the house and child care were just as likely to be the husband as the wife, then that would signal equality.

As it stands, with the study the other day focusing on women wanting the option to work more and men lamenting the fact that they don't get to see their kids or do the housework, it's hard to believe that the family workload break-down described actually reflects how all families want to function.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 12:06 PM

I wrote:

"Still, as long as both parties are happy in such a marriage, it is not the place of outsiders to try to discourage that form or marriage, just as it's not the place of outsiders to try to make WOH mothers feel guilty."

Anonymous at 11:51 asks:

"How can one tell in advance if the parties would be happy in such a marriage?"

How can one tell in advance if the parties would be happy in the non-traditional marriage? All the prospective bride and groom have to go on, as they talk over what they want out of marriage, is their own feelings based on what they have seen in their lives. No one can predict the future. If it turns out that the kind of marriage they planned for makes them unhappy, it's up to them to make changes.

All I was saying is that it is not up to outsiders to tell them, "You're not really happy. You only *think* you're happy." Ideologues on the Right and Left can be safely ignored.

As for the "big picture," whatever distribution of traditional and non-traditional marriages makes the parties involved happiest, that's the desirable distribution. If a prevalence of non-traditional marriages makes the Bible-thumpers unhappy because Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as to the Lord" -- well, the Bible-thumpers can just sit in outer darkness and gnash their teeth. And if a prevalence of traditional marriages makes the Goddess-worshippers unhappy because it holds back their hoped-for Millenium of Gender Equality -- well, they, too, can sit in darkness, gnash their teeth, and write Envy-based books. They're no better than the Bible-thumpers if they are willing to sacrifice people's own idea of happiness to their Grand Vision for the world. Bentham yes, Hirshman no.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 21, 2007 12:06 PM

Hey, 11:55, cheer up. It can't be that bad.

Foamgnome, teaching is NOT a flexible job. If you are sick or need an unscheduled day off, you have to line up a sub and have your plans ready. Also, while the act of teaching is done at the school in class, the grading and prep work is overwhelmingly done at home. There is a favorite saying among veteran teachers that it is a 12 month job done in 10 months. But let's face it, no one teaches for the money. It's true that the job allows you to be off when your kids are scheduled to be off, but it's not a perfect solution by any stretch.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 12:07 PM

"Why should traditional marriage arrangements be exempt from such discussion. It shouldn't. "

You're right. But Meesh and others are saying that the division is along gender lines, and until we beat down that division, that women won't be truly equal. Which means that any woman who chooses a traditional marriage arrangement is against that version of equality and is undermining all of the work done by those who want to be equal. And if, god forbid, a large percentage of women choose a traditional marriage arrangement, then we're headed for the next apocolypse.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 12:08 PM

School teachers suffer an inordinate number of bladder and UT infections. They don't even have the flexibility to use the bathroom when they need to.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 12:08 PM

WorkingmotherX: In fairfax, the elementary teachers have half days. So I think they do a lot of their prep work on those days. I am sure two hours of alone time, you can get a lot more done then 2 hours at home with family around. My guess is the middle and HS teachers get a planning period. The rest falls to at home times. ARe you teacher? Everyone says it is a flexible job but it doesn't sound so. My DD's public preschool teacher teaches 1/2 days. Then she has the other half of the day to do lesson plans, grading (although it is really more assessment versus grading at this level) and home visits. I think they are required to meet with parents or day care providers twice a month. Maybe that is the sweet deal. To teach special needs preschool. I will have to ask her one day if she thinks her job is flexible. They have to do strange things too like shop for the preschool supplies. I wonder if all teachers have to do that too or just preschool.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:12 PM

I was an 8th grade Language Arts teacher. The planning period can be a joke. In my first year, mine was about 27 minutes long and was combined with lunch. In my second year, I had two, the 27-minute lunch one and the 32 minute one where I also supervised detention. Multi-tasking for sure.

Fairfax County's situation is unusual, but I would absolutely say that as a teacher, I could get loads done once a week for that time. That would have been a godsend.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 12:15 PM

If I can see the caller ID I don't mind ignoring it but if I don't know who it was it bugs me until I get up and look.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 09:01 AM

Exactly my dilemna, if I don't know who it is and don't answer it kills me. Wish I could ignore it! Remember before caller ID? Jeez - we had to answer everything.

Posted by: cmac | March 21, 2007 12:16 PM

Matt said - All I was saying is that it is not up to outsiders to tell them, "You're not really happy. You only *think* you're happy."

Why would a sincerely happy person care what anyone else thinks? I don't. I think any discussion of these topics will have fringe groups to the left and right advocating either in favor of or against traditonal marriages, depending on their perspective. And I think that's fine. They can be ignored by those who choose to do so. But I also think that this subject is important enough that it should be debated, discussed, and dissected. And not just because the discussions are fun and interesting. I think that such debate often brings to light ideas and solutions to problems that can be applied in the realm of public policy and that might make working outside the home or being a stay at home mother better arrangements. These discussion might begin on blogs like this, but they also might end up on the floor of Congress, where they can have a real impact on our lives. Saying that personal arrangments between husband and wives should not be criticized actually quells this kind of debate and impedes progress. Again, I think that any arrangement that is defensible can withstand a robust discussion. And the fringe fanatics on any side of a discussion will always exist. They are part and parcel of the discussion.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 12:17 PM

I think what Meesh and others are saying is that equal sharing ought to be put on the table as a true option along with all other family lifestyles. If it is not desired by the couple, that's just fine. But if it is, it will take some courage (in most cases) to create this lifestyle and be able to sustain it because it is not yet commonplace.

Advance planning is very helpful, and being creative about how to structure each partner's career is needed. Every couple's situation is different, so there is no answer that fits even all couples who want to share equally. As just a PART of the discussion, Marc and I have built a calculator on www.equallysharedparenting.com (in the Toolbox section of the website) where couples can plug in salaries and childcare expenses for various work options to truly compare them in the here-and-now. If you're interested, check it out. The calculator does not address income loss over a lifetime from one parent stepping off the super-fast-track, so it's not perfect.

My aim is not to preach equal sharing, but it absolutely is to bring it (warts and all) to the forefront so that it can be intelligently chosen by the couples who want it.

Posted by: equal | March 21, 2007 12:18 PM

How can one tell in advance if the parties would be happy in such a marriage?


Posted by: | March 21, 2007 11:51 AM

I knew that I wanted to be an at home mom and despite the usual surprises and disappointments of life and parenthood, I'm happier than I thought I would be. We discussed before we got married and agreed that if it were financailly possible the traditional arrangement is what we would both prefer.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 12:19 PM

KLB - I am the same with the mail too! Ignore until I can't ignore it anymore. My husband yells at me but he doesn't go through it either. My FIL was the same way and we used to discuss whether shoving the mail in a bag or a box was better. I can't stand mail.

Posted by: cmac | March 21, 2007 12:20 PM

To: to katman:
Was not interested in starting a generational war however in our day, walking around with underwear showing was considered a shortcoming. I never thought I'd get a dime from SS either, but now I've got a political voice, I vote, write letters and shall express my desire for the US Government to keep its promises for a change. You will too when you get older and have kids. Do you have kids? I learned more from my kids in terms of growing up then I ever learned from my parents. Each generation seems to think it has to reinvent the wheel, they were the first to discover sex and totally ignore or reject society's truths like neatness DOES count and what comes around goes around. I know I did. I felt bad when I cut off my hair to get a white collar job, but at least I could cut my hair. You guys and gals are gonna have a harder time getting rid of those tattoos. Anyway getting old gives you a very new perspective on life, it is fleeting and there is nothing good about getting old. Please try and enjoy your life, be nice to all living things, okay you got a tattoo and you shaved your head. Did it change anything? Hopefully it made you happy. I hope so.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 12:20 PM

I have vauge memories of teachers grading papers while we did "seat work." In HS, home work was usually passed in and then returned later graded. I think teachers did more lesson planning during PE, music, and Art classes. Maybe that is where most of that time went. But your right, 27 minutes broken down during the day with other teacher duties, sounds ineffective to say the least. When I was in elementary school, kids went home for lunch for an hour. So teachers had a normal lunch hour with out kids. No one ate lunch at school. But that was back in the days that after lunch recess was not supervised by adults either. I know today it would be major law suits if a kid fell and broke their arms on the monkey bars and a teacher wasn't present.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:21 PM

Speaking on behalf of my mother the recently-retired high school teacher, my sister the now 25-year veteran elementary school teacher, my niece the soon-to-be elementary school teacher, and several other friends/relatives: no, teaching is not a flexible job. To do the job right involves a LOT of prep work before school starts, and a LOT of work after school. The fact that most of it appears to be done at home doesn't change the fact that it had to be done. Mom once told me that a good teacher puts in about 55-60 hours a week: 37.5 - 40 in school, and the rest planning, grading, etc. And that doesn't count the extracurricular activities you're expected to attend - PTA meetings, evening parent-teacher conferences, etc.

Those planning periods, occasional half-days, etc. help, but it's nowhere near enough time. And in some jurisdictions teachers also have to pull what's colloquially known as "bus duty", which means you have to be at school extra early and stay extra late to watch all the students before and after school and during breaks, in case something happens.

And agree with WorkingMomX that missing a day of work can be a major endeavor - woe be to the teacher who hasn't fully cleared that case of the flu ahead of time, with all lesson plans and assignments done so that even the novice sub can follow them.

That summer break on the calendar looks good to those who don't understand what it takes to be a teacher, but it's not reality.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 12:21 PM

To the 10:29 poster: Although we are still getting the hang of it, we spend quite a bit more time than the 14.1 hours per week with our daughter as well. Dad gets her in the morning, from about 7-10 am, depending on when she gets up. He takes her to daycare, about 5 mins from our home. I pick her up no later than 4:30 pm and am with her until bedtime, around 9 pm, but Dad gets home around 7:30 pm so he gets to put her to bed with me. On the weekend it is all about being with her. But we do have my parents around who love to get her for a few hours so we can get lunch or something like that. Basically, just be a couple, which is sorely needed.

We both get our separate time with her as well as working together. I tend to organize things while he is one who figures out how to teach her things, like falling asleep on her own, etc. Being that she is only 15 weeks old, I am sure things will change as time progresses.

Regarding chores, we both do something either in the morning or the night, like dishes or laundry. Cleaning has been reduced to the absolute basics but the house looks okay.

When we are with our little girl we do fun things like walks, playing with toys, tummy-time, etc. We also make sure that if we need to get something done, like a chore, we do it with her around if needed. She is content beating up her hanging toys and it is nice to see her play on her own. So far it's working but I am sure we will hit bumps in the road, expecially once she gets mobile, but that is when we will have to adjust things.

As for John L, all you can do is try to compromise. I tried for years with my husband and it was still a sore subject when the baby came but I just wouldn't bend, I kept at it. I know we will have head butting in the future but again all my hubby and I can do is talk and compromise. However there are times that even that doesn't work. So if he leaves a mess then I get even and put his stuff away, somewhere odd that he would not think to look, or I hide the TV remote:) Passive aggressive, yes, but it sure is funny watching him search for it and then try to convince me to tell him where it is...

Posted by: Formerly Soon to be Mom | March 21, 2007 12:21 PM

OK this is definitely OT but I was curious, do people really think they will get SS income in retirement? My mother keeps saying yes and that we worry too much. But all my friends are planning as if we won't get it.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:23 PM

Not counting on it foam. I only count the eggs in my basket.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 12:25 PM

OK, it sounds like teaching is waayy more demanding then my job or any office job in my current agency. Well, let's face it, just about any full time position is more demanding then the typical FED STAT position. So not comparing to foamgnome's job at research time, but compared to a typical office job. If a teacher is putting in as much or more time, why is the pay so damn crappy. I always assumed it was because they only work 10 months a year. Are people that damn cheap to not pay higher taxes?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:27 PM

"I think what Meesh and others are saying is that equal sharing ought to be put on the table as a true option along with all other family lifestyles."

No, actually Meesh is saying that until it is the NORM, that women won't have equality. It doesn't matter if the majority of women don't want equal sharing - until it's the default position for couples when they get married, then we may as well be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 12:28 PM

"OK this is definitely OT but I was curious, do people really think they will get SS income in retirement?"

Yes, I will, but I 'm older than most of you. I intend to collect SS AND work as long as I can as long as I live!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 12:29 PM

Happydad - You'll be happy to know that my husband stayed home with a sick kid today instead of me. Granted - he has tons more leave then I do - but he offered! Yesterday he coached flag football, picked up one kid after an after school activity, vacuumed and supervised homework. It was a normal day for us.

Do dads really draw the line at child care, they'll do anything but that? I doubt it.

Posted by: cmac | March 21, 2007 12:30 PM

Anon at 12:03, yes, my wife is fine with focused, "we have to do this now" tasks. It's the "not an emergency but it still needs to be done soon" stuff that she puts off until it does fall into that first category that gets to me. Hopefully when the baby is here she'll realize its needs all fall into the "we have to do this now" category!

As for people knowing what the other one wants prior to getting married, that's hard to know. My neighbor married a woman who was a law clerk, working towards her bar exam. She wanted to become an agent for sports stars, have a glamorous career, etc. He wanted children.

They divorced within a year after marrying; when he spoke with me afterwards he confessed he thought he could convince her to first have the children and then go back to her career, even though she made it clear at the start she wanted the career first.

Now he's living with a research biologist; hopefully they have the same lifeview this time...

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 12:31 PM

In my experience, most of the people who teach do it because they love teaching and love the kids. Like I said before, no one does it for the money -- it's not like anyone entering the profession can be under a delusion thinking that it's super lucrative. The pay's crappy, but the people are great, and teachers as a group are some of the best and happiest people to be around.

But the pay SUCKS. And the hours are long.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 12:31 PM

Meesh writes:

"Matt in Aberdeen, I agree with you on not judging other people's situations. I have not done it today.

"And I agree that each family can choose its own arrangement.

"The point I made was that until families splitting the paid jobs and house and child care equally are the norm, I can't believe that women are given the same choices as men."

If there are specific practices out there in the world of work that are restricting women's choices, these practices need to be changed. Many such practices are already illegal, and take place because the laws are not being enforced. That means we need more Equal Employment Opportunity Counselors, of which I used to be one. To reason that an unequal distribution of results *must* be caused by unequal opportunity is to apply a "disparate impact" test. I agree with the Supreme Court's "Ward's Cove" case that repudiated such tests, not with Congress's and George H. W. Bush's "Restoration Act" that reinstated "disparate impact." The unequal distribution could just as easily be the result of statistically different preferences between men and women.

"I also conceded that if the "one partner" doing twice the house and child care were just as likely to be the husband as the wife, then that would signal equality."

But in real life, it's much more likely to be the wife. That could be because of outside forces restricting her choices, or it could be because, given the freedom to choose, more women than men will choose the SAH path. Let's look for those outside forces and try to abate them, but let's not rule out women having different values from men.

"As it stands, with the study the other day focusing on women wanting the option to work more and men lamenting the fact that they don't get to see their kids or do the housework, it's hard to believe that the family workload break-down described actually reflects how all families want to function."

A family where the father wants to do more housework and child care, and the mother wants to work more outside the home, ought not to be restricted by discriminatory outside forces from making the changes that will make their family function as they want it to. On that, I agree with Meesh.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 21, 2007 12:33 PM

workingmomX: why did you leave teaching?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:38 PM

cmac

"Do dads really draw the line at child care, they'll do anything but that? I doubt it."

Dunno, but you are such a ball breaking beotch that your husband will do almost anything to shut you up or forestall a lecture!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 12:39 PM

I'll never forget this. I met this woman at a small gathering held by a friend. Conversation turned to my impending marriage. No congratulations or any discussion really focused on that. The first thing she asked was how many kids were we planning to have.

I said none, as my husband is unable to. The look on her face was priceless. Her response was even better.

She said, "Oh honey, that's not good. Kids make a marriage stronger!" Her tone was ininuating that I get out, find a man to impregnate me while I can.

The kicker? I find out later in that day that she's in the midst of divorcing her THIRD husband.

Stronger my ass.

Posted by: Please | March 21, 2007 12:40 PM

To JohnL
Your wife's organizational skills sound a lot like mine. I heard an interesting theory a couple of years that made a huge difference. Some people are born organizers, some are not. Often those who live in a chaotic environment, (messy house, bills unpaid or paid late even though there are funds, piles of "leave that stuff there, I'll get to it later") are seen as lazy. Often, they are overwhelmed perfectionists.

When I read about this a giant light bulb went off in my head. Perfectionists cannot cope when they are faced with a project that can't be fully complete and perfect in one fell swoop. Nothing gets done and life gets overwhelming. I remember not turning in grade school assignments because I couldn't finish them quite enough.

Having kids makes it worse because more of the day to day stuff piles up when babies eat up so much of your time and energy.

In my experience, planning a Saturday to clean the office, do the yard work, etc. doesn't work and is a temporary fix. Also, nothing else get done that day, which leads to the same problem in another area.

There is a great website to check out, Flylady.net. They say you can do anything for 15 minutes. Attack the six month old pile of papers for 15 minutes (set a timer). Then walk away from it til the next day. Go to the basement and throw away junk for 15 minutes. Then walk away. On to the next area. It's very hard to leave things undone, but in a week you will have made a ton of progress.

Posted by: HappyMom | March 21, 2007 12:40 PM

I was teaching pretty far away from any family and hated the winters. (It was in the same area of NY that got 9' of snow last month.) I moved to the DC area, couldn't find a teaching job initially and just kind of fell into something else. Golden handcuffs made -- and still make -- it hard to go back to teaching, though I toy with the idea every so often. I miss the kids and the other teachers. I will almost certainly miss the retirement benefits unless I return. But I don't miss my paycheck being so pitiful. And I don't miss the parents. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 12:41 PM

Matt, I never, ever thought you and I would agree on something - but here we go again, agreeing.

"Still, as long as both parties are happy in such a marriage, it is not the place of outsiders to try to discourage that form or marriage, just as it's not the place of outsiders to try to make WOH mothers feel guilty."

And later, you described the Bible thumpers and the Goddess worshippers - and did it just as I would have.

When I married my partner, I knew that since she is both an ordained minister (which is a calling, not just a job) and one of those people that just isn't built for 9-to-5, no matter what she does, that I was probably going to support us. Add in the age difference (she's got fewer years to social security than I have in the workforce post-college) and it was inevitable. But as much as some folks have said it's horrible that I'll be having a baby and she'll be doing the day to day childcare while I work, we knew it was going to be that way and are happy with it. Same with household chores, financial chores, childcare for DD (the 13 year old tornado), and all of the other things one has to do to keep a family running.

Matt, we've gotta stop agreeing - it's weirding me out. ;-)

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | March 21, 2007 12:43 PM

cmac,
Are you my doppleganger?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 12:43 PM

cmac

"Do dads really draw the line at child care, they'll do anything but that? I doubt it."

Dunno, but you are such a ball breaking beotch that your husband will do almost anything to shut you up or forestall a lecture!

Posted by: | March 21, 2007 12:39 PM

nasty much?

cmac's never posted anything on this blog to indicate that there is anything other than peace in the paradise that is her home and marriage. I doubt any career police officer would be unable to hold his own in a conversation with her, and she would not have been attracted to a spineless idiot.

go on with your bad self, though. If the best target for your venom is an unknown, anonymous one, it's because you've already pi$$ed off everyone in your immediate vicinity.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 12:43 PM

workingmomX: How does their retirements work? I try to be a supportive parent to my DDs teacher. Do you have any suggested hints or things to avoid? I do believe you get more with honey then salt.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:43 PM

"do people really think they will get SS income in retirement?"

I think some amount is likely (I'm 41, so I anticipated that it may be different for my kids). But I don't base my retirement planning on it. Or on my husband's purported future pension, or on any possible inheritance, or on anything else that I don't control. I'd rather end up with a little extra than a lot too little.

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 12:45 PM

My wife's got a friend who obsesses over Flylady's website. She's trying to follow some of what that site says to do and she's making progress, but it is slow, and she doesn't really like just working on something for 15 minutes.

I agree she may be feeling overwhelmed when she looks at what needs to be done, which is why I encourage her (and try to lead by example) to do tasks while they're small so they don't become big and overwhelming.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 12:48 PM

Retirement: In a word, pensions. A beautiful thing if you can get it.

Parents: I don't think we have enough time to discuss this and I don't want to hijack the blog but basically, it was the parents who were over-involved, who would argue grades for their kids (God forbid little Hannah ever got less than an A), who needed to check the temperature of their kid and the class on an almost daily basis, and who tried to tell me at every turn how to do my job (with their child as the focus, naturally). These kids know their parents will go to bat for them and act accordingly. Entitlement, anyone?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 12:51 PM

John L,
I think I am alot like your wife. I start big projects but either tire of them before they are done or get overwhelmed and give up. The only thing that has really worked for me is to really break things down to the most basic of tasks.
Making lists is good - even if I have done something I sometimes write it down just so I can cross it off. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and lets you see how much you really do do (yes, I said do do).
I also have to do a work and reward system. I can only sit down and read after I do.....chore.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 12:52 PM

You will too when you get older and have kids. Do you have kids?

I'm 39. I'm still considered Gen-x. I have kids, I vote, I own a home (well, the bank does but I'm paying it off), etc.

I'm still of the opinion that these young adults are responding as "narcissistic" because they are YOUNG and ambitious, and because with all the doomsaying going on they are afraid. And I don't blame them, not one bit.

Posted by: to Katman | March 21, 2007 12:52 PM

Is their penison a % of a final salary? What % would it be. I am just curious. Because feds have a pension portion as well. The old system got a stronger % of an average high 3 while younger employees get a smaller % of an average high 3 but also get a % match into their TSP (government form of a 401K). I am just curious if a teacher's pension is stronger or weaker then a fed pension. If anyone minds, then I will shut up about teaching. I don't want to be accused of hijacking the blog either.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 12:54 PM

12:39, nice job resorting to unjustified personal attacks -- now, was there an actual issue you'd like to discuss?

HappyMom -- that's a really great insight. Probably explains why I bugged the bejeebers out of my mom as a kid -- she called me her "brilliant flake" and couldn't understand why I couldn't just proceed to accomplish tasks one step at a time (I was always the kid who wrote the paper first, then came back and wrote the mandatory outline).

And never underestimate the impact of insecurity: if you wait for the last minute and end up doing crap, at least you've got an excuse for it. Whereas if you take all the time you need, and it's still crap, then you have to face the fact that maybe you're not as smart/good/talented as everybody thinks you are.

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 12:55 PM

okay you got a tattoo and you shaved your head.

That is quite presumptuous of you to assume of anyone. Are you always this way?

And no, I never did either of those things. I have some friends who did (mohawks were not common in high school in the mid-80's, but they were around).

Posted by: to Katman | March 21, 2007 12:55 PM

Teachers in my area

Pay is OK, benefits are GREAT- no employee contribution for health coverage, even during retirement

Some school employees receive nose jobs, boob jobs, hair plugs, and other plastic surgery under their health coverage

Some teachers look better when they retire than when they entered service.

A lot depends on where you work. Check it out before you commit to the profession.

Bad teachers hurt society a great deal.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 12:57 PM

When I was teaching, my situation was that I would get (assuming that I continued teaching until retirement) about 2/3 of my last year's salary every year until I died. If I opted for the benefit to be available to my spouse (in the event that I died first), the percentage was smaller. I have no idea whether it's greater or less than a Fed pension. A pension is a wonderful thing.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 12:57 PM

"do people really think they will get SS income in retirement?"

I think some amount is likely (I'm 41, so I anticipated that it may be different for my kids). But I don't base my retirement planning on it. Or on my husband's purported future pension, or on any possible inheritance, or on anything else that I don't control. I'd rather end up with a little extra than a lot too little.

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 12:45 PM

I'm with Laura on this one--mostly. I doubt I'll get more than 45% of what my social security statement says I may.

I find www.choosetosave.org useful.

Posted by: MdMother | March 21, 2007 1:01 PM

if women were as powerful as you say meesh, why don't they go out and take what they deserve instead of waiting to be "given" choices?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:03 PM

John L - if your wife is good at need to do now, tasks, then I really wouldn't worry about whether she'll view most baby's needs in that way. Unless you're an idiot or cruel (which I'm assuming she isn't, otherwise you wouldn't have married her), it's impossible to put off feeding a baby, changing the baby, etc. Seriously, I wouldn't waste any time worrying about the day to day childcare part - she'll be fine.

However, things like finding a good pediatrician, good childcare, a preschool, etc. do need to be planned for in advance. But, there's no reason you can't plan and research those things yourself, especially if you're the one in the relationship that's good at planning. The problem, of course, would be if your wife insists on doing those things, but then doesn't actually do them...

Posted by: Anon for now | March 21, 2007 1:03 PM

See, as I am always stating most of our problems would go away if everyone was honest with the situation- MOST people do enough work to justify being in a workign environment only 3-4 days a week. If the rest of that time could be given over to family or private pursuits, the world would be a better balanced place. The technology exists right now to make our lives easier- yet still we stay long hours in the office to do more with less to make up for it or increase our output...
Not advocating laziness, just a different approach. Keep pay at same level, or raise it, just make another day a weekend... I bet nothing much would change as far as productivity, yet people would be a lot more balanced and happy because they would have a whole extra day in which to accomplish things for themselves. With the professions that NEED the full work week, you have now created additional positions to fill- translation- MORE JOBS for Americans who need/want them. Our society could easily support such a transition- look at the countless billions that go to pet programs and CEO pockets. Our economy would actually continue to grow! More workers, less work days, more time to invest in education, family, the arts, whatever...
Just a thought.

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 1:09 PM

"12:23" wrote: "No, actually Meesh is saying that until it is the NORM, that women won't have equality. It doesn't matter if the majority of women don't want equal sharing - until it's the default position for couples when they get married, then we may as well be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen."

Well, I guess you could say that. But I don't think that most women want to have twice the house work and child care. Is that wrong? If someone proves to me that women want that, I'll say that the system is fine as is. But I don't think it's the case that women don't want equal sharing. If equality has already been acheived, somebody send Leslie and other journalists the memo.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 1:09 PM

Working momX: sounds similar to the majority of fed pensions. After around 30 years of service, they tend to get around 55-65%. It is actual a calculation based on the number of years of service. But you get less credit for the earlier years. So it is not as simple as saying # of years X 1/2. It is much better then the newer fed pensions. Our is even more complicated formula. But I will get roughly 56% of a high 3 based on 30 years of service. But I do get a % match of contributions that I make into my TSP and that will make up the difference between your 66% defined pension and my 56% defined pension. I heard this one math geek friend of mine did the whole actuarial calculations on the two different FED pensions and he said it was roughly equal if the newer people contributed 10% of their gross salary into TSP each year. So I figure I will do better because I max out the TSP contribution each year.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 1:13 PM

in response to foamgnome's question: If a teacher is putting in as much or more time, why is the pay so damn crappy?

It all gets back to the perceived supply and demand, which is the basis for much of the pay system in the US (and other free-market economies).

If the perception (of those doing the paying) is that the demand for teachers is 10,000; and there are 9,000 applying for the jobs, then the pay has to rise/conditions have to change. If the perception is that the demand is 10,000 and there are 11,000 qualified applicants, then the pay can stay the same or maybe even be dropped.

And the key here is "perception" because there's not always an easy way to know the "true" supply/demand. The problem Mom always had with Louisiana public schools, after having taught all over the world while the Army moved Dad around, was their perception of the demand for teachers was stilted, and it affected their perception of the supply. The perception was that teachers didn't need any real qualifications; any idiot could do it and usually the only people who did were those who couldn't get a "real job". So the demand for highly qualified teachers, of which there are relatively few, was small; the demand for "Joe/Jane who can stand in front of a classroom" was fairly large but the population deemed qualified for that was extremely large, so there was no need to pay well.

(The only exception was usually the football coach, since the demand for coaches who can win the district championship was usually perceived by the school board to be equal to the number of high schools, while the supply was demonstrably smaller. Coaches usually got nice stipends on top of their teacher salaries. It still didn't total a lot of money, but it was better than your average band director or English teacher.)

The same principle applies to pretty much all jobs: if the demand for quarterbacks who can win three Super Bowls in five years is only four teams, but the supply of such people totals one, the pay's gonna be pretty good.

We're getting off-topic, but this is the problem with all of the "equal pay for equal work" efforts asserting that pay for disparate jobs of "equal value" and "equivalent qualifications" ought to be the same. There's an underlying assumption that salaries can be set appropriate for some value of work, NOT because of the perceived supply and demand. And until that problem is addressed, the "equal pay" efforts will always fail. (The solution will most likely be in altering the perceived supply or demand.)

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 1:14 PM

Our economy would actually continue to grow! More workers, less work days, more time to invest in education, family, the arts, whatever...
Just a thought.

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 01:09 PM


Chris - Workers unite!! Families first!! Please run for public office. I will vote for you!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:15 PM

OK, I vote Chris for president. Actually I have read that office space is one of the biggest cost to employers. And would your 3-4 day work week (even if salaries kept steady) help business if we could office share. Right now everyone in my agency (professional) has their own office. If they would let me work 3-4 days (and frankly I would take the pay cut just to keep the benefits) and they made it a rotating office between two people. Productivity would be up, real estate costs down, and every one would be happy.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 1:16 PM

"So I figure I will do better because I max out the TSP contribution each year."

So did I until we were FINALLY able to put aside the IRS maximum--I can't swing that. Yet! It is my goal though, and I think I may be able to manage it in 2 years.

Congratulations, by the way. That's a wonderful thing to be able to do, and it's not easy.

*sigh*


Posted by: to FoamGnome | March 21, 2007 1:16 PM

"1:03" wrote: "if women were as powerful as you say meesh, why don't they go out and take what they deserve instead of waiting to be "given" choices?

Read Monday's blog about the "choices" women have in the workplace. The women I know use their power to take good jobs with flexibility. It's the men they marry who limit their choices by refusing to change jobs or pitch in more around the house.

And if you don't think women are as powerful as I say, what do you think women are?

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 1:18 PM

John L -
Your comments resonated because your wife sounds just like me (also a woman) and you sound just like my husband. Believe it or not, there are positive, happy, friendly ways for you to provide your wife with an INCENTIVE to clear away clutter. If you do these things, you will feel more in control of your own space because you have a way to encourage her to notice the things that matter to you.

The key is to first figure out something that she is always complaining about and wishing that you would do, but that seems trivial and ridiculous to you, so you generally don't.

When you have figured out something like that, some time when she is not too tired and is in an OK mood, do that thing. Don't be ostentatious or anything, but make sure you do it where she can notice you.

After you do it, come over to her, give her a big hug and say "Hey, I did that thing, did you see? Just thought you would appreciate it." Then, wait for her to say thank you or whatever. Then say, "I know I never remember to do things like this, but for some reason, today I remembered. I love you." She will give you a kiss and you'll both feel good, but that's not the point.

Then, do the whole same routine again in a week or so. This time you don't have to be so wordy about what you did, but still give her a hug and a smile when you complete the task.

Then, in a couple days, pick up some clutter where she can see you do it, all the while being in a cheerful mood. And then the very next thing, repeat the routine of doing the thing she likes you to do but that you don't personally care about, still with a smile and a hug.

Eventually, she will get the novel idea, on her own, of picking up some clutter because she wants to make you feel as good as you have been making her feel. For her to get the idea on her own through positive reinforcement is WAY more effective in the long run than nagging her and being negative.

When she does pick up some clutter, reward her with a hug and tell her how happy you feel to see the open, clear space. Also say, "If the clutter wasn't really bothering you, I know you did it because I cared. Thanks."

Make a point of thanking her whenever you notice her picking up clutter after that. Just a brief "hey thanks" and a smile is a really nice positive reinforcement, and a hug thrown in at random intervals helps.

She will NEVER automatically feel a personal incentive to pick up clutter, because as you say, she doesn't find clutter aversive. But given positive reinforcement of (a) you doing things that you don't care about because you care about her, and (b) you saying thank you when she does something because she cares, she will want to pick up the clutter anyway.

Posted by: clutterwoman | March 21, 2007 1:18 PM

BTW, "MdMother," I'm scheulded to donate next week. If that's my free pass to forgo spring cleaning, I'll take it!

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 1:19 PM

My husband and I work well together as a team. We definitely split things around the house by expertise and interest. I like grocery shopping & cooking, he likes cleaning the bathroom. I plant flowers and pull weeds, he cuts the grass and puts down mulch. He gives the kids their baths, I help them get dressed, etc. afterward. We alternate taking them to bed and doing bed time storiers. He works more hours than I do at his paid job. I have no desire to work more at my paid job. I do more housecleaning as a result. I don't mind. the thing is we have found a routine that works for us and if one of us is overwhelmed, the other steps up to help out. Splitting things 50/50 everyday of every week would never work for us. We just assume that things will shake out pretty evenly in the long run. The important thing is that WE like the way we do these things.

Posted by: MOMto3 | March 21, 2007 1:20 PM

If that's my free pass to forgo spring cleaning, I'll take it!

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 01:19 PM


Are your serious? Does anyone spring clean anymore? Does anyone know how?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:22 PM

Army Brat: Ok, I am not an economist and I am trying to follow your logic. But take my job, statistician, we have many more federal jobs then qualified people applying. Therefore job security is high and pay is pretty good. In industry, same follows suit, more jobs then Americans with math degrees. But teaching seems to based on perception not reality. Because you are always reading about teacher shortages. Teachers being hired on contingency or emergency creditials. So I guess it is where economic theory fails because the reality is not equal to the perception.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 1:23 PM

Chris,
I love your idea of the 30 hour work week as a norm! Yeah, sure, it's a fantasy that probably has lots of holes in it, but then again...does it? I at least hope that companies wake up to the real benefits of breaking out of the 1.0 FTE 40-hour position trap. Chris, you get my vote too.

Posted by: equal | March 21, 2007 1:26 PM

Chris, the big problem with your proposal (an extra weekend day with the same pay) is that it's a global economy, and you'd have to get the whole world to go along. The French have tried this repeatedly - they keep making the work week shorter. One primary reason is that they think it will help ease their high unemployment (particularly among immigrants). The thought is that if you limit the amount of work any one employee can do, the companies have to do the same amount of work overall and so they have to hire more employees. Voila - lower unemployment.

The problem has been shown many times to be the fact that hiring more employees and keeping everyone's pay the same means that the company's total cost of production goes up, sometimes by a lot. So they can't sell their goods or services very cheaply, and thus they get soundly thrashed by their competitors from India, China, Japan, and even the US.

It's a global world, and that has to factor in to any such idea.

(Not that I don't philosophically agree with the thought of an additional day each weekend, but it comes with a high, high price.)

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 1:26 PM

It's the men they marry who limit their choices by refusing to change jobs or pitch in more around the house.


So the women bear no responsibility in the mate they choose? It is all forced upon them. There are no forced marriages in this country anymore. If you can't find a man who won't limit your choices then don't get married and become Janet Reno or Condoleeza. If you don't like your parnter its not society's fault, its your own for making a lousy choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:27 PM

1:16: It hasn't been easy for us either. When there was a cap on 10% for fed contributions, we did that. When I first started I think I made like $35K/year (that was a decade ago). My theory was if I was able to figure out how to live on 90% then I will always be used to it. It only got tricky when they started letting us contribute more and more. But we have managed and I am surprised 10 years later how well it has worked. Best of luck to you too. No matter what % you put in, it will help in the long run. I am amazed at young workers who don't even put in 5% for the match contribution. It is actually quite vogue to be sharing a house or an apartment when your young. My first job out of college, I had nothing. Literally nothing. I look back and laugh at those times now. Builds character.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 1:28 PM

to: Posted by: | March 21, 2007 12:43 PM

Thanks - I particularly like the "get on with your bad self." That is a little ditty from the 70's - one of my brothers' favorites. Can't remember where it is from though, Welcome back Kotter maybe?

Posted by: CMAC | March 21, 2007 1:29 PM

CHRIS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 1:29 PM

Foamgnome, I'm not an economist either; my graduate degree is a joint degree in Statistics and Comp Sci from Purdue so I can tell you all about computer networks and error probabilities. But I've picked up some things in various environments over the years.

I think you got the situation exactly right with teaching: the perception often doesn't equal reality. There's a "demand" for qualified teachers, but those that pay them - us through our school systems - aren't willing to pay them well enough, so there's not really a demand and the pay stays low.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 1:30 PM

But teaching seems to based on perception not reality. Because you are always reading about teacher shortages. Teachers being hired on contingency or emergency creditials. So I guess it is where economic theory fails because the reality is not equal to the perception.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 01:23 PM


And the perception is that teaching is somehow not a profession. I think it has something to do with it once being wholly dominated by women and, and now still predominately women. Just my gut feeling.

On the other hand, at my kids' HS (Annapolis), which is not making Adequate Yearly Progress in the areas of Special Ed and graduation rates under No Child Left Behind, the superintendent is making all the HS teachers year round employees, with additional pay, of course, beginning in Sep. Well, lots of the teachers do not like that one bit. Bad move on their part if, in fact, they'd like to be seen as "professionals". And I do think that they need to work to elevate the profession in the eyes of the general public and public officials.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:30 PM

KLB - I just read your post on projects and tiring of them before they are done, I am the same, so yes, I am your doppelganger. At least when it comes to house hold stuff.

Posted by: cmac | March 21, 2007 1:31 PM

"But I don't think that most women want to have twice the house work and child care. Is that wrong? If someone proves to me that women want that, I'll say that the system is fine as is. "

Most women who work full time with a spouse working full time don't want to have twice the housework and child care as their spouse. But wasn't your original post about how even though total work (paid + unpaid) is fairly equal between mothers and fathers (65 hours vs. 64 hours), that women won't be truly equal until the norm is to split paid work and unpaid work down the middle? If each spouse is putting in an equal number of hours to the family, who really cares whether it's paid or unpaid work? (in the absence of the imaginary bullying that you suggest is the norm when you say that men make their wives give up their careers.)


Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:35 PM

Army Brat, kudos on the HS football coach point -- LOL. :-)

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 1:35 PM

Recliner chair slug dads--that's so funny!

No husband anymore, so no first-person observation. But the dads in my neighborhood are very fit soccer-coach dads, handy-man weekend project dads, etc. No recliner surfers in my neighborhood!

Posted by: single western mom | March 21, 2007 1:36 PM

re teaching: aren't teacher shortages in part created because in major metropolitan areas one county poaches off another? PG County was the worse off of the counties around here about 5 years ago b/c Montgomery, Fairfax and Loudon County could recruit their teachers away. I imagine it is the same in other areas. Teachers will always be in short supply for anything that could be classified as "difficult" -- urban, impoverished schools, high risk kids, etc.

re flylady: read her website but do not sign up for her emails -- there are too many... The 15 minute rule is definitely a good one. If only I used it on my kitchen counter...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 21, 2007 1:40 PM

It's spelled Doppelgänger.

Posted by: Spelling Police | March 21, 2007 1:41 PM

Product of a Working Mother,
I signed up for the Firefly emails once. Never again. I was literally inundated with emails all day long. Shoot, if I had spend half the time working as I did reading all would be done.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 1:43 PM

Anonymous at High Noon asks me:

"Is this the only or the last you've read?

"Susan Moller Okin Ph.D. '75, in her book, 'Justice, Gender and the Family.'"

Seven minutes later, I wrote:

"If a prevalence of non-traditional marriages makes the Bible-thumpers unhappy because Ephesians 5:22 says, 'Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as to the Lord' -- well, the Bible-thumpers can just sit in outer darkness and gnash their teeth."

See -- that proves that I've read another book besides Professor Okin's, viz., the "Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians." Paul the Apostle, who did not have an Ivy League diploma, wrote sexist propaganda in his Letter to the Ephesians. Professor Okin, who did have such a diploma, wrote unisexist propaganda in her book. Unlike the Roman Empire, America is a free country where people can write whatever propaganda they wish.

But folks, feel free to ignore the propaganda. Follow your hearts. Two clubs don't make a marriage -- indeed, the whole family, including any children who may come into it, is one club, more tightly bound together by love and loyalty than the "Du-Bridgettes" or the "Y-Bridgettes" or the "Overtricks" or any of the other clubs whose activities are reported on in the Washington newspapers. Two diamonds don't make a marriage -- she gets a diamond engagement ring and a wedding band, he gets only the wedding band. Two spades don't make a marriage -- husband and wife can take turns doing the gardening with only one spade between them. No. Two hearts make a marriage, each heart doing the best it can to make the other heart happy.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 21, 2007 1:47 PM

I did post something in a political page yesterday and nobody responded:

We need to form a new party, yes! Lets do it right now! Ill call it the Republicrat party for now- as it will no doubt be filled with disaffected Republicans and Democrats- and we can change it when we come up with a better one. What will our animal symbol be? After much thought I figured it should be the dog. What other animal exhibits such intelligence, loyalty, and honest devotion? At the same time it would protect its family- the American people, with its life. The dog is oft referred to as a well and faithful servant. That is what politicians should be. We are sick and tired of corruption. We need to change things! We have spoken and were not listened to by either party. We want victory over terror- and realize the only way to do that is to fight the terror breeding corruption at home. By proper management of resources and technology, we can use the tools we have to support our American citizens at home, and those serving abroad. We want to leave Iraq as victors, not for our ego, but in giving the people there whose lives we have disrupted a true safe democratic nation. We will make amends where we have done wrong and we will fix our society at home, protecting our interests and gaining energy independance within a decade. Legislation must be passed encouraging existing and new energy options- not the ones that will line the pockets of already wealthy big businesses. The only options exercised will be those in the best interests of the nation as a whole, and not just the best interests of the few who look to profit from the exploitation of others. The technology to communicate our goals and organize to vote is here, RIGHT NOW, and at your fingertips. Spread the word and by the time the next election comes around there will be enough votes to replace EVERYONE who will not stand with us. This is the age of the internet and our generation needs to step up and take control because enough is enough!

So much for a rousing speech... Transparent Aluminum is real and could serve as a lightweight armor for troops and vehicles, and eventually be used in manufacturing safer vehicles at home- it is thinner than paper and stronger than steel. It costs $10 an inch to make, but with advances, cost can be brought down- more jobs for America...

As a senior international security specialist I know that if we leave Iraq to collapse, it will do just that- and the terrorists will take over and see it as a victory given to them by their god... which will spur them on to further attack us here. We may not have initially gone there for the right reason, but we can still leave knowing our troops, in their hearts, have done the right things for a people previously under a brutal dictator. We do not want to leave the Iraqi people in the hands of someone like that. So, we need to do the job right and come home- not tell the enemy when we are planning on leaving.
When we eventually do leave, we need to focus more on our countries' problems. For now, not enough has been done by either ruling party for the health-care system, be it military or civilian. Currently, if a disabled single mom marries, she loses all benefits. The insurance plan her husband has won't pay hospitalization. The only thing they can do is consider divorce, or going into a pit of debt they may never recover from. If they divorce, they can not live together, or they will be targetted by social services for abusing the system that abused them. Something is broken and needs fixed. Soldiers, likewise should not have to routinely appeal the decisions of the VA. It has become a joke among x-military. Half the red-tape could be eliminated, and the process would speed up if claims were fairly evaluated from the start. Under the present system nearly all claims are given a reduced percentage value, and the disabled vet has to appeal. This slows down the initial processing of files. Even so, when the appeal is finally granted, the vet is not granted back-pay to the initial date of disability, just the date they filed their appeal. The system, in trying to serve only itself winds up burdening itself and slowing itself down. Again, something is broken and needs fixed.
Where are the ones who are supposed to be fixing these things? How much in support money do they get? Why do generals landscape their bases in the middle of a war when there are troops who need armor? When will someone finally make a stand to cut the corruption and not just talk about it?

Ok, done with my rant... for now... you guys shouldn't have gotten me started. ;-)

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 1:47 PM

The real problem I think is that the media is so lazy that they do not really understand what is going on. I don't know one dad who is a recliner slug, but for the media, it is easier to pretend that it is still the 1960's about everything in the world than to do any real research as a baseline.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 1:49 PM

John L,

Instead of your wife learning to be more organized, maybe you could learn to not care about the clutter so much :-). Seriously, it sounds like keeping up on clutter the same way you do is just not her.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:55 PM

"1:27," yes, that would be a good position to take if people never changed. I never said it wasn't the woman's fault. It's probably no one's fault because it's hard to know how much work a child will be before you have them.

"1:35," you wrote: "But wasn't your original post about how even though total work (paid + unpaid) is fairly equal between mothers and fathers (65 hours vs. 64 hours), that women won't be truly equal until the norm is to split paid work and unpaid work down the middle?"

I did say that. But I also said that the split could be the same (one doing the most unpaid work) if it was the husband as often as the wife. That way it's not always the wife caring for the kids and cleaning.

"If each spouse is putting in an equal number of hours to the family, who really cares whether it's paid or unpaid work"

I do! Is it fair that the dad has to work 80 hours? Is it fair that he only sees his kids for an hour a night? Is it fair that the mom doesn't have the career she wants because then her kids would be in child care for 10 hours a day? You are seeing the ideal situation as the norm: Mom has baby, falls in love, wants to stay home to take care of it. Dad wants to be primary breadwinner, doesn't mind letting his wife raise the kids. I'm seeing a different situationas the norm: Mom wants to work, but can't get a job with flexiblity. Dad won't cut back because he doesn't think it's a problem to put kids in care for 10 hours a day.

Both situations exists. Neither of us knows which is more prevalent.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 1:56 PM

Ok, done with my rant... for now... you guys shouldn't have gotten me started. ;-)

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 01:47 PM


And a good start it was. You need to organize. Let us know when and where.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:57 PM

foamgnome,

Here's a teacher salary table. Convert it to 12 months and it is comparable to GS salaries. doesn't pay a great amount to start, but compares to GS-11/12 over a career.

http://www.hcpss.org/employment/salary_hcea_10month.pdf

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 1:59 PM

Yeah, chris you do have some good ideas. I agree with Iraq but can't imagine in any reasonable time frame (20 years) we will get it right. Plus I get the distinct feeling that the Iraqi people have a large % who actively don't want us to get it right. It was a bad decision to go in with no reasonable way to get out. Gee, I just really liked your 4 day work week. I don't know about the French, but I think it might work.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 2:00 PM

Sure... ummm... let me check with my wife... I think she'll be pissed. ;-)
LOL

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 2:01 PM

I think Meesh's point is that until roughly the same number of men and women participate in paid work as well as housework/childraising respectively, the choice of women (or men for that matter) to do either cannot necessarily be called a choice as much as submission to pressure to do what is most expedient based on gender. Face it, if most men work for pay, and most women raise children while staying home, or raise children while doing a less demanding full time or part time gig so that the husband can be more devoted to paid work, the expection will be that women primarily take care of the home fires and that men primarily take care of making the money. And this expectation will be limiting to both women and men who want to do the opposite. So while some people may opt to go against the current, it will be harder for them because they will be working against pressures that expect them to do otherwise.

Right now, like it or not, there is a certain amount of discrimination against women in the workplace because people perceive them as being less dedicated to work because they have families. Someone anecdotally cited a few days ago that in their company, the top earners/superstars were men with stay at home wives. I think one of the reasons for this disparity between male and female career success, as defined by earnings, is that career women often do not have the back-up stay at home husband to take care of all the little things that need to be attended to. Career women are expected to do more of the housework/childraising than similarly situated career men.

I think the discussion about traditional marriage and that it shouldn't be attacked is kind of a red herring in this discussion, because frankly, these traditional arrangements are less of a norm than they used to be. What we have now are more and more dual career couples, where for whatever reason, the woman still does more at home than the husband, and as a result, her career takes a bigger hit than his, and so the relationship is not equal. It is tilted in favor of the husband, because he has more earning power. And this earning power does translate into more than just money for him. It translates into opportunities, flexibilities, and considerations that help to promote his career and his societal clout. I do think that this is changing, and that men are doing more then they used to. But I don't think it is equal yet. Until working women insist that their husbands contribute as much at home as they do, and give equal consideration to the wife's career as to the husband's, working men and women will not be on equal footing, and women will be viewed as second class workers, just as men are viewed as "helpers" in the domestic sphere.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:01 PM

Matt

"See -- that proves that I've read another book besides Professor Okin's, viz., the "Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians."

No, it proves only that you know how to copy and paste from the Internet and that you are probably an intellectual lightweight!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:02 PM

if you think teacher pay is low, could it be? let me think now. I know, what if the NEA, that fabulous teachers' union, did a better job of representing its members financial interest instead of focusing all its efforts on making sure counties can't fire the few lousy ones?

in return for belonging to a union that doesn't do a da*n thing to raise salaries except for those who get additional useless degrees, teachers get to pay union dues. isn't that special?

the NEA is stuck in the '60s thinking its members are all about the mission and job retention rather than compensation for a job well done.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:02 PM

I know that in our house, DH and I are both slugs, as long as we're both being slugs. What I mean is, if he's "slacking," then I want to slack, and vice versa. It can be a very dangerous thing, leading to a lot of TV watching and not much else. We've got a baby on the way and I'm really hoping we can shake out of our funk soon. Maybe throw out the TV? =)

Posted by: dlm79 | March 21, 2007 2:02 PM

foamgnome,

Not to say it is an easy job, but there's a lot to be said for being off Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas week, and a spring break every year in addition to the summer months. Not just that you can save daycare/camp $$$ during those times, but for those who must work, daycare is not always available for Black Friday, Xmas eve and days following. I have had to work those days even though I have a job with flexibility.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:02 PM

Matt in Aberdeen, your suit analogies remind me of a country song that goes: "We're two of a kind working on a full house."

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 2:04 PM

I guess the teachers salaries to match close to an 11 or 12 but how many professional feds stay at those GS levels? I entered Fed service as a 9 and was a 12 in less then 3 years.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 2:07 PM

I know that in our house, DH and I are both slugs, as long as we're both being slugs. What I mean is, if he's "slacking," then I want to slack, and vice versa. It can be a very dangerous thing, leading to a lot of TV watching and not much else. We've got a baby on the way and I'm really hoping we can shake out of our funk soon. Maybe throw out the TV? =)

Posted by: dlm79 | March 21, 2007 02:02 PM

dlm, if you have a baby on the way, enjoy your last few minutes of self-centered slacking and tv watching while they last and feel NO GUILT.

The world as you know it is about to end soon enough.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:07 PM

Advice to unmarried male slugs. Marry a woman who likes clean. I typed it the way I meant it. If she likes clean, and you help her to clean, then no more clutter. I married a woman who hated clean. Six loads of wash waiting to done in hall and 4 loads of *clean* wash on the coach so the dogs could roll in them. Men aren't the only slugs. Hey, its really great to dry your face with a *clean* towel and get dog hair in your mouth. Now, I know I will be brought to task for this rant, but I did try to eliminate all this clutter by doing the wash and removing the *clean* cloths from the doggies but you know what, it was always a mess the next day. So boys, help your wife clean but I got to say getting a divorce is a better option than living with a slob, particularly if you like clean which in my mind is much more calming environment to live in than clutter and dog hair and mounds of cloths blocking the hallway.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 2:07 PM

I think teaching must have its pros and cons. I certainly don't think I could ever be one. My day care closes black friday, christmas eve, good friday. I just take annual leave to watch DD on those days.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 2:08 PM

Hey katman - I get what you are saying, but why not try getting rid of the dogs first and resort to divorce last? You are asking for dirt if you keep your house full of dogs.

Posted by: clutterwoman | March 21, 2007 2:10 PM

katman, you are an A++ class jerk.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:10 PM

"I know that in our house, DH and I are both slugs, as long as we're both being slugs. What I mean is, if he's "slacking," then I want to slack, and vice versa. It can be a very dangerous thing, leading to a lot of TV watching and not much else. We've got a baby on the way and I'm really hoping we can shake out of our funk soon. Maybe throw out the TV? =)"


I am reminded of the words above the gates of hell- ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE. Your days of slacking are OVER, NEVER EVER to return. Much like the hope of the damned. Enjoy!

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 2:11 PM

"I don't know one dad who is a recliner slug, but for the media, it is easier to pretend that it is still the 1960's about everything in the world than to do any real research as a baseline."

Every mother and father and kid over 12 I know comes home from school/work, eats dinner, and sacks out in front of the boob tube for the evening. No need for me to pretend it's still the 1960's.

Oh, and this includes surfing the Web and checking out Internet porn and gambling site.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:12 PM

" My day care closes black friday, christmas eve, good friday. I just take annual leave to watch DD on those days."

My day care closed those days too, but my fed agency also only allowed 50% of the employees to be off those days, based on service date and I was the youngest in my area. some of us provide direct public service and the office must be staffed during public hours.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:13 PM

Foamgnome: First off, stop hogging the blog. Second, did you graduate from high school? I can't believe the misspelled words (at least the ones you spell out rather than just text message) and grammatical errors. You don't know the difference between 'then' and 'than.' You'd fit right in with a Government job.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:13 PM

"I am reminded of the words above the gates of hell- ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE. Your days of slacking are OVER, NEVER EVER to return. Much like the hope of the damned. Enjoy!"\

Not true, not true. You will be able to slack again once the kid turns 5 or 6. Assuming you don't have another one. Perhaps not the same level of complete and blissful slack, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:14 PM

Well, I'm hardly anal about clutter. I wouldn't have stayed married to her for nearly 23 years if I was.

But, when critical pieces of mail (bills, car license renewals, insurance forms, etc) get mislaid or not paid at all, books & magazines get so numerous that it's difficult to walk into a room, bags of fabric ("for future sewing projects") get tossed into the guest bedroom haphazardly, and purchases and other items get left in the kitchen to where work areas can no longer be used, I start feeling my blood pressure going up...

Like I said, she's getting better at it, and I appreciate her efforts, but I have to constantly keep asking her about the longer term things in order to see her do anything on them.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 2:14 PM

Geez 2:13...

"Foamgnome: First off, stop hogging the blog."

Who cares?

"Second, did you graduate from high school? I can't believe the misspelled words (at least the ones you spell out rather than just text message) and grammatical errors. You don't know the difference between 'then' and 'than.'"

Who cares?

"You'd fit right in with a Government job."

Geez, hilarious.

Posted by: clutterwoman | March 21, 2007 2:15 PM

Emily:

"Until working women insist that their husbands contribute as much at home as they do, and give equal consideration to the wife's career as to the husband's, working men and women will not be on equal footing, and women will be viewed as second class workers, just as men are viewed as "helpers" in the domestic sphere."

The issue with the above is that it risks 'solving' the equality problem the same way that the USSR did -- by making everyone poor.

As you have stated, there is a career advantage to having a spouse who is more focused on managing household / children. For a family, either 1 spouse can have this advantage or neither spouse can have this advantage -- it is by definition not possible for both spouses to have this advantage.

By encouraging more couples to choose an arrangement in which no spouse has this advantage, you increase the value to the employer of those individuals who do have the advantage of a spouse focused on household / childcare management.

This is all certainly a question of degree -- and as Meesh indicated may only apply to 'fast track' positions. Equality is great -- and is valuable in and of itself -- but recognize in this case equality means that *neither* spouse gets the fast track position.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:16 PM

No the dogs became before me. And I thought I was at least A+++.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 2:16 PM

I am reminded of the words above the gates of hell- ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE. Your days of slacking are OVER, NEVER EVER to return. Much like the hope of the damned. Enjoy!

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 02:11 PM

pATRICK, LOL, it hasn't been the same without your sense of humor.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 2:16 PM

2:13: OK, I will stop talking about teaching. But I don't know why you are getting so mad. It doesn't prevent anyone else from posting.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 2:17 PM

John L - please read my post at 1:18... There are ways to overcome, believe me, and they can be examples of goodness. It sounds like you two have had about as much negativity as you can both stand.

Good luck!

Posted by: clutterwoman | March 21, 2007 2:18 PM

pATRICK is right about the slacking. It just isn't the same fun after you have kids.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 2:18 PM

foamgnome,

I entered the fed as a GS-2 and worked my way up to GS-12 - it took 20 years, and I most likely will retire at this level, and there are a lot like me. Check with your CSRS coworkers. there were a lot of lower level clerical jobs to get your foot in the door that no longer exist due to technology. The feds used to train and promote their clerical employees based on combination of experience and education and also aptitude - there were a lot of tests given and a person could be considered for certain jobs if they scored highly on the tests.

GS-13 is a fairly common grade for DC based agencies (don't think the feds aren't doing anything to offset DC cost of living - it's called grade inflation). In my agency the computer specialists and budget analysts are GS-11/12 - not gs-13.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:21 PM

"Not true, not true. You will be able to slack again once the kid turns 5 or 6. Assuming you don't have another one. Perhaps not the same level of complete and blissful slack, but hey, I'll take what I can get. "

I hope this is true for you Emily but not me. Dinner, baths, play with kids, soccer games, birthday parties etc. UMM where is my slack time? Who moved my cheese?

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 2:21 PM

Advice to unmarried slugs of either gender, if services you can hire someone to provide (other than sex) are high on your list of essentially qualities to find in a mate, re-evaluate your priorities and values. Repeat after me, a appropriate:

I don't need a husband to get my lawn mowed, change a light bulb or fix my computer. I can hire someone or learn to do it myself.

I don't need a wife to clean, cook, or sign and address the Christmas cards. I can hire someone or learn to do it myself.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:21 PM

I would say this is a good time to get all your bills online, paid automatically if possible. Do all you can to reduce the mail clutter - get on the direct marketing do not send list, call the opt out number to get rid of credit card offers, negotiate with yout wife about magazines to stop getting.

Less coming into the house means less clutter to start and less to get lost.

Posted by: To John L. | March 21, 2007 2:21 PM

I had taken a break from the blog based on what I thought was a return to man-bashing.

It's good to see Leslie's post today. Guess I should start reading again :-)

Posted by: Proud Papa | March 21, 2007 2:22 PM

Patrick, I only have one rugrat. I think it makes a big difference. He goes on a playdate, I slack. He has a friend over, I can read magazines and eat bon bons while he plays. It's much easier now than it was when he was 2.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:23 PM

2:21 That is good to know. I don't usually ask anyone what their grades are. I just know about the statisticians, economists, mathematicians etc... But it sounds like you worked really hard. But I agree with you that it is probably a lot of grade inflation. PS I hope I did not have any typos, spelling errors, or grammatical mistakes. But oh well, if I do.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 2:23 PM

My question is why would you marry an American woman? They offer nothing of value.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 2:23 PM

Dad won't cut back because he doesn't think it's a problem to put kids in care for 10 hours a day.

Sounds like you married the wrong man. WHen you go to the mule store to buy a mule, don't complain that you are disappointed that the mule they sold you was a MULE. Please.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:24 PM

?

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 2:25 PM

My borther is a HS teacher in the bay area and my sil is a lawyer. He works 80% time and pay so he can pick up the boys at 2:00. I think he's a great example to his boys. What I don't know is if his teaching situation is representive or an abberation.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 2:26 PM

There's something about this expression that leaves me feeling that the speaker has no class.

Posted by: xyz | March 21, 2007 02:26 PM

Yep, like school on a Saturday. Sorry, I thought it was time for a Fat Albert joke.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 2:27 PM

"I am reminded of the words above the gates of hell- ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE. Your days of slacking are OVER, NEVER EVER to return. Much like the hope of the damned. Enjoy!"\

Not true, not true. You will be able to slack again once the kid turns 5 or 6. Assuming you don't have another one. Perhaps not the same level of complete and blissful slack, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 02:14 PM

Emily, can I move to your house? they still eat, do homework (or not as the case may be), play soccer, play tennis, want us to look at and approve of every drawing or creative work, have several big-a reading/creative projects each semester, require baths, bedtime stories or special time, have sleep-overs and friends over to your house, and ride their bikes (with supervision, at 5). When are you slacking because I, like pATRICK, must have missed that chapter?

I don't see a slack break in sight until they are at least 16 and can drive. Then I'll fret, but that's different.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 2:28 PM

"Dad won't cut back because he doesn't think it's a problem to put kids in care for 10 hours a day."

This is a red herring argument, children spend the vast majority of their time at school, which could be construed as a different type of day care. I must admit I was somewhat against day care until I saw what they do at day care and all the friends my kids made.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 2:29 PM

You will find that having kids is great, particularly when they are asleep.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 2:29 PM

"I don't see a slack break in sight until they are at least 16 and can drive. Then I'll fret, but that's different."

My guess is that you have more than 1. I find a 7 year old to be very easy. Yes, we have soccer and swim lessons and birthday parties, but I find I have a lot more down time than when he was a toddler.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:30 PM

"think its great that dads are doing more. I know that my dh is an invaluable part of our family life."

Excuse me, but this isn't Urban Baby. Leave the annoying abbreviations there.

Posted by: anon | March 21, 2007 2:32 PM

Slacking with kids - not really possible unless it is planned and you are covered by the other parent. This is not really slacking actually, just planned laying around. Whenever we get a night away from kids and have hours (thank you grandparents) to ourselves we slack, and it is great.

Posted by: cmac | March 21, 2007 2:32 PM

"Dad won't cut back because he doesn't think it's a problem to put kids in care for 10 hours a day."

This is a red herring argument, children spend the vast majority of their time at school, which could be construed as a different type of day care.

I agree that once the child is in first grade, they spend a lot of time in school. Until that time, school is only 3-4 hours at most.

Posted by: to pATRICK | March 21, 2007 2:32 PM

Katman

"I got to say getting a divorce is a better option than living with a slob"

I'm with you;I couldn't stand to live in squalor.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:32 PM

John L. --

I wonder if you're not looking at your problem with some preconceived notions. Such as, the way you are is the "good" way, and the way your wife is is the "bad" way.

Being efficient and on top of things is one type of personal characteristic; being not so efficient and procrastinating is another type of personal characteristic. Neither is wholly bad nor good.

When you decided you wanted to marry your wife, was she pretty much as she is now? If so, you knew what she was like and married her anyway. If you thought that you'd help her to change, you were laboring under the same delusion that so many women adopt with the men they choose.

The "she/he isn't quite perfect, but we can fix that" approach to marriage or long-term partnership is both unrealistic and disrespectful of the partner in question. If you "take this woman" to be your wife, you take her as she is; the message is, "I love you for who and what you are."

To then turn around and try to alter this person is unkind, unfair, and highly judgmental (i.e., I'm the right way; you're the wrong way; you have to change.).

Surely, your wife must have some incredible positive qualities, or you probably wouldn't have married her. Isn't it more important to love those qualities than to bemoan the ones she's not likely to change?

And, you know, she may not altogether appreciate your hyper-efficiency. Maybe that irritates her as much as her procrastination annoys you. Or maybe you have other habits that p*ss the hell out of her.

No question that you two will need to make some guidelines for managing parenthood. But I really hope that this doesn't become a battle over her faults and her lapses and her unwillingness. If that happens, you guys are headed for real trouble.

Posted by: pittypat | March 21, 2007 2:33 PM

Yes, thanks.

Posted by: xyz | March 21, 2007 2:34 PM

Emily,

LOL, just sayin'. There's "we have more time than when he was a toddler" and then there's, we have time to slack.

We didn't have our second until our first was 6 years old and there was nary a spare moment back in the day.

You're better at this mom stuff, I guess :>)

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 2:34 PM

Actually, xyz, I am sorry to have offended you. Truly. Plus, I wouldn't want you to think that I have no class (even though I suspect I really don't).

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:36 PM

One last one on kids and I will leave you alone. Long ago, in a galaxy far far away *don't sue me Mr. Lucas* I was telling my dad about how difficult it was taking care of my kid. He told me a story about how when he was a young father, he told the same story to a patient of his who said: *Doctor, the older they get the bigger their problems are.* Believe me, it can be the truth. However, if you like being a kid, have some kids, they keep you young, but you got to love and take care of them and the obligation is for a life time. No time outs.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 2:37 PM

********************************************

Megan's NC Lawyer Neighbor:

Please see the late comments on yesterday's blog, where Megan reveals that she does indeed live in Colorado, but we can all be neighbors!!

********************************************

Posted by: experienced mom | March 21, 2007 2:37 PM

John L - more gratuitous advice. :) As people have said, the child isn't a chore. But I swear, as a veteran de-clutterer, there is a strange vortex around children that call relatives and friends to produce gifts and toys that then BREED and produce more of themselves all around the child's home. So steel yourself. :-)

I'm planning a Montessori-type room for my son right now and going through his things and he has Happy Meal toys - and we haven't been to McDonalds since before he was born. Those came from one of his cousins.

As for changing your wife - well as I said yesterday I found I couldn't change my husband, but he's a great dad and that counts a lot more to me.

He's even a bit better than I am at being present for our son 'cause I'm like "augh, what can I get done?" and he's just - enjoying the mess. So there is some strength in being a messier person and one of the awesome things about parenting is that you can appreciate that side of things. I'm not at all suggesting that you not negotiate with your wife - you two have to work it out for you. But that's something I learned & thought I would pass on. :)

Posted by: Shandra | March 21, 2007 2:38 PM

I'm seeing a different situationas the norm: Mom wants to work, but can't get a job with flexiblity. Dad won't cut back because he doesn't think it's a problem to put kids in care for 10 hours a day.

No, dad is working because mom isn't (somebody has to). And he can't cut back because there is no guarantee that if she decides to work, that she won't decide not to next year. This is a situation where you see "a man thinks he needs to be the breadwinner", where my perception is; "if a woman can choose to work, she can choose not to work as well. With that uncertainty I damn well better take responsibility to make my career the best I can to provide for my family.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:38 PM

What pittypat said.

And this holds true even if the roles were reversed. Too many women hold their husbands to their own standards rather than working to compromise with each other to find ways to get things done that are compatible with both personalities.

***"I got to say getting a divorce is a better option than living with a slob"

I'm with you;I couldn't stand to live in squalor.***

Have you ever seen 'Clean House'?


Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:39 PM

"Patrick, I only have one rugrat. I think it makes a big difference. He goes on a playdate, I slack. He has a friend over, I can read magazines and eat bon bons while he plays. It's much easier now than it was when he was 2."

Emily, you cannot know how much hope this gives me! Seriously, I already think it's easier now than when our son was an infant - he can actually entertain himself for a short spurts of time while I cook or do something else, he likes to help vacuum and sweep and mop, and so on. Though he's also a lot more fiesty...

Patrick, I had the same reaction with day care, initially a little concerned about it but our son has really flourished. But I do think with little ones long days are hard on them - I know it's not always something the parents can control, but 10 hour days are tough on everyone.

Posted by: Megan | March 21, 2007 2:39 PM

FWIW you can check out the raw data at:
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.toc.htm

Some interesting data points -- such as women spend more time on 'housework' than men regardless of whether they are married or not.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:41 PM

Megan, I think the hardest phase is between 1 to about 3 years old. You have to watch them like a hawk because they are mobile bu have no sense yet, and can get into so much trouble if left alone even for a couple of minutes. After that, it gets progressively easier. In fact, these days, my son actually helps with housework. I know the teenage years are supposed to be a challenge, but I refuse to think about that right now.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:44 PM

clutterwoman,

It's not negativity, it's just frustration that my wife just doesn't see how all the clutter bothers me. We did finally clear out the bedroom she was using as an office; I spent an entire day in there throwing out stuff and organizing everything else for her to decide what to do with. Two weeks later the stacks are still there waiting for her to look at.

We have a computer desk downstairs with old disks and manuals in it that has to move before her mom's furniture can be moved in. She wants to go through it, is anxious to get her mom's stuff over here (so they can get the house ready to sell), but doesn't recognize that Step 1 (cleaning the desk out so I can move it) has to happen before Step 2 (moving the furniture from her mom's house) can take place, which leads to Step 3 (selling her mom's home).

When we do have a child and she starts crawling around, short of tying her to the floor I foresee disaster happening all over our house, as she would be getting into all these piles of stuff.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 2:44 PM

"While you're out it? Out where?"

I'm not falling for it. I don't believe you are that thick. But nice try.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:45 PM

Shandra - good luck with your "montessori-type" room. both of our boys were sort of free-range babies in the montessori style and it worked out beautifully.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 21, 2007 2:45 PM

The idea for the 4 day work week may or may not work, but it came to me a couple years ago when I was but a brash LT. Everything seemed to work just fine on flex-scheduling when I was at a tech-school (every other Friday off for an additional hour per day at work the rest of the time). That planted the seed. We did not necessarily accomplish any tremendous things during that extra hour anyway... fast forward- sometimes at work you stay late because you need to get a job done whether you are paid by the hour or by salary. If a job needs done, you do it... if it doesn't, you are just wasting time. Nothing comes to a screeching halt on three day holidays either. There is usually one a month anyway... These are almost always arranged to extend the weekend. Just add a couple extra in a month! Again, just a wild thought- but there was a bit of logic in the origins of it. As far as the French doing it- well, there are other reasons why it does not work for them... As far as the global economy thing goes- I am not advocating shutting it off, just making it more appealing for American businesses to give jobs to Americans. Where I work I see just a fraction of the foreign companies that are buying out American companies... and there are still a lot! Meanwhile, the remaining American companies outsource to foreign nations...

Sidetracking to education- when I took my HS graduation test in Florida I aced it. I moved to Georgia my senior year and they would not accept my results as they had different standards. At the time, Ga was near the bottom, but still I had to play their game and take yet another test that showed I could be allowed out into the real world. Folks, I kid you not- a question on the test was: "Which do not belong: a circle, a triangle, a square, or a rectangle." This is the same system that holds kids back in kindergarten just because the system says they are too young, but this child is reading while their peers are still eating paste and knocking over someone else's blocks! Fast forward to that test I took in Georgia. There were people taking it for the THIRD TIME! Sure, I made an example of the easiest question on the test, but it was not much more difficult, nor did anything prepare students for the real world. It is a small wonder that we lose more and more ground every year. I may not be a rocket scientist, much less ANY sort of engineer, but I do know enough to say without a doubt that we are on the wrong path and we need to do something about it beyond change test standards and teach the tests. That just teaches kids the wrong skills and will cause more problems for our country. We do not need drones who can take tests, we need kids with enough citical thinking skills to figure out the big picture so they can know when they are being duped! Just when a little bit of light gets shed on a problem something else is done to get their attention and backing... This is the politics of Reality TV.

Our system is becoming more of a popularity contest filled with more and more half-truths to ensure certain people get elected while the average American is left hanging out to dry, but thinking they were actually heard! Both sides do it and are now so intrenched it will take a grass-roots internet movement to change things. Again, the internet is the only current means to trump them and bring TRUE balance of power. We need honest people who can see these problems and ways to fix them, fix them, and step down and away from the power when it is their time. We need people whose sole intent is to serve their country and not line their pockets with interest money.

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 2:46 PM

"We did finally clear out the bedroom she was using as an office; I spent an entire day in there throwing out stuff and organizing everything else for her to decide what to do with. Two weeks later the stacks are still there waiting for her to look at."

John, are you using this room as an office too? If not, why not leave her alone and let it be cluttered. If you are not using it, why the need to dictate to her what it looks like? If it's here office, close the door and let it be. Why the need to micromanage it?


Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:48 PM

If you people find caring for your own children so distasteful, why do you even bother having kids at all? It seems you can't wait until they're grown and gone. You *itch and moan about how much work you have to do with them, how lazy your partner is, and much work there is in taking care of a house. Jeez, just stay unattached, childfree, and hire a maid service. Life has more options than being up to your elbows in baby vomit and dirty diapers.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:49 PM

megan - what emily said, especially about the watching them like a hawk every waking minute. DS#2 went through a phase between 18-24 months when i couldn't even use the bathroom without him finding some way to hurt himself, create an enormous mess, etc. Silver lining - i now have a "bladder of steel" :)

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 21, 2007 2:49 PM

First off, the anononymous cowards should leave foamgnome alone - she contributes a lot toward this blog.

Second, re: her point about teachers' salaries equating to GS-11 and 12: I don't think their salaries are that high. I just looked up the GS salary tables for the Baltimore/Washington area, and the GS salaries in question range from 55,706 (11/1) to 86,801 (12/10). Not too many teachers I know of are in that salary range, especially not at the beginning. I just looked up the Howard County teachers' salary scale on the (AFSCME) Maryland Negotiators Service web site (it's from 2005); looks like a starting salary is around 40K. You don't hit 80K without a graduate degree (at least a Master's) and 25 years of service. And supposedly HoCo's teacher salaries are the fourth highest in Maryland.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 2:50 PM

What is a montessori type room?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:50 PM

"Life has more options than being up to your elbows in baby vomit and dirty diapers"

You're kidding really? I had no idea. I don't know about the other people, but I went into it expressly for the baby vomit and dirty diapers.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:51 PM

My wife's always been like this, and as long as we had agreed not to have children it was ok, as we had enough space for me to avoid all the cluttered areas. And yes, her positive qualities outweigh the bad ones, just as I suspect she'd say the same about me :)

The house isn't big enough for three of us plus the clutter, though, even with my library addition to it. Something's got to give, somewhere.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 2:52 PM

"My question is why would you marry an American woman? They offer nothing of value. "

Put down the filipina bride catalog and walk away. slowly

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 2:52 PM

Emily, my observation is that people who claim others have no class are often looking in a mirror.

Your expression doesn't bother me.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 2:53 PM

experienced mom, in my virtual world, Megan lives in Meesh's house in Apex and somehow that makes sense to me. The nice thing about my world is I don't have to be right or win. I am at peace with my confusion of data, LOL. *waves to Colorado*

anon at 2:32, relax before you have a stroke. abbreviations such as dh, ds, etc. are common on a variety of websites, including but not limited to, Urban Baby (one I never visit but that apparently is important to you), are not some sort of secret code, and are not as difficult as Sanskrit for you to understand. It's a lot faster for everyone than having to constantly type my husband, my spouse, my partner. If you don't like them, don't use them, but please don't designate yourself the blog communication police.


Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 2:54 PM

What is a montessori type room?

Posted by: | March 21, 2007 02:50 PM

Shandra - if you're out there, can you please take this one. i've got to run. i'll drop a few lines on it this evening if anon. is actually interested and shandra hasn't an swered.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 21, 2007 2:54 PM

Hi John,
I do understand what you are saying about negativity.

I wonder if you have ever tried to identify something that your wife wishes that you cared about as much as she does, but you just don't care the same way she does, no matter what?

What I meant in my early, long post is that perhaps you can think of something like that, and trade her for it.

Posted by: clutterwoman | March 21, 2007 2:54 PM

"megan - what emily said, especially about the watching them like a hawk every waking minute. DS#2 went through a phase between 18-24 months when i couldn't even use the bathroom without him finding some way to hurt himself, create an enormous mess, etc"

Doesn't anyone use playpens anymore? I put my child in a playpen with 'safe' toys so I didn't have to watch him like a hawk every second. I could go to the bathroom, go to another floor, start a load of laundry, or any number of things knowing he was safe.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:55 PM

1. When people used to ask my husband, "Oh, you're babysitting today?" he would reply, "It's not babysitting -- these are my own children."

2. Re: 14 hours/week with the kids -- I'd LOVE to spend more time with mine, but they're now adolescents who don't want to spend more with me!

Posted by: lawyermom | March 21, 2007 2:56 PM

Army Brat - not too many feds start at a GS-11 either. GS 7/9 is a fairly common starting point.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:56 PM

thanks Emily and 2terrificboys!

I have to say though that this age is really fun - that total lack of sense makes it just fascinating to see what they will come up with next. He's got the wackiest thought processes. But I am looking forward to the days when he's a little more self-sufficient and I can lie in my hammock while he makes me pina coladas....

Posted by: Megan | March 21, 2007 2:56 PM

Army Brat: I wasn't the one who first equated GS11/12 to teacher's salaries. It was anonymous poster. That poster said at the end of a teacher's career (30 years) they were making close to the GS12 step 10 salary. See their website link. But I will shut up because I made someone mad by talking about a runaway topic (which I did not start to begin with).

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 2:56 PM

"Put down the filipina bride catalog and walk away. slowly"

Patrick, you are cracking me up. I actually know a guy who got a mail order bride from the Phillipines. He had about 6 months of wedded bliss, but she left him as soon as her green card came through.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 2:57 PM

"John, are you using this room as an office too? If not, why not leave her alone and let it be cluttered. If you are not using it, why the need to dictate to her what it looks like? If it's here office, close the door and let it be. Why the need to micromanage it?"

The room in question is to become the nursery; my wife had been using it as an office. When her mom's furniture arrives we'll put some of it in there, but can't until it's cleaned out first.

Believe me I am not micromanaging this, but I see a progression of steps that need to take place to accomplish what she wants to happen and this is one of the first steps that need to be taken.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 2:57 PM

blah- sorry for the many typos... ;-)

on topic- I try to do my fair share of the housework, but find that much like katman, I can do everything and within a week the place will be a mess again... slowly working on the positive reinforcement bit... it's been working. It really does work both ways. Praise eachother... it makes things a bit better, and in time, hopefully a lot better.

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 2:57 PM

"Doesn't anyone use playpens anymore?"

THese days they are called "play yards" even though they are tiny, which I think is a riot. I never really liked them, and anyway by now my son is big enough I think he could easily tip the thing if he tried, which he would.

Posted by: Megan | March 21, 2007 3:00 PM

"WHen you go to the mule store to buy a mule, don't complain that you are disappointed that the mule they sold you was a MULE. Please."

LOL! That's hilarious.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 3:00 PM

John,
Take a tip from a friend of mine. Her husband is a pack rat. She is more organized and dislikes clutter. When he travels for business, she loads her truck up and take the junk to the dump (or goodwill). Since he is gone, he does not see her doing it, and does not complain -- most of the time, he does not even miss the stuff. My husband does the same thing to me (although he thinks I don't know about it).

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 3:01 PM

John -
Sounds like the upcoming few months are putting you into a state of anxiety...

To get a handle on the necessary room-to-room progression, how about making a list of the things that have to happen before the next things happen? Once it is on paper, then it may seem more manageable to you, and it may make more intuitive sense to your wife.

OK, gotta tear myself away from this blog... it's been interesting today! Good luck all.

Posted by: clutterwoman | March 21, 2007 3:02 PM

"Put down the filipina bride catalog and walk away. slowly"

Patrick, you are cracking me up. I actually know a guy who got a mail order bride from the Phillipines. He had about 6 months of wedded bliss, but she left him as soon as her green card came through."

I have always wondered what those women really thought when the groom showed up and was probably an overweight loser who couldn't catch a women in a nation of 300 million. That green card is very desirable indeed.


Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 3:03 PM

"Megan lives in Meesh's house in Apex and somehow that makes sense to me."

Awesome! Meesh, I didn't know we were shacking up!

Posted by: Megan | March 21, 2007 3:03 PM

Hi Guys,

I've been debating whether or not to update at this point, but I've decided I need to, if only to vent some more. If you don't want to read it, then don't read it and don't respond. Move on, please.

For those who were so nice to me, here's the news: He has a child. Really, he has a whole other life. For years, he's duped me completely. I was clueless. I still don't know if there were any signs to indicate something was wrong. Maybe it's still too fresh.

In any case, I really did think that his one weekend a month away from me to hang out with his college buds was legitimate. It was his need for "me" time. While I thought it was playing poker, watching sports and drinking beer, it was really time spent with his son and fiancee. Yeah. They've been unofficially engaged for over a year now, whatever that means. I don't know all the tiny details. Not sure if I want to.

Although, I will find them out because I am seeking legal advice on this. In fact, I am meeting with a friend whose wife is a lawyer later this week. We'll see.

He got the vasectomy, he claims, because she had a difficult pregnancy. It hard on both of them, he says. And it reminded him too much of his girlfriend who died from the ectopic pregnancy in high school. Whatever. I know now that when he stayed behind to have the procedure--while my parents and I picked a venue for our wedding--she was in OUR home nursing him back to health.

Just thought I'd keep you up to speed. Thanks for listening, as always.

Posted by: Chrissy | March 21, 2007 3:03 PM

"I can do everything and within a week the place will be a mess again... "

No kidding, welcome to the life of a stay at home parent. It is unreasonable to expect that things won't get messy again. The thing about housework is that you have to keep on doing it, again and again, over and over and over and over. It's the nature of the beast.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 3:04 PM

Emily, while your tip would indeed work in this house, I'm not going to tell my husband about it. I'm the pack rat...he is the neatnik.

wow, busy day and someone anonymous seems to carry a grudge against me. woo wooo! Things are looking up.

Posted by: dotted | March 21, 2007 3:04 PM

"Doesn't anyone use playpens anymore?"

Supermax prison couldn't hold my daughter.
Yesterday I went to wake her up and she had 12 hairclips and a bow in her hair. Surprised she didn't make a rope out of the sheets and takeoff. She's 4.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 3:06 PM

I can hardly believe there is an article dedicated to Grimace today... the world must have slowed down for that to happen. :-P

I dug up and posted a bit on McDonalds characters from 2000 that was STILL floating on the net after all these years.... too much fun today!

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 3:06 PM

I agree with Chris. I was in a role reversal mode being the housefrau and with great expectations. After a while I found that housefrauing can be really endlessly demoralizing particularly if everyone did not at least try and minimize the mess. However when they made bigger messes than necessary or out of character, they actually were cleaned up after themselves and put dishwashing lotion in the dishwasher instead of dishwasher soap and foamed up the entire kitchen, well, I could see working 9-5 was a much better deal. So it was very enlightening. Housefrauing is not easy and the significant others should remember this and help out around the house.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 3:06 PM

Oh Chrissy..I'm crying for you. That probably doesn't help you, but know that I feel for you.

Posted by: dotted | March 21, 2007 3:07 PM

"14.1 hours per week"

LOL - I spend that much time with the kids just on the weekends.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:07 PM

LOL, Megan, apparently my husband is one lucky guy. Hope you don't mind dog hair!

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 3:10 PM

Chrissy,
Wow. You must be reeling. What a story. I feel for you. Here's my advice. Find yourself a killer lawyer and get a divorce. Find yourself a good grief counselor to guide you through the emotional aftermath. Take really good care of yourself, physically, emotionally, and financially. You'll get through this and be a better person for it.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 3:11 PM

You will find that having kids is great, particularly when they are asleep.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 02:29 PM

LOL VERY TRUE! Being a single father with custody I often feel that this is the best time of the day...but also the time of day I feel the most guilt. Maybe I raised my voice or didn't tell them I loved them enough...things along those lines. Then I crack open a Miller Lite, kick back with the XBox360 and kiss them goodnight 3-4 times while they're sleeping. The guilt fades but my resolution to soldier on never does.

Posted by: Sterling Park | March 21, 2007 3:11 PM

"14.1 hours per week"

LOL - I spend that much time with the kids just on the weekends. "

I had been meaning to bring this up too.

By the way, why has FOAMGNOME been attacked so much? She is much more benign than many on this log, including yours truly. Very strange.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 3:11 PM

"I actually know a guy who got a mail order bride from the Phillipines. He had about 6 months of wedded bliss, but she left him as soon as her green card came through. "

Go, girl, go! Take that schmuck for every nickel you can! You've earned it!

If it was really wedded bliss, the bride wouldn't have left him. Men are such suckers! Can't you tell when a woman is faking sexual interest?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:12 PM

Army Brat: I wasn't the one who first equated GS11/12 to teacher's salaries. It was anonymous poster. That poster said at the end of a teacher's career (30 years) they were making close to the GS12 step 10 salary. See their website link. But I will shut up because I made someone mad by talking about a runaway topic (which I did not start to begin with).

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 02:56 PM


I had a question. Are public school grade 1-12 jobs really all that flexible? It is obvious that they get summers off and school vacations off( at least mostly). I know they have teacher in service days and teacher work days. But do they really stop working at 3:30 when the bell rings? I know my DD preschool teacher is there before the class starts and still has a whole lot to do after the class ends. Sometimes I wished I could have been good at elementary ed. I think I would perfer their schedule to mine. Of course there would be a huge difference in $$. But $$ isn't everything.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 11:38 AM

Posted by: FYI | March 21, 2007 3:12 PM

Wow... an update from Chrissy too. This is too sick not to be real. You need a lawyer, and a real counselor. Thank you for the update, you are being prayed for, but you need to take action to protect yourself. Seek safety, kick him to the curb, and move on with your life. Stay positive and keep working for good and good things will eventually come your way.

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 3:12 PM

Emily, what your friend does shows no respect for her husband. Whether she thinks it is junk or not, it is not her place to decide for him what is. If I found out my wife was going through my stuff and throwing it away, I would be pissed. One man garbage is another mans gold (or something like that)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:13 PM

Chrissy, good luck. Take this time to invest in yourself because you deserve it.

Posted by: Meesh | March 21, 2007 3:15 PM

3:13 - Well, I suspect he knows what she is doing and lets it go, just as I do with my husband. To be perfectly honest, while I may have a hard time getting rid of something because of the attached memories, I usually don't miss it if my husband throws it away unbeknownst to me. And it keeps the peace at home and the clutter to a minimum. They've been married 15 years, and still appear to be happy.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 3:17 PM

To: anon at 2:56 - yes, I'm aware of that. When I started (in 1983), my agency's general policy for new college graduates (no significant work experience) was that people with bachelor's degrees started at 7; master's degrees got you a 9 and PhD's started at 11. But then competent people tended to get promoted fairly quickly, as foamgnome noted.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 3:18 PM

*#(@W%&@!

Chrissy,

I am so glad you found out what a worthless piece of *(@)!*@*(%#! !! that person is, NOW.

Well, he hasn't a conscience OR a spine.

I don't think there is anything I can say or offer you that would help.

Okay--yes there is. A shotgun loaded with rock salt. It doesn't show up on the x-rays, it'll hurt like hell, and he is unlikely to get any infection.

I bet he's the sort who wouldn't pay you even if you do win some sort of claim in court. He's just a (@()%#(.

Posted by: MdMother | March 21, 2007 3:18 PM

"One man garbage is another mans gold (or something like that"

This is true. I threw out several dress shirts and pulled out of my driveway and an elderly asian man was trying them on, he waved and I waved. He ended taking most of them. Rather strange since I am 6' 1, 210 lbs and he was 5'6 and 125.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 3:19 PM

Anon 3:13,
I don't usually post but I can sympathize with Emily's friend...you try living with a million high school and college soccer, track, and cross country shirts; fraternity shirts; every license plate that ever graced his car; his weird collection of South and Central American beads and art; every ticket stub from every event he's attended for the last 33 years; tons floppy discs that are completley obsolete but you just absolutely CANNOT get rid of; and any number of other junk items...you would throw things away at any given chance, too.

Posted by: belle | March 21, 2007 3:21 PM

"Okay--yes there is. A shotgun loaded with rock salt. It doesn't show up on the x-rays, it'll hurt like hell, and he is unlikely to get any infection."

Whoooaa!! Don't mess with MdMother. She doesn't play! LOL.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 3:22 PM

Chrissy,

I am very sorry that you are dealing with the loss of your dreams and aspirations as they relate to your husband, and am hoping that you can extricate from this marriage with a minimum of cash, pain and misery.

Please, please, if the wife of your friend does not specialize in family law in the state in which you live, get a referral to a specialist. A lawyer isn't a lawyer isn't a lawyer.

*waves hi and sends positive Southern karma to wherever Chrissy lives*

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 3:24 PM

Belle

"...you would throw things away at any given chance, too."

You're right. You can throw away things now or after his funeral. It's your choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:24 PM

MdMother - and you know this HOW?

Chrissy - take good care of yourself. The guy is scum. I could say more, but it's a family blog. You deserve much, much better than him and if you want to you'll find much better than him. We're thinking of you.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 21, 2007 3:25 PM

Thanks for the experience 2terrificboys!

Here's a link that kind of shows it visually and is what we're going for as we move my 19 mo old to his own room gradually:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/slinks/from-at-the-nursery-our-site-that-covers-modern-homelife-with-children--018884

(it's the top link)

And an article:

http://www.montessori.org/story.php?id=271

But the whole idea as I understand it (I am a neophyte, though, so correct me anyone!) is that things are accessible for kids - like we have a way for my son to get to the sinks and the counters so he can take on the "work/play" of washing his hands, and helping with food prep and stuff. And around the house there are hooks at his level, shelves and benches for him to use, and so on.

So for his room we want to put the artwork low and put a shelf down low as a workspace, have some nifty toy and book storage but not too much, have a floor bed, and rotate toys so he's not overwhelmed with choices all the time. And also have it feel airy and peaceful. Right now he has a traditional sort of blue nursery with high shelves and a tall dresser and art hung at my level.

Posted by: Shandra | March 21, 2007 3:25 PM

anon 3:24

I'm not sure I understand what your point is.

Posted by: belle | March 21, 2007 3:27 PM

Chrissy, I don't know if you live in VA but I think there's still some obscure law on the books that allows you to sue her. Maybe one of our lawyers will know. A woman I used to work with was sued by her boyfriend's ex-wife because they'd had an affair while the boyfriend was still married. Not that I'm advocating litigation, just revenge. :)

Also, I say go after the schmuck with everything you can think of, make sure you get tested for STDs, put on your breakup songs and get on with you life. And don't look back. He is SO not worth it.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 3:27 PM

Chrissy: Does he beat you? If not, please don't shoot him fully of rock salt, but definitely its time to go.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 3:30 PM

"Consider that most likely that slug worked and paid for his recliner, as well as the food on the table and the roof over your head. "

Yeah, and guess what! If his long-suffering wife wasn't looking after the house then like as not he'd be eating that food raw on a recliner covered with dirty clothes, toys, and dried oatmeal.

"SAHMs must keep that in mind when they whine about husbands/partners/live-in boyfriends not doing enough around the house. Mom is at home all day; the father is out there in the dog-eat-dog world paying for her privileges."

That's right. Because if you don't have a SAHM to look after your kids, then magical fairy godmothers will look after your kids for you, for free, as well as let the dishwasher repairman in, call the cable guy and wait for him to arrive so you can watch cable on your beautiful recliner, and keep the house spotless for you by magically putting your dirty plates in the dishwasher, magically washing your dirty clothes, and magically cleaning up all the toys.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:30 PM

to Chrissy: ditto on what Megan's Neighbor said. Get the sharpest family/divorce lawyer you can find. It will be worth every darn cent. There will be times when you want to fold and a good lawyer who has seen this a million times before will be there reminding you not to! Sending you good wishes...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 21, 2007 3:30 PM

"I don't think there is anything I can say or offer you that would help. Okay--yes there is. A shotgun loaded with rock salt. It doesn't show up on the x-rays, it'll hurt like hell, and he is unlikely to get any infection."


My nominee for best line of the day goes to MdMother, LOL!

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 3:31 PM

Chrissy,
I am not defending the other woman or the your husband, but if you do try to exact revenge, remember that there is an innocent child in the mix. I think the best thing to do is get out, as quickly as you reasonably can, as financially securely as possible, with a little emotional damage to you as possible. I personally think that revenge hurts you more than anyone else. Don't waste your precious time going after something that ultimately won't make you feel better. The best revenge is for you to move on and find happiness.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 3:32 PM

forget those "songs" you need Dragonforce!
signing off...

Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2007 3:32 PM

mdwoman:
Thank you. The more you women educate us foolish men about what women are really like, then maybe some day, in a galaxy far, far away, we men might stop listening to you, but I doubt it and you know it.
Sugar and spice and everything nice as long as they get what they want, otherwise, watch out for dog hair.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 3:32 PM

Chrissy - I am so sorry. I am very glad you found this out now but wish you didn't have to go through it at all. Hang in there.

Posted by: Shandra | March 21, 2007 3:34 PM

Sanford Z. Berman is a GREAT lawyer. I recommend him strongly (if anonymously). I mean, unless your lawyer friend thinks this is her kind of case. If not, get the great man himself. He will rip this guy apart.

Posted by: anon this time | March 21, 2007 3:34 PM

He sounds like a complete jerk, Chrissy. I say get the best lawyer you can afford and screw him to the wall. Good luck.

Posted by: Chiclet | March 21, 2007 3:35 PM

"Sugar and spice and everything nice as long as they get what they want, otherwise, watch out for dog hair."

I like to think of it as "Speak softly and carry a big stick."

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 3:37 PM

OK people with too much stuff you can't part with or your spouse can't part with, there are an untold number of storage places that will bring you joy. Put shelves in them, cram all of that crap in boxes or rubbermaid tubs and haul them out of the house. Once you can see the floor, call in the cleaners. The person who is the packrat does not even have to know, but should they be missing something, you can either deny touching it or give them the key to the storage facility. Warm fuzzies all around.

And flylady is a good tool. Do not sign up for her e-mails!!! Just check the site, read the stuff. Good stuff. Writing to you from a clutter free home with slack.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:37 PM

Sugar and spice and everything nice as long as they get what they want, otherwise, watch out for dog hair.

People, spice means NOT SWEET.

And Katman, surely you knew your wife wasn't a neat person when you wooed and wed her. At this point it's not seemly to go over how she did you wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:37 PM

Chrissy: ditto what Emily said.

I had a fabulous mentor who was never rattle by anything; when I asked her why she would always say:

"the best revenge is a full life"

Posted by: belle | March 21, 2007 3:37 PM

I'm wondering about 'the other woman' in Chrissy's tale. It seems that he married Chrissy either while the other was pregnant or after the other gave birth. Remember, the vascectomy was done before they were married.

What kind of loser would continue to have a relationship with a man who impregnated her and then married someone else.

Posted by: xyz | March 21, 2007 3:38 PM

Chrissy,
I am not defending the other woman or the your husband, but if you do try to exact revenge, remember that there is an innocent child in the mix. I think the best thing to do is get out, as quickly as you reasonably can, as financially securely as possible, with a little emotional damage to you as possible. I personally think that revenge hurts you more than anyone else. Don't waste your precious time going after something that ultimately won't make you feel better. The best revenge is for you to move on and find happiness.

OH PLEASE. F* this, Emily. Chrissy should use the big guns on this one.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:38 PM

to 3:12: Here is the person who started teaching is a flexible schedule
Foam - I can imagine its tough. Unless you have a profession that lends itself to flexibility (nursing, teaching etc..) it is hard to find something that is challenging and PT. Good luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 11:12 AM

Again, anything talking about work flexibility is considered an OK topic by Leslie. So what is your beef with me anyway?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 3:39 PM

Re the slacking from around 2p... we have a one year old who has been a pretty good sleeper (knock on wood) from early on. What my husband and I have found now is some kind of an Organized Slacking of sorts. After she goes to sleep around 8p and we get the kitchen cleaned up, house stuff taken care of, etc we jump on our DVR and find something we've been wanting to watch - even it aried just half an hour before. This DVR bsuness has changed our lives and makes slacking so much more um.. productive?!
Only time it doesn't work as well is with sports, but our daughter is just going to learn early on that exceptions are made for Big Games.

Posted by: Bad Mom | March 21, 2007 3:40 PM

More importantly, Chrissy: Wow what a story. I am so sorry for you. Put all your energy into getting a great lawyer. I am wishing you the best. Please keep in touch.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 3:40 PM

Chrissy: Does he beat you? If not, please don't shoot him fully of rock salt, but definitely its time to go.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 03:30 PM


katman, you and your sharp wit are going to have to go back over a couple of weeks of transcripts to get the back story. There are some mind games that merit the rock salt punishment and this is one of them.

you might have to get over that benz-sized chip on your shoulder first, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 3:41 PM

Aww...thanks everyone.

I won't divulge just how I know that. But take my word for it, okay? I will say that there are those who will never trespass and screw around with livestock ever again.

But I vote for a chainsaw divorce lawyer that all the other one's fear; and would hire for themselves.

If you feel safe discussing it, what state do you live in?

Posted by: MdMother | March 21, 2007 3:42 PM

Chrissy should get the best divorce settlement she reasonably can. But don't waste time hashing out the emotional aspects to the relationship in court. Don't fight over pots and pans and CD's as a way of exacting revenge. Don't make a lawyer rich over stuff that is not worth it monetarily. Get a counselor to deal with the emotions. Get a lawyer to deal with the business of divorce. A good lawyer, a tough lawyer, who will fight for you, but don't go broke fighting over stuff that isn't worth fighting over, just for revenge. I have seen too many people go into debt bickering in divorces that should have been handled more pragmatically, because people wanted revenge. That's what shrinks are for, and they are better at the emotional part than lawyers.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 3:43 PM

Chrissy,

My god, your husband is complete slime, both for deceiving you for so long about his vasectomy and the other woman he has a child with. I'm ashamed he's the same gender as me; he deserves nothing from you and I agree you should be speaking to a good divorce lawyer pronto. This is such a terrible situation for you, and it just keeps getting worse and worse. My sympathies.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 3:47 PM

If you read carefully this started the whole teacher is flexible discussion

Foam - I can imagine its tough. Unless you have a profession that lends itself to flexibility (nursing, teaching etc..) it is hard to find something that is challenging and PT. Good luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 21, 2007 11:12 AM
So what is your problem?

Posted by: to FYI | March 21, 2007 3:47 PM

Emily is right. I retract my suggestion to Chrissy about revenge. I think I was reacting to the outrageous story. I still say get out and get on with your life. And breakup songs are never a bad idea in this situation.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 21, 2007 3:48 PM

Ben Franklin said you should go into marriage with your eyes wide open and make sure to keep them half shut after you are married. I wish I had taken that to heart before I got married, but I was in the *its time to get married* mode which, boys and girls, DO NOT DO!!!!!! The trick is in the picking. I may have picked wrong. We were married for 20 years. She is still a good friend to me as I am to her. I just got tired of the mess and the dogs, which obviously were more important to her than me. Too bad you can't live your life backwards. And oh yeah, she would throw all my stuff away.....well she would sell it at yard sales while I was on travel. One man's treasure.......it someone elses yard sale item. No, I should have known better. She was a nice lady though and gave me two beautiful children. No regrets but never again.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 3:51 PM

Emily - I'm with you, particularly, although I know this is the painful part, when ending a marriage that didn't involve kids and that likely does not involve substantial property. Ending it efficiently is best for everyone.

To the earlier person wondering about actions against the other woman: it's an alienation of affection claim. I don't recommend pursuing claims against the other woman as any sort of constructive response. Ever. what belle said, about the best revenge.

Storage Unit Rant Ahead:
on storage spaces, and since from time to time this blog considers smart financial moves: renting a storage space for $65 - $100 a month to hold junk that neither of you need is not a sound expenditure. It's a copout. Hire a maid. Set some mutually sensible limits with your spouse over a bottle of wine. Don't line the pockets of the storage unit industry. For almost a year, 1/3 of my house was packed with furniture from my husband's deceased aunts house. Then he moved it all to a storage unit and we paid those fees for almost two years, with no plan to either get rid of it, refinish it, or do anything else about it. These items had no sentimental value and he fully admitted that, once they were in storage, he could procrastinate forever. If you live with someone who can't get rid of the junk now, that storage unit will fill up, your house will continue to fill up, and soon you'll need a bigger or second unit. How did it end? Ha! We moved. He agreed that if a storage unit ever seemed like the solution, we'd deal with the clutter rather than pay to relocate it.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 3:53 PM

Chrissy, I'm so sorry. Guess it explains his unwillingness to go to counseling, eh? What a schmuck (which, if you know what that actually means, is kinda appropriate). I'm sorry you're having to go through this.

My vote is with Emily. Revenge feels good in the short-term, but the legal system is a really crappy way to exact it. I've seen people get wrapped up with massive court battles that last forever and make no one happy -- in one case, the wife was trying to escape the husband's controlling behavior, and he used the legal process to basically keep controlling her life for the next two years.

So: If there's a way to do this quickly and just get the heck outta there, just do it. Get your fair share of whatever the assets are -- get a lawyer right away, figure out what steps you need to take now to make sure he's not draining the joint accounts or taking out credit cards in your name, etc. But focus more on just getting out and done. And realize that you already have something that he can never have: character.

Then go buy a shotgun and some rock salt. :-)

Posted by: Laura | March 21, 2007 3:54 PM

What chip? Out damn chip.

Posted by: katman | March 21, 2007 3:55 PM

note to self: remember shotgun and rock salt combo for future reference.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 4:00 PM

Megan's Neighbor,
I had a similar situation, which is probably why I am so sensitive about the collection of junk. We have moved 4 times (3 states) in the last 2 years and have been the proud renter of at least 3 storage units. The last time we moved I said "I'm not moving the same unopened box of whatever one more time" and I threw a lot of it away. I would never throw something with a lot of sentimental value away and I had a quilt made out of some of his old shirts, but I definitely think there is a place you have to draw a line...even with the most lovable pack-rat.

Posted by: belle | March 21, 2007 4:01 PM

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 4:01 PM

"I actually know a guy who got a mail order bride from the Phillipines. He had about 6 months of wedded bliss, but she left him as soon as her green card came through."

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 02:57 PM

The Little Mermaid! That's what this is! Not the Disney version, but Hans Christian Andersen's original version, where the mermaid has an ulterior motive for wanting the prince to marry her. Mr. Andersen's original is hard to read, since that great Dane wrote it in Danish, but this is from H. P. Paul's English translation:

'There was so much that she wished to know, and her sisters were unable to answer all her questions. Then she applied to her old grandmother, who knew all about the upper world, which she very rightly called the lands above the sea.

'"If human beings are not drowned," asked the little mermaid, "can they live forever? do they never die as we do here in the sea?"

'"Yes," replied the old lady, "they must also die, and their term of life is even shorter than ours. We sometimes live to three hundred years, but when we cease to exist here we only become the foam on the surface of the water, and we have not even a grave down here of those we love. We have not immortal souls, we shall never live again; but, like the green sea-weed, when once it has been cut off, we can never flourish more. Human beings, on the contrary, have a soul which lives forever, lives after the body has been turned to dust. It rises up through the clear, pure air beyond the glittering stars. As we rise out of the water, and behold all the land of the earth, so do they rise to unknown and glorious regions which we shall never see."

'"Why have not we an immortal soul?" asked the little mermaid mournfully; "I would give gladly all the hundreds of years that I have to live, to be a human being only for one day, and to have the hope of knowing the happiness of that glorious world above the stars."

'"You must not think of that," said the old woman; "we feel ourselves to be much happier and much better off than human beings."

'"So I shall die," said the little mermaid, "and as the foam of the sea I shall be driven about never again to hear the music of the waves, or to see the pretty flowers nor the red sun. Is there anything I can do to win an immortal soul?"

'"No," said the old woman, "unless a man were to love you so much that you were more to him than his father or mother; and if all his thoughts and all his love were fixed upon you, and the priest placed his right hand in yours, and he promised to be true to you here and hereafter, then his soul would glide into your body and you would obtain a share in the future happiness of mankind.'

You can read the whole fairy tale at
http://hjem.get2net.dk/chenero/hca/hcaev008_en.html

Now, for today's version of the dialog between the grandmother and the little girl:

"Americans live in a great, rich country where workers earn far more than we can here in the Philippines. And there is so much work to be done that even 300 million Americans are not enough to do it. So the American government issues Green Cards to non-citizens so that they can work in America."

"Americans live so wonderfully, their workers earn so much. Oh, Grandmother, can I get a Green Card just by going to America?"

"No," said the old woman. "You would have to wait for years to get a green card. Unless a man were to love you so much that you were more to him than his father or mother; and if all his thoughts and all his love were fixed upon you, and the priest placed his right hand in yours, and he promised to be true to you here and hereafter, then you would be married, and you could get a Green Card right away."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 21, 2007 4:03 PM

If I may usurp Fred's Cultural Tidbit of the Day (since he appears to be AWOL today)... F. Scott and Zelda Fitgerald's good friends, fellow ex-pats in France Gerald and Sara Murphy, are credited with the saying:

Living well is the best revenge!

P.S. Gerald Murphy is said to have been the model for the Zelda-like character's shrink Dick Diver in "Tender Is The Night."

Posted by: catlady | March 21, 2007 4:08 PM

I was just thinking about the sentence, "Tender is the Night." And then I compared it to "The Night is Tender." Why does the first sentence so much more romantic sounding and sonorous than the first? And why does it remind me of Yoda?

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 4:11 PM

Fred claimed on late Monday that he wouldn't be posting any more after Tuesday. Hence my postings begging me to stick around yesterday.

Fred come back!

By the way, I do like catlady's CTOTD

Posted by: dotted | March 21, 2007 4:12 PM

Yeah, my wife has basically thrown in the towel about cleaning up the house enough to move her mom's furniture into it; she rented out a storage unit a few weeks ago.

I told her at that time, though, it was going to only be a --temporary-- solution, that no way was I going to pay out that much money monthly forever just to keep furniture in it.

Posted by: John L | March 21, 2007 4:12 PM

Fred claimed on late Monday that he wouldn't be posting any more after Tuesday. Hence my postings begging me to stick around yesterday.

Fred come back!

By the way, I do like catlady's CTOTD

Posted by: dotted | March 21, 2007 04:12 PM

Why is Fred not posting anymore?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 21, 2007 4:15 PM

Matt wrote: "...Mr. Andersen's original is hard to read, since that great Dane wrote it in Danish..."

Didn't he know he was supposed to write in English-only? LOL!!!

Posted by: catlady | March 21, 2007 4:17 PM

catlady

you are off a couple of years on the quote

"Living well is the best revenge.
George Herbert
English clergyman & metaphysical poet (1593 - 1633) "

Posted by: trixie | March 21, 2007 4:17 PM

I bow to Trixie's superior knowledge and/or research.

Do you suppose it originally appeared in Latin? Fred? Fred? FRED???

Posted by: catlady | March 21, 2007 4:24 PM

I am addicted to the internet and apparently to this blog. I'm wasting too much time on it and not enough time living. I'm not coming back after today. So long.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 4:26 PM

Re: Fred not posting.

Some anonymous (I believe) blogger on Monday whined that he knew way too much about Fred's life and suggested that he (along with other regulars) drop off the blog.

I believe Fred was just planning to take today off, not leave forever.

Hope so, anyway. I miss him . . . .

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 21, 2007 4:27 PM

Chrissy,
I am so sorry to hear about your soon-to-be-ex husband. I can only imagine how you found out and what you must be feeling. Who is it that said "looking good is the best revenge"? What you do from now on can make you look good or bad (even tho that isn't how they meant it). Even tho you may feel like a victim right now, don't let them see it.
We are all here for you. Take care, eat well and get rest and exercise (good for stress).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 21, 2007 4:27 PM

Fred, why did you leave us? Is it because Leslie thinks Fo4 is more fun? Come back. We may like our bad boys, but we still need our old trusty standbys. Why do we have to choose?

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 4:28 PM

I am addicted to the internet and apparently to this blog. I'm wasting too much time on it and not enough time living. I'm not coming back after today. So long.

Posted by: | March 21, 2007 04:26 PM

it's hard to miss you when we don't know who you are.

Posted by: sfsfsfs | March 21, 2007 4:30 PM

I am addicted to the internet and apparently to this blog. I'm wasting too much time on it and not enough time living. I'm not coming back after today. So long.

Posted by: | March 21, 2007 04:26 PM

it's hard to miss you when we don't know who you are.

Posted by: sfsfsfs | March 21, 2007 4:30 PM

"Get a lawyer to deal with the business of divorce. A good lawyer, a tough lawyer, who will fight for you, but don't go broke fighting over stuff that isn't worth fighting over, just for revenge."

Very, very true. And a really good divorce lawyer will tell you the same thing. Good luck Chrissy!

Posted by: Megan | March 21, 2007 4:30 PM

Chrissy needs a lawyer with the middle name of SHARK.

Posted by: DC lurker | March 21, 2007 4:31 PM

Emily wrote: "...Fred, why did you leave us? Is it because Leslie thinks Fo4 is more fun?..."

I thought it was determined yesterday that Leslie didn't actually write that comment, but instead Frieda had finally figured out how to use the computer.

Posted by: catlady | March 21, 2007 4:32 PM

This is what Leslie wrote at the end of the day:

Father of 4 is funnier and more charming. (Sorry, Fred.) He's a bad boy (aren't you, Fo4? don't let me down here), which of course is why I have fallen for him. But Fred...well, I have the sneaky suspicion that Fred would be the better one to end up with (sorry Fo4)..happier in the long run, but not so many laughs along the way.

Glad they are both part of this blog family. Thanks for a great blog, Fred.

Hi Frieda!


Posted by: Leslie | March 20, 2007 09:34 PM

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 4:35 PM

What happened to this blog? It's the same every single day!!!

I now know absolutely everything about foamgnome and father of 4 and fred and mona.

this is just getting ridiculous! BOOOORING!

The On parenting blog is much better, yet only a few comments.

Leslie- help us! Don't some of your oh-so-educated fabulous friends want to take some time from their schedules to make comments on this blog for you? Or maybe you should post some more?

Something needs to change

Posted by: WHAT HAPPENED??? | March 19, 2007 03:36 PM

to WHAT HAPPENED???

Just to make you happy, I will cease posting on Wednesday. But just wait until tommorrow!


BTW, you do not even know 1/10 of me!

Posted by: Fred | March 19, 2007 09:47 PM

I think we'll see Fred tomorrow.

Chrissy -- Emily's advice is the best by far. In retrospect, I think he did you a favor by getting that vasectomy. A child would have tied you to the jerk forever. As it is now, you can completely cut the ties once the divorce is final. Best of luck to you, and I second all the advice about getting checked out for STDs, hiring a good lawyer, and finding a good therapist. I hope you've talked to your family by now. I know I advised against it at first, but with all of these new revelations and because you've made a firm decision, their support will be much needed in the coming months.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 4:49 PM

CHrissy - I had a child with a gerk, and regret him everyday. Luckily we have a good kid, I just wish that he was not the father. Be glad of that.

Posted by: single mom | March 21, 2007 4:51 PM

Sorry, that was me at 4:49.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 21, 2007 4:51 PM

single mom, what's your opinion of MdMother's shotgun and rock salt revenge?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 4:53 PM

I was not truely wronged by the guy - he is just a gerk that did not want a kid that he made - and was terribly manipulative. His wife though would have had reason to use the rock salt, but she took him back after a few months... alas, it seems that gerks always fall on their feed. I believe in karma.

Posted by: single mom | March 21, 2007 4:56 PM

DC Lurker, on the contrary, Chrissy needs a lawyer whose middle name is "EFFICIENCY FOR A REASONABLE PRICE".

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 5:05 PM

So - we have a blog full a lawyers will paml pilots filled with contacts - can anyone help Chrissy find a lawyer that can trounce this guy?

I still do not understand the vascetomy thing - his only girlfriend dies, he has a son, and then gets ones because of how traumatic the death was? Is the son his, or the fiancees?

Posted by: single mom | March 21, 2007 5:08 PM

single mom, we need to know what state Chrissy lives in before we can give her any referrals. Family law is different from state to state, and she needs someone licensed in the state in which she will seek the divorce.

I don't understand the vasectomy. I don't understand why he married Chrissy. I don't understand what he's gotten out of any of his behavior over the last 5 years.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 5:12 PM

We can only help Chrissy with attorneys if we know what state she lives in. Family law is very state based as opposed to say civil rights law.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 21, 2007 5:12 PM

Sounds like the child is from his 'fiancee." Of all the lawyers, perhaps someone could take her on pro bono, or lead her in the right direction... Let's make this blog socially worthwhile, afer all the time we spend culling through inane comments...
Good luck, Christy. We're all cheering for you.

Posted by: Bad Mom | March 21, 2007 5:14 PM

Dewey, Cheatum and Howe is a wonderful firm. Highly recommended.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 21, 2007 5:19 PM

as far as I know, none of the lawyers who've posted today practice family law. Laura's in a regulatory practice. Megan's a litigator. I'm in IP. we haven't heard from lawyermama or Cali Esq or any of the raft of other lawyers that drop in from time to time. maybe one of them can help.

If representing Chrissy for free in this divorce wouldn't constitute malpractice, I'd be first in line.

Guess who else posts here? a whole slew of divorced people who can give great referrals or "stay away froms".

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 5:19 PM

Patrick, you got that from the Car Guys. Plagarizer!!
LOL

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 5:23 PM

Sorry, I'm a civil rights attorney. I used to be a guardian ad litem for children - but I haven't handled divorces.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 21, 2007 5:23 PM

Emily, The Car Guys got it from the Marx Brothers, LOL.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 21, 2007 5:30 PM

Well, you can see where my culture comes from. LOL

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 5:31 PM

I thought it was class you lacked, not culture :>)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 5:34 PM

Apparently, I lack both. LOL.

Posted by: Emily | March 21, 2007 5:34 PM

But at least you recognize classic wit!

Posted by: To Emily | March 21, 2007 5:36 PM

Hey guys,

Thanks for all the kind words and advice, once again. The offers for legal assistance are also very nice, but I believe unnecessary at this point. I don't want this to become something long and drawn out. Not so much for his sake, or even his child's sake, but my own. I'm really meeting with my friends to get a take on what's doable and what's not in our case. There wasn't much financially vested yet. More emotional, and seemingly one-sided at that.

Trust me, the thought of "taking him to the cleaners" very much appeals to me. However, I'm so sickened by him, I don't think I can bear the thought of having a lengthy, drawn out ordeal. I just want it to be over with. Move away, and never see him again.

For those who were curious about his "fiancee", well...they once worked together. I met her once at a Christmas party. I'm guessing shortly before they cheated. They broke up when he and I became engaged. A month later, he finds out she's pregnant. I know what you're thinking: that it might not even be his. Trust me, I secretly hoped for that upon learning this as well. But after demanding to see a picture, damn if the kid isn't the spitting image of him. There's no way he could deny him as his son. My memory of her is fuzzy, but oddly enough, the child doesn't even resemble her in any way.

In any case, he claims that they both just tried to be parents to the child, and remained friends. But they just couldn't deny how they felt for each other, and wanted to be there together for the son's sake. At this point I really don't think it matters if that's the truth or not, the damage is done anyway. But my recollection of his monthly "weekend with the guys" does seem to match when he claims they started up again. And the irony is that this time he had virtually no worries--he wasn't going to get her pregnant again, or me at all, for that matter. Whatever, it's pretty much moot at this point. No saving grace either way.

So, there you have it. Thanks again, guys. I've had some more time to digest this, so I can see your reactions. I have felt all of them, but I'm really just looking for the easiest, painless way out of this. Not for anyone else but me. It's my turn to be a little selfish here.

Posted by: Chrissy | March 21, 2007 5:42 PM

"It's my turn to be a little selfish here."

It sure as hell is. you deserve only the best.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 5:47 PM

Not knowing where Chrissy lives I am also hesitant to give lawyers names
Couple of points to look at when choosing a lawyer:
1 - are your finances complicated? If you only have a house, bought after you were married, savings in money market accounts and the only investments are in 401k's. Don't go to the high priced lawyer you will be paying for expertise you don't need.
2 - Are you going for revenge or just to get out so that you can go on with your life? If you are looking just to get on with your life and you feel you both can behave as adults try mediation (less expensive), but don't sign anything without checking with your lawyer.
3- Geography - I had a lawyer who practiced in two jurisdictions, because I worked in one, but lived in another (where the divorce had to take place) This meant I could sign papers, etc on my lunch break or immediately before or after work and didn't have to take as much time off.
4- A good life is the best revenge. Instead of overpaying a lawyer take care of yourself - even if it means paying a counselor - in 5 years if you are happy and successful (however you personally define those terms) you won't care about him and when you run into him you will be so glad you are where you are with your life that he won't matter.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | March 21, 2007 5:50 PM

Chrissy - I think you have the right attitude - and it is your life after all. You have to live it and move on. Did he explain why he even went ahead with your marriage? I hope he isn't trying to lay a sympathy trip on you, since he deserves none. Unfortunately the mother of his child will probably learn what kind of jerk he is the hard way.

Keep the blog posted on your next steps if you feel comfortable. Lots of Virtual support.....

Posted by: cmac | March 21, 2007 6:56 PM

to answer foamgnomes question - the reason to teach is because you never want to be one of those people who says "it's just a job". Or that you want to do something where the more you put into it you get rewards that are personally fufilling rather than monetary. Or that you want to do something you love and believe in enough that you can imagine regretting the hours you did not put in at work.

I have more flexibility as a college prof. than a HS teacher would - but getting to leave at 2:00 to pick a child may be important flexibility to you, even if that means you are up late at night grading & prepping classes. I think unfortunately at the HS level regulations may be becoming tedious, but most of the hours I work I am doing things that I see the value of. There is a great deal of autonomy - which can be valued (though sometimes abused). I don't have any of the boss horror stories to report.

Posted by: too late? | March 21, 2007 7:13 PM

I missed the obvious in my post above - you get to spend your days reading and talking about your favorite subject.

Posted by: too late? | March 21, 2007 7:21 PM

This article is the best example of why I will never, *ever* have children.

What a devastating move for a man in an age when men are expected to behave as women - and if they don't, their wife plots a way to leave them and screw them financially and receives nothing but sympathy from all involved.

Marriage is an irrelevant relic of a time that has passed. Need proof? Simply look at the divorce rate in America.

Make no mistake about it, men do not want children. Women want children and go to extreme ends to sucker men into the whole arrangement. So they end up impoverished single mothers expecting sympathy for their mistakes in life. If a man has passed on his genetic information then he has done his duty as an organism. Let the women raise the children, it is what they are programmed for. Let men be men.

Posted by: ateo | March 22, 2007 3:23 AM

Chrissy, again my heart goes out to you. You deserve the best and I hope you find it one day.

Too late: That was really nicely put. I am not considering being a teacher. It is just that moxiemom and others list that as being a flexible job and it doesn't seem like it is. I can really relate to the passion of a job. While I like the type of thinking that my job entails, I never really feel that it is making any real impact on the world. I can get lost in thought a good number of times and I enjoy the logical thinking that is involved. But at the end of the day, I know the world is no better or no worse if my data product came out. Kind of sad when you think about it. It is only helping the world on such an abstract level.

ateo: Wow, that is super sad. I guess a fair response is that my husband and so many other men I know, love being fathers. I would not generalize that all men have zero interest in fatherhood.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 22, 2007 7:22 AM

Trust me, the thought of "taking him to the cleaners" very much appeals to me. However, I'm so sickened by him, I don't think I can bear the thought of having a lengthy, drawn out ordeal. I just want it to be over with. Move away, and never see him again.

Chrissy,

Think of this divorce as buying your way out of a BAD contract. It's worth whatever money or stuff you may feel you will lose.

He did you favour by getting that vasectomy. Imagine HAVING to co-parent with that bleeding haemmorhoid about a child. That's the stuff of nightmares.

That's what Katherine Hepburn did anyway, when she left one studio for another.

At least go to a local gun range and rent a weapon. I recommend skeet. Very satisfying to see those clay pigeons explode.

Posted by: MdMother--for Chrissy | March 22, 2007 8:31 AM

I think Chrissy is a fake. Notice he/she doesn't respond with state of residence when asked. Story is made up by some jerk (Single Mom--it's spelled J-E-R-K) who wants attention.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 8:59 AM

"Make no mistake about it, men do not want children. Women want children and go to extreme ends to sucker men into the whole arrangement..."

Dude, I'm a guy and I wanted a child, and now that the child is here, I love him and I love being a dad. That's true of every single dad I know personally. So, speak for yourself and don't pretend to speak for me.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 22, 2007 2:11 PM

Make no mistake about it, men do not want children. Women want children and go to extreme ends to sucker men into the whole arrangement. So they end up impoverished single mothers expecting sympathy for their mistakes in life. If a man has passed on his genetic information then he has done his duty as an organism. Let the women raise the children, it is what they are programmed for. Let men be men.

Posted by: ateo | March 22, 2007 03:23 AM

Men who are men have better things to do with the women in their lives than type on blogs at 3:23 in the morning.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 5:32 PM

In this great Country of ours, too many people have too much time on their hands to complain about their lack of personal freedom, which often seems to come at the hands of another. Too many victims feeling too sorry for themselves. Women, who see themselves as full-blown revolutionaries against their roles as mothers and or wives, contribute to undermining the fabric of society. They have the most demanding and important "job" on this planet is that of a mother. It is said that God brings love into this world through our mothers, who in turn self-lessly pass it onto all. There is a difference between acting and being, as well as defining oneself by what one does versus who one is. Get over it prima donas; life is too short.

Posted by: LtCol George Murray USMC retired | March 22, 2007 5:56 PM

Men who are men have better things to do with the women in their lives than type on blogs at 3:23 in the morning.

Posted by: | March 22, 2007 05:32 PM

Hmm, men who don't waste energy on children can stay up doing other things.

Posted by: ateo | March 22, 2007 8:03 PM

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