Monthly Archives: November 2011

Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at Home

Yup. I said it. It’s tougher to be a working parent than a stay-at-home parent. But before you sharpen your pitchforks and load your shotguns, let me explain.

Parenting is tough work no matter what. Whether you’re at home planning arts & crafts and doing all the cooking, cleaning and childcare, or rushing home to parent after punching the clock following a full day at the office, we all work hard and face uphill battles. Stay-at-home parents (and I know and love a ton of them) often sacrifice their careers to make sure they can raise their kids right. It’s tough going days without adult contact and dealing with some ignorant people who look down their nose at you because you’re not working 9 to 5 (this is especially true for stay-at-home dads). I’m not sure I could hack it and that’s why I praise all the men and women who choose this route.

But one of the perks of being a stay-at-home parent is exactly what I just mentioned: praise.

Moms who choose to stay at home have long been looked at as heroes. They call it “the toughest yet most rewarding job in the world,” and bloggers fill up virtual tomes with flowery prose about how much work stay-at-home parents do, how it’s non-stop, how they’re under-appreciated, how they make the world go ’round, etc. And even stay-at-home dads—although fairly new on the scene—are now escaping the initial public backlash to their new roles. Public sentiment is shifting in their favor as more men than ever are staying at home with their kids, and these dads are rightfully being celebrated for their contributions on the home front.

But let’s face it, there are certain perks to staying at home.

First of all, there’s no commute. Second, you’re working from home in a non-office environment. And while I totally get how watching Caillou for the billionth time or dealing with a screaming child(ren) can be super annoying, the fact is you’re still watching TV and playing with your kids. Kids who (probably) take naps during the day, allowing you to either catch up on other chores in peace or take a nap yourself. You can leave the TV on, play the radio loud and spend all day in your PJs if that’s what you want. This isn’t me calling stay-at-home parents lazy—not by a longshot. It’s just the truth of the matter.

But working parents don’t have that luxury. My commute isn’t as bad as it used to be, but it still takes up anywhere from 2-3 hours a day. I leave before the sun comes up and get home long after dark. And in between those two occurrences, I’m at the office. I’m dealing with bosses, deadlines, trying to get promoted, trying to make more money and constantly under enormous pressure to produce. Not to mention the pressure that comes with being the primary breadwinner and knowing that if I slip up at work and lose my job, we’re totally screwed.

Then, when I come home, I have anywhere from 60-90 minutes to play with my son. Talk to him about his day, play dinosaurs with him, give him a bath, read him some books and put him to bed.

But guess what? Just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working.

Smartphones and the Internet have created less of a Work-Life Balance and more of a Work-Life Blend. Essentially what that means is to be successful in this day and age, you can’t just check out after 5 p.m. Emails follow me on my phone, my social media responsibilities pop up via Twitter and Facebook notifications as I put out fires and respond to customers in real-time and I take occasional work calls late into the night. All while trying to remain as involved a dad as I can and retain some semblance of being a husband.

The real beauty of being a stay-at-home parent, at least in my opinion, is being able to totally give yourself over to the task at hand. Those who stay at home are doing great work and they throw themselves into it. I know full well the stay-at-home parents in my life give 110% and are absolutely terrific.

But compare that to working parents. We’re still giving 110%, but it’s split between work and home. But you know what happens when you give 55% at work and 55% at home? You constantly feel like you’re not doing enough in either role and you’re perpetually torn between the two. While stay-at-home parents can say with complete certainty they’ve devoted themselves to their kids, working parents are in limbo. They have to work to bring in money so their spouse can afford to stay at home, but they can’t work so much that they become strangers to their families. But the line between work and home is constantly shifting or being redrawn in the sand.

Meanwhile, how many times have you read an article calling for working parents (usually it’s aimed at dads) to spend less time at the office and more time at home? To create more of a work-life balance? To come home after work and immediately go into father/husband mode, taking over chores and childcare duties for the mom who has been at home with the kid(s) all day? I’ve read countless pieces calling for working dads to do all these things, lest they be thought of as slackers compared to stay-at-home moms.

But why doesn’t anyone suggest these stay-at-home parents go work part-time jobs and contribute financially once they’re done taking care of the kids for the day?

That clicking noise you just heard was the collective sound of stay-at-home parents everywhere cocking their proverbial guns in preparation for my execution. I know no one is supposed to say anything that even remotely criticizes stay-at-home parents (especially moms), and that’s really not my intention. I understand every family situation is different and no two circumstances are ever the same. I get it. Decisions to work or stay at home are most often a joint decision based on what’s best for the particular family in question. And I’m not knocking that decision either way.

But it just really irks me how stay-at-home parents are afforded sanctuary from criticism and are seemingly beyond reproach, while working parents are automatically expected to simply suck it up and pull double duty.

Stay-at-home parents are celebrated for their devotion and self-sacrifice. And if those parents do decide to enter the workforce, they’re celebrated again. Moms especially, as more and more studies show women have a stronger desire to take on more responsibility as they become breadwinners. And while dads who decide to be full-time stay-at-home parents certainly face some discrimination and snide looks, the tide is turning and public sentiment is in their favor. They’re being rightfully praised as progressive and involved.

But when it comes to working parents (again, I’m focusing mainly on dads here), I read articles like this one that bash working dads who come home and don’t immediately do the laundry, the dishes and mop the floors after a full day at the office. They even advocate women withholding sex as punishment for not helping out. You know, because sex between married people should totally be used as a weapon.

Then there’s statistics like this one from Salary.com (where I work full-time as a content manager for full disclosure), in which 2,000 people were surveyed. While 2/3 of all men said they’d be willing to support a stay-at-home parent, only 35% of women said the same for men. And nearly 1/3 of all women said they would flat out refuse to support a stay-at-home husband.

Talk about your mixed messages. Some people are saying we’re working too much, yet the age-old pressure to be the breadwinner and provider is still very much in effect.

And while being with my son is my top priority when I get home from work at 6:30 p.m. before his 8 p.m. bedtime, the dishes are not. The laundry is not. Vacuuming is not. Because you know what? If you’re a stay-at-home parent that stuff should be mostly done already. Yeah, I said it. And I don’t feel bad about it one bit. When you choose to be a stay-at-home parent you’re committing to taking on the bulk of childcare duties and household duties. The cooking and the cleaning. Case in point, MJ is out of work right now and stays at home while going to school once a week. Assuming she didn’t have anything out of the ordinary going on, should I expect her to have dinner prepared, the laundry done and have the house in order? Hell yes! Why shouldn’t I? I’m not talking about sparkling floors or building an addition on the house mind you, but stay-at-home parents should absolutely be taking care of household duties.

Working parents should pitch in and do their part, no question. But if a working parent is expected to earn 100% of the money, why is it out of line to expect the stay-at-home parent to do 100% of household duties? It’s the very definition of a double standard, but no one ever addresses it because it’s not politically correct.

And before you get on me, it would be the same for me if I was at home and she was working. This isn’t about gender, it’s about a division of labor and responsibility. I just find it highly questionable that working parents are fully expected to come home and “relieve” the stay-at-home parent, but if you suggest to the stay-at-home parent he/she should find a part-time, paying job at night, you’re suddenly an asshole. It doesn’t make any sense.

The point of this post is not to cause further division between the two sects or diminish in any way what stay-at-home parents do. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, my wife is now (at least for the time being) a stay-at-home mom and I’ve connected with so many wonderful men and women who have chosen this route. You all work hard and your efforts are unbelievably appreciated.

But my point is I’d like to see a little more love for working parents. Instead of telling us we don’t do enough, how about the media and the blogosphere thanks us for the contributions we are making. The money, the security and providing the opportunity for one parent to be home in the first place. Working parents are feeling the squeeze both at the office and at home, stressing themselves out at the thought of having one foot in each world at all times and worrying we’re not doing either to the fullest extent.

Anyone who can walk that tightrope is just as worthy of being celebrated as the esteemed stay-at-home folks.

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I’m Thankful for Sarcasm

Bloggers love the holidays.

It can be tough to produce content on a daily basis, and sometimes the muses can be very fickle. But when the holidays roll around, lazy bloggers can always fall back on the tried and true tradition of lists. And since we’re on Thanksgiving’s doorstep, right now the lists revolve around things for which the author is thankful. Which means hundreds, maybe thousands of people are gushing about their spouses, children, parents, friends, freedom and the roof over their respective heads.

Eff that.

It’s not that I’m not grateful for all of those things in my life. I am. And I express that thanks to those people throughout the year. So what I’m going to do this time around is tap into my inner dick and bring you a sarcastic List of Things I Should be Thankful for If the World Wasn’t Totally Fucked.

You might not want to read this one around the old Thanksgiving table tomorrow.


I Wish I Could Be Thankful For…

  • The Bravery Shown by Penn State Officials–The horror of what occurred at Penn State is undeniable, but the only silver lining is the way the situation was handled by Penn State personnel. From the minute Matt McQueary rescued that poor boy from Jerry Sandusky after stumbling upon the pair in the shower to Coach Joe Paterno’s rapid response in notifying the police of the heinous crime, Penn State showed great courage in the face of an atrociously impossible situation. They put justice and common decency above the importance of a money-making football program, and did the most important thing, which is to come to the rescue of innocent children. Bravo Penn State.

 

  • The Decency of Police During Occupy Wall Street Protests–Although many people did not agree with everything OWS was doing or how they were doing it, the important thing was even the police charged with keeping the protest area safe were cognizant of their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. Instead of needlessly beating back students or unnecessarily dousing them in the face with pepper-spray, these officers kept the laws of the land and citizen rights at the forefront of their mind, displaying class and model behavior at all times. Bravo.

 

  • Bank of America’s Efficiency & Customer Service–Some people say big banks are impersonal and don’t care about their customers. But Bank of America proved even the big guys care about the little people. That’s why, when my wife and I saw financial trouble looming, we called the bank even before we were behind on payments, telling them there was trouble ahead and we wanted to be proactive. Did they could’ve told us there was nothing they could do. They could’ve told us they are unable to work with us at all until we’re way behind on payments. Then they could’ve lost paperwork and bounced us from department to department, passing the buck until we wanted to light ourselves on fire. But thankfully, Bank of America is among the most ethical, efficient and customer-oriented businesses in the land.

 

  • The Boston Red Sox–Some lesser teams that blow a 14-game lead in September might collapse under its own weight, be reduced to finger-pointing and infighting and leak stories about the personal lives of beloved managers. That kind of implosion risks losing key figures such as general managers and managers, while clubhouse stories involving booze in the dugout and overweight players eating Popeyes surface in the aftermath. Thank goodness a stable organization like the Red Sox was able to avoid such chaos and remain a paragon of organizational success during hard times.

 

  • The Solidarity of Dad Bloggers & Mainstream Recognition–It’s been said in the past that dads are treated as second-class parents, and dad bloggers are the red-headed step-children to the almighty mom bloggers. That’s why it was so wonderful when Disney bought Babble they spoke so glowingly of fathers in their future plans. After all, it’s not like they call their department “Mom & Family” right? That would be absurd. But when Babble did recognize dads in its Top 50 Dad Blog list, it was heartening to see all fathers come together in celebration and unity. Even if they didn’t make the list there was no bickering or fighting, just appreciation for fatherly recognition and all egos checked at the door. Well done fellas.

 

  • My New, Multi-Million Dollar Book Deal–After years of toiling in Internet anonymity, I’m ever-so-thankful Simon & Schuster finally came to their senses and offered me a $2 million advance for my life story. Did I get into blogging for the money? No. Will I cash the check and accept the New York Times’ opinion that I am “the voice of modern fatherhood and an inspiration to the world?” Yes. Yes I will.

 

  • Compassionate, Understanding Pro-Life Supporters–When I posted the video of my encounter with pro-life zealots following the loss of our unborn baby, things really could’ve gotten dicey. It’s a tough subject and there’s very little common ground between the two sides. But I’m so grateful to the wonderful people who left supportive comments that helped MJ and me through such a tough time. Things like “So you abort a baby because it had a ‘deformity?’ You do realize that those amniocetis(I can’t spell that) tests aren’t always accurate” and “I think these women probably feel worse about his child dying than he does. Abortion is murder. What else is there to say?” Thank the Lord for these empathetic, devoted Christians. If not for them pushing their opinions on everyone else, how would people know what to think?

 

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! On that, there is no sarcasm.

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The Funny and Nothing But the Funny

VIDEO OF THE YEAR

If you only watch one video for the rest of this year, make it this one. Those of you with the iPhone 4S will appreciate it immensely. “ASK MY WIFE IF SHE IS FUCKING JIM MACPHERSON!!” I’ve never laughed harder.

 

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Thanksgiving is upon us and that means Christmas shopping season is about to be turned up to 11. Those of you who have children (or those of you shopping for parents) may be wondering what to buy this year. I can only speak for myself, but I’m recommending DINKutopia’s Child Containment Unit. Fuck the pack & play and those baby gates that are always breaking and never seem to work, the CCU’s prison-like force field will keep your kid in solitary for hours while you finally catch up on all those video games you haven’t been able to play. Just $49.95!

 

Happy Monday!!

 

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Life in Slow “Mo”: My Secret Shame

Day 1

If I had to pinpoint the worst period of my life, I’d say it was 9th grade.

Freshman year of high school is tough on nearly every kid, but for me it was just terrible. You see, there are two camps of boys at that age: the ones who have started to become men and the late bloomers. And I was late. Way late. Some of the other kids were growing tall and sprouting body hair. I remember Shane Macauley had a full beard in the eighth grade. I shit you not. His leg hair had split ends and at 14 he had 5 o’clock shadow before lunch.

I, on the other hand, was 5’2″ and baby-faced as can be. Like a hairless cat. The girls who were shaving their legs already had nothing on my silky smooth skin. It was horrendous. And I swore that one day, when I got older and puberty kicked in, I’d grow the mother of all beards and a handlebar mustache just to shut up all the little assholes who were teasing me.

Unfortunately, that was not in the genetic cards.

Puberty came but the beard never really did. And the mustache? Even worse. To this day I only have to shave once a week, and even when it does grow in it’s—weird. Reddish-blond stubble comes in patches, but not consistently at all. There are parts of my face where hair just simply refuses to grow. And I use the word “grow” loosely because it comes in at a snail’s pace. Seriously, old people have sex faster than my facial hair grows. It’s humiliating and that’s why I avoid all talk of goatees, beards and mustaches at all costs.

So why am I spending the month of November growing a mustache?

Despite my protests and attempts to weasel out of it, a fantastic (and persistent) group of dad bloggers convinced me to join their

Day 17. Not so different than Day 1.

Movember team. What is Movember, you ask? It’s a movement aimed at bringing awareness and much-needed funds to the issue of men’s health, specifically prostate cancer. So to that end, men from all walks of life come together and get people to sponsor them while they grow their mustaches to ridiculous lengths and fashions for the entire month of November.

But here’s my problem: It’s Day 17 and I look like a pubescent high school kid who just made out with a cat. Seriously. Look at that picture. Can you believe that’s 17 days of not shaving my upper lip?

The worst part is the hair is starting to get kind of thick on the sides near the corners of my mouth, but I don’t have ANYTHING growing in the middle. I mean nothing. It’s like having two pathetic midget mustache strips growing on each side of my face struggling in vain to get to one another, but it’s a journey that will never be completed.

So I’m asking for your pity. If you have some extra money and want to give to a good cause, I’m begging you to sponsor me. Before you donate by clicking here, I want you to check out some of the other guys on my team. They have awesome mustaches. Thick, full, manly food catchers that make them look like porn stars or highway patrolmen. Or porn stars acting as highway patrolmen. Either way, they look sweet and I’m left to wallow in my hairless, deflated masculinity. My only shot at any kind of redemption is raising enough money to preserve what little dignity I have left.

Seriously though guys, it’s a great cause. There’s a lot of attention given to breast cancer and other medical maladies, and rightly so. But men, and specifically prostate cancer, get a miniscule amount of coverage and awareness is nil. If you’re able, I’d really appreciate you helping to change that.

And in return, I’ll keep posting humiliating pictures of my pathetic facial hair. Which is also starting to itch like a bastard I might add. I have two more weeks of patchy awfulness causing strange glances from coworkers, my bosses and clients. I’m sacrificing my dignity for the sake of charity. That’s gotta be worth a couple of bucks right?

Thanks everyone!

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We’ve Got a Biter

I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry at Will.

It started this week when he bit my father twice. Once it was hard enough to almost break skin. He was punished severely each time with a combination of time out, loss of his favorite toys and even a spanking when he copped an attitude after the fact and was seemingly unrepentant. It really took us by surprise because usually kids go through biting phases early in toddlerhood. But Will never did. And to bite my dad twice despite punishments had me miffed. But it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.

He bit another kid at preschool today.

The teacher told me what happened when I picked him up. They said he was playing with another boy and Will was pretending to be a dinosaur. Then he hauled off and bit another boy on the arm. Pretty much a carbon copy of what happened the times he bit my dad.

The rage that welled up inside me as Will’s teacher was telling me what happened was almost too much to contain. Seriously, I’m thankful there were plenty of people around because I would’ve given him the single biggest bare-assed spanking of all time. After all the talks we had about why biting is bad, how it hurts people, how mom and dad are disappointed whenever he does it. After all that, what does he do? He goes out and bites a kid.

Now before all the pseudo (and actual) child psychologists out there tell me he’s acting out because of all the big changes lately and blah blah blah, I get it. I understand big changes often bring about behavior that screams for attention. But he’s got our full attention. And the attention of my parents. This kid wants for nothing and yet he’s biting kids in class.

And since I’m being honest, it’s horribly demoralizing and humiliating to have the teacher tell you your kid is a biter. To have her point out older kids such as Will are usually well beyond that kind of thing, asking if everything is OK at home, etc. I wanted to hide under the nearest water table and never come out.

Seriously, I feel like I’m raising Hannibal Lecter. When I was helping him clean his room I kept worrying I’d find a human liver, fava beans and a nice bottle of chianti.

Not to mention we’re the new parents at the preschool and now we’re gonna be branded as the parents of the biter. I don’t care how thick you think your skin is, it’s really easy to crumble when it suddenly feels as though you’re the worst parents in the world when everyone finds out you’re raising a cannibal in training.

Ugh. We’re dealing with it as best we know how. I told him how disappointed I am in him. I asked him if he knows why biting is bad and he does, saying “Because it hurts people and that’s mean.” I’ve taken away his favorite toys and made it clear why he’s losing them and how good behavior can get them back. And even though I did get mad at him, I also told him I love him, we all make mistakes and that I know he’s a good boy. Other than that, I’m just not sure what else to do.

People always tell me to look for a silver lining. I guess if he ever becomes a professional soccer player whose plane crashes in the Andes, he’ll have no problem surviving. And, when he becomes an infamous serial killer in a couple of decades, perhaps I’ll stand to make a tidy profit when I sell the rights to his story.

Or this could mean he’s on the brink of becoming a famous sports broadcaster. Only time will tell.

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