I hate David Dellifield. The one from Ada, Ohio.
This past week was Spring Break and toward the end, somehow my ex and my nanny fell out of the picture, and I was doing a lot of taking care of the kids, which, I have said before, is not what I’m great at. I wish I were. I tried for four years to be a stay-at-home mom, only to discover that I am not meant to do that.
So, in a moment of innocent desperation, I wrote on Twitter: “No school today and the nanny’s on vacation. A whole day with the kids gets so boring: all intergalactic battles and no intellectual banter.”
I almost didn’t post that Twitter because it’s so banal.
But, in just seconds, because that’s how Twitter works, there was a firestorm of men telling me that I’m a bad mom. Really. Yes.
Here’s one from David Dellifield:
“@penelopetrunk sorry your kids are a burden, send them to OH, we’ll enjoy them for who they are”
I couldn’t believe it. It’s one thing to be a total asshole to me on, say, Yahoo Finance, where someone used to spend a good portion of each day making sure that the C word did not appear in the comments for either Suze Orman’s column or mine. (The best days were when the C word appeared in a way that linked us. Really, those were some creative commenters on Yahoo Finance.) The difference between Twitter and Yahoo is that Twitter is intimate, and real-time, and pointed directly at me, not at the editorial board of Yahoo.
Like many people who are total assholes online, David’s contact info was easy to find. I called him at work, because, big surprise, he is not a stay-at-home dad talking about how everyone should love parenting. He is a dad who is not home all day talking about how everyone should love being home all day with their kids.
There was no answer at his work. But I noted the number so I could ruin his life there if I ever felt like he needed to be taught a lesson.
Then I called David Dellifield’s house. I thought maybe his wife would answer and I could ask her if she knows that her husband is emailing other women to encourage them to send more kids to his wife to take care of. All day.
There was no answer. Maybe by then he had alerted his wife that he is being pursued by a psycho who maybe will kill her kids or maybe will kill him. Maybe they will never answer their phone again.
So I wrote to David — a “direct message” in Twitter terminology: “I’m surprised by what you wrote. Are you intentionally being mean to me in a public forum?”
He wrote back: “no, but it seemed you were complaining about your children on an open forum, kids have faults, lets love for who they are”
So here’s the problem: Parents need to be able to say that parenting is not fun. The day-in and day-out of parenting is very, very difficult. This is not even news. There is a reason for the reams of research showing that having kids does not make people happier.
Daniel Gilbert, psychologist at Harvard, writes in Time magazine that we trick ourselves into thinking kids make us happy.
Nattavudh Powdthavee, an economist at the University of York, published research in The Psychologist, that concludes, “Social scientists have found almost zero association between having children and happiness.”
Scott Stanley, a psychologist at University of Denver, reveals research that shows that marriages are much happier before the couple has children.
So first of all, anyone who says that parenting makes them happy is probably lying. Just statistically speaking. But also, we know the people who are well positioned to like parenting. There are sixteen personality types, and only a handful are perfectly tuned for staying home with kids.
People can have competing feelings. For example, I love my job but I hate getting up and going to work every day. Or, I love this blog but I often have to force myself to sit down and write a post.
Competing feelings happen to healthy people everywhere. St. Augustine called this dualism; mommy bloggers call it reality.
It’s a big deal that women are writing publicly, in real time, about how difficult it is to stay home with kids. Look, I get emails every day from women who left the workforce for kids and feel lost. Here’s the blog of a woman who wrote to me two days ago: The Reluctantly Frustrated Stay-at-Home Mom.
These women feel lost because you can love your kids and still be bored. Kids are not nonstop fun. Talking with young children is stultifying. Yes, they are funny. But in general, you have to pay attention to them every second, even though they are not really doing something every second.
And as soon as your mind wanders too far, something bad happens. For example, I took the kids on a hike yesterday, taking a coat for myself but not for them. Because I checked out. Because I wanted to think about things that are more interesting than coats. This is normal behavior. I mean, intellectuals need intellectual stimulation, and that’s not something kids give.
This does not mean I don’t love my kids. Only an asshole would suggest that because I don’t want to stay home with them all day, I must not love them.
And all you people who say you’d love to stay home all day with your kids if you could, you are completely full of shit.
I know because I was living at the poverty line in NYC while I stayed home with my kids. That’s how important it was to me to stay home. I wanted to be with them for every moment, be a great mom, all that. So I did it no matter what — no financial situation could have stopped me.
And if you really wanted to be home with your kids all day, you’d do it. David: That means you, too. But, newsflash: going to work is 10,000 times easier than staying with kids all day. Yes, I know, staying with kids is more important. I agree. So is saving children from starvation in Malawi. But we each do what we can. And the best of us are honest about it.
For all you guys who Twittered back to me that I’m a bad mom and that I should love being home with my kids, here’s a link for you: CEOs who are on Twitter. Because let me tell you something: None of these people needs to earn the money they are earning. They have enough money. They can stay home with their kids. But instead, they are at work.
David, can you publicly ask each of these guys if they want to send their kids to your wife in Ohio? Because each of these guys is choosing to go to work instead of stay home with their kids. Do you know why? BECAUSE THE CEOs THINK KIDS ARE BORING. This is not news. The top 10% of the tax bracket system does not need to leave their families to go to work every day. But they do. Why is that?
Here’s another idea, David. How about approaching all those guys with Blackberries at soccer games? Let me ask you something. Do those guys check their email when they’re getting a blow job? Of course not. Do you know why? Because it’s INTERESTING. They are checking their blackberries during soccer because soccer is boring. The kids can’t figure out where the goal is. The kids and their parents lose interest. They want snacks more than they want to learn soccer. They are cute, yes. But even cute gets boring.
Here’s another Twitter from David Dellifield: “been on twitter several months, still trying to figure out the conversation part of it”
@DavidDellifield Maybe you don’t understand the conversation because you have so little self-knowledge to add to the party.
This is my favorite post from you ever. My favorite line: “And if you really wanted to be home with your kids all day, you'd do it.” I never stayed home 100%. I did work part for 5 years. And I telecommute now, which is a very flexible situation. However, a couple of my friends really wanted to stay home, they did it, it was financially tight and they put their careers on hold for a while, but they just made it work.
I also read this post this morning, not too long after I was awaken to the theme music from Sponge Bob Square Pants. My 4-year-old daughter decided to get up early, wandered into the spare bedroom, and turned on Sponge Bob as loud as it would go. I have had a head cold since Wednesday. I was on the road last week. I cooked Easter dinner for 14 yesterday. So when this happened, “appreciate” is not the word I would use to describe how I was feeling about my daughter. But I’m sure some finger pointers could put that back on me, too: I’m a bad mom because my kid knows how to turn on the television.
If I’m going to do some confessing, here are some other horrible things I have done as a mom:
1. Missed the preschool field trip to the plantarium, because I had to work.
2. Not stayed to watch soccer practice because I was bored out of my scull.
3. Tricked my kids into making “banks” out of old Crystal Light containers and foam stickers grandma gave them so that I could read my book.
4. Let my kids go to bed one night without brushing their teeth because I just couldn’t harp one second longer.
5. Let my kids go swimming at the pool while camping so I would not have to give them baths in the tiny camper bathtub. (It washed away most of the dirt between their toes, and I’m pretty sure the chlorine disinfected them.)
Therefore, if you need to complain about being a mom, complain to me. I feel your pain, sister!
A lack of toe cheese is the sure sign of a caring mom!
I don’t think that any of that sounds at all horrible. My mother has “confessed” that, to keep my 5 yr. old brother out of the way at the grocery store, she used to sit him in a grocery cart, tie his shoelaces together and park him in front of the lobsters (it was the ’60s, when suburban grocery stores still had live lobster tanks — which maybe they still do).
I don’t think she felt that bad about it.
“to keep my 5 yr. old brother out of the way at the grocery store, she used to sit him in a grocery cart, tie his shoelaces together and park him in front of the lobsters”
This is a world-class image and would make an excellent first sentence for a novel!
At the grocery stores here in New England, they do generally have lobster tanks.
Geezus Friggin Christ.
I’ve been a career woman, an entrepreneur, a stay at home Mom, and more, but…I can identify with every point except for #2… which is exactly the point: I enjoy watching “stupid” soccer practices because my kid ENJOYS them and it makes her HAPPY and PROUD… and seriously, if there is something better than that then… well, shit. I’ve told my sister she shouldn’t have kids because she won’t be able to comprehend that when you CHOSE to give birth you are dedicating yourself to being your CHILD’S cheering section, you do not give birth to your OWN cheering section.
How is this so incomprehensible???
I was the oldest of 4. Got pregnant at 18. Had my next kid 10 1/2 years later. Friggin love every minute of it. I can’t wait to be free of the obligations for the first time (in my adult life), but I cherish it now because I CAN realize and appreciate that this is a GIFT… a unique time in my life that I won’t have an opportunity to “do again” (technically – had that opportunity!) an experience with “people” (uh, my KIDS!) that cannot be redone… and, oh yeah, the fact that they are cool as hell, will probably be the people later in life who are my best friends, and I’d rather have them change my diapers and hug me when I’m 95 than some crappy convalescent home worker.
Oh. Sorry to shock anyone who can’t see that far…
I think if we can all just get over OURSELVES we might be able to appreciate this life we are gifted with and find happiness.
Ughhhhh…pass me the airsick bag!
Actually, I think this one is the sign of a mom who encourages children to be creative and a little less dependent on being constantly entertained:
3. Tricked my kids into making “banks” out of old Crystal Light containers and foam stickers grandma gave them so that I could read my book.
Whoa! David Dellifield just got hoofed.
I agree: it was a pretty ill-considered comment to make — and would have annoyed the hell out of me, had it been directed *my* way.
Is the response, though, perhaps a little disproportionate? Dellifield wrote something very stupid. On the internet. Christ, if I got called out in this way every time I did that, I’d be a psychological wreck.
Penelope, you’ve used his dumbass sarcasm to kick off into a very interesting, provocative, uncomfortable (for some) topic. But I’m not sure the wholesale nuking of Dellifield was quite justified …
You will be happy to know that I thought about this issue, and in a last-minute act of amnesty, I deleted his phone number from the post.
Haha. It’s ol’ Dave’s lucky day …
And I guess it’s fair enough that it was on Twitter that he made his witless comment, and on Twitter that he receives his public naming-and-shaming.
Jesus, Penelope. You had to THINK about that?
I don’t know. I just don’t know what to make of you sometimes. There was that whole “blaming your kids” stuff earlier, and then that woman you criticized for being fat (even though you did apologize very nicely for that, it really offended me and a whole lot of others), and the whole divorce saga …
I don’t mean this to sound so simplistic but sometimes it honestly comes down to this: I generally don’t like, subscribe to, read, or support people who aren’t nice.
You got one mildly snarky comment. And it wasn’t even that snarky. It was nothing. It was an anthill. And you rolled out the nukes. You “hate” him? You had to think about whether to publish his phone number on your blog? You have to humiliate him publicly? Really, Penelope?
I used to gape at the horrible, horrid comments you used to get on the Yahoo! column. I couldn’t understand them.
I’m actually starting to think They (the big, bad haters) had a point. You don’t know how uncomfortable that is for me. I really want to love this blog, and you (in that platonic “oh my God she’s so awesome” kind of way).
By the way, I don’t agree with his statement to you, at least not in the context of your original tweet. But Christ, this is just immature, petty, and mean. Vicious, even. You could have ignored him. Even better: You could have explored the issue maturely. It’s an issue that deserves a solid discussion, and you shortchanged it by couching it as an attempt at shaming someone you disagreed with. Yeah, he did the same to you initially. His was a mosquito bite. Yours, the equivalent of a full-on gator feeding frenzy.
really–judge away, sherrie!
Thank you for writing this, Sherrie, it saved me a lot of keystokes. I 100% agree with you; this post was petty, vindictive, and reactionary. I stumbled onto this blog but will purposely avoid it moving forward.
I agree with Baller. Sherrie saved me a bunch of keystrokes. I come to this blog to learn…Now I will avoid.
I am surprised the people at Brazen would even want to associate themselves with you, Penelope.
I understand that content marketing means you need to create a captivating headline to bring in the readers….but at the cost of making yourself look like a defensive baby is quite ridiculous.
This post and a few others(Tim Ferriss hate ones) sounds more like a jealous divorcee who is unhappy in Darlington and has to create drama to feel “engaged”.
The readership that posted in favor of this are the men and women who started drama in high school. Career blogging is your focus…yet I don’t know one company who would tolerate an employee that has your mindset.
As for your tweet…It is fine to think that…Hell I have thought the same thing, but to post on Twitter…Use common sense…call a friend to complain about it.
His comment about your tweet was not fit for public forum, but your tweet was equally unfit.
BTW. Was about to sign up for your 4 day seminar…until this post.
BC also lost a client.
I would say you should be ashamed…not because of your tweet, but because of this blog post.
wow, how decent of you.
i read that same tweet and didn’t think anything like what dd wrote (i did key off a different part of it [intellectual banter], but thought that i didn’t know you well enough to make the nudge-nudge-wink-wink comment that came into my mind). i’ve run into people that make comments like that (and am related to some) and they’re pretty much all self-righteous assholes. i think he deserved what he got, even if the phone number were left in (why leave it off ? it’s not like google doesn’t exist).
I get pleasure from reading this 1, looking forward to analysis more of your posts.
One of the smartest and best moms I ever knew once confessed, “I love the act of conceiving, I love the pregnancy even, but these kids are driving me nuts!”
Really, PT, when we overshare on the twit, we get get boinked. You keep it real, gal.
oh, yeah, I forgot:
stultifying; triple word scorer.
It seems like people who would eventually find their way to blog like this would typically be adults who are interested in continuously improving throughout their life. It will always amaze me how these people still throw insults and judgments freely, and relish in the opportunity to feed off the emotions publicly. Seems like that’s step one of the process…albeit a very difficult one, everyone knows that. But I just cringe when I see these people pretending to become better people, only to torpedo someone whenever they get an open shot.
People will run there mouth about anything, instead of looking at ourselves and doing some self-analysis and self-improvement. Be yourself, it is all good. =o)
You’ve hit it with “loving my work, but hating to get to the office.” I stayed home with my kids for 7 years and would say I loved it, overall. I’d also do it very differently than I did if I got a do-over. Staying home with the kids doesn’t resign one to no adult human contact ever, or mean that you can’t have your own interests, or even that your kids might drive you so batty you flee back to the workforce.
But see, David would tell you where you’re at fault, Penelope, is you’ve temporarily forgotten that it’s all about David and the others who comment on blogs or in response to tweets with sanctimony and totally out of context reactions. What you say is never about you, for God’s sake, because then they’re not the center of attention! My ex interacted similarly. It’s sad, really.
These types are desperately disconnected. They could do with some meaningful interaction, if only to reinforce their genetic similarities with humans. Yet, they’ve got some compulsion to open their half of the dialogue with a not-so-passive/aggressive gambit designed to prop their insecure selves onto a self-made superiority pedestal. I’ll bet David is short, too.
youre a nutjob. its pretty simple. as a parent, my children do make me happy. and this goes with the large majority of parents out there.
Way to catch the point of this entire article Pat.
Huh. Then I guess the peer reviewed studies that show children correlate negatively with happiness were also done by nutjobs, covered only nutjobs and were reviewed by nutjobs as well.
The question is, what would he do with your kids in Ohio? I assume even if he loved them he wouldn’t personally take charge of entertaining them, so how is that better?
I don’t have kids so it should be easy for me to not judge any parents — but I still do sometimes. But I’m willing to take y’all’s word for it. David Dellifield’s head would explode if he read Dooce or any other blog that deals with parenting and admits that, yes, sometimes it is not the best thing ever.
There’s a lot of truth in what you say. I didn’t think I could have kids until I read Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. She fully describes the lovely peaceful feelings of nursing a baby. Followed by the feeling that you would do almost anything to get 8 hours of sleep in a row and you really, really wish the baby came with an “off” switch. This helped me a lot because I realized I didn’t have to love every single minute of being a parent and it did not make me a monster.
As for staying home with kids, you’re right. We have made financial and career sacrifices so that my husband could be a stay-at-home-dad. He coped by having a supportive group of other stay-at-home-parents who got together for play group and general sanity maintenance.
The kind of post that makes me want to get up from my chair and punch the air with joy.
Seriously, I wish his wife had answered your phone call.
Children are not angels, they are small human beings who do not know anything. Life is difficult around them, unless you are not responsible for their every activity.
(I wish I could tell that to working men with housewives and who live with their parents in joint families in India. All they see their child is as a playmate post work.)
It’s a subtle, extremely pernicious, form of hypocrisy. Women often agonize over putting their children in daycare, whether they should quit their job or get a part-time job because they “should” spend more time with their children.
For the most part, men do not do this.
I am glad that you called out David, not because I think people should cyberwhack him, but because his attitude is far from uncommon and no one calls out this behavior for what it is. We need discussion on this and, hopefully, a shift in dialogue.
Ugh! This post is so close to home… something I struggle with ALL THE TIME. Being a mom is a full time guilt trip.
I am a work-at-home-mom and let me tell you what I think on a daily basis, “If I worked in an office, life would be so much easier” I work when my kids nap and go to bed for the night. I usually go to sleep anywhere between 2-3 a.m. and get up with my youngest by 6:30 a.m. David Dellifield, can you say that? Do you also run your kids everywhere, make sure they have breakfast/lunch/dinner, make sure they aren’t stuck in front of the TV all day when you need to finish a quick email that turns into a few emails?
I am already dreading this summer when they are out of school and they will be home all day. I guess I just won’t sleep. If I worked outside of the home, like David I presume, I would be able to get a solid, consistent 8-9 hours of work in, be home to HAPPILY make dinner for my family (I say happily because I still do it every night, but I’m not always happy about it), maybe read a book, or do something else for myself, like paint my nails or something.
Some people have no concept of what a stay-at-home mom faces. Most times I feel blessed that I get to stay home with them and do a job I love, but other times it is REALLY HARD.
Bottom line, NO ONE gets to judge what a woman decides to do, especially men. They aren’t faced with the choices women have to make. Home or Work? Kids or Career?
I keep telling my husband, in my next life, I’m coming back as a man. ;)
Simple solution for women like you…if you don’t want kids, don’t have them. Whatever made you think it would be easy?
You remind me of the Paris Hiltons who want the chihuahua until she realizes it will actually shit in her purse.
Yeah, and anyone who disagrees with you…shoot them in the face! We aren’t allowed to have conflicting emotions, ideas, complaints…let alone differences of opinion about something as personal as our own CHILDREN!
If you take care of them AT ALL, you’re on the upper crust of parenting, in my opinion. There are some truly horrific parents out there, and if you have an occassional frustration with your children, it’s truly OKAY.
Awesome one Penelope, I hardly ever comment on your posts (lurker, yes I know) but I just had to this time. That’s what I love about your blog, you aren’t afraid to hate a little bit, it’s fun, Darth Vader was right about the dark side, it’s great.
Latest tweet from David:
“just arrived home, glad to be here”
Sounds like someone is trying to make a point. Mmm… web-self-denial smells so sweet. I wonder if David would be so glad if he had to be there… every.hour.of.every.day.evar.
I stayed home with my kids for 10 years and loved it and my husband was jealous. Then I taught and he worked from home. Now that the kids are teenagers and we both work from home, we have days where we can hardly stand them. Of course, the soccer games are more exciting when they’re 14, but their mouths really need an off switch.
This post was epic. Thanks for taking a stand on this issue.
A friend of mine (male) did “Just do it”.
He was cut out for staying home with the kids, she couldn’t stand it. So she went to work, he stayed home with the kids. And he loved it. But they both agreed on it together and both understood their other half.
Now he gets mornings off because they’re in kindergarten. And spends it doing part-time work. A great friend to have as a role model.
Children are barbarians, albeit innocent ones, that must be taught civilized behavior. What an important, difficult job.
There’s no shame in pointing out that that is not an enjoyable job.
Im so glad Anna said this because if a guy did it would be seen as sexist or just another “oh men are so ignorant” moment.
I agree that David didn’t have to really judge or voice his opinion on your parenting but you put it out there – in the public realm and open for argument. He had every right to do what he did even if you don’t agree with his views. If you’re going to get personal with every criticism then you should think twice about what you put out there. It’s extremely immature and dramatic to go out of your way to potentially harm his marriage and his professional career since you called him at both home and work. Those two places aren’t public, Twitter is. And please don’t take the 70+ comments here that support your actions as a sign that you just spoke some universal truth about the sentiments of all parents. Go preach to people who don’t know you and see what they’re reaction is.
You’re extremely smart for putting David Dellifield and his hometown in your H1 and Title tag essentially ruining his future “online presence” too. I’m sure you knew exactly what you were doing and gloating about it as you read this but it’s despicable. When someone searches his name this will rank at the very top. Why, because some vindictive snot couldn’t take one point of criticism on her TWITTER ACCOUNT!
I totally agree. P makes a point of claiming that women use power differently than men. This post reveals how she uses her power to villify the (perhaps unthinking) author of a sarcastic tweet with an attack orders of magnitude beyond what was called for. You point out so well what others may not realize, that DD’s online life will now forever be marred by this castigatory outburst.
I love it when P shares the reality of her life, but it greatly disappoints me that she allowed a fit of pique brought on by the frustrations of her day with the kids to mushroom into this very personal vendetta. This isn’t a new use of power. It is a very old and malevolent one that usually arose from men who were insecure about the power they wielded.
I never comment, but after this I just couldn’t control myself. In case you missed it, David became personal with his comment first, and Penelope was simply replying to his juvenile judgement in the same way you self-righteously scolded her. Anyone would know that accusing someone of not loving their kids is a very personal and spite-inducing act. And really, having your name one the internet in a bad light is not the end of the world. And if David thought it was, he shouldn’t have opened himself up to the opportunity to be seen as a self-righteous prig. As you so melodramatically pointed out: “If you’re going to get personal with every criticism then you should think twice about what you put out there.”
Wow, you were going to post his phone number? You called the guy at home because you thought he was being mean to you?? On the internet??
Your blog, at least partly, is built around sharing personal experiences. With twitter you’re opening yourself up even more. But those are both choices you’ve made, nobody barged into your life and started berating you for being a bad parent. Obviously you’re sensitive about your parenting skills. You don’t estalk when people say you shouldn’t be dating a 25 year old.
Everyone has bad days, so maybe this was one for you, but reacting so strongly to this guy just seems childish. Using your blog as a platform to attack him, almost mentioning his phone number, is crossing a line.
I would expect this from a new blogger, someone that didn’t understand that blogging is opening your life up to constant criticism, but I would think you’d have a thicker shell by now. Again, your reaction is probably due to you being sensitive about your parenting.
Everyone is a bad parent sometimes. This guy doesn’t have to twitter about it, but you also don’t have to blog about it, link to articles about it, make broad generalized statements about it, and estalk this guy and make assumptions about his parenting skills based on the fact that he isn’t answering his phone. Nobody was the bigger person here.
If you’ve read this blog any time at all, you realize this woman has issues. She loves spreading her crap all over the internet and then actiong hurt when people call her on it.
and some people, like you, seem to simply revel in the opportunity to “call her on it.” those who can’t do criticise.
“But I’m not sure the wholesale nuking of Dellifield was quite justified – ” Sorry, Tom. You can’t play both ends against the middle. In this new world of communication, if you’re going to say something trite, condescending and clueless to a woman who lives her life online, you’re going to get called out. As a woman who is there and doing that — working while raising a son, fortunately with a husband who does assume a good share of the responsibility — I can tell you I thought she let him off the hook.
Believe me, if this character had said that to me about my kid after a tough day, I would have said, “Send me your address!” Many days, I would love to put a sign on him saying “Free to a good home” and put him out on the curb. Does that make me a bad mom? No … it would be worse if I didn’t acknowledge that every day is not a romp through the daisies, especially with a sullen adolescent in tow.
In what way was I ‘playing both ends against the middle’, Janet? I said I agreed that David’s tweet was ill-conceived and idiotic. But I said that — in my opinion — it is something of an overreaction to call him out (specifically, by name) in a blog with many thousands of readers, and to declare that you hate him.
I also said that Penelope had used this stimulus well in fueling an interesting and useful blog post about issues that I absolutely think should be being discussed. I certainly said *nowhere* that I agreed with any *shred* of what David wrote to Penelope. I thought he was sarcastic and small-minded.
But my point was: people say sarcastic and small-minded things all the time. Especially online. Sometimes, they don’t think too much before they do. Hopefully, David won’t henceforth fall quite so easily into *that* trap, at least.
But it’s not as though he’s a major-league blogger who’s published a lengthy and bilious attack upon Penelope. He just wrote a sarky, rather wimpy little tweet.
… And then found the guns of a blogosphere celebrity trained upon him.
Fair enough. I don’t dispute Penelope’s right to use her blog exactly as she pleases. I merely (please understand) found it — to my own taste — excessive. Funny, and quite satisfying to read — but, on reflection, a bit of a misuse of power.
Now, please tell me: am I playing both ends against the middle? If so, how?
I’m a dad of a 13 month old I love more than I ever expected. My wife is a work-at-home-mom. We have a nanny. And we both agree that every line in this post is true.
wow! i’m so glad to read that someone else thinks the same way that i do. i love my job. in fact, i thrive doing what i do. i actually think it makes me a better person! if i were to quit work to stay at home with a child, i think i may not only go insane, but lose a sense of who i am.
at thanksgiving, i decided to help my sister out with her 9 month old while she was at work. i took care of the baby that day. what an eye-opening experience. let’s just say that there are no babies in my future any time soon.
it does take a special individual to want to stay at home with the kids. i have a male friend that would love to & is actually considering doing so as soon as finances allow. if he weren’t married, i’d definitely send him your way!
I was the nanny that stayed home with someone else’s kids all day, and let me just amen most of this stuff in the post. If it were not for the fact that I got paid amazingly well to watch those kids five days a week for 12 hours a day, and could sit around during the “boring” times to calculate how much money I am saving for law school…I would go insane. In fact, half the stay at home moms that I run into at the park seem to have gone insane. What I like about this post is that you make a point of stating that women need to be able to talk about this issue and they need to be able to talk about not liking being with the kids all day. My boss used to tell me that I was lucky I could complain about the kids without repercussion. I find that sad because its normal to get annoyed with kids and to get frustrated, after all they are on a whole different level from adults. I think it would be good for a lot of women if they had an outlet for expressing those negative emotions so that they can move past it and concentrate on the positive.
I agree with David.
Sure, parenting isn’t always fun or filled with rainbows, I agree with that for the most part. But to say that you weren’t happy being at home with your kids? Honestly, that’s messed up. I wish I could have my children at my side at all times. I love them so much and I love watching them do things! I mean, they don’t even have to talk to me, I love watching them play with their toys and listening to them converse with each other and showing their wild imaginations.
Being a mother isn’t for everyone, I agree, and I also think maybe you should have never produced children. *shrugs*
Hope your kids don’t end up finding this online one day only to find their mommy dearest didn’t really like them that much.
I think you missed the biggest point of this post:
That you CAN be by your kids all the time, if you really want to.
If you want to keep making excuses about how, oh, you’d really LOVE to be with them, but can’t for whatever reason, you are being untruthful with yourself, and losing whatever sort of credibility you might have had to support your arguments.
People do what the really want to do. Unless they’re in prison.
“*shrugs*” just discredited your entire comment. how about you save supercute little idiocies like that for when you’re writing love notes to your children in sparkly pens instead of contributing to a serious conversation with an insult. winky face.
I have to agree 100% with Tom Parnell. Dave’s post may have been too insulting or too pointed, or simply too personal, but your reactive post is highly emotional with a few great points. It’s too bad your tone actually overshadows and reduces the effectiveness of these points. Overall, it’s exponentially abrasive, and this is not what I expect from you.
What a great post! Being honest is one of the best paths to happiness; it’s great that you can be real about yourself and life! Good luck with everything!
Um. Ouch. (Excellent post…)
Penelope, this post made my day. Actually, probably my year.
I love my children very very much. But, because child-brains do not work the same as adult-brains, they are not particularly stimulating companions. Does that mean I do not “love them for who they are?” Absolutely not. Does it mean after the fifth telling of the knock-knock joke on the walk to the part, I’m wishing I’d thought to bring a hip flask? You betcha.
David Dellifield is a sanctimonious hypocrite. I’d love to hear his “bona fides” regarding his experience with how FASCINATING it is to stay home with small children, all day, every day.
Someone who assumes that every moment of parenting is sheer bliss is completely fooling themselves. It’s like any other thing in your day-to-day experience. If you love your job or your significant other, does that mean that there isn’t times that they can drive you mad? Children are no different.
The out of whack response to the twitter message kinda makes me suspect that David Dellifield pushed the right button. Obviously you agree with him.
But posting his phone number?? What’s next, slash his tires?
All parents know that parenting is very hard. You don’t have to prove it to anyone.
Being a full time worker, with a nanny, and still complaining about having to spend time with the kids – no wonder some people commented.
I’m a 45 year old woman who has not met one woman who stayed home when my son was young ( he is now 19) that was happy. In fact most of them have issues about self worth and drink too much! Woman need a purpose and are not always it. Woman lie about how unhappy they are being home.
Let’s get honest…..
I dunno, Stacey, it sounds to me like your friends have other issues.
I’ve been at home with my kids for 17 years, and wouldn’t change anything except the amount of sleep I get. I sure could use some more, if only so I’m not dozing at my computer while trying to finish up my work. (I work from home, full time.)
No, it’s not all sunshine and roses and sparkly unicorns falling out of my ass all day. Parenting is sometimes gross and frustrating and exhausting. And it’s OK to say that, right out loud, where the whole world can hear.
But it’s NOT OK to blame your kids for your other unhappinesses. Grown ups take responsibility for themselves – or so we’re supposed to be teaching our children.
It seems to me that most of these replies are pretty much identical–in sentiment, style, and implied motive. All these vindications under generic user names are quite obviously Penelope, telling herself how perfectly natural her narcissistic delusions are.
The woman’s mad; run away.
My SIL used to say this all the time, that she would love to stay home, and that I was so “lucky” to be able to. Our household income was about half theirs at the time, or, equal to what her husband alone made, and we had more kids, so how was it “lucky”?
Staying home is a choice, and anyone can do it if they want to. Sometimes I wonder why I do, because you are ABSOLUTELY right that kids are not interesting 100% of the time. I don’t think many jobs are either, though, so I keep this in mind. In fact, whenever I feel too stultified, I watch The Office and feel much better.
Maybe I am narcotizing myself because I feel trapped (by religious beliefs, guilt, and yes, love and concern) in my stay-at-home path. After all, I am an ENTJ, and apparently that’s not the best personality type for this job.
The tweet directed to you immediately after your tweet was harsh and unthoughtful. WTF is what came to mind after reading his tweet – as in WTF does he know about you and your kids. He’s quick to judge you based on little knowledge. David admits he doesn’t understand the conversation part of Twitter after several months. I wonder why he continues to try and figure it out. Is it because it’s the ‘hot’ social media app? If he wants to learn how to use social media maybe he needs to find a different app that allows him to use more words so that he can do a better job of articulating his thoughts. A word of advice to David – think before you send (publish) your thoughts and try to perceive how your words may be interpreted by your audience.
I wanted to punch the air in joy not only after reading the post but in reading how many others echoed your sentiments, Penelope. Also my favorite post of yours, ever.
My sister was a stay-at-home mom with 4 children. She worked one summer in her husband’s office and called me from there, breathing excitedly. “The most amazing thing just happened!” she started. “I had to go to the bathroom… and I just WENT!”
Admitting that parenting is difficult and not always enjoyable has nothing to do with love. Of course you love your kids. I love my dog too but I don’t love cleaning up his vomit. I’m not a bad person for admitting that.
Your graceful and honest handling of such a prominent topic is commendable. I wish everyone could be this real.
I agree with this post but it did make me ask myself – why do we choose to have kids? I’ve often said it is a selfish decision because the kids don’t ask to be born so we have to bring 100% of ourselves to parenting. So much easier to do that when I’m at the office most of the day. And my nanny is WAY better at this than I am – but she reinforces my values which is key. I also recently wrote about how hard having a newborn is on a marriage – http://howdoyoudoit.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/guest-post-the-bundles-of-joy-that-bind-you/
I don’t agree with your knee-jerk, vicious response to Mr. Dellifield, but I do agree wholeheartedly with your judgment of child-rearing.
However, to me, that’s not the most interesting point. You correctly cite numerous academic studies that have demonstrated that the happiness of both individuals and couples declines after having children. It’s easy to understand why.
Then you go on to describe anecdotally how boring and stressful kids are. Soooooo true. Let’s see—- next, yours will become rebellious teenagers who will make your life miserable as you try in vain to control them. Then they’ll go away to college, use up all of your savings, and reject your values. Finally, they’ll get married and move away, and as Jewish mothers like to say, “You never call :( ”
Penelope, are you dense? David Dellifield is not the only one whose common sense is in doubt here. Given reality, why did you ever choose to have kids in the first place? Unless your contraception failed each time, you are the mindless biological breeder. “Having children is for those who don’t have the imagination to do something else.”
P.S. I love your straight career advice.
WOw, when I started typing (just submitted), there were only 23 comments. Now there are 36. You’ve certainly alighted on a passionate topic!
In the context of this being the blog of a professional career coach, I’m disturbed by what most people *aren’t* commenting on. Mr. Dellifield did not need to make a judgmental comment, and should not have. But Penelope, your response showed a shocking disregard for professional and personal boundaries. You called his work? and his home? specifically hoping to cause emotional distress in his family? That’s bizarre behavior, and completely at odds with what one would expect from a professional career coach. I’ve been pointing my college-age son toward your blog for career insight; however, when we discuss this one, it will be in the context of a warning. As in, “Son, when you see this kind of behavior from a boss, coworker, mentor or coach, run away — it’s not normal and it’s not healthy, and being around it will be career-limiting.”
P – Admittedly, I don’t care about David or think his comment was any better or worse than stuff I get via the Internet, but I love the discussion his remark provoked. I adore my son, but I’m the first one to say that I couldn’t stay home with him all day every day. I would go nuts. I love my career, I need my career. I will always be a working mom, and even though we do need the money, it’s still by choice. Hope all is well. A.
Totally harsh and way, way overboard to a snarky comment. Much like the Navy, you used a million dollar post to kill a $1 insult.
When you make your life and your thoughts, actions and everything else in between public by way of the WORLD WIDE WEB you are not entitled to then bitch about anything that anyone comments on. It’s a choice…you made it. Own it.
There’s no right or wrong, but there are consequences for your actions.
I love this post. I am glad you did your research and shared it with your readers. Only those who have done some care-taking can actually understand the difficulty of that role. As a young woman who has done a great amount of care-taking, I am glad when parents are honest that they cannot stay home with their kids all day, everyday. That’s just super-human. I give a lot of credit to parents who stay home and take care of their kids. It is not an easy task. I would challenge anyone to try it for just a week. Maybe even for 3 days. Or try being a single-parent for that amount of time. Not easy. I really think that Penelope has a right to share those feelings with the world-its not like the kids can understand her frustrations.
Living in Madison, I have had the unique opportunity to become close to parents from all over the spectrum. I have also had the opportunity to “play mom” for about 12 days. It was definitely not a walk in the park. While I love this kid so much, I completely understood why parents go to work. But then I also understood the struggle of having a full-time job and being a parent. At the time, I was a student, working 20 hours a week and taking care of the child.
While I digress, I really just wanted to say to Penelope that I think your blog is awesome and I am thankful you shared your struggles with the rest of us! In the end, I think parents need to realize that their choice to stay at home or to go to work is their own and they need to be confident in that. And when their plan falls by the wayside occasionally, its okay to struggle with that-and to talk about it.
Why am I unsubscribing from your blog?
Because you are the most self-centered, egotistical, misinformed woman who I’ve come across. The screwy ideas that are in that unfortunately directed brain of yours boggle my mind almost every time I read a post here. You are truly living in your own world, trying to pass off your neurotic opinions as fact because some guy at a big name college said once in a Time Magazine article some BS…
There are so many or your posts that I have taken issue with, but I won’t mention them all here. As far as this one is concerned, I would simply ask that you step back from your life for just a moment and take a look at what your current attitude is doing to the precious minds of your children. How are they being adversely affected by your self-centered pursuits? Remember, they come first.
I’m sure she’s devastated that you’re unsubscribing.
Actually, a mom who always puts her kids before herself is destined to totally screw up their lives. A mom who puts herself first has at least a chance that they’ll turn out with some respect for her and themselves.
Penelope, I feel ya girl.
Being alone with my children, especially when they were both under the age of 5, has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life. It’s getting easier and a lot more enjoyable now that they are 6 and 9 and can have actual intelligent conversations with me, but that also means now they can tell me how much they hate me when I don’t do what they want.
Tonight, my ex and I had a bonding moment when our daughter was throwing a full-scale hissy fit over packing to go on her first school trip overnight and he looked at me and said “just wait til she’s 14.” I said yep, “it’s gonna be painful.”
That I love them more than anything in this world goes without saying AND I love being with them a lot of the time, it can also be absolutely painful.
Great post. I love how you get right to the conflict that lies somewhere between the things that we want, the things we have to do, and the things that we think are important. There is a particularly difficult juggling act there, and you are absolutely right that it is supremely important that people be able to talk about that difficulty, even when that conversation happens in a difficult context.
Being frustrated by being stuck inside of that conflict doesn’t mean you don’t love your children, or that you are a bad parent, it means that you are struggling meaningfully within that space.
For all of those who believe in the absolute contrast between the (figuratively) white-hat parents who always adore being with their children at all times versus the (figuratively) black-hat parents who sometimes say “my kids are driving me crazy” and must, therefore, really be child-abusers, I wonder why you are so uncomfortable with the shades of grey in between. If one of the things you value is honesty, then shouldn’t you be praising those who struggle faithfully in the grey spaces? And while we’re chewing over the idea of honesty, can you really tell me that in those moments when you are really angry at your children for doing something stupid (and yes, I get that you are angry specifically because you love them), that you can really say that you adore your children and want them to be with you all the time? You don’t have to walk away for a little breathing time?
Who’s eschewing shades of grey here? I defy you to find a reply where anyone said that parents should always be happy and that it’s all rainbows and puppydogs. Yet you and PT and many other commentators are quite comfortable beating that strawman.
Parenthood is hard. There is no shortage of commentary attesting to that. It is not necessary to attempt to ruin someone’s reputation to make that point.
Also, you forgot to mention that part of this is a generational thing. When I was growing up, my mom sent us outside in the summer from the time the sun came up to dark. We only came in to eat. No parent was following us around doing activities with us. I don’t know what will happen to the generation of little kids today. When they grow up will they expect the world to do “programming” for them? Have activities ready so they never have to entertain themselves?
I have to comment on this comment: “Hope your kids don’t end up finding this online one day only to find their mommy dearest didn’t really like them that much.”
Um, breaking news. It wasn’t a secret that my mom wasn’t always having a blast. And that’s ok. I felt more loved, actually, because she made her sacrifices *despite* enjoyment. Changing piss-filled bedsheets at 4am wasn’t fun but she did it. She wasn’t exactly laughing her head off with joy just then but she did what she had to.
Not enjoying it didn’t mean she was abusing me about it — the “mommie dearest” reference is out of line. It’s meant to shut women up but since when has oppression ever helped anyone cope?
Actually, my mom’s honesty about the difficulties has taught me resiliency and how to be real. Studies show these factors are almost more important for happiness & success than anything else — when does life ever go as planned? If you are real, you can have *real* relationships, not mirages of intimacy that echo unrealistic superficial views. And solid relationships are an integral part of inner happiness. I’ll take an honest dialogue over false pretenses any day.
I love my child dearly. It’s cliche, but he truly is the best thing that has happened to me.
However, his birth (not him) was also the worst thing that has happened.
If most parents are truly honest with themselves, they’d agree with Ms. Trunk that it’s not all rosy being parents (whether you’re “full time” or not); her post, and the reactions, remind me of an essay by Ayelet Waldman (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/27/fashion/27love.html
See, during the summer I’m a stay-at-home dad (I’m a high school teacher), and I still get a mix of reactions when I tell people that. Friends – male and female – seem envious yet insincere when they say, “Oh, it must be great staying home,” and shocked when I answer with “It’s okay.”
With strangers, especially women, I still get the “what’s-wrong-with-him-that-he-doesn’t-have-a-job” look when I’m out with my son during “working hours.”
I suspect that people whom choose to work everyday and not stay home with their children, etc. think it’s wonderful pricely because they’ve never experienced it for longer periods than a week. Try a month, or longer, and you’ll get bored, crave adult conversation, etc.
This post is not about whether its OK to have mixed feelings about being with your kids full time. I think that’s a widely discussed and explored topic. Of course its OK! Personally I think its possible that someone could enjoy spending more time with their kids than working. That doesn’t make them delusional or full of shit. It would depend on the person, the kids, their day, and the quality of the job that was being left. If these people think it makes them better than everyone else because they feel this way then of course they are a-holes.
What this post IS about is pulling someone pants down on the playground and them kicking them in the balls. This is bullying – 100%. You got pissed off and then used this forum to get revenge. The hope being that all your sycophant followers will send this guy angry tweets and drive to Ohio to toilet paper his house. Of course he was insensitive and judging and wrong. You’d get the same attitude if you said that tweet out loud at the playground or in the supermarket. Maybe no one would verbally respond but you’d get the eye rolls. Welcome to Earth, get over it.
What you’ve done here far outstrips what he did, its wrong on so many levels. If you’re a proponent of social media you’ve just dealt it a severe blow by highlighting how it can be used by people with power to destroy people without power. Message – don’t participate.
I really think all the people cheering you on for “outing” this guy need to examine how they’d feel if it were them or someone they knew. I’m sure everyone out there has taken a tiny bit of evidence about someone else’s parenting and immediately lept to a broad, inaccurate generalization. Its what we do – its a defense mechanism to make us feel better about our parenting.
You want to tell him off – do it one on one. This is just gross.
Funny, when Penelope uses the internet to be rude to some guy, it’s bullying and unfair. But when some guy uses a public forum to diss Penelope, it’s just “some idiot guy”.
Last I checked, it’s her blog. Because people actually read it, she isn’t allowed to use it as she likes? What about the millions of other blogs out there complaining about someone in particular?
Much in the same way you just publicly condemned her for her actions?
David is a great example of the inherent prejudice that is just ACCEPTED against parents, particularly mothers. I personally think that this situation brought up a number of great topics to think about.
My point is that this is more than being rude. Its harassment. His wife didn’t post the tweet, why is Penelope calling her?
I agree, she is allowed to discuss any topic she wants in her blog. But she’s not allowed to bully, and if she does the community should call her on it. Its not good for anybody.
Yes I guess I have “publicly condemned her” but I did it here. I didn’t call her at the office, or call her ex and ask him what he thought of her abuse of power. I didn’t try to reach the nanny to patch me through to the kids.
I also agree that the topic is a good one and one she has blogged about before, but an unhealthy line has been crossed here. There are people who think the way we’re assuming this guy thinks, and that’s a problem. Let’s discuss how to deal with those challenges (which many people are in the comments). But why are we using this guys name when we don’t really know what he thinks.
Don’t you think its a little ironic that you’re able to classify this guy as having a “prejudice” based upon 2 lines in Twitter? Do we really think we have a complete picture of how this guy feels about parenting/work balance?
Lane hit the nail on the head. I have recently encoutered an avalanche of this prejudice against working mothers. I’m not sure what started it but, man it’s been really apparently lately. I love my kids, I think they have a great life. My husband and I work crazy schedules so my kids are with my parents (my daycare) for the least amount of time possible.
I’m so tired of all the judging and the I’m perfect and your not.
Very well articulated. Couldn’t agree more.
Hmmm — I’m curious how a dad would be treated who admitted he forgot his chidren’s coats (but remembered his own) because he wanted to think about more interesting things.
Agreed. It’s like you know that you have a large forum of readers who will rise to your defense. As if tracking him down to call him at work and home wasn’t enough…..
Thin skin much? Welcome to the interwebz. It’s surprising that somebody so involved in the most social parts of the web would react so strongly to one stupid comment.
I totally agree that David had no need to make the comment he did, but this punishment does not fit the crime.
Not giving out his number was a last-minute act of amnesty? It amazes me that you were even tempted to post it!
You compared him commenting to people calling you the “C-word” on Yahoo Finance? His comment may have been a bit self righteous, but it was not on the same vulgar level.
I love your blog, but this post was a bit hard to stomach.
Absolutely brilliant ~ this is my favorite post by far and I have been following your blog now for 2 years.
I love the line you used, “Let me ask you something. Do those guys check their email when they're getting a blow job? Of course not. Do you know why? Because it's INTERESTING.”
This post left me rolling on the floor! Great way to start a Monday…thank you Penelope!
What really pisses me off is the point you make about men vs. women in this thing. Completely unfair standards. David wouldn’t be messaging men about their irritation with their kids, but feels that some woman should not be publicly complaining? Barefoot and pregnant anyone?
I just have to say, selfishly, that I appreciate this post mainly for the honesty about tracking down David. I have this same reaction sometimes to people who are outright cretins. I never have called one. I wish his wife had answered (to echo someone else’s comment above.)
I see alot of you people on here are posting how David is a “loser who doesn’t want to spend time with his kids” and that he “is prejudice against women” and that “he is an asshole”…..so I take it that at least a few of you know him personally? Oh, and a presume that some of you know his wife, seeing as how some of you have stated that “she probably didn’t like her kids either” and “she would rather work than spend time with her kids that’s why she didn’t answer the phone”. Must be a completely different David, and his wife-which I REFUSE TO SAY HER NAME, as the psycho who writes this post may want to stalk her. I know these people. I can guarantee ANY OF YOU that have some kind of “OPINION” on this topic, that any one of you would absolutely LOVE to have people in your life as wonderful as this couple. They BOTH volunteer all of their time to be around children ALL DAY LONG!!! They even own a preschool. So before any of you decide to throw things out there about this family, that I KNOW that none of you know…..mabye do your research a little before making such horrible posts about him. He would be the first person to lend you a hand if there was ever a need. So everyone that does not PERSONALLY know him, really should not be speaking of him in an ill-mannered way. I understand, he may have made a comment that Psycho Penelope here took the wrong way……however I am sure that he meant just what he said. If she didn’t want to be around them, then send them his way. This family LOVES children. As for Penelope and what she said, how can any GOOD mother actually be ok with this? I am not defending that every parent doesn’t want to pull their hair out sometimes, nor am I saying that every single second with your children is wonderful. HOWEVER, is anyone really reading her post????? The woman states that by being with her children, she is only going to have stupid, unintelligent conversation! REALLY???? There are really people out there that think this is ok to POST to the WORLD about their children??? You can have the thought, hell you can even feel that way, but to put your children out there as making you bored and draining your (already non-existent) brain cells is what I would call A HORRIBLE MOM!!! I can guarantee you, the only reason that anyone is posting anything different on here and taking her side is there are people out there that for some stupid reason think that because she has some blog, she is some form of internet celebrity. Hell, Micheal Jackson molested children……..yet people still loved him. Just saying. On top of everything, people applauded this nutcase because she POSTED A BLOG WITH HIS NAME IN IT AND CITY WHERE HE IS FROM, ALMOST PUT HIS NUMBER IN THE POST, CALLED HIS WORK, CALLED HIS HOME, TRIED TO CALL HIS WIFE…….REALLY PEOPLE???? You guys really are ok with this??? Anyone that is ok with this, I am saying a prayer for you right now……may God send you a stalker as well and allow you to experience what Penelope has done to this wonderful man. Anyone wanting to say anything to this post and proclaim to be a Christian, really think about what this woman did to another person!! This post is from YEARS AGO and still going strong to this day!!! Do you think that God would be ok with this behavior??? May God have mercy on anyone’s soul who thinks this kind of behavior is appropriate, and Penelope…..may you have to answer to God for your actions.