Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A rose by any other name...

So the other day there was an article in Newsweek that commented on the fact that Barack Obama is always referred to as a "black man with a white mother" and never a "white man with a black father". It was just a sidebar in the article, and certainly one can argue that he is considered "black" because he has a darker skin tone then say, I do. But either way, it certainly made me think about how we label people.

I have always been annoyed with the term "working mother". I use it a lot (its even in my blog title) because it's part of our vernacular. But I don't like it. Even aside from the whole issue that it presumes moms who are at home aren't working, it actual bothers me more for another reason. Have you ever heard of a "working father"?!?! Nope. Nobody every says that. And why not? Shouldn't working fathers have the same anxiety, stress, angst, stigma, status, etc. of working moms? Why are men just men and women are categorized based on their status as a caregiver? My husband (who happens to be very involved in our children's care) is just a guy with a job. I am a "working mother". That is so annoying.

We make lots of excuses about why women are always assumed to be the primary caregiver of our children -- its traditional, its instinctual, etc. But I am starting to wonder if these are maybe just excuses. Excuses that stop men (not you, honey) from taking equal responsibility in the raising of their children. Who says men don't have the same instinctual nature to rear their young that women do? History and tradition aren't good enough. I think ALL women need to expect more from men. Expect them to want to partner in raising their kids. Expect them to take equal responsibility for taking care of them when they are sick, playing with them when they are happy, consoling them when they are sad, teaching them how to be good people, and disciplining them when they misbehave.

I think there are men who do this. We all need to expect the rest of them to want the same.

I will get off my soapbox now.


Justice Fergie said...

Amen, honey. Amen.

I tagged you for a meme. Check out my post for today.

Happy Working Mom said...

I'm with you! I never understood why women would have children with the dads that don't give 50%. I'm annoyed when a dad says "he has to babysit the kids." You'll never catch a mom saying she has to "babysit."

Thankfully I too am married to a fantastic guy that realizes that he's just as responsible for those kids as I am!

Mordermi said...

FWIW, I always refer to my going it alone with the kids as "solo-parenting"...as that is what it is. :-)

I have always tried to be involved with the kids since I don't want to be that dad that always misses everything and says, "I'm sorry, but I really had to {work, be somewhere else, yaddayaddayadda}" and see the look of disappointment/resentment on my kids' faces. The few times it has happened have been bad enough...I never want that to become the norm.

There are certain things I accepted when becoming a dad: the chances of my picking up hot women in a cool sports car became indistiguishable from 0 (in truth, they always were, but that's when it became official), there would be times when a favored/work shirt would become covered in vomit (and at least two have), and that I would need to do my fair share with the kids (and I try to keep up, but 3XMom does more than I can keep up with!). I want my kids to talk to me when they are older and that requires an investment in time now when they are young enough to form that bond.

I wouldn't have it any other way, and I am amazed (not in a good way) when I run across dad's that try to hold to a 1950's or even 1970's viewpoint about how they should handle parenting.

Julie said...


Sabrina said...


Last year, hubby and I gave each other promotions coz we didn't get one at work. I'm Wife 3 and he's Hubby 2. I wanted to have a better promotion than he got. Maybe this year I'll promote him to Husband 3, Working Father.

And yes, I'm so pmsing.

Lil Mouse said...

i have to agree. i've hounded my hubby endlessly that if i have kids and stay at home, that it will be unequal, but he better do his damndest to make it more equal when he gets home. after all, i never would get to be off the clock, why should he?!?

Molly said...

Right on! I have never really thought about the term working mother that way.

My husband drives me crazy when he complains that he never has any downtime or time to himself. Like I do??? I'm the one that does all the cleaning, shopping, cooking, most of the childcare, etc. He needs to get a clue.

Senior Lady said...

I am from an older generation, but the term "working mother" drives me nuts and always has. You can't be a mom and not work unless somebody else has total custody of the kids. The word you need is "employed" which means someone is paying you to do something else at the same time you are being a mom. I think dads should be described the same way - and they should be just as tired and fried at the end of the day as you are. If yours isn't, you need to change that.