with Talyaa Liera
I'm Talyaa, the poster child for the concept that there's no one right way to be a parent. I went from stay-at-home attachment-parenting mom of four to being the non-custodial parent, working as a professional writer and channel-psychic. Let's talk about throwing away the parenting manual and exploding the myths and mystique of motherhood!
Check out my personal blog at Juxtapositioning.
Ever have one of those brilliant thoughts when you’re out walking or in the grocery store mindlessly tossing things into your cart or waiting in line to pick the kids up from school or driving home from work? For me, it happens all the time. I go, “OMG! I’m brilliant!” and just KNOW it’s so brilliant that OF COURSE I’ll remember it, I mean who would be unable to remember this great idea that will:
- Save everyone at least an hour a day.
- Save hundreds of dollars, nay, thousands of dollars. Maybe every DAY, this is so brilliant.
- Save marriages. Save LIVES.
- Get you elected President (after Obama has a go, or maybe even two), or better yet, elected God. No, make that GoddESS. Yeah, Goddess. Has a nice ring to it. You could get t-shirts made…
And then, when you get home, after dealing with dog vomit and homework and dinner and maybe a little TV with a glass of wine and a snuggle on the couch, that brilliant idea just vanishes, POOF, into thin air and reality sets in.
Me too. Except THIS idea is so brill that all that Real Life could not prevent me from presenting it here to you now (get ready): Dads should raise the kids. Let Moms work.
So hear me out. It helps if you’re inside my brain, but the thinking went like this:
1. First I read this piece on Alternet, about the way we idealize marriage. Ouch. Yeah, I idealize it. Multiple times down the aisle *cough* and I still think it’s me that failed, not the institution itself. Somewhere, somehow there is a way to make it work. After all, look at many of you. Go, you! You’re workin’ it!
2. Then I read this piece in Atlantic Monthly by Sandra Tsing Loh (that the Alternet piece is a riff off of) about the demise of her own marriage (and a bunch of other stuff too; it’s a good piece and we all should be so open about our lives), and at the very end, she suggests:
After the breast-feeding and toddler years are through, let those nurturing superdads be the custodial parents! Let the Type A moms obsessively work, write checks, and forget to feed the dog. Let the dads then, if they wish, kick out those sloppy working mothers and run effective households, hiring the appropriate staff, if need be. To a certain extent, men today may have more clarity about what it takes to raise children in the modern age. They don’t, for instance, have today’s working mother’s ambivalence and emotional stickiness.
Before that, until kids are, say, 5, she says we should hang out in maternal-centric communities, raising kids in a household of mothers and female relatives, with husbands/boyfriends dropping by to fix things or for sex. Societies throughout history have made this work; the book Leaving Mother Lake: Girlhood at the Edge of the World talks about one woman’s childhood experiences among the Moso people of the Chinese-Tibetan border.
As far as I’m concerned, both these pieces (the maternally-centric nurturing phase and the dad-becomes-nurturer phase) would result in happy, well-adjusted children who have the best of both worlds: a strong happy mother who gives them a foundation for later growth and learning and who later becomes a model of a capable working female, and a father who builds on that foundation and adds his own ladder to adulthood while bringing out his own nurturing side in an atmosphere that actually welcomes it.
I think this results in happy, productive people on all sides of the spectrum. Mothers get to snuggle with the little ones AND go out and knock ‘em dead in the workplace without having to worry about coming home to dog vomit and a sink full of dishes. See, we can have it all! (Just not at the same time; that’s where we went wrong.) Dads get to show the kinds of love that dads have for their kids without having to worry about getting up in the morning and slogging it out to the office again. Everyone is happy.
Are you with me? Sure, there are a few details to be ironed out, like getting from where-we-are-today to where-we’d-like-to-be, but it can happen. All of us know dads who stay home while their wives go out to jobs. The thing is, to make it work we have to remove our expectations, change them, so that there’s room for everyone getting what they need. Plus little details like adequate community support, jobs for women that actually bring home the bacon, and the removal of little judgments about lifestyle and child-raising choices (let’s face it, we can’t help but judge others if we’re already judging ourselves so harshly, and all of us do it) that helps celebrate differences, and other social supports that just fall into place over time.
And no, it won’t work for everyone. But we really do need to start making room to mix things up socially and culturally (the model we have is NOT WORKING for most of us), and I think this is a perfect way to start.
Who’s on board?
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