Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Look from the Flip Side

As with everything else lately, I'm late to note the interesting first-person piece by MP Dunleavey in last weekend's New York Times, where she talks about the strange, uncomfortable feeling about being the sole breadwinner while her husband does the at-home dad thing.

I'm not entirely certain what to make of it ... Obviously, I'm not a "breadwinner mom," so I'm not surprised that I don't get it. There were certainly head-scratching moments during the time I was an at-home dad, when I was acutely aware that I was flouting traditional gender roles, but it was never the sense of anxiety that Dunleavey writes about. (Incidentally, Elizabeth at Half Changed World writes that her experience hasn't matched Dunleavey's.)

At its root, I think her piece reflects the fact that we still have invisible societal barriers to overcome no matter how gender-neutral our own outlook is. More than three years ago, Dunleavey was doing at-home dad math, so I'm sure her arrangement was something she had thought long and hard about. But no matter how well-prepared you are, it can be weird headed out into the new millennium in anything other than traditional roles. But attitudes are changing fast, and I look forward to pulling up Dunleavey's musings three years from now and marveling at how old-fashioned it will seem.

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