Our Workdad: Score One for the Hometeam

workdadWhen we welcomed our second baby nearly two weeks ago, we embarked on a seemingly endless stretch of natural highs. We cooed and giggled, marveled over how our son was already wired to be a big brother, and kissed every time we were in proximity to each other. My husband was on paternity leave.

The experience of adjusting to a new baby together was a world apart from doing it by myself the first time around. Two parents working to keep the peace is WAY easier than one. So much better in fact, that I was putting finishing touches on a thank you note in my head to his employer, gushing about what paternity leave has meant to our family.

Halfway into his week off, he was unexpectedly called back into work, popping the natural high like a stretched balloon and sending us into our first “unpleasant discussion” since we found out we were expecting.

The thought of suddenly being on my own was daunting. It felt as though he was haphazardly changing his priorities, with me and the baby losing out. As we continued to talk, it became clear that he was under tremendous stress, knowing he would need to disappoint his boss or me.

We all know society has changed in the last few decades. Men are more involved in raising their kids than ever. I meet men all the time who are just as proud and quick to tell me about their families as they are about the work they do. My husband is not alone in his challenge to balance the work team and the home team.

Work and Family Institute just released a study called “The New Male Mystique,” which updates one conducted in 1977 by the Department of Labor. According to study findings, “men are experiencing what women experienced when they first entered the workforce in record numbers—the pressure to ‘do it all in order to have it all.’”

My husband changes diapers (sizes 1 AND 5), chases a toddler and gets up for midnight diapersfeedings to see if I need anything. He also puts in full days at work and works remotely on the occasional off-hour. In essence, he lives much the same life I do.

I follow #workmom tweets and find an engaged community of women sharing their experiences as working mothers, trading advice and generally supporting each other. Search #workdad and you’ll find nothing. No one has asked my husband if he plans to return to work after the baby; I get asked all the time. So while he’s evolved into a dad trying to do it all, society still saves its compassion for the ‘fairer’ half of the parenting equation. Perhaps someday we’ll all catch up. Till then, I still think paternity leave (and my hubby’s employer) is THE BOMB.

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About Yo Adrienne Olson

Yo Adrienne Olson is a Fargo girl, a blessed mom, a lucky wife, an innovative communications professional and a closet entrepreneur.
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4 Responses to Our Workdad: Score One for the Hometeam

  1. I just read this & the manager/HR side of me came out…. sooo glad that he is taking the paternity leave & spending time with you guys & it’s a hard choice to make who to disappoint… but I have a musing.

    Did he take vacation or FMLA paternity leave? If he took FMLA paternity leave (assuming he has worked at the company 1 yr & it’s >20ish people (I don’t recall that # exactly)…. it’s illegal to call him to discuss work or ask him to come back to work during that time. NOW… Most people – especially MEN don’t do the paper work & just take the vacation. As a manager I always pushed my employees to do the paperwork, make it official & protect themselves. Granted I was at a much larger company & if they took 2-4 weeks off for paternity leave I couldn’t guaranty I’d still be managing them when they got back (reorgs happen in other words).

    Same goes for you – but HR departments tend to lump FMLA paperwork in with the STD stuff you fill out for going through the birth process & you don’t even know you did it.

    When we had Andy I made Kevin fill it out because they were entering the time of year when overtime was a requirement each week & vacation time was hard to come by – he wouldn’t even have been able to get the time off because Andy was born just before Thanksgiving & the vacation slots were “filled”…. but FMLA allowed him to get the time off without a hassle.

    TOTALLY still – you have a great guy!

    Heather

    • Hi Heather!
      He’s actually brand new to the job and doesn’t qualify for FMLA yet. The week of leave was a bonus he negotiated when accepting the job. Basically additional vacation in order to spend some time with the baby. Our first had a nicu stay so Aaron wanted to be available in case. Maybe I should write that thank you note after all…

  2. Carrie says:

    Sounds like your husband is THE BOMB, too. Enjoy your time at home with your new baby, whom I would love to meet! Congrats again.

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