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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

New baby tough on dads too

Now that I'm pregnant and out of the pregnancy closet (at 15 weeks), I can't help but thinking about when the Baby in Chief arrives. And I'm not talking about what that means for my work. I've realized that will be the easy part. I'm talking about what that means for our family and for Father in Chief. I started thinking about this after reading Miriam's post called, "The New Year." It's about paternity leaves and the sad and short duration that they so often are. Her husband's short paternity leave recently ended. She wrote:
We parents face terrible choices. It's the obvious thing to say, but it strikes me all the more. It's not just moms. My husband took off the first two weeks after Amelia Jane was born. He held her, cuddled her, stared long and meaningfully at her. Then, January 3d it was back to work.
Her words about her spouse shot me five-and-a-half months into the future to see what our life will be like. Most of us at-home moms already know that we are devalued in society. But what I sometimes forget is that fathers are devalued even less. When we think of new babies, we think about the moms and short maternity leaves, "but we often forget that there are two parents who are likely struggling with the desire to be at home with the baby," I wrote on Miriam's blog. But when one parent isn't making very much money (as in our case), someone needs to be out there earning money to support the rest of us. And in our case--as in many cases--it's the dads.

I know that Father in Chief had a really hard time going back after our son was born. But somehow his conflict isn't respected the same way it is with women. I'm going to generalize here, but I think that the work-world *expects* women to want to be with the new baby. But men are *expected* to be indifferent. Or at least not care outwardly.


  1. this hits home with our family. my husband had such a hard time leaving to go back to work after our daughters were born....and, it still is hard for him to go to work everday even with our girls being 3 1/2 and almost 2...for some dads, it really doesn't get easier. dads miss out on the little things us moms see everyday.

  2. I'm the mother and breadwinner in our family, but sometimes I do think I'm lucky in that people I work do respect that I miss my children as well.

    One of my male colleagues has just become a father for the first time, and I think he likes talking to me about it, as we're in the same boat - enjoying our work, but at the same time being jealous of our partners who get to be there.