How about, Beside Every Great Woman?

I’m honored to be included in this week’s Business Week in an article called, Behind Every Great Woman, as more women earn high-level corporate roles, more husbands are staying home, raising the kids, and changing the rules. 

The author, Carol Hymowitz, does an excellent job highlighting benefits and consequences of the decisions that the couples along the way that made it possible for these women to soar to the pinnacle of corporate America. Like generations of male CEOs that have come before them, these women are able to focus on work while their husbands focus on home. Also like generations of male CEOs that have come before them, these women recognize the different relationships they have with their children and the fact that they miss many childhood milestones. 
I also appreciated the fact that many of the men highlighted had accomplished careers as well before they decided to stay at home, including our friend Dan Mulhern, the former First Gentleman of Michigan. Again, we see partners making decisions that work for their families.
One suggestion . . . perhaps the title should be “Beside Every Great Woman” to truly highlight the mutual respect and gratitude the couples have for each other. 
Cheers to Business Week for giving us a look inside the lives of these great partners!

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    I have been unemployed for three years now. My firing corresponded with my 39th birthday, the news of my wife’s pregnancy, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which paved the way to the current recession (or ‘mancession’). And while raising my daughter, while my wife works, has been incredible and something I am immensely grateful and honored to witness and be a part of, I feel completely isolated and shamed at my predicament. The isolation is particularly daunting and I’m still not totally used to it but have grown accustomed to it. I have always worked, always moved up, always found a way to execute my goals, through hard work and determination. Now, I am completely used to job rejections, despite the fact that I have a long work history and advanced degrees. I have worked some freelance projects, while taking care of my child, and that was exhausting, but I was extremely thankful for the work, as I fear my skills may atrophy as the months continue whiz by. The overwhelming guilt and shame of not working haunts me and I have had the dubious opportunity to understand what depression feels like physically. Only exercise has been able to temper it successfully (thank god for running, cycling and the gym, thank god!). I have had what I though were good friends and loving family members disrespect me and trash me in the worst ways – undoubtedly and ultimately because of my employment situation. I understand balance between family and career is always difficult. I also understand what I probably took for granted when working (work is a priveledge, even if it sucks). And I fear I may never snap out of this horrible unemployment tailspin, despite the reassurances of others who say it’s okay (and who are also successfully employed). And if and when I do, the effort to explain and separate from my child undoubtedly be very difficult as we love each other very much. I daily go through an emotional gauntlet of: anger at those who fired me; soul wrenching sadness that this is the new normal for me; guilt that my wife has to work because I can’t gain back what I lost and, of course, depression, which at the beginning led me to drink and drug a bit too much and later to a shrink, which helped me out of all that but I’m still in this rut. That all said: I voted for Obama back in 2008 and have been essentially unemployed during his entire administration. I would still vote for Obama in 2012. The work thing today is not political but the solution to each and every American not working is an individual one. The trouble is trying to figure that out.

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing your story with us– it resonates with a lot of dads’ experiences through this “Great Recession.” I think you are right in trying to continue to keep your skill set up in whatever way you can– consulting, freelance projects, perhaps even non-profit work if you can afford the time away from your daughter. I also appreciate the dichotomy between your feelings of joy that you can take care of your daughter and your the guilt/isolation/shame you are feeling. Not sure if you are a member of our Meetup group, but I think a lot of us are benefitting greatly by surrounding ourselves with other fathers that are active parents. Hope you’ll join us.

  3. Anonymous says

    Matt and Dad Budget, it’s me again. Thanks for responding, I just checked back here to see if anyone even saw my original comment and was pleasantly surprised to find responses.

    DB, I’ll start with you – yes, my wife is very understanding, although that sometimes that just adds to my guilt funnily enough, but we have a great relationship, which is essential. She’s a E.R. physician with an erratic schedule that varies week to week. She works long shifts, sometimes overnights as well, so it’s good that I’m here to really back her up and be here for our daughter. If I were working, we would have to outsource our daughter’s upbringing because I would have a set schedule and she would have an insane schedule. It strangely works out for the most part (at least “on paper”). However, I find that I simply take up more of the child rearing duties when I sense she’s tired or needs a break entirely, something I used to, at first, completely resent but now I willingly embrace.

    I remember the first time I had to watch our daughter alone for a week. It was two years ago during a really bad February winter storm that hit the City. My wife went away on a conference and then took a few days with friends in Florida. I was scared to death but that experience laid the foundation on how I would learn at the youthful age of 40, the art of parenting or “fathering”, and taught me everything I needed to know – really about myself. It also allowed me to empathize partially of what a single parent must go through. It was a trial by fire and I passed with flying colors (in that no one died!). Two weeks later, my wife had to take off again for five days and it was no problem. I had passed a test. Today, I’m constantly pushing my wife to go out, go away, see friends and family, I have no problem being with my child alone (although it can be lonely). She’s my little shadow and I really can’t picture life without her or before her. So, despite my misgivings about my personal situation; my ego and my insecurities, I haven’t lost on what is important in life. But there remains a hole and a feeling of a loss of my former self, which honestly wouldn’t exist anymore even if I did have a job.

  4. Anonymous says

    Matt – I know I’m not alone in this experience and just watching teasers for sitcoms or commercials for laundry detergent or reading excellent blogs like yours, which I just only recently discovered, you see the cultural shift and one cannot help but understand what has occurred in the country. But I live in the past a lot still.

    I reexamine my decisions and mistakes that may or may not have led me to this place of the unemployed, primary caregiver as if I could change them. I don’t let go of slights long passed, perceived or otherwise, until I snap out of the obsession, as if hypnotized by a snake charmer. I became very insecure hanging around my neighborhood during the day, seeing the same mothers and nannies and kids every single day, when taking my daughter to the park or swimming at the pool or going to the local Kids Club in BPC. Or going to the Murray Street Equinox in the morning (they also have an excellent kids club, with great staff) and walking across the West Side Highway as a river of suited-up bankers going to work at Merrill and Goldman Sachs rushed passed me on their way to their cubicles with a singular purpose . Whereas, I was the sole “unemployed salmon” swimming against this onslaught, this corporate stream, with a baby on his shoulders. In winter. With shorts and a backpack on. At least I was going to work out. (To be fair, a lot of them looked miserable, which gave some consolation but I still questioned and criticized why I wasn’t one of their ranks somewhere)

    This period of my life and what I have been going through, came on completely unexpected. At one moment, I was a big bad employed guy, at a big bad media company (a really big, bad one), recently married but still acting like a single city dweller. I considered myself indestructible, entitled, tenured and most of all, correct. I was none of that it turns out. But the one unexpected and most important result is the almost symbiotic and loving relationship I have with my daughter and the positive way I stepped up to this new challenge and life stage. I took every advantage of my long experience in New York City and immediately shared it with my daughter. We hit museums, Central Park, the Empire State Bldg., bars with friends (I figure 2.5 years is the cut off for that one) bike ride and runs. I played a classical guitar music salon at a former grad school friend’s apartment in Brooklyn in front of 30 strangers with my then two-year old daughter looking on as my worst critic. It was all amazing.

    But the pressure of being an unemployed male in NYC and all the baggage that comes with that lay over me constantly. So after 18 years in NYC, my wife, daughter and I moved out and across the country this October. I haven’t outrun my problems and hang-ups. I still have my doubts about my future and what I want to be for my daughter when she’s old enough not to consider me the sun and the moon, etc. I’m even more isolated here (along with my wife). But it was time to clear our collective heads and try out something new. It’s been tough but good and there is more of a sense of optimism that any big change inevitably delivers. I still miss the shit out of NYC though.

    Thanks for responding. It helps to come here and helps to write this. Matt thank you for this blog and your offer to join all the NYC Dads (I wish I had done so before) It is excellent and groundbreaking. Please keep up the great work you are doing.

    Mike Hickman
    formerly of Battery Park City, now a resident of Tucson, AZ. mahhickman@gmail.com

  5. says

    Mike– thanks again for your candor. I too have walked the streets of BPC watching the suits going to their cubicle jobs, and I too have experienced a journey. Several years ago, I decided to stop wondering what I was missing and what was next, and more importantly, I decided to enjoy what I had. Not too long after, Lance started the NYC Dads Group and asked me to join him on what has become a wild ride that I didn’t look for and certainly didn’t expect. I hope you continue to come back to this forum to use it in whatever way you see fit. It’s humbling to know that it has served you, and I know that what you’ve shared will help others.

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