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In which I let loose with my trusty flamethrower

August 04, 2004 | Category: Rants & Raves

Hey, this one's PG-13 for language. You've been warned.

I'm a hybrid.

I was born to a McCain Republican and a Obama Democrat. Which is kind of like saying that my mom was an alligator but my dad was a crocodile. If that leaves you scratching your head and asking what the fuck's the difference? Yeah, I'm with you there.

I like McCain. I like Obama. I'm a pro-choice, pro-family independent Christian. I like you, even if you're the opposite of all those things. I like people trying to have smart ideas. I like people who take the high road. I like tolerance, respect, and good listening skills.

I like the conflict of arguments looking for the greater good. I'll go face to face with you screaming about the issues, and know all long that neither of us will budge. And it will be cool.

Conversely, I am a fierce clawed predator who puts the vego-matic to the crap spewed by the bastards who make it personal. Who take debate to its lowest common denominator.

So, Cathy Seipp.

One day she's at a grocery store, sees a stay at home dad's attention drift from his kid in the grocery cart, and turns it into a treatise on all stay at home dads.

She took her bully pulpit via the National Review Online, ranted at the use of the word "parent" versus the word "father", mixed in some examples from the TV show Everwood, and voila! came up with: stay at home dads are woosie suckwads who are incompetent at best.

Like women trying to parallel park. Her example, not mine.

Then she went on the radio to defend her position. Then she blogged about going on the radio. Then she quoted her friend blogging about her going on the radio. She called her article "making fun" and sheathed her claws while shouting "look at me!".


Doesn't that sound like Nellie Olson on Little House?


Seriously, as Rebel Dad said, you don't even want to sanctify this shit with a mention in your own world. On the other hand, well, the truth is that there aren't as many stay at home dads out there. I know and love some stay at home dads.

In fact, the ones I know are so cool. And when I paid attention, I realized with outrage that Cathy's argument has nothing to do with stay at home dads, really.

It has to do with propagating disgust with the non-traditional simply because it's non-traditional. So here's my say:

1. It takes two people to make a kid. 3, if you're counting the gestational surrogate. Maybe 5 if the child's going to be adopted. Do we count the doctors? Here's the point: NO ONE GETS TO BE THE ONLY "RIGHT" PARENT.

Right out of the chute, there are lots of people deeply invested in that child. Personally, I think introducing my 2 year old son to beef jerky was insane. But my husband thought it was fine. Welcome to reality. The differences from maybe the ideas we have in our head about stay at home parents? They're gender. They're cultural. They're personality. But they are just differences, not "wrongnesses".

Let's remember this students, there will be a quiz later in the form of a grown child. DIFFERENT does NOT equal WRONG.

2. Everyone gets to be an asshole, sometimes.

Cathy talks about a kid maybe almost falling out of a cart.

Hell, I was in a grocery store once and ran into a stay at home mom and we got to chatting. She cooed over mine, I wanted to coo over hers. Figured she'd been left at home.

Nope, she'd been left to chill, playing with her feet on top of a stack of frozen pizzas. She'd crawled out of her seat and fallen (not hurt) into one of those open-topped freezers and yes, her frazzled mother didn't notice until I asked about her a few moments later.

That's because ALL stay at home mothers are over-tired martyrs who can't parallel park. Right? RIGHT?

Here's something to have tattooed in backwards writing on your forehead. It will make the world a better place if you do: Never judge anyone by their worst day or moment.

Better yet, don't judge at all - unless you wear a swirly black overcoat and were elected to do so.

3. If we don't value men who nurture, we will continue to raise boys who value war.

'Nuf said.

posted by Elizabeth at 10:42:00 AM


Jenny said...

Rave on, sister! (This is why I'm a huge fan of grocery delivery)
3:28 PM
Michele said...

Amen Sister!! You are my new best friend! And I also want to hang out with the mom who didn't notice her kid dumped it into the frozen pizza bin! We'll do lunch!
3:55 PM
Anonymous said...

Words to live by, Mom. This coming from a guy who's coming to realize he might rather be a stay at home dad than a trial attorney.

That was seriously well written.

3:39 AM
kalisah said...

I love when you rave. Especially when you're so RIGHT.
6:29 AM
Sexy Soccamom said...

Ah, I meant to comment yesterday. I loved your post! We must be kindred spirits.
3:59 PM
Philip said...

Thanks for bringing this article to my attenion. You've compelled me to write about this myself.
11:58 AM
Anonymous said...

Thank you! I'm a working mom married to a stay home dad and Seipp's column made my blood boil. Last time I checked, my daughter had two parents who participated equally in bringing her into the world (well, he didn't have the heartburn or the swollen ankles) and there's no reason in the world to think that he is not equally able and appropriate to take care of her. I'm not sure how one guy in a store and a fictional character are really a compelling indictment on stay home dads, but I can tell you that no one could take better care of my daughter than my husband. Oh, and for the record, I parallel park like a champ.
6:56 AM
Elizabeth Blair York said...

Dear Anon,

I identify with your story.

For 2.5 years, my husband was an At-Home Dad (thus his affiliation with the group a couple of posts upward) and it took a long time for him to figure out his own "style" - I was a SAHM when Bear was nursing and had set the schedule and the bar. Eventually, he established his own patterns and approach. We are different parents, imperfect - but equal in our investment in our child. Your husband is just as valid a parent as you.

It seems like Kramer Vs. Kramer was a very long time ago, and yet - we as a society is still struggling with that same issue.

In addition to Dave L.'s letter, - Philip at The Blue Sloth, Rebel Dad, and Jay at Zero Boss are 3 fathers who also took to their blogs against this article. All their links are in my blogroll.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
9:11 AM
Anonymous said...

"continue to raise boys who value war."

I think this kind of gender stereotyping is exactly what you are accusing Seipp of doing, isn't it? I mean if you really believe that men are intent on warring and violence, then you must believe that Seipp is correct that child rearing is best left to women, no?

"value men who nurture." I'm curious what does nurturing have to do with being a stay at home dad? Are you saying that all the mothers who are not stay at home moms are not nurturing?

Another question: do you think we value women who nurture? Since you seem to equate nurturing with staying at home, do you think we value stay at home moms? Clearly we do not. For the past 40 years we as a society have been ridiculing and belittling the idea that a stay at home mom has any importance or necessity, and instead we have extolled the idea of the career woman as the ideal. So if we believe in treating men and women equally, then since we don't value nurturing women, why should we value nurturing men? Again this is predicated on your apparent believe that nurturing equals staying at home. Or is that your belief only when it comes to men?

It seems to me that an article ridiculing and condemning men for staying at home with their children should not get any more criticism than all the gazillions of articles ridiculing and condeming women for staying at home, that we've seen since Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique." But that's just how it seems to me.
7:02 AM

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