My apologies to any male readers I may have. This is going to be very general and I readily admit the sample size is extremely limited.
I’ve talked before about a board I read regularly that consists of primarily moms and step moms. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that a few of the step moms married men who traveled extensively for work and left the new wife (or not so new wife) in charge of the household and kids. Generally speaking, in most of these cases the mom ran off and basically left dad with the kids. In one instance the youngest kid is a complete mess- defiant, on drugs off and on, doing poorly in school, abuse issues from the mother, probably has some educational issues, as well. And yet, Dad travels and lets stepmom handle it. Stepmom has stepped up to the point where she feels that he is her kid now. This happens to be the situation where Mom originally had custody and Dad fought like hell and spent a small fortune to gain 60% physical custody. It eventually ended up where none of the boys actually spent a weekend or an overnight with their mom. They would go over and visit, or they would have dinner together.
What did the dads in these situations do before they got a new wife? Nannies, I believe. They hired full-time live-in childcare so they could continue to travel for work.
Again, this is a very small sample size- I’m talking probably 3 or 4 instances where Dad travels all the time and the stepmom raises the kids for him.
On the other hand, there were several single moms on that board. They weren’t remarried. They managed to raise their kids with very little outside help. They would frequently mention that they could make more money if they were willing to travel but because they had kids they chose not to. After all, who would watch the kids? The moms seemed to focus more on what kinds of hours they were going to have to work and what kind of a commute they were looking at in order to ensure that they were available for their minor children.
Now I know that there are women out there who work constantly. I know there are women who are more focused on their career than on their kids and who leave the bulk of the caregiving up to their husbands; however, I think it’s much more common the other way around.
If I haven’t been clear, I have two brothers. One of them is divorced and remarried. He works an odd schedule for his main job and he also owns his own business that he works when he’s not working his main job. His main job also requires him to be on site for 24 hours at a time. When he first divorced his wife he desperately wanted his daughter to come live with him. He impressed me with the plans he had, knowing that it was going to take some creative scheduling to make everything work. He was going to hire a local college student to be a sort of nanny for her (his daughter was already 12 at that point so she didn’t need a whole lot of babysitting, just someone to be there and get her where she needed to be). His main job had a schedule of 1 on, 1 off, 1 on, 1 off, 1 on, 3 off so he actually had quite a bit of time off from that position; his second job would allow him to go in after he got his daughter off to school and to be home in the evenings. He was the owner so he made his schedule. And then he got married again. His daughter did come live with him and he turned around and he handed over almost all responsibilities for his daughter to his new wife. He was busy working.
Cousinfucker never had to juggle raising kids with climbing the corporate ladder. I’m not even on a corporate ladder (it’s more like one of those flat walking escalators like you see in airports) but I’m working and raising kids. My schedule is set around my kids and their needs to a certain extent. And if something is going on within those working hours then I have to figure out how to get the kid from Point A to Point B.
I work most Saturdays. It is the one day during the week that I can stay later and pick up a few additional hours since I leave at 7 most mornings. But anytime my daughter needs to be up at the school on a Saturday (and she seems to always need to be up there!) I end up rearranging my schedule. Sometimes I leave at 7. Sometimes 8. Sometimes I make it until 9 or 9:30. I do this because I love her and I feel it’s my responsibility as her mother to get her where she needs to be. I don’t want her missing out on things because I work, but every time I have to leave early it means I miss out on 2-3 hours of additional work. Granted, it comes out to less than $33 but over the course of a month that adds up.
I’ve often thought about seeing if Jezebel’s discarded Husband #2 could possibly get me a job working at his company but his job requires him to travel. I wouldn’t mind traveling actually but I have two kids to raise. And this isn’t a job where you occasionally travel. It is pretty much Monday-Friday you’re in a different state.
Cousinfucker never had to worry about what was going to happen to the kids when he was away on business. He never had to make arrangements for his annual meeting. He just told me the dates and off he went. I handled everything and he was free to concentrate on impressing the VPs.
I find it interesting that moms tend to concentrate on the kids while dads tend to concentrate on their jobs. I wonder if that’s because we’re so socialized to see men as the providers and women as the nurturers. Nevertheless, it’s disturbing to see so many men so eager to hand over the rearing of their children to their current partner.
Recently a co-worker was telling me about a fight she was having with her husband. His son had messed up and now wanted to go out with friends. Dad’s response? Ask your stepmom. And then he gets upset because he feels like he doesn’t have a voice in his household.
I’m sitting there thinking, “Well, yeah, you’re correct and he should have consequences for what he’s done. But it’s not up to you to impose them; it’s on his father.” I find it amazing that a grown man can’t make parenting decisions about his own child and instead asks his wife, who is not the mother of this child, to make the decision.
I suppose it’s possible that he just didn’t want to be seen as the bad guy. It’s also possible that the kid’s mom is completely out of the picture and my co-worker has stepped up as his other parent. It’s not a model I wish to employ and it’s also one of the reasons I have no desire to date.
I don’t need a man coming in and telling me how to raise my kids. I don’t need a man who has known them for all of five minutes coming in and pointing out all of my mistakes and trying to take the reins. No thank you! I’ve been doing this for sixteen years. I’ve got it.
I know there are women who hand over the reins of control to their new man as well. I don’t want to make it sound like I believe all women are saints who dote on their children and would never put a man before their own offspring. I know that’s not true. Additionally, I know there are some awesome dads out there as well. Ones who change diapers, go to parent-teacher conferences, make dinner and do the day to day tasks. But in just regular everyday situations where everyone is sane it does seem like more males quickly hand over the parenting duties to whichever woman with whom he happens to be living. She concentrates on the day to day tasks associated with raising kids while he concentrates on working and making money.