Notes from Mom: The Infamous Oatmeal Incident

Note: This is the first in a series of occasional guest posts from my wife, Amy, who swoops in to give us a working wife’s perspective on parenting.

January 6, 2010

I’m pretty sure he mentally divorced me tonight. I heard his disappointed voice say, “Oh my God! Honey, did you know she had this?” I left my dinner preparations to see a vast pile of oatmeal in front of the stairs. “No,” I said, “I didn’t know she had that …”  

The truth was, I knew. I had given it to her. Dinnertime appeasement is essential. While what I do can barely be construed as cooking, it does take time. A whole 15- 20 minutes of time. What else is a mom to do but give her child a canister of oatmeal to stack her trains on? Did I think: a) she’d be able to take the top off, and b) she’d take said canister of oatmeal into the living room and dump it on the floor? No, I didn’t think that far ahead. If I had, I would have realized the possibility, but I was just struggling with getting through the moment.

The story of my life these days.

I have these moments when I truly realize he is more the “mom” and I am the “dad.” I mean this in the most stereotypical sense, of course. He takes care of her all day, every day. I swoop in every evening and assume mom duties—I make the dinner, we play, we bathe, we read stories, I put her to bed. But I sometimes feel I lack essential “mom” traits. For instance, last week while playing outside, Piper needed a tissue. Jeff pulled a Kleenex out of his pocket so quickly as if it was a reflex. I didn’t have a tissue on me. How can I be a true mom without tissue in hand to wipe my kid’s nose?


I sometimes laugh at how unrelatable everything is to me now. I saw a headline on my favorite parenting website, “Shared Parenting for the Long Haul: How to make sure Dad is doing his duties.” Wow, that’s not my life. My husband is the absolute apple of this child’s eye. They spend every day together. He gets her up in the morning, feeds her, plays with her, comforts her… Duties? The man does the child’s laundry, my laundry (he even hangs up my tank tops for crying out loud), the dishes, the grocery shopping … need I go on?

I can’t complain about any of this. Why should I? A man like this is rare. I know it. I value him. I don’t know how he even does what he does. Would I have gone crazy long ago? Probably. I’d like to think I could be a stay at home mom, but could I? Am I better at working and managing our finances instead of managing our household?

This isn’t what I’d planned, for sure.

There are stay at home dad groups, but what about the working moms to the stay at home dads? These are the women I want to meet.

6 thoughts on “Notes from Mom: The Infamous Oatmeal Incident

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  1. Me, me! I’m a working mom with a stay-at-home husband, and I often feel inadequate with the mom-skills. Every moment that I spend out of the house that isn’t at work, I feel guilt because my wonderful husband is holding our family together. That’s why I work out in the early early morning while everyone is asleep ~ so I don’t take more time away from the family. We could have a support group, but we wouldn’t be able to go to meetings!


  2. Me too Amy!
    Behind every successful woman is a man. Who is willing to support her and be macho enough not to worry about the roles that change.

    Been doing this for over a decade. The bottom line is that it is all good. Some days I feel extremely incompetent to run a house and other days just happy that my hubby makes everything run smoothly so I can focus on my work. None of this was planned so it makes things awkward. But both of us have adjusted to the new roles and actually enjoying them:)

    I have numerous friends who are doing this as well. So call me and we can go for lunch someday:)

    Bravo to your husband for embracing this responsibility:)


    1. “Behind..”

      so much for equality. Shouldn’t you stand alongside and support each other? Shouldn’t you both run the house, shouldn’t you both make things run smoothly?

      do you also say “bravo” to women who stay at home?


  3. What makes me happy in reading these posts is that you women appreciate what you have! Kudos! And, Aim, I love you, and I’m proud of you and Jeff for being such a great team.


  4. Thank you, Krista, Suchitra and Kasey! It’s so reassuring to hear that you go through the same struggles…especially with the guilt! I too do the same thing and try to keep my activities to the “off” hours so I’m not taking up any family time (or time that could be for giving Jeff a break). It’s all a struggle for balance, some days better than others…but having a partner who is supportive and not worrying about the roles is key (great point, Suchitra). I feel really lucky indeed!

    Krista, it’s funny that you said that about the support group. I actually was connected with another working mom with a stay at home dad and we always meant to get together but we couldn’t work it out with our schedules! Thankfully, I now have a co-worker in a similar situation- easy support group!


  5. “not worrying about the roles”

    Actually your partner should be worrying about the roles. Feminists tell women who are stay at home moms that, well first they shouldn’t be stay at home moms, but if they have the misfortune to be, they should be very worried about their “role” because they are in a dependent and financially vulnerable position since they do not have their own career and income. Yet men are told they’re not supposed to worry about their role? Easy for you to say. Would you worry about your role, if you were dependent on your husband?

    You feel “lucky” your husband has no career of his own? Well, it may be lucky for you. But what about him? It’s funny how wonderful the stay at home position is portrayed now that men are doing it. Forgetting that for years women who stay at home have been portrayed as miserable, unfulfilled, dependent and frustrated, and in danger of disaster in the event of divorce, or death or disability of their husbands. But when men stay at home everything is wonderful and any man who suggests he might prefer a career of his own, is told he’s worried about “roles.”


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