Confessions of the Wife of a Stay-at-Home Dad, or Oh Crap, I’m a Chauvinist!

I am so lucky. I can’t deny it.

My husband is not threatened by my success. He is proud of me. He is secure enough to challenge traditional gender roles without fearing the loss of his own masculinity. He doesn’t mind letting me be the breadwinner.

And when I tentatively suggested that he stay at home with our second son, he lept at the opportunity. For an ambitious woman with limited patience, my husband is perfect.

Except…. Except…

Girls, here’s your warning – househusbands are not like housewives.

The priorities are different. Color coding coupons doesn’t have a chance against a good mud puddle. Mowing the yard beats out mopping the kitchen. Noise reigns supreme, and toy obstacle courses in the hallway are character building.

For several months, I believed that the problem was simply the difference between women and men. Maybe women had housekeeping genetic memory, or perhaps we simply learned homely perfection from our mothers.

I thought I could teach my husband better ways to do things the way I thought they should be done. Although I myself had never practiced the art of maintaining a home full-time single-handedly, I knew the theories. I was stunned when my husband wasn’t interested in my tutelage.

Okay, so I admit that I would be atrocious as a stay-at-home parent.  The house would be a disaster, the children would be miserable, and I would be on Xanax. My husband? He’d be living at his mom’s.

Why do I expect so much from him while stridently arguing that stay-at-home moms have been oppressed by their husbands’ expectations for centuries? Why do I applaud women who relax about their responsibilities and spend time pursuing their own interests while simultaneously erupting in fury when I arrive home and the floor hasn’t been vacuumed and I can’t find my socks?

After much soul-searching, I know the answer. My confession – I am a (fe)male chauvinist pig.

To figure out how I became the enemy, I’ve been evaluating my thought processes. Here are the justifications I have discovered so far:

  1. My job sucks; therefore, my husband should be grateful that he doesn’t have to work in a job that sucks, too. He should show his gratitude by making my life perfect. [Note to boss: this does not at all apply to my current job. Promise.]
  2. My husband can take at least one nap during the day when the kids do. I can’t; therefore, he should wake up every two hours with the baby during the night so I can be fresh and awake all day at my job (the one that sucks). [Note to boss: please see disclaimer above.]
  3. I paid for it; therefore, it’s mine.
  4. My husband spends more time at home and around the kids then I do, so he knows them much better than I; therefore, he should wait on me hand and foot while I reconnect with the children through play.
  5. Women had to do it for thousands of years and no one cared. Therefore, my husband should take the payback for every single stay-at-home mom who ever wore an apron all day, then changed into a dress and freshened up her make-up ten minutes before her husband walked in the door.

When I lay it all out like that, it really doesn’t make much sense.

Lucky for my family, then, that my husband isn’t about to let me turn him into a wife.

He loses his temper if someone calls him “Mr. Mom”, arguing that his parenting style should not be filtered through the expectations for women.  He is forging his own path through stay-at-home parenthood without relying on outdated spheres of influence. He is standing his ground, dusty though it may be, and insisting on a fair division of labor.

When I lose my temper, he makes me go to my room. My husband is not going to let me oppress him, in any way, shape, or form. I totally respect that. Talk about manly!

Next we get to work on the definition of “fair.”


~ by gypsyjonga on August 7, 2009.

4 Responses to “Confessions of the Wife of a Stay-at-Home Dad, or Oh Crap, I’m a Chauvinist!”

  1. I just posted a link here on my Facebook page – this is insightful, and shamefully true! I think that some of the negative behaviors attributed to men in the 50s and 60s can easily happen to working women too. No gender is safe from lacking empathy 🙂

    • Thanks for the link, Aunt Angie. And you’re too right about the empathy – I was pretty surprised at myself, that’s for sure LOL

  2. Amen! I am also in the fortunate position of working full-time in a job I love and my husband works from home – which means he is really the stay-at-home parent. And somehow I lost any perspective I had in my brief (thankfully) time while I was the one staying home when my oldest was a baby – I totally forgot what it is like to be with children all day, and then need a break when the working spouse comes home.

    • Thanks, Stephanie! It’s a new trail we’re all blazing here (wives and husbands both!) and not easy for either role, I don’t think!

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