Equal Shared Parenting: Gender Nirvana or Painful Psycho-babble?

Punditdad likes to raise hell as much as the next blogger and that’s why his well trimmed eyebrows (thanks Patrick the Barber!) raised when he read this article in the NY Times Magazine this Sunday.

I’m a bit of a schadenfreude-ist when people’s high and mighty ideals come crashing down to the earthly domain of reality. It makes me think they haven’t thought out their ideals. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love it when pioneers in our society break gender-specific roles, bring down misogyny and crush stereotypes (remember, I stay at home and I am a man)! But the reality is that although we parent with the best of intentions, we live in a world that we didn’t create and ultimately it is how we deal with that difference that defines how we live and the lessons we impart to our children.

The parents in this article want to create a different paradigm that better reflects the values they hold. They want to work when they want and parent equally when they want. Is that possible? Sure, but our society doesn’t reflect it. Will it in the future if enough people demand it? Sure. But no matter how you slice it, when you put two people together and they have a baby, either one person or two people is bringing in income and time with the child is a commodity. As a result, the type of parenting possible becomes narrowed regardless of personal ideals. The narrowing of those possibilities is where most of us middle class WASP’s live. So, despite the fact that I may have a gripe with Mommy about who does more housework in a given week, it’s how we work out that gripe that matters MOST to our parenting and our relationship with the Bean, NOT who actually does more! The reconciliation of roles and time management and humility are the lessons to be learned, not color coding and time stamping Excel sheets.

But how do your reconcile your ambition and desires, whether its your drive to succeed with a company as the VP or whether its making sure you spend every waking hour by your child’s’ side in their formative years? You can’t do both. But you can be a parent who accepts their own limitations and uses that as a starting point for their own parenting.

Let’s face it, Punditdad, is seemingly allergic to cubicles at the moment, and feels a distinct pleasure in calling his “own” hours at the moment and therefore feels no anger, resentment or allergy to the to-do lists and projects that may be set before me. I may be prickly with Mommy’s approach on the lists but that is because I haven’t learned schadenfreude with myself! Remember, the longest journey begins with the first step Punditdad!

Father’s Day Epilogue

Punditdad had a fabulous first father’s day receiving the acolytes and tributes befitting a proud SAHD in the modern age. Many thanks and love go to Mommy and the Bean for all their love, laughter and smiles they bless on me every day. Punditdad got choked up when he received his own personalized book with pictures of the Bean paying tribute to her daddy. In the “safe but not fashionable department”, Punditdad received an enormous hat that protects all living creatures within a 5 foot radius of the wearer from the harmful and malignant effects of the sun. Sorta like the gigantic sun hat Samantha wore in the SITC movie (yes, Punditdad endured the 2 hour designer/product placement orgy).

Father’s Day for Punditdad has always been a bit of a melancholy affair. My father abandoned my mother and I when I was 13 and made life complicated and dramatic in a way that only an arrogant, angry and egotistical man can do. Last year, after living alone in poverty and with severe mental illness, he ended his own life. Many reached out to him to provide help but all were rebuffed. I have learned through this experience that you cannot fix people with severe mental illness and make them the people you knew before. You cannot make someone be a good father either. They must chose to do it. Thankfully, I had a wonderful and strong mother who protected me, guided me and ensured that the most powerful and damaging aspects of my father (and his family) were kept far away and for that I am deeply grateful to her on Mother’s Day. But that’s another day.

So when Punditdad was sitting in his daddy’s chair reading the paper, he couldn’t help but be moved by one man’s story that was familiar to him. The article in the Sunday New York Times is here. His last paragraph has reverberated with me since I read the words and consecrated my belief that above all, I strive to be a better father than the one I had. I have may not be perfect but I will be better than him…I will be there.

Fight the Smears and Spread the Word

Barry’s campaign has a great new website p and running (don’t they just rock the Internet 2.0?) called Fight the Smears. If ever a progressive should spread the word on how the right wing hate machine has filled the inbox’s of swing voters with lies and blaspheme, it’s now. My suggestion for all you GOBAMA’s out there is to send a couple of truths out there into the ether through the internet tubes to your grandma or your crazy uncle. Tell ’em John McCain can’t get his facts straight and despite his honorable service is not fit to change this country for the better. Tell ’em Punditdad sent ya.

On a lighter note, I’m terribly addicted to John McCain’s daughters’ blog that’s here and I have to grudginly admit the lady has great taste in music so you should check out her play lists (Postal Service AND Tom Waits gets applause from me — Jenna Bush probably is still listening to Shania Twain). Taking the long view, anyone whose mom is a beer baroness and who has great taste in music can’t be ALL bad) Ok. she’s probably a bit of a spoiled brat but who isn’t?

Riding Tall in the SAHD Saddle

SAHD parenting can become a slogging mess of day-to-day routine that truly is uninteresting and intellectually myopic. Get up. Take care of baby. Nap baby. Search for stimulation on internet. Baby wakes. Go about daily needs, errands and outings. Nap baby. Play again with baby. Eat with baby. Put baby to bed. Collapse with glass of red wine in front of Netflix. Sleep. Repeat.

Ok, it’s not necessarily bad, but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest from the trees. Recently, thanks to Barry clinching the nomination, Punditdad has been able to keep his head above the tree line and see the big picture WHILE still achieving victories on the baby front:

1) Ended use of baby wrap swaddler that was used at all times to act as a tranquilizer for Bean for naps and bedtime. Although she squirms like a thug on crack, she’s learning to still fall asleep on her own.

2) Putting Bean down BEFORE eyes are closed. My god it’s so easy. No more rocking for hours. Feed bottle. Rock gently for a couple of minutes. Lay down. Now, you get a howl or two but it always ends sooner than you think. Fortune favors the brave my friend.

3) Increased quality of baby outfits from same old onesies to glorious colorful print outfits that make baby appear sophisticated and fresh and also reflect well on the SAHD Dad.

As always, napping is the biggest challenge. Bean has a hard time not rolling on her tummy and waking up in a puddle of spitup. Now, I don’t blame the girl for feeling a bit uncomfortable when that occurs but if Punditdad could fashion some sort of pulley, rope or velvet binding system that forced her to stay on her stomach and nap for longer, he would certainly do so. On the other hand, just performed a nap resuscitation: a nap is ended by baby, dad intervenes with bottle and rocking and re-starts nap like a ’64 Indian motorcycle. Can’t hide my pride! And isn’t it that what its all about? Errrh, gotta go, the nap is over!

Next: Parental Competition: When Your Baby is a Puppet for Your Fragile Ego

Channeling Your Frustrations

Wednesday was a fantastic day for Punditdad as Barry clinched the nomination, the Bean napped for 2.5 hours in the morning and 2 more in the afternoon, daddy was an active participant in a mother’s playgroup and our sick computer was brought back from the brink of death! Hazzah!

Yet, how the day can disintigrate.

Punditdad has fought a long battle with his mail-order prescription service and this came to a head via telephone wars as his latest prescription needed to be verified by his doctor. Now, for some ungodly reason, my doctor only works one day a week in our local office. Why? Probably because he’s rich as hell and doesn’t need to work any more — except on his golf game. So what does that mean? That’s he -3 under par and Punditdad has to wait another week if he’s to get his prescriptions. Dagnabit.

But as daddy yelled at the phone, the Bean was yelling herself and daddy felt his frustration move from the robot on the phone to his DD. Like a laser. Despite the fact that DD is only 7 months old and has nothing to do with PPO’s and the state of our corporate health care structure, Punditdad felt that welling up that occurs with a screaming baby and an unresponsive call center operator.

Guilt set in. Then resignation. I was not angry with DD but with myself. Now, rather than feel all guilty about it I snatched up the Bean, took her to her playmat and began an investigation into Mr. Elephant with the scratchy ears and assorted jewelry. She doesn’t deserve a dad who channels anger/resentment/frustration with the world back to her. That’s what my dad did and I’m going to be a better dad than that.

Big words.

When she napped for only 45 minutes this morning I was waggling my finger at her like fmr. Prez Bill about how she would regret only napping for a little bit. I think she was busy eating her foot to notice. Sigh.

Like Public Enemy says,”I roll with the punches so I survive”.