personal accomplishments and accomplices

In ALL, HE SAID SHE SAID, MARRIAGE by Stephanie Klein68 Comments

abby web

"What if I just want to be a mom? Not just as if that’s all and it’s easy but just as in ‘Can’t you just love me and be proud of me if I’m a mom, only?’"

“Don’t lie to yourself. You wouldn’t be happy with that.”

That’s beside the point. It’s sitting on a sofa across the room from the point. The point is, I want to know that you’d love and respect me if I decided that I want to focus on being a mother for a while–respect me enough to know that I know what I want. And if I don’t, I’ll fix it and you’ll be supportive either way. “They’re only this age once, and it wouldn’t be forever. They leave home eventually.”

“The woman I married would never ever be happy just raising kids.”

“And the man I married would never say something like that…" And neither of us should be using "nevers." "The fact is, if I did nothing but cook, and make a cozy home for our family, reading, and throwing dinner parties, I’d be happy. Planning menus. Art projects with the kids. I don’t need magazine articles written about me. I don’t. That’s what makes you happy, not me.”

“Please, I hear you talk. I live with you. I hear you at dinner parties when people ask you what you’re working on, and you tell them about your next book, or how you’re adopting your book into a movie.”

“People ask! In fact, I get so sick of talking about it, saying the same thing over and again, that I try to say as little as possible. I’d much rather discuss food!”

“You’re lying.”

“I hate when you do that. You give me no room to feel anything. You just shoot down anything that doesn’t align with your own opinions. You can’t even entertain the possibility that I’m being very honest with you.”

“That’s because you’re lying to yourself.”

“I talk about what I do because it’s what I do. If I did something else, I’d discuss that. And if we’re being really honest here, maybe you should consider the fact that my career is all YOU seem to tell people about me. You never talk about what kind of mother I am, what kind of cook, how I’m a foodie, how I want to throw ingredient/flavor parties. Instead, you go on about my work accomplishments, never my personal ones. And that’s all I think you see sometimes. We all want to be loved for who we are, not for what we do—and I think if you’re honest with yourself, Phil, you maybe wouldn’t love anyone who didn’t care about a career and instead cared more about "just" creating memories and a life life, not a work life.”

“And I think that’s just an excuse for you to go hide.”

 

Comments

  1. My husband and I have the same conversation. I once proposed the idea, in passing , of me not going back to work after we have kids. I thought he would be for it, but he roundly and soundly objected. He said “we entered this relationship as equals, and we’ll stay that way.” Interpret that how you will, but I wonder why it is that ‘equality’ does mean ‘both parents working toward a career’. Perhaps the pendulum is swinging the other way, but I do believe taking care of children and the house is a worthy and satisfying use of one’s time. The key is that we have the *choice* to stay at home, right?

    Great post, Steph.

    1. In a perfect world Stephanie. I’ve read your books and throughout them I find more of Phil’s point. That isn’t to say that we all don’t evolve, change our ideals and out grow last years fashionable needs. But I do read your words every day and when the tally comes up on the topics you choose to write about, food and social issues beat out the family every time. From a distance I can see Phil a full horse length ahead of you. Be happy that this is your problem, some of us should be so lucky.

      1. “a full horse lenght ahead of you?”- what do you mean? Genuinely, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Also, Stephanie. Talking about social issues?? Are we reading the same blog?

  2. Men find value in their lives through their work and women find value in their lives through their relationships. It’s cliche – but often times it’s true. Your post is a perfect example.

    Sorry you’re feeling frustrated. I don’t know you well enough to give you advice – but my hope for you is that you two can learn to accept each other and still love each other despite the flaws.

  3. And Kim,

    You are right, everyone should have the choice. Including your Husband. Put yourself in his shoes; the new stress of supporting his family now riding on his shoulders. Equality is for both sexes.

    1. Jack, I bet if I look up “emasculation” in the dictionary, I’ll see your picture. You must be the product of a feminist single mother who worked.

        1. I am a feminist single mother who works more than full time. WTF is that supposed to mean? Is it criticism? judgement? What?

          Equality, in my humble opinion, within a family, means both people work hard toward the same goal. Regardless of whether or not both parents work full time, one stays hom, ya da ya da ya da….

  4. You posted something very similar to this before. Is this a revision of that post, or are you having this same “discussion” over and over?

    Completely not on topic, but that’s a lovely photo, and I would kill to have eyelashes like your daughter’s.

    1. I was going to say the same thing. I remember reading something very similar to this not too terribly long ago. It seems like when there has been a major disappointment career wise, this is the go-to place.

      I gather that “Hell-A” wasn’t a very good business trip. And since the pilot has been shelved (I think the similar post was after that happened), I’m wondering if the movie has hit the skids. Or if there is some representation problems out west.

      Regardless, I agree with Phil. For the past 5 years you’ve spoken about your accomplishments meaning so much to you. You were ‘moose’ in school but you could get straight A’s, you could get into the ivy league school, then you were skinny and you could get the boys too. Yes, being a wife and mother has played into your wants very deeply, but being a wife, mother, AND writer has always been the ultimate trifecta on this blog.

      I don’t mean to take away anything from people who are SAHMs, because that job is TOUGH! And payless (at least monetarily), but I see commenter Jack and Phil’s POV. You’ve cried in a bathroom stall when you didn’t want to be in advertising you wanted to be a writer. But when major setbacks happen it feels like all you want to do is give up. And since you don’t really specify those setbacks, just to say that you’ve faced disappointments, it appears like you just aren’t as grateful. To many reading, you have a loyal following, are a published author of 2 books, have great representation and hopefully a nice nest egg from your initial book contract and anything you’ve made in sales. Sure, it’s not Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer or even Jen Lancaster or Dooce, fame but it’s something. It’s being a working writer. And from your words that I read, I can see why Phil thinks you are lying to yourself when you say you’d be happy.

      1. “But when major setbacks happen it feels like all you want to do is give up.”
        _________

        I kind of think she’s merely looking for reassurance she ‘could’ give up. When we have setbacks we often regree; we seek solace and refuge in those closest to us. We want to be cared for, stroked and told we’re still good enough. I could be wrong but that’s how I see SK’s reaction here.

        FWIW, if the sitcom is shelved so much in Hollywood is tenuous. It’s a good thing, I think SK. Too much success too fast might send your life more into chaos. This can be seen as a reprieve. Maybe it’s not time yet for whatever reason. Maybe this is the point in time you can slow down and recharge. Creative people need to recharge, fuel their souls. Without that they cannot move forward. Maybe the universe is forcing your hand here. When we refuse to do things or simply charge ahead that can happen.

        I have friends who have worked in the industry (various levels) and the only thing that is consistent is that LA is inconsistent. Pointless in letting this deter you.
        Want to laugh? Please rent ‘Swimming With Sharks’ A brilliant movie with Kevin Spacey as an asshole Hollywood producer type. So fantastic and you cannot stop laughing. Also saw him in a movie called ‘Shrink’ too. It was a drama and part if it highlighted the types in the entertainment industry. You’d like it!

        Anyway I think Phil’s POV might seem harsh but he knows you and knows you like to be stimulated, achieve and not stagnate. That’s how I see his response.
        You mentioned you found yourself trying too hard at a recent dinner party and trying to ‘sell’ yourself. Prove you are worthy. You are good enough. Even if you have to tell yourself, do it. Trick is that you have to believe it. Everyone should be able to regress once in a while, get pampered and reassured. Post rejection this is necessary more than ever. To me it’s one of the best parts of being married. I more than sympathize with you. Good luck!

  5. Why would he be opposed to giving you the freedom to try it out and see if “just” (ha!) being a mom would/wouldn’t be enough for you? Or is that a reasonable compromise? Doesn’t seem like it needs to be black vs. white.

  6. I can’t tell you how I envy all the doors that are open to you, that you wake with a sense of purpose and possibilities. That is priceless and irreplaceable…..trust me.

  7. You are indeed lucky you even have the option of not working. Try to embrace that good fortune, though I realize you probably don’t want to be in this limbo forever. Phil is so adamantly against the idea of you not working, I wonder if he’s just scared that you WILL like not working and never return to it if you so least as try not working for a trial period.
    In the end, I think you should do what you feel like doing. I know you want your husband’s approval–we all do–but I think on this one you have to do what YOU want (he’ll get used to it eventually). Or, in time, you’ll end up resenting him. Who are you working FOR? Yourself, or for your husband’s respect? And if Phil’s respect for you is predominantly tied to your professional endeavors then, yes, that’s a problem.
    Maybe he’s speaking from his heart–is their something on the horizon you are afraid of failing at? But maybe he has some ingrained notion of stay-at-home mothers being dumbed down drones who just sit and watch soaps all day and he’s afraid you’ll become like that.
    What about telling him that you’ll either get rid of your nanny, or at least cut her hours way down if you stop working? That’ll get him, guaranteed.
    Good luck. It’s an enviable position to be in (being able to choose whether to work or not), but I don’t envy your position (with hubby).

  8. I honestly find nothing more annoying than someone telling me what I feel. From that conversation, it sounds like you are saying, “THIS IS HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW” and Phil is saying, “Nah, that’s not how you feel.” I’m infuriated on your behalf and on some level, he must know that no matter what you’re feeling about your career and your children and your family and your priorities, that one thing you NEVER want is for someone else to TELL YOU WHAT YOU THINK.

    It sounds a lot like he WANTS you to be something that you currently do not want to be, or you simply want to take a break from for a while. I don’t know what I’d suggest but the childish part of me wants you to pin him down and let a long string of spit drip down towards his face until he cries “Uncle!”

    He seriously needs to learn how to shut up and listen to you. People have different priorities at different times of their lives. The books can be written forever, but the kids are only kids for a minute, and when that time is gone, it’s gone for good.

  9. It seems like in this situation Phil is trying to be helpful, but it just comes across as hostile, and sort of controlling.
    One of the fun upsides of this whole gender equality thing, eh? When the “choice” comes off the table, and you have to do both?

    My personal thought on the question is that if this has anything to do with your last post, on disappointment, then maybe Phil is right. However I’ve heard (read) you say this before, so maybe it’s really stuck for a reason.

  10. Have to say I see your husband’s point in this conversation. And what’s with the boast of being a foodie? It’s such a useless passe term.

  11. Well, I certainly feel lucky. I moved out to California to be with my now-husband – I left behind a full-time job and … well, it’s California. Finding work here was nearly impossible, so instead I’ve just been freelancing & working from home, doing work for the company I left – but not much.

    So instead, I have the freedom to take classes again, and now with our first baby on the way I think that he’s happier than I am that I can drop everything “just” to raise our child. I feel lucky to have that option, because so many people can’t and I feel lucky that he wants me to.

    Kim (the first commenter) – holy crap. The idea that a man would sit there and say “we’re not equals if you stay home to raise our child” is stunning. Your response should have been that if he really wants you to be equals, then he should take half the pregnancy on himself & enjoy the first trimester exhaustion & third trimester back pain with you.

    I love that there are still people out there who think that staying home to raise children isn’t hard work. Jack – to say it’s equality because “the stress of supporting the new family is on his shoulders” is a bullsh*t argument. I respect the responsibility that my husband has to support & take care of us, and he, in turn, respects the responsibility on MY shoulders to spend every waking moment of my life taking care of our child. What I feel especially lucky for is that he happens to truly enjoy his role – he loves being the provider. We’re thoroughly modern people in our 30s who have found tremendous joy in these “traditional” roles. Being the provider, and knowing that he CAN provide is fabulous for his ego & he’s a man who seems like he was born to do this. It’s a damn shame that more men don’t feel that way and instead spout off old arguments about equality.

    1. Author

      I wish Phil enjoyed traditional roles. I absolutely do, and he absolutely doesn’t.

      As for this post being similar to one from the past, I’m sure it is. Because it’s a conversation we have often. And, no it doesn’t only surface in the face of disappointment or rejection as a way to hide. In fact, things work-wise right now are very exciting. I’m heading back out to LA to pitch networks a new show idea, and I’m having more meetings regarding the feature film based off Moose. I love writing. I will always be a writer. But I don’t feel any sense of urgency, forced to churn things out, to continually deliver. I will always be a writer. There will always be books I can write, show ideas, movies, scripts. But these kids won’t always be kids. I LOVE what I do, and feel extraordinarily lucky to not only have the opportunities I do, but to also even KNOW what it is I love doing. I never want to stop writing… I just want to be able to set a different pace, so I can learn to strike a better balance between work projects and home/family/friends/life. I don’t want to have to work on keeping up blog posts, writing a new book, crafting a movie outline, pitching not one, but two tv ideas… all at one time. It’s too much. I work best when I can devote my time to one project at a time. If I have to, I can juggle, but it’s not my first choice. I prefer to focus on one thing at a time and see where it takes me.

    2. “the stress of supporting the new family is on his shoulders” is a bullsh*t argument.

      Maybe to you, in your relationship, but not across the board. It can be a huge pressure on anyone to be the sole source of income. My husband does it right now, uncomplaining, but I personally would never want to keep in in that situation forever because frankly, even at a job he loves he’s a very balanced person and work is not his main focus in life. He doesn’t get pleasure form wrangling for raises and promotions–he’d rather make a moderate amount and put a moderate amount of time in at work, come home with energy and enjoy the rest of his life fully. If I didn’t work and we had a kid, that would have to change. If he wanted to be the breadwinner and me to be at home than maybe that would work, but limiting him to be the sole breadwinner would be a stress, no bones about it, just like limiting me to be the sole caretaker of the home and children would be a stress for me.

      1. I don’t think it’s a bullshit argument. Maybe he’s thinking about what would happen if his heart did give out and he were to pass. Maybe he’s worried that if SK was a SAHM she wouldn’t be able to adjust as quickly to losing him.

        Ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you but you have to take into consideration the entire family situation. SAHM is an exalted status in our society and it doesn’t necessarily mean better, smarter, or happier children, especially if SAHM is not really happy at being SAHM and she just wanted to try it and can’t figure out how to undo her decision. I’ve seen it happen in friends of mine.

        1. I was going to mention that, too, jeneria. It seems that Phil isn’t always the best at expressing his emotions…I could be totally off base, not knowing either SK or Phil, but maybe he just doesn’t want to voice fears about a future that one day might not have him in it. If SK hasn’t already, perhaps she should bring that up and see if it has anything to do with Phil’s unmoving stance on the subject.

      2. I’m not talking about SK in particular. I’m talking in general. And I’m saying it’s a bullshit argument to say that that’s harder than staying at home and raising children. Bearing the responsibility of supporting your family is a big deal, which is why I hugely respect & am grateful to my husband for being willing & able to do it. But he, in turn, is hugely respectful & grateful to me for being willing & able to stay at home with our child. Yes, every couple does have to do what’s best for them – however, when one partner says they want to stay home with their children, it should NOT be met with statements about it being unequal and in that case, it’s a COMPLETE bullshit argument to say that it’s harder for a man to bear the responsibility of taking care of a family.

        Do you think women don’t take risks & have fears about staying home, too? I work in web development & technology and I HAVE to stay on top of everything to be marketable in the workplace. By taking myself out of the game for awhile, I run the risk of falling behind and it being very difficult for me to find work once our son starts school. I’ll do what I can in the meantime – taking classes, squeezing in some freelance, work, but it’s still a risk. But you know what? It’s worth it. It’s worth it to both of us.

        Maybe it’s not what everyone wants, and that’s fine – but don’t you dare say that a woman (or man, for that matter) staying home is unequal to and not as important as a man working.

        And there was a great article (which I will try to find) that shows how much couples actually SAVE by having a parent stay at home. Childcare costs, etc.

        If the husband is honest and says, “I’m scared of you staying home and taking on all that responsibility,” that’s one thing. That’s honest & workable. But to say, “No, you can’t stay home because I demand that we be equal,” that’s entirely another. And again, I feel truly blessed that when we found out I was pregnant, one of my husband’s first reactions was, “I’m so glad that you can stay home with our son.”

        I told him the remark about how “men should have a choice, too” and his response was, “They do have a choice. Have a family or don’t.”

        Having a family isn’t easy, any way you look at it.

        And if someone wants to try being a SAHM and doesn’t like it – oh well. She has the right to try.

        Plus, in all this back and forth arguing about equality, are we forgetting the most important thing? Um – our kids? How about what’s best for them?

        1. AMEN.I am home with my first (and pregnant with number 2 now) who we were planning on keeping at home until he started school. I am happy with it and love it. Does it get lonely not having adult conversation? Sometimes. I make up for it calling friends and scheduling me time.
          I think SAHM moms are def. not exalted as someone said- quite the opposite. When I was at a party with some friends (mostly single people, some married) the ‘what do you so’ came up and I told them. An almost hushed quiet came up. Almost as if I said ‘Oh, I’m a hooker!”
          Ha ha. A year ago I would have been mortified but I’m in my late thirties now and honestly don’t give a shit now. It’s more funny than anything else now.

          I found yer blog on here too so good luck with baby. Link that article will you? I need to show that to my husband. While he supports me staying home I will admit he’s come home frazzled from work on occasion. Stressful job- but he’s made a comment or two before insinuating that my staying home wasn’t really a ‘job’ per se – not in the same way as his. And it’s NOT- but I think it’s just as important. I have friends who went back to work 2 months after giving birth and that’s good. Works for them. I’m just glad I am able to get these first years all to myself. Yeah we don’t have the extras like we used to but it’s temporary.

        2. Great reply.

          I have been largely a SAHM since my son was born 16 years ago, daughters 4.5 years later. After all were over the age of 1 I sought out part time work and have been doing it near since. Worked when hubby was home.

          While there are disadvantages to staying home with your kids (your career stagnates, people almost half your age are managing..) there are advantages.

          I am very close to all my kids and all love the fact I work around their schedules and are home for them when need be. They will only be with us for a short time in hindsight so I enjoy them NOW as much as possible.

          Hubby is a firefighter and makes a decent wage with good benefits. We live simply by some standards but rich by others. We have savings, can travel when we want but do not own the biggest boat/car/house on the block.

          It works for us.

          Perhaps Phil is worried about taking on all the financial responsibilites for the family? That said I am sure if you cut it down to writing on your web site and writing a new book (as it comes, no pressure) you will be doing your part as a $$ provider and will keep you mentally stimulated.

          All the best whatever you decide.

  12. What’s stopping you from dropping everything but being a mom? Or everything but one project OR one tv show, OR one movie, OR one book? That way you’d still be working, you’d still be contributing to the family and you’d still be moving forward professionally, but your time would be infinitely greater than it is now with you parenting, being a spouse and having 8 different projects on deck.

    I respect that you asked Phil his opinion b/c when a partner wants to make a change, they SHOULD seek the input of the person it will most certainly affect. I don’t buy this “do want you want and if he doesn’t like it,he can suck it” mentality b/c that’s just not realistic. Now that there’s a house, two kids, a dog, health and hospital bills, etc, etc, in my opinion it’s only right that you discuss this.

    But why take so much on your shoulders If you want to cut back? If Phil wants you to keep working, fine. Cut back, but keep one or two things moving forward-at the most. What is keeping you from doing this? Why keep up all these things when you don’t have to and why quit everything as the solution? Like someone said, it isn’t black and white. I see a lot of grey that you are either missing, or aren’t explaining. No one is forcing you to write blog posts everyday, do 2 pilots, a new book, and a movie all at once. Cut something if you are unhappy.

    1. Completely agree with your posts Danielle. I understand Phil’s POV, it is a lot of responsibility that will be on him if he is the only one working. Let’s face it, you do lead a certain lifestyle.
      Additionally, the fact that you are going back out to LA to pitch ANOTHER pilot is completely up to you. It definitely sounds like you are pursuing these projects, nothing is being forced on you.
      I understand the feeling of being overwhelmed, everyone goes through that. But it seems to me, as a frequent reader here, that you welcome being busy with projects and I don’t see you being happy just doing art work with the kids or throwing dinner parties.

  13. keep at it. i like what you’re saying and i believe it. i believe you’ll always be a writer and you seem to have amazing opportunities on your plate. but taking it slower means you just want to enjoy what your doing more and have more time for the things that are in your life now. taking it slower just means you want to enjoy what you have. and your kids are at such a beautiful age that not filling your plate with too many career related things is such a great idea.

    are you and phil planning on having more?

    a great blog to follow on this is: http://www.zenhabits.net

  14. S, didn’t you once post that you would not respect your husband if he decided to stop his day job to stay home with the kids? did you ever think of having more child(ren)?

  15. I am sorry to hear that, Stephanie. It should be a matter of course that our partner supports and loves us NO MATTER WHAT. That’s what committing to a person for life and starting a family is all about, in my view.
    As for the whole “you would never be happy with that” debate. I don’t get why the theoretical assessment/opinion should keep you from trying it and see how you feel with “just” being a mom/homemaker – it is not a just in my view.
    Give yourself a year to try and see, maybe?

  16. You have a career to be envied. If you were to shelve that temporarily to focus on the two most important things you will ever create, I will sing your praises and admire you even more! What you are feeling is only natural. Why fight it? I just can’t even fathom what’s going on in Phil’s head right now. Seriously. Unless he’s worried that one salary won’t be enough to keep up your lifestyle. So you scale back…but can you? ;-)

    SAHM status exalted?!?! Are you f-ing kidding me, Jeneria? Wouldn’t you agree that creating a human being is THE most important thing you can do? And shouldn’t you, the mother (or the father), and not some underpaid stranger, be around to witness the first smile, the first step, the first whatever? Don’t you WANT to see that? Hell yeah, it’s hard, hence the exalted status. Maybe your misguided friends should have thought about that before you got knocked up. Good grief.

    1. I don’t think having kids is the most important thing someone can do with their life. I think it’s the most natural thing that someone can do with their body.

      The pressure put on women every day to procreate is insane and then the pressure put on women to live up to some idealized version of motherhood is even greater. And quite frankly, being a SAHM isn’t for everyone but article after article, discussion board after discussion board, expert after expert asserts that it is the only humane option for a woman with kids. To have a career and children is deemed selfish, even in the 21st century. We haven’t progressed on that front at all. Some women, like men, need an identity beyond being a wife and mother, something they can point to and say “This is me.”

      I don’t know SK personally, but I think that based on her writings she might be sorely bored and disappointed at being a SAHM but she’s clearly feeling pressure from somewhere to at least try it. But it is not her decision alone, it involves Phil, someone who does know her intimately and is probably speaking from that experience and knowledge. How it’s presented to us is filtered through SK and her emotions, therefore, it’s not an accurate or even-handed representation of what the discussion was really like.

      And again, Phil has a serious medical condition which has to be playing into this on some level.

      1. All I have to say is that I once felt the same way. I swore I was never having kids, I hated kids & I would become absolutely livid when people implied that I’d change my mind someday because, “What, I’m a woman and that’s all there is for us to do?”

        I lived overseas for 3 years and I planned on being a gypsy and living abroad for at least another 20. I was a bit of a wild child, little desire to settle down. Then I met my husband, who was moving out to CA – after a 3 week whirlwind affair, I moved out here to be with him and now, at 33, our first baby is due in 8 weeks and I want another already.

        A few weeks ago, we were talking about this unexpected path in our lives and I said, “I get it now.” I really and truly get it. Maybe having kids isn’t the most important thing someone can do with their life, but it certainly affects you more than anything else you will ever do. It changes you more than anything else you will ever do. I’ve been on both sides. All the places I’ve seen, the traveling I’ve done, the praise I’ve gotten with work and all the completely insane & wonderful moments of my life do not compare to this.

        I went through a couple weeks, when first finding out I was pregnant, where I panicked about “my identity.” But the identity issues come at you most from people who don’t have children, or people who don’t think it’s acceptable to “just” be a parent. I’m 33 now and like a previous commenter – at this age, I don’t give a shit. I’ve lived an incredible life, so go ahead and judge me for being “just” a SAHM.

        1. I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think the identity issues only come from those without kids because those of us without kids are constantly getting the “You’re not having kids? What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you? Are you utterly insane and selfish? It’s your job to have kids, you owe it to society to have kids” and on and on. I’ve never told my friends they were less fun or less interesting because they have kids, but they tell me that I’m missing out on something because I’m selfish because I don’t have them.

          I’m glad you’re in a place where having a kid is an ultimate joy, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a SAHM. All I’m saying is that it’s not for everyone, but it seems like there’s a ton of pressure on women to do it because somehow it’s better.

  17. Reading blogs like this remind me of how lucky I am to have married the man that I did. My husband fully supports my decisions and always has. I have a career that I don’t love. He constantly tells me that I should quit if I want to and do whatever I want–a different job or no job at all. His love for me is unconditional. I wish you had that, too, Stephanie.

    1. Sky, I have that too. My husband loves me unconditionally and we very rarely argue. (Not as in “weekly” but as in “maybe every couple of years”!) Like SK’s husband, mine has some serious and life threatening health issues. I know that his lifespan may be cut short, and I know that the time we have together is precious. So you know what? I’m the breadwinner. Sometimes I’d rather be a SAHM, but his health and happiness are far too important. Luckily, I love my job, even if it is stressful. But I need to support our family, and I want to allow him to work (and stress) less. I have to wonder why SK doesn’t want to do the same for Phil… she very much focuses on her own happiness and well-being instead of her husband’s or children’s.

  18. Sorry, but I just had to point out that one adapts a book into a movie and not adopts it.

  19. Perhaps your husband wants to preserve the relationship with you just as it is. From what you’ve written previously, your husband earns the majority of the family income so I don’t think his concerns are economic. I think he wants to view you co-equally in the role of wife and mother and his image of you as his wife carries all the associations he has from before your becoming parents. In a way, I think it psychologically keeps the marriage healthy for him. His role is not relegated to just breadwinner, traditional Dad.

    1. I agree… SK want’s Phil to be “supportive of whatever she chooses” but it’s not just a choice that affects her, it affects him as well in a big way, and the dynamic between them. If you got married and had kids with the understanding that you would have “non-traditional” roles, and both work, then I’m not sure it’s fair to your partner to suddenly change that — I don’t think its his duty to go along with anything.
      And I don’t think an earlier comment on “remaining equals” was meant to imply that SAHM work is not hard or worthy. For you both to have to deal with the work/family balance is actually a bonding element. Maybe part of it is that Phil wants equality in parenting as well. With a SAHM it often (not always) becomes the mother’s “right way” of doing things that the husband can’t live up to, so he can become alienated from parenting a bit.
      All this is just to say that there are legitimate reasons for a husband to not want a wife to become a SAHM, and it doesn’t really boil down to “he’s not being supportive.” Interesting comments from the men on this one.

  20. Agreed. I remember hearing you say (in person, at a book talk) how supportive Phil is of your career. I wonder why he can’t be just as supportive of your hypothetical noncareer.

  21. It is funny because what I read out of that post was- that you wished you could have said what you did and he would have replied in the fashion of “I will support you with whatever choice you want to make.”

    SIDEBAR-I was wondering if you just read the Dan Brown book, I did and it had me thinking about changes and choices and how short it all is… living in the NOW and present. How fast my child is growing…Big picture shite.

    I think Phil is right in that you NEED…crave…must have some sort of project, to stretch and explore or you won’t be sated. You are a incredibly creative person. Creativity needs a outlet- But he could have delivered that message in a much kinder and supportive way.

    I live in Dallas now, but was until Katrina I was a tenth generation New Orleanian. Is it Texas dinner parties that create this monster?
    I’ve lived away from the terra of my birth for four years now and I am never easy at SOME dinner parties or biz functions here. It seems so much that you have to sell yourself and watch what you say or be judged on every single word. I am a laugh out loud person, not a keeping up with the Joneses girl. Think a thinner 36 yr old Paula Deen. If I have to heap my accomplishments on you {abstract} for you to like me or want to converse with me then Thanks but No. I am happy and secure with my what I have done with my life. You should feel the same SK. Because you did indeed write a post about feeling like you had to sell yourself not to long ago. No need to girl, you sound like a party in heels.

    While I am on the last of my two cents… Ingredient/flavor parties are awesome. I have had two. My favorite parties are a gaggle of mixed sex people obsessed with food and drink that want to share and experiment with their cooking knowledge and secrets. Food is and will always be the great uniter. I have picked up on invaluable secrets, contacts and tips because everyone is relaxed and intrigued.

    So Phil is not a traditionalist. But do you really long for a traditional relationship? If thats what you really want then you need to gird thy loins and fight for it. Hard. Make him believe. Sell it to him.

    Talk about differences, I changed my whole life many years ago to become a Chef and follow my passion. Food is my life and obsession. I once cried over a plate of snails and my Man thinks Hamburgers are a food group. As they say in Texas you have to learn them… I’m trying.

  22. Funny, i interpreted jack’s comment in a totally different way–Not that he was stating that only work outside of the home is equal to work outside of the home (and implying that being a SAHM is inferior to outside work), but instead that the mans (or outside worker’s) opinion is equally important when one partner is contemplating staying at home. I agree with the other poster than men tend to identify themselves with work, whereas women then to gain more sense of self from their meaningful relationships, and lemme tell you–the woman seems to have the better end of the bargain, at least in my eyes! But if someone is the only earner, then work becomes more important and I can see how that would be very stressful, and that stress should be considered: a female partner may have to think about this and consider it, because fellas won’t always admit it.

  23. I think Phil should give you a chance to find out. If you aren’t happy, you can easily work again. But I believe you would be happy. Raising and investing in children is how you leave a legacy! It’s the most important thing in the world. My mom still says it was the happiest time of her life when we were young and she stayed home with us.

  24. I’m a SAHM and a big fan of yours. I especially love you more now that you’ve become a Southerner too. Best of both worlds!! Is there a book idea with that experience? Moving from NY to Texas?? You are a nonfiction writer. You must live in order to write. So tell Phil being a SAHM for awhile is actually living so you can write a book about it later. Also, if you take that trip to Japan. Take the kiddos with you. Write something about feeding and entertaining toddlers in a different country. I support you as a fan! Your life is your work, as far as I know that is how you’ve always been. The only career you would be changing by being a SAHM is maybe the nanny’s. If food is your thing, cook damn it! Write a cookbook later after all the cooking is done. There are a ton of ideas that you could do, but you must live them first. You are a great photographer too. You could become the local go-to photographer for babies/kids while being a SAHM. One more thing, did your mom stay at home with you? Did Phil’s mom stay at home with him? How did it influence who you are today? Taking time off to be with your family (the kids AND Phil) will not erase the fact that you’ve published two books and a successful blog. Good luck!

  25. Having been in the position of sole provider in a family with a stay at home dad for several years, yes it IS a big stress to be in that role. It can only work if both parents agree. To Kim’s point,
    I’m not sure “we” have the choice. Some women (and men) have the choice, but both partners have to agree. This is something you need to know about your relationship before you have children.

    Ideal, for me, would be both parents working part-time, but there are very few fields where you can have a full career working part-time, and working 50% of the hours does not usually mean you get 50% of the pay. Usually much, much lower than that, because the full time positions are the highly compensated ones.

  26. I’ll ask my husband where that article is – it’s in one of his economy mags or websites.

    LOL I think your 30s is a perfect time for having children – cause I would have been mortified once, too, but now… eh, whatever. I’m happier than I’ve ever been!

    My husband works in the video game industry and right now they’re in crunch time to get everything done by the release date. That means a lot of nights working until 2-3 am. But instead of looking at me and resenting me for being home, he sees it as having something to look forward to coming home to. He’d be working these hours with or without me & a baby. I just try to make it as easy for him as possible. Instead of him eating the junk they order in at work, I send him to work with healthy food, etc.

    We have 8 weeks to go yet, until Nugget makes his appearance, but already – I shudder to think about having to go back to work & hand him over to a complete stranger when he’s so tiny & so new.

  27. I’ve been thinking about this post for an embarrassingly long time. I’ve read our writing for quite a while and I’ve always gotten the impression that you would want to stay home with the beans for a bit. Then, when they were settled in school you’d write during the day and be done in time make dinner while they were doing homework at the kitchen table or somesuch. I’m not claiming to know you better than Phil does by any stretch of the imagination, but when I think of the way you write about being a little girl, about your mum showing love in hospital cornered sheets and great meals, made me think that you would want your kids to have the same. This isn’t to say that those things can’t be achieved while working, but it would take more out of you and perhaps even feel somehow less authentic, as if you are trying too hard, spreading yourself too thin. I don’t have children but I would think that when your children are young you want the fractions on your side. Meaning, you want memories of building forts and baking cookies to outweigh stressing over deadlines and final edits. It isn’t something that you would do forever. You don’t seem to be the type to have college aged children and a life of bon bons and soaps (or Junior League and tennis, on the other side of the spectrum). Maybe I’m just projecting.

    On the other hand, I can see how Phil could think that you are over-romanticizing the work of childrearing and believe after a while without much time to retreat inside yourself, churning out imperfect cookies and not having energy to iron linens you would grow bored and find that the grass isn’t as green as you had imagined. Though, even taking all of that into consideration, I still think you should be able to give it a shot by not pursuing any further projects for a few months after you tie up loose ends.

    1. Author

      This is EXACTLY right, as far as how I feel. I’m not going to say it’s easy because the truth is, I’m OBVIOUSLY very torn on the issue. On one hand, I want to create a cozy home of comforts, not perfection–as my mother did for me. Homemade costumes, treats, meals, swim lessons, camping trips, arts & crafts, story times with a special rotating lamp. No TV, no computers, no phones, no updates. I want to cook with them, even if it makes a mess. I’d LOVE to have time to pick our way through a Martha Stewart Kids magazine, where we make fun edible projects, make scrapbook pages together, even if glitter ends up between the tiles of our floor. AND yet… I also grew up not respecting my mother. I didn’t like that she made us the center of her world… well, I liked it, but I didn’t respect it. I hated that she always had dinner ready for my father when he came home. And I’m trying to figure out why it bothered me. I knew he was at work all day, stressed. He’d come home, take off his work clothes, come downstairs to eat with us as a family, then he’d wipe his own plate, put it in the sink, and go upstairs to watch a ballgame. And it pissed me off. I resented it. I don’t know why.

      We had a housekeeper who came 2 or 3 times a week, who did laundry, mopping, vacuuming, ironing. My mother would sometimes go play tennis a few times a week, for an hour or so, go grocery shopping, take us to the park, start to prep dinner, cook, sew (she was always doing needlepoint at night)… and after dinner… that’s when I got mad. Because my father cleared only his plate, and she was left with the pots, pans, wiping down the stove, making sure we got in our PJs, giving us our bath, clearing off the table, loading the dishwasher. I got very angry that my father didn’t help with that, but again, I’m not sure why. I think I sensed that he believed “You have it made. You don’t have to work, we have a housekeeper, you get to go play tennis, lunch with friends.” He made it sound so breezy. And maybe it was. I don’t know. I really don’t.

      The truth is, I can do anything if I do it long enough… if I were to be the sole caretaker of the kids, no nanny, I’d get used to it. And then I’d find I was falling in love with it, and I’d also maybe hate it sometimes and feel frustrated (for sure), but the truth is, I don’t know. Even when I was breastfeeding, I was still working. I was writing Moose. I’ve never, ever, just been able to be their mother, and nothing else. Except maybe when I’m stuck out on Long Island, and I make it clear that I won’t be doing work. And it’s not quite the same because we’re not in OUR environment. The place isn’t childproof… so I don’t even know how to shower there without someone else around to watch them. I also have to say, it gets mighty fucking boring going to parks and story time day after day. So if I were to do it, I’d need to mix it ALL up, with music classes, and gym tumbling, and finger paint murals, and swimming classes… just like my mother did. She always used to say she felt like a camp director. And it’s true… but I don’t know how you do all that and then also grocery shop and have time to plan a creative meal… and so help me, then watch my husband come home, eat, wipe off his dish, and expect me to clean. That would KILL me… just as it killed me when I was in middle school.

      1. I planned to go back to work at my cool job in an office when my son was 13 weeks old, and I did. And at first it felt like heaven to be able to go out to lunch without having to be interrupted 10 times by a squawky baby. But as time went on, I became miserable. I felt like my whole being wanted to be with my son more, and I really had this physical sensation of being torn in half.

        But I couldn’t give up my job because it was a really, really cool one — the kind that people say, “Oh my God, that’s my dream job! How do you get paid to do that???” And who gives up a dream job in this economy?

        Friends told me, “You know there is no perfect solution right?” So I said, “Yeah, best to stay the course.” And I found myself half-envying born-again fundamentalist types who believe that women’s natural-born role is to be with their children— because at least they were in a culture that respected that need, rather than this work world based on men’s biology and the company’s needs. Half-envying, mind you — I’m not completely insane. I just didn’t anticipate how intense the need to be hands-on parent was, and how much it felt like cutting out a vital organ to have to schedule my parenting around my job.

        And then I got laid off! And it was so wonderful because I couldn’t give myself permission to do it, but I got what I wanted. Now I freelance, and even though I’m putting in a decent number of hours, I feel like I have control and I don’t feel torn in half anymore. If I have a busy week one week, I know there’s a not-so-busy one behind it. I’d actually like to ramp down a bit more and work just 3 days a week instead of 4. But the point is that there IS a sweet spot out there, I think. The place where you feel balanced. And if you can afford to live in that spot, you kind of owe it to your kids and your *life* to do it.

      2. Thankfully hubby does the dishes after having his SAHM wife cooked dinner dammit! I cook, he clears up. Or he cooks and I clean up. He shops for the groceries with the kids (their thing).

        He RESPECTS and appreciates me staying being there 24/7 with the our great kids :)

  28. I just read your post in the above comments, and now my post seems silly to me. You obviously know you have tons of options! Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be with your children. Like you said, they are only this age once.

  29. Such an interesting diatribe between you and your husband; I’m new to the blog. Interesting crossroads, and I will say, you only get time with your children once and it seems that the older we get, the quicker time goes…

  30. Fortunately hubby makes enough money for me to stay home should I choose to. (Frankly a tad bored after 6 months, kids are older..) I think if you can afford it Phil should support whatever you decide. Staying home with the kidlets is NOT a cop out. Hate to repeat the sentiment but they are only young once and if you want it make it work!

  31. There was something that pissed me off to about how my mother was always beautifully done and had dinner on the table for my father. we had a maid as well and my father would come home, eat, and not even clear his plate again. I had it clear from a while back that I would never want the same thing for myself as an adult. and through college and to this day, I work hard not to be that woman who does “nothing” (because it isn’t really nothing).

  32. Hi,
    I read your response and so I’ll comment to that first. Phil and you don’t have to be your parents. My mom was a Stay at Home and I appreciated it. But, my dad was still part of the household. He worked hard all week, but so did she in raising us and being there when we got home.

    My dad would tuck us in each night, he took us for ‘trips’ and played with us after work, and had saturday morning cartoons. We had Friday Night family nights. We had a mom always at home, but a father very involved. You can determine what roles you and Phil have.

    Secondly though. Phil married a very driven woman. You are a strong woman, who is not just her hobbies (such as cooking, creative scrapbooks and foodie stuff). Those are part of you, that he loves, but thats not necessarirly what you share. You share what a good mom you are, what a successful woman you are etc. He is proud of you and that is much better than he glossing over it as a ‘phase she is going through”.

    You wouldnt be, from what I’ve read, be happy with not moving forward with some project at some time. You would never, and I dont believe any woman for that matter could, but JUST a ‘something’. You would always be doing something.

    If you decide you want time away from promoting books, movies etc; then take it, but it can be hard to get back into from what I’ve heard. Only you know whats best for you, and by you i mean the couple that you are (phil and you).

    I dont believe he is doubting you or going to love you less, obviously. It sounds like you doubt the person that YOU believe that YOU could be, if you werent doing the books, movies, scripts and promotions.

    That said also, from what I’ve read, seen and etc; you appear to be a great mom. So if you feel that you are not allowing yourself enough time or somehow depriving them of you; I think that is any mothers cross when she works, and it doesnt appear that you are depriving them.

    I think Phil supports you and sometimes the ones who love us, know us better than we know ourselves; because we doubt and they believe.

  33. It’s interesting to read someone else’s perspective on having a SAHM and resenting it. I had the opposite experience. My mom worked full-time outside the home. I felt adrift. I had to stay at my aunt’s house after school. I envied my cousins for having a mom that cooked and baked and sewed and helped out at school. Maybe the grass is always greener….
    I think what bothers me most about your post is the fact that Phil disregards what you have to say. He won’t even entertain the idea that you’re not ‘lying’ about how you feel. It would be a totally different exchange if he said, ‘I hear what you’re saying. Do you think you think you would be happy being a SAHM because it seems like….blah blah blah.’ I would be so angry if my husband treated me like an inferior partner who can’t express her own feelings without being shot down. Relationships are about communication and give and take. Topics can be discussed without ridiculing one another. Discussions don’t have to end with a winner and a loser. If you can’t open your heart to your life partner without disparagement, what is left?

  34. I’m so worn out by the same old SAHM vs. working mom shouting match, where everyone just wants to prove that their way is the right way. I’m sad that you and Phil have such fundamental differences in how to handle the situation. I don’t understand when you say, “I wish Phil enjoyed traditional roles.” Has he changed his position since you met him? Or do you want him to change? I feel lucky that my husband and I have always been in agreement on our roles. I always knew that I wanted to be a mom and have a career and my husband always knew that he wanted a wife and mother of his children that also enjoyed a career. I think that stems from his having a wonderful mother who turned to drinking when the kids left the nest and tennis and bridge weren’t fulfilling her. I had a selfless mother who was a SAHM but went back to work crying when her husband had a massive heart attack and she needed a back-up plan if something was to happen to the sole breadwinner for the family. We both had traditional fathers who had dinner on the table and a drink in hand when they walked in the door, didn’t do diapers and relinqueshed most parenting duties to mom. Times have changed. With the idyllic activities you envision for your children, do those really work out for you? Mine never work out quite like the vision I had in mind and I find that disappointing. Like my big gingerbread house making night. I cued up the carols. Served hot chocolate and cookies. One kid ate all the gum drops we needed for the roof. The kit was hard and the kids lost interest about 15 minutes into. Our best times are when we are spontaneous.

    1. Author

      I once dated a guy (“Oliver”), a surgeon, who became upset when I told him that I’d ideally like the choice to decide if I wanted to be a SAHM or a “working” mom. He wanted to know that I’d go back to work. He didn’t think he could have meaningful conversations with me if I was all about product recalls and “guess what Billy did at the park today.” I told him there was once a time in my life where I was certain I’d never have an abortion, but until you’re in a certain situation, experiencing it, you don’t REALLY know how you’ll feel. So when you ask “Has he chanced his position since you met him?” I don’t know that it was ever something we discussed because I’ve always believed that I couldn’t predict how I’d feel one day when we had kids. I’d just have to see how I felt, and deal with it then.

      There are days I wish we didn’t have a nanny, where I could just be with them, without having to focus on anything else. And then there are days when I’m so excited about getting down an idea, loving the world I’m exploring, that I can’t imagine stopping for anything more than a hug and smooch. Never mind making dinner. So there’s that.

      Also, I think one of the best things about life is how it does disappoint us… I mean, it lets us down, but when we step back to look at it, it warms the heart and makes us laugh. I love your story of idyllic plans, and then the kids eat all the damn gum drops, and they couldn’t care less, and their attention spans are on to Dora now… you’re the only one “into it” because THAT, RIGHT THERE, is what I ADORE about life.

      1. The ONE thing I know for sure as a parent, is to never say never! Good luck working through it together.

  35. You certainly have a point there, Jeneria. I remember when I insisted I never wanted kids & would never change my mind (and that’s not to say that everyone will, I’m just referencing that point in my own life) – nothing made me angrier than people telling me I’d change my mind or that I was selfish, etc etc for not wanting kids. I get that.

  36. I think the hardest thing to swallow is the assertion that Phil knows you better than you’re “pretending” to know yourself. You’re not a flippant 21-year old for Christ’s sake, you’re a grown woman! It’s not like you’re saying, “Honeyboo, I think I want to stay home and paint my toe nails and brush my hair and doodle in a notebook, *giggle*!” What I think you’re saying is that you want the option to focus your attentions on the kidlets and not have to deal with losing his respect in the meantime.

    And the idea that once a woman becomes at SAHM all she can talk about is Jimmy smearing poop in his brother’s head, or the neato art project you made this afternoon is ridiculous. You don’t stop being YOU just because you work at home. And it is WORK, a 7-day a week, 24-hours a day goddamn career.

    Women constantly put pressure on themselves to be perfect: look perfect, act perfectly, work perfectly, be a perfect wife/girlfriend/life partner, and most of all be a perfect mother. But you’re a human being who is entitled to take risks, change your mind, make mistakes, alter your course, and live your life how you want to.

    Power to whatever decision you make.

  37. As I read your post a small part of me died inside. I haven’t checked out your blog in years, so perhaps there is a lot of background that I am missing, but… REALLY? He is going to tell you what you want? And not value what you feel you need in your life right now? AND claim that you’re lying to yourself? That is INSANE. Or just very belittling. Stay true to yourself.

  38. Is there any way you and Phil could compromise (ugh…I know you hate that word)? Does it have to be all or no nanny? All or no work? All or no SAHM?

    Could you cut back on your projects and cut the nanny back to just a few days versus every day? Would this be able to let you try both without the all-or-nothing pressure?

    Phil knows you have a history of starting so many things/ideas with such enthusiasm and then push them aside when you’re done/tired of them/distracted etc., so I can understand him being concerned for you wanting to drop some aspects of your career that are in momentum. It’s very hard to gain that momentum back. It’s not about passion or desire, but about the business, and he doesn’t want to see you throw that away on impulse.

    I also know you need what I call “soul options” that allow you to follow your heart, as not being true to yourself is a slow, spiritual and creative death. This is a ethic you’ve followed and vowed to yourself way before the kidlets and hubby, so you can’t just push that aside.

    Try both for a while, in chunks and moderation, and see what sticks. You might be surprised to see what happens.

  39. I have not technically been a stay-at-home mom (in the sense of quitting my job), but I am Canadian and so I was on a year-long maternity leave. I imagine things get easier as children get older, but from what I see of other moms of older children it is just not possible to be doing a round of enriching activities all day long PLUS cook a nice dinner. It isn’t feasible. In fact, forget the activities, it usually wasn’t feasible to cook a complicated dinner at all, with no childcare. Stephanie, the lifestyle you describe for your mom, with multiple weekly cleaning help, is not the reality for most stay-at-home moms. They are squeezing in cleaning and cooking around their other childcare duties, and it is indeed a squeeze.

    When I was on maternity leave, my husband did recognize that what I was doing was hard work, but I don’t think he could truly understand what that meant. One time he got exasperated on the weekend, after a long afternoon with a fussy toddler “Boy, sometimes childcare is really draining!” and I thought to myself “Exactly! How do you think it is five days a week?” It’s easier for him to ‘see’ that I am working when I leave the house to go to the office.

    I’m back at work now, and I think for me (and I suspect for many women) the ideal scenario would be to work part time. That way I could get the enjoyment, personal satisfaction and little break from childcare (plus make some money) and spend the rest of the week with my son.

    I agree with other posters who encourage you to just try scaling back your work commitments and see how that helps.

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