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Monday, March 06, 2006

Was there even such a thing as a stay-at-home dad in the 60s? I asked my father this, and for the look he gave me I might just as well have asked him if donkeys can do long division. The role of the dad has morphed so remarkably over the last couple decades that 21st-Century Father and his mid-20th century counterpart can barely be considered members of the same species.

Take birth, for example. Dad remembers fondly (or so he says) the day that I arrived, a sunny Sunday morning with the church bells ringing across the street. While Mom was sequestered among an army of medicos and doped-up out of her mind on painkillers, my dad spent his morning just as Darrin Stevens and Rob Petrie did--pacing, smoking his pipe, watching a bunch of other guys pace and smoke their pipes, and wondering if his son would get here before his noon teetime.

Fast forward to 2002, when I spent my morning walking my wife around Greenwich Village to accelerate dilation and effacement. She was in labor for a total of 36 hours, and I was there for every second until OneBert finally came. And I was there, holding my wife's hand, mopping her brow, and watching wide-eyed while 9.5 pounds of boymeat squeezed through her birth canal. Where was my dad? Probably at home looking up what "effacement" means.

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My dad was a SAHD in the early 1970s - but they would have never called it that. He was a musician, so he took the day shift while my mother was out at her secretarial job, then she took the night shift while he gave lessons on weeknights and played on weekends.

I used to tag along to all sorts of kid-inapproriate places, because he just made me a part of his regular day rather than structuring the day around me - but I have great memories of that time.

I'm sure that has a lot to do with why our own current arrangement works so well, where I work full-time and my husband stays home part-time with the kids. And if I ever heard of my husband taking the kids to even half the places I went when I was their age....

Posted by: Danigirl | Mar 7, 2006 11:55:19 AM

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