As I’ve mentioned before, I do travel some for my work, and I just spent the past few days in New Orleans, at a really terrific conference. While I was away for three days, my two older kids – 15 year old J and 13 year old E – were at their Dad’s, while Baby G and my 3 year old, C were at home with my husband Jon.
As it happens, the specific event I attended in NOLA was Mom 2.0, a conference around the topic of moms-who-blog. So there were several hundred mombloggers there, along with a small cadre of guy-bloggers including my fellow Babble-blogging Knoxvillian, John Cave Osborne. John was part of a panel discussion at Mom 2.0 on the topic of “daddybloggers,” and I found the presentation pretty darn fascinating.
A complaint voiced by all of the dadbloggers on the panel was that even now, at a time when one would think we would mostly be past all of this, these guys still frequently encounter surprise and even shock from moms at the idea that a father would be capable of caring for his own baby or toddler all by himself. While the mothers who have commented to these dads were probably trying to compliment them (“You must be an awesome father; I would NEVER leave my husband in full charge of the baby! He wouldn’t know how to handle it!), the fathers on the panel found this backhanded praise tiresome and kind of insulting.
It’s true that at this event of mostly women, almost all of whom were moms with male partners, I did hear some gentle joking among the female attendees about what a mess their homes and children might be when they returned home from the conference, given that Dad had been left behind to hold down the fort in Mom’s absence. On the other hand, all of these women were there. They had left their children – including babies and young children – at home with the other parent so that they could go to an out of town event. I’m not so sure that even 15 or 20 years ago, most mothers of babies and young children were as comfortably willing to leave their male partners alone at home for more than one day, especially so that the moms in question could go off and pursue professional or entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves. Instead, there would have been babysitters and grandmothers brought along to the conference hotel en masse, or moms believed that they necessarily had to wait until their kids were significantly older before attempting to attend any kind of overnight conference.
In my own case, I have definitely worried before about how things would go for my husband when he’s been left home with the baby while I’ve traveled overnight, but my concerns weren’t gender based; they were solo-parenting based. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself….)
Obviously, my observations on this are totally anecdotal, but what do you think? Do the moms you hang out with socially and/or professionally still crack jokes or express surprise at the idea that a father could be capable of caring for a baby by himself if Mom goes away overnight? Is this kind of humor insulting to Dads? And do you think that women are now more comfortable than they were a decade or two ago with leaving Dad in charge back at the ranch? Tell me your thoughts on this in the comments below.
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