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.

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  1. LPC
    LPC says:

    Love the post. Disagree with one part. It’s not harder to stay home with kids than go to work. Not all the time. It’s harder to stay home with 2 kids under 3 than it is to go to a mid-level management job. It’s easier to stay home with 3 kids aged, 5, 7, and 10 than it is go to an executive level job. Let’s say, at a startup. And for kickers, let’s say that startup is running out of money…

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I have kids ages 3 (almost 4) and 6 (almost 7). And I have a startup that is always on the brink of running out of money.

      I’d take the startup any day of the week: Way easier. There are rules, there are benchmarks, there are schedules adults stick to, and there are quantifiable achievments.

      In a startup, each day you have a sense of whether you you succeed or fail. There is nothing like that with the day in and day out of parenting.

      Penelope

      • LPC
        LPC says:

        Well, first of all you aren’t home free until the youngest is 5. Second of all, I think one of your kids is special needs. Puts you in a different category. And yes, kids don’t tell you if you are succeeding or failing. You don’t get the 1 rating in the annual review. But other people should be giving you the nod when you are doing a good job, their teachers for example, or spouses when they are around. And finally, all kids go to sleep. And for me at least, when I would look in on them sleeping, I would get all the endorphins otherwise obtainable from corporate attagirls. And then some.

        There is room in the world for women who love taking care of children and for women who don’t. As long as the children get taken care of.

      • James
        James says:

        So this comment from you proves it – you’re not a real mom, you’re a part-time mom. You couldn’t make your marriage work and now you’re destroying something that you do have control over. I really feel for your kids. The fact that you are putting them in the same bucket is so wrong. You have a choice to have a start up, you don’t have a choice to be a mom.
        It’s this liberal bullshit that is killing our society.

  2. Juliette
    Juliette says:

    I dig it, PT.

    My job in social work might not be so, uh interesting, if people really were honest about what having kids really means. You simply can’t auto parent. Being realistic and honest about it your greatest contribution.

    Thank you.

  3. The Opinionator
    The Opinionator says:

    Well you have ensured that few will present a dissenting or even somewhat critical response moving forward here or on twitter. Not sure if that is a good thing. Your mileage may vary.

  4. Hazel
    Hazel says:

    “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.”

    Penelope, please don’t generalize. Consider — even remotely — that what’s applicable for you may not necessarily be applicable for others. There’s no holy grail on this kind of stuff. And please don’t be mean. You condemn David’s behavior, and then mirror it back to your readership.

  5. Ron Graham
    Ron Graham says:

    Sorry, I’m going to disagree with most of the rant. It simply is not on.

    You went completely overboard over 140 characters. This is what a creepy stalker would do. You *called* the guy at his *workplace* to tell him off? Are you *kidding*? If what he said bothered you that much, then your skin – at least on this subject – is simply too thin, and you need to build a layer of callouses.

    You call people at the workplace to discuss work. You, of all the people in the universe, should know this better than anyone. How would you feel if any random dipshit (like me, for instance, LOL) would start calling you at work to counter-rant to your rants?

    And then publicly naming this guy by name, as though he were on “Megan’s List” or something. That has been an Internet no-no for over 25 years. Someone as skilled as you in use of the social media should have known this.

    Finally, your inability to recognize shades of gray in a *tweet*, of all things – less than 140 characters – is simply shameful. It’s like jumping on someone for telling a joke without including a smiley.

    Notice I have not said word one about your mommying. I’m sure you do just fine at it; were you to actually talk to this poor sod David, even through an *e-mail* or a *DM*, he’d probably have said the same thing. But no, that seems not to be what you do. You’d rather go off and make enemies both for him and for you.

    I’m really disappointed in you, Penelope. I’ve been recommending you to others: that stops here, unless you can show me some strength of character. Better do it soon, because I’m sure you’ll be posting something else in a week.

    • Ron Graham
      Ron Graham says:

      If you’d have bothered to look at Dellifield’s Twitter home, you’d have seen this:

      Can a kid throwing up monopolize 24 hours, YES!!!!

      There was your counter-argument. Not what you actually wrote. Do homework much?

      “Are you intentionally being mean to me in a public forum?” Jesus. What next?

  6. Farrah
    Farrah says:

    I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. As it turns out what I wanted was to /want/ to be a stay-at-home…because it’s what makes you a good mom…right?

    But after some time of having my daughter home, I realized it was just too hard for me. Not in a “I give up too easily” way. But in a “not everybody is cut out for this” kind of way.

    What I really want is to work part time and get to /choose/ my time with her. That way she gets some good socialization and scholastic skills in pre-school. And I get positive time with her, rather than I’m-too-tired-to-deal-with-you time. Parenting is exhausting, and I’d rather give her less time that is quality than an overload of time that is short-tempered and unpleasant for all involved.

  7. Steve-O
    Steve-O says:

    Nice one. I think it’s the equivalent of someone giving you the finger and then finding you waiting at their house to call them out on it.
    Just because you have an opinion doesn’t always mean you have to share it. I’m sure David Dellifield (and others) will think twice before hitting the send button next time they stumble across an opinion that differs from their own. In the past I have done the same kind of thing and act like an asshat because I’m hiding in the interweb. I only recently realized that the problem doesn’t lie in what someone else has said but how I choose to react to it. If it bothers me I have to ask myself why.

  8. Hazel
    Hazel says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Ron. And with James, above.

    I’ve also stopped recommending brazencareerist on account of this post (and similar needlessly vitriolic posts that have cropped up here and there in the recent past).

  9. Editormum
    Editormum says:

    P: I am really, really shocked and dismayed by this post. It’s so over the top. Yeah, okay, the guy made an insensitive and unkind comment. But you responded to his bow-and-arrow shot with a couple of nukes!

    Not only that, but you insulted the hell out of me. I WOULD like to be home 100% with my kids; I DO enjoy their company, and I am NOT full of shit. Nor am I a liar. Oh, and my kids DO make me happy. No matter what the research says. (Lies, damned lies, and statistics, m’dear.)

    I CAN’T stay home with my kids because I am a single mother who has to have a job to keep a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. I miss the way things were when I was a full-time stay-home mom. I look forward to the two one-week vacations I take each year, when I can spend 9 straight days with my kids.

    We play video games, go to the park and zoo, hit the museums and planetariums, read together, play Putt-Putt, go to Chuck E. Cheese, and do a zillion things that we don’t get to do in the normal course of a week. We also catch up on household chores, tackle yard and gardening projects, work on scouts and karate stuff, and do boring stuff … together.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t times when I would gladly ship my kids off to someone else so I could take a break. Or times when mothering / being home is unpleasant. Kids are hard work, and sometimes it’s nasty work. I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting it, and I don’t think anyone censures you when you say it. But if your attitude is that they are a pain in the ass and nothing is better than to be able to foist them onto someone else … well, that raises people’s hackles. It’s no secret that parenting is tough, but you did choose to create the little savages. Once you’ve made them, it’s your job to civilize them.

    I also want to point out that being a “stay-home” parent does not need to mean that you are “cooped up at home” 24/7. There are so many things to do once the kidlets are out of diapers. Meet other parents at the park: kids play and you talk. Take the kids to dance/sports/music lessons and spend the time reading or writing or taking your own dance/sports/music/whatever lessons. Take on freelance work. (I edited book manuscripts at the kitchen table while the boys napped or played in the yard/park.)

    Being a “stay-home” parent also does not mean doing nothing but focusing on your kids 24/7. Kids need breathing space and time for their own thing, too. Being a stay-home parent means you have to learn to take your time when they take theirs, and to maximize every minute of every day. Just like you do at the office.

    Now, put away the nukes, get a little perspective, and stop feeling guilty about the choices you’ve made in your life. We each do the best we can, and over-reacting to strangers because they pushed a guilt button is just not healthy. For you or for your kids.

  10. Irina I
    Irina I says:

    Oh my God! That is so annoying what he did! When I saw your tweet about the kids, I thought it was risque, but then I took another TWO SECONDS to think and saw that you were referring to time spent with them while they play video games or something. Of course it would be boring! You’re not saying your kids are boring, you’re saying you’re bored while watching them because you’re not into games that 5-year-olds are into. Urgh. I’m so annoyed!

    These people really should learn to actually READ, not just skim and then interpret the sentence in any way they want.

    I commend you for being honest. Of course this tweet engendered controversy. And you knew it. But someone has to step up and say these things.

  11. Amber Shah
    Amber Shah says:

    Wow, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve mastered the conversation part of twitter.

    I hate guys who have absolutely no idea what it would be like to actually be a stay at home parent but expect all women to love it. I worked up until the day I went into labor and the absolute standstill boringness of it was a shock to my system. I struggled with it and still do, I think most moms do.

    I struggled with this and still do, but currently have found harmony in working part time. My son is now only 15 months and only recently started, you know, doing things. A huge part of my day is spend feeding, cleaning and napping.

    I do it because my son is young and I feel it’s important BUT I’m a left-minded, uber-logical software developer and lead who used to manage million dollar projects. I am not one of the people to which being a SAHM comes naturally.

    So I get it. However… I’m about to say something that might get be hatemail and I’m sorry if it bothers anyone:

    I DO think it wouldn’t be so outrageous to enjoy a single day like that sans nanny. You’ve posted about how much you have to work and, therefore, not see them. So when you do, perhaps if you got off twitter (to complain), got off your computer (to look up David) and thought about them and their need of coats (rather than about your lack of intellectual stimulation), then maybe you would be able to enjoy their company a little more.

  12. A. Swerdlow
    A. Swerdlow says:

    Wow. Not only is your blog full of self absorbed, self righteous and mean-spirited anger, but your entire audience of kiss-ups seem equally lost in their own reality-TV inspired confessional tizzy.

    I believe David Dellifield is correct. Let me explain why.
    The pop intellectualism that you claim you so crave is exactly what David is also tapping into when he psychoanalyzes your intentions, motivations and state of mind. Your decision to openly discuss your children in a public forum opens the door to all those deputized caretakers of the public good to step in and sound the alarm. David and others have been trained by countless Dr. Phils, and other TV shrinks to identify signs of possible trouble when it comes to child rearing, marital violence, etc –

    As good old Malcolm Gladwell hypothesizes in his book Blink, most people are able to intuitively put random facts and information together to form a pretty darn accurate (and almost instant) picture of reality when confronted by complex issues. In other words, David was able to read your countless blogs and tweets and put together the fact that you are, or are quickly becoming a pretty crappy parent. I would say that if presented with the exact same evidence (written blogs and tweets), a majority of random people would come to the same conclusion. Maybe instead of hating David, you will one day come to appreciate his insights into your character–insights that you may be too conflicted to see for yourself.

    Now, the inner little girl that you seem to wear on your sleeve will probably not like this post either. She will tug on your inner rage and demand another emotional, half-intelligent donnybrook of a response. Instead, I would ask that you simply take a deep breath and relax. You are probably not as bad a parent as your writing would suggest. I think that your personal and career focus on Gen Y is perhaps the problem. As a pre-menopausal, middle-aged woman trying to speak to 20 somethings, you are consciously or unconsciously littering your blogs with hints of behavior that appeals to your target market, but that you are simply too old to credibly have. You have lived too many years to still whine about how dumb your kids are and how much of a waste it is for someone as intelligent as you to be dealing with intellectually underdeveloped prepubescents. I get it, I've been there. It will soon pass and you will realize how dumb those past statements were. Like parachute pants and big hair, it all passes. It's all a phase. No hard feelings, I still like your blog – most of the time.

    • jenniferlynn
      jenniferlynn says:

      Wow. If only you’d used fewer words and more thought in your comment. What a witches brew of untested theories, uneducated assumptions and ungrounded judgment.

      “Pre-menopausal middle-aged woman,” indeed! Just…wow.

      • sophie
        sophie says:

        Actually, A. Swerdlow’s comments are spot on.

        I’m 50, been through the turbulent pre-menopausal years of my 40’s, and done raising my kids. So I know. As do a host of other women who’ve been through the same. I can’t imagine trying to deal with young children, career, dating, business start-ups, and more during the hormonal shifts that occur during those years.

        I’ve also wondered about PT’s subject matter and audience. She offers advice to Gen Y, but in doing so she often appears trying to BE Gen Y; which, of course, she’s far from. Even more interesting, it seems a majority of commenters also are much older than Gen Y.

  13. Chris
    Chris says:

    My takeaway:

    It’s OK that I can’t figure out whether the clones are the good guys or the bad guys in the Clone Wars. I love my 8 year-old son, but I just can’t stay engaged in his Clone Wars descriptions long enough to know if I should be rooting for the droids or the clones. I do know that Captain Rex is a good guy.

  14. Joselle
    Joselle says:

    My favorite lines: “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.”

    Awesome. I love, love, love this post.

    This weekend, I was reading From the Hips, a book on pregnancy (I’m not pregnant but everyone around me is and I want to be in the near future). One of the mothers anonymously quoted in the book talked about an incident at work when she just got back from maternity leave and was having lunch with coworkers. They were asking how motherhood was and she said, “I love it. He’s so sweet and precious, just gorgeous. But every once in a while I look at him and think, ‘God, why do you have to be such an asshole!'” All her coworkers gasped in horrow except for the father of three who guffawed.

    I also talked to my good friend this weekend who is the mother of one and doesn’t want anymore kids because she doesn’t think she’s very maternal. She loves her kid but she now knows that being a mom is not the biggest thing that defines her. I don’t think her child is in danger because of this. In fact, he isn’t because she knows this about herself. She knows that she can love and care for him but still think he’s mostly a pain in the ass. People think that about their families all the time.

    We think children are precious and that motherhood is sacred except we really don’t because children are amongst the most abused, powerless demographics in the whole world (don’t tell me about spoiled Millenials; take your head out of your butt and think about kids who die from diarrhea everyday and we do nothing). And mothers are amongst the most villified, unsupported, and unpaid demographic ever. We can romanticize parenting (and motherhood specifically) because we lie about the realities of it all the time. And that does no favors for anyone.

    I totally know having kids won’t make me happy. I think about what pregnancy will do to my body, how I probably won’t have sex for a million years after, and how my kid will hate me for 5,000 things before they are 8. But then I don’t want to be a mom to be happier. I want to be one because the experience of never being a mother in my lifetime would make me sad. There’s a difference there.

    I am an INFP and the link you gave on that type rings very true to me. I could see myself staying at home and I am already very maternal (read: controlling and always right!). That personality type also needs a lot of alone time, however, and I also know I’d be sad about not doing other things with my life so I will work and be a parent.

  15. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I have to completely agree. While I have no children of my own, I was a live-in nanny for a very wealthy family. And even though it was my job to be with the children all day, day-in and day-out, MY GOD IT WAS BORING. I chose the job, yes, but it was a means to be able to live in Germany for a summer and get all the experience that had to offer.

    I loved those boys, no doubt, but I spent more time with those children than their own parents. Why did the mother chose to go back to her private practice as a doctor, even though her husband makes millions of dollars? Because it was what she loved to do.

    And playing with those boys for 8-10 hours a day was mind-numbing. And when I was able to go down to my bedroom in the (very nice, marbled floored basement) I either cracked open a book or connected with friends on the internet. It was my detox every night.

    So, what I’m saying is, even if it’s your job to be with children, you aren’t expected to love it 100% of the time.

  16. Evelyn
    Evelyn says:

    Monday morning at the office is my second favorite time slot of the week, just after Friday after work. I love them both for the same reason: the change. Friday, the whole weekend with my family is ahead of me: I love domestic life. But I know I would suck as a stay at home mom because by Sunday night, I’m frustrated that the house is somehow still a mess, the toddler is watching Madagascar for the 4th time that day and I haven’t had a moment alone since that car ride home from the office. I don’t know how my mostly stay at home husband does it for 5 days at a time.

    Kids can be so much love & fun, but they can also be demanding, frustrating people who aren’t sure what they want — but whatever it is, it’s not what you’ve got.

  17. Danilo Campos
    Danilo Campos says:

    I saw your tweet and frowned, but wasn’t going to say anything.

    “I mean, intellectuals need intellectual stimulation, and that's not something kids give.”

    But now I’ve seen this. This is the crappiest thing I’ve ever seen you write. Kids who have been taught to think for themselves and ask questions of the world are the most intellectually stimulating people you’ll ever meet. They want to know how things work and continually try to make sense of life based on their limited but ever-growing experience. Their questions, if you do more than patronize them, are often fascinating, forcing you to rethink mundane, unjust or utterly illogical realities that you take for granted.

    I consider myself a smart person. Some of the most stimulating and intellectually demanding conversations I’ve ever had were with kids.

    The world is fascinating through the eyes of children. I feel bad for you that either you never learned to talk to them like real people or never taught them they could talk like real people. Try to see them as more than, as you would have it, “cute” but ultimately boring resource hogs. They are honest-to-god people. As soon as you consented to their birth, teaching them to become good, kind, decent, curious people became the most important and meaningful thing you’re ever going to do. They’ll outlive Brazen Careerist or any other venture you undertake.

    If it hasn’t yet been squeezed out of them, train your children to be curious. If they’re already curious, try actually talking to them like people. Either way, I guarantee they’ll become a lot more interesting when you see their minds as worthy of engagement on equal terms. If they are boring, it is because you have made them that way.

    As for Dellifield, you’re really working hard on eroding your credibility lately. First, all these puerile twentysomething posts, now cyber bullying of some guy who dared to disagree, however sanctimoniously, with your assessment of how intellectually stimulating your children should be.

    As long as your life is going to be as hectic as related in your blog, you need to appoint a safety valve you can trust to ensure you don’t post this kind of crap in anger. Dellifield’s a jerk, but your response is shockingly worse. You don’t get any gold stars for not publishing his phone number, either.

    I’ve read your blog for years. I’ve often disagreed with you, but you had my respect. This time, I’m just embarrassed for you.

  18. Leonard
    Leonard says:

    Dellifield gets his name in a post headline and now folks are all a-Twitter about him.

    Man alive. I should have insulted you years ago and now I’d be famous.

    • Ron Graham
      Ron Graham says:

      Dude. If he were “famous,” he’d have more than 150-some-odd followers.

      I’m following him now, thanks to Penelope’s plunk. But you know, just sayin’.

  19. Casual Surfer
    Casual Surfer says:

    I agree with the other comments that say you’ve gone overboard here. Calling someone at work, and then at home, because they criticized something you wrote is … psychotic.

    I’m someone who’s actually heard you speak and heard you answer questions from the audience, and trust me when I say you aren’t exactly Miss Supportive Sunshine when you converse with people in real life. Maybe you feel it’s okay for you to be short with people & border on rude because you’re an expert in your field, but then again maybe Dellifield feels he’s an expert in parenting. Does that make it okay?

    My advice – Turn the other cheek, take the high road, and practice the Golden Rule. You’ll feel better about yourself.

  20. Chad (not my real name!)
    Chad (not my real name!) says:

    No sympathy for that David guy, but, after all the nasty comments written right here on your blog over the years, that little tweet is what caused you to totally lose it?

    Backing slowly out of the room now . . .

  21. Michael D. Hall
    Michael D. Hall says:

    I took a position that allows me to work from home full-time. My wife works with me and we have an Aunt who comes over and takes care of our daughter for the bulk of the day. I’m glad I made this decision, and my wife is glad that she has something to work on other than diapers and feedings for our baby. I agree with the content of your post to some extent but not the tone. There’s allot of snark on both sides of this issue and not allot of understanding of the other persons perspective. Most of the men I’ve worked with in IT are extremely affectionate fathers and are as active as possible with their children, but their livelihood requires them to be outside the house. If they’d have their druthers they would be much closer than they’re able to. Maybe David’s statement was born out of resentment that he can’t spend as much time and be as involved as he’d like to be because of the realities of his situation. This histrionic assault on an opinion you don’t agree with is unfortunate to me, especially because I’ve recommended your blog and bought your book for my wife. Not all men want the “women-folk” tied up in servitude, and not all men are unappreciative of the hard-work of Mothers.

    Regarding the “intelligent people are bored by children” comment. I like to think of myself as an intelligent person, (Since titles seem to matter here, I’m in my early 30’s and a Director of IT for a HR services company. So I think I have been ambitious enough in my career to comment on this. ;-) ) I find my daughter to be a fascinating wealth of understanding of what being a human is and a brilliant reflection on what I am. I am amazed to see my little quirks acted out by such a tiny body (how she sleeps, little ticks, etc.). Watching a child grow is an amazing experience and there’s so much to learn. But I will admit sometimes I do want to just go sit quietly and read a book or not be interrupted while coding. But that’s the sacrifice I chose to accept when my wife and I decided to create a new life. I’m looking forward to here becoming a hyper-kinetic child and hearing all the little babbling things children say and do.

    • Michael D. Hall
      Michael D. Hall says:

      I wish I hadn’t commented earlier, after reading some of the follow up’s and the sycophantic cackles I think that Penelope is the online equivalent of Oprah. A very intelligent person who writes about good stuff when she talks about business but comes across as very petty and vengeful when someone says something she doesn’t like.

      It’s a free-Internet, you have a right to your opinion, and so did David. But you have a bully-pulpit. Maybe less bullying and more pulpit next time.

      I’m going to check this book out, heard about it on NPR and it sounds quite appropriate in this case: “The Braindead Megaphone.

  22. Hank Putnam
    Hank Putnam says:

    I can appreciate all of what you say. Shouldn’t have to be so black
    and white in the world. Sometimes, the husband, really, could be
    the one to be there, in the home. If I could have made it as a
    writer, I dreamed of being a Garp-like father/writer. Yes, I am
    sure the reality can be a real killer. If I had a nanny, though,
    even as an idea, I would have gone for custody against my first wife.
    May she rest in peace. Soon.

    I’m sure the day-to-day will eat your brain, but right now, all
    I have, are fond memories of staying up all night with a baby
    after a 12 hour shift -plus a part time job. Hope your nanny
    is a Latina. I currently live in Buenos Aires. Lived in Costa
    Rica before this. Latins love their kids. And their friends.
    Publicly. Male cops here kiss each other on the cheek when
    they say goodbye. I am beginning to believe that our ideas
    about the longevity of retarded children is incorrect, and
    possibly has more to do with acceptance. I am seeing more
    and more down syndrome sons and daughter with gray
    hair her. I think they are simply loved and accepted more
    by their families here than in the U.S. With a nanny from
    south or central america, I sometimes think that even I
    could raise a child. I sure love the fun parts.

    Thanks.

  23. cd
    cd says:

    didnt read the pages of comments, but i can help but think…

    p, you kind of invite (notice i didnt say ‘deserve’) this kind of thing by posting in such an intimate way to a very public forum. its part of who you are and what you do and you make no bones about it, but why is he wrong for voicing his *opinion* (rightly or wrongly) in the same forum on a thread that *you* began…

    and for what its worth, i agree with your original comment.

  24. Nisha
    Nisha says:

    I just want to point out that this post is now the #1 result in a Google search for David Dellifield. As Dan Schawbel might say: you totally wrecked that guy’s personal brand. Way to go. :)

  25. Calisara
    Calisara says:

    ha! i stay at home all day with two cats, and by 5pm i am going batty, i must be a horrible cat lover.

  26. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    You know what Penelope, I thought that Twitter post was great. I even laughed. Everyone feels that way sometimes about people they love, and it’s not a crisis. You are onlydifferent in that you have the gall to say the taboo things that everyone thinks. Bravo. You’re my honesty role model.

  27. Dominic Humoroso
    Dominic Humoroso says:

    To all you wondering why PT has a thin skin about this, he didn’t just criticize her parenting style. He basically said she doesn’t love her kids:

    “send them to OH, we’ll enjoy them for who they are”

    And later: “kids have faults, lets love for who they are”

    That’s crap. It’s not like she bemoaned their lack of interest in Proust and thinks they’re letting her down. She just said what a lot of SAH parents are too afraid to say out loud: kids are often boring.

    Also, it seems that those for & against this post break down pretty solidly along gender lines. Hm. I wonder what the breakdown is of fathers vs. mothers in terms of gross hours spent with their kids per annum?

    Disclosure: I don’t have kids.

  28. wja
    wja says:

    Not an appropriate comment by DD for sure. But really, are you proud of yourself for working to create enemies across the world for him? Is that the way you want to live your life? Wouldn’t it just be easier to block him? It’s OK for you to post about your personal life and sexual escapades but you get upset when someone takes what you wrote at face value?

    He’s entitled to his opinion and you can not like staying home with your kids all at the same time. No reason for you to go off the deep end on him.

    PS, stalking is illegal in a lot of areas so maybe you should watch that in the future.

  29. NYC Memories
    NYC Memories says:

    LOL to comparing blow job to kid soccer game…

    I think this is a great post, but it is somewhat contradictory to your previous post about how women are practically equal (because they are making more than men) in work places therefore you hate getting awards or going to groups that are for women only. Because look, you just got kicked in the head by some dude for being a bad mother because you miss work, maybe this is a reason to promote women who are successful outside of the house?

  30. Carla
    Carla says:

    See, this is why I wish I had your public forum. I get pissed off at people like this David guy all the time, but only you have the chutzpah to make him pay, and to warn off other fools. I don’t think it’s over the top — the guy wrote to you, so he must have some idea of how you blog. I’d never dream of pissing off a blogger with such a big audience, a sometimes-caustic tone and brutal honesty about her personal life.

    And I would go mad if I was forced to stay home with my kids. Even today, Easter Monday, when their school and after-care centre are both closed, I’m at work and they’re at playdates, because after three days of togetherness as a family, I am enjoying a day at the office. And don’t anyone dare say I don’t love my kids, or I’ll tell Penelope on you!

  31. Brandon
    Brandon says:

    “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.”

    It seems this is the same kind of generalization that upset you enough to write this column. Which makes me realize that really it’s all about having a snappy headline and a divisive column to up your readership.

    Kids are hard work, you’re not a bad mother for saying so, or for thinking so. But just because something doesn’t work for you, or isn’t your idea of fun, doesn’t mean that anyone who says otherwise is full of shit.

    You’re slinging the same mud that you seem to be personally upset about being hit with. That removes any chance you had of the high ground in this argument, and makes reading your column something that is no longer worth my time.

  32. Polly Pearson
    Polly Pearson says:

    All,

    If this conversation struck a nerve, you might enjoy a book that ~100 working mothers (and 1 working dad) from around the world just produced (April ’09) called the “Working Mother Experience.” In it, they tell stories that touch on guilt, pain and joy — as well as why they go to work and the impact of this decision on their sanity and on their families. The book is above all else “honest.” The parents all work at EMC. The book was born from two moms discussing a topic, just like this, in the hallway of the company HQ one day.

    You can download the book for free at: http://www.emc.com/collateral/about/jobs/pdf/h4470-working-mother-bk2.pdf. If you’d like a copy of the book mailed to you or to join the conversations (or contribute your own working mom/dad story) happening as a result of this book, check out the blogs:
    http://www.workingmotherexperience.com; http://www.pollypearson.com.

    Regards,
    Polly Pearson
    Mom, Blogger, and
    VP of Employment Brand and Strategy Engagement at EMC

  33. Don B.
    Don B. says:

    I was hoping to hear about the intergalactic battles. It will be okay Penelope. To your kids you are just mom and that will always be enough for them. At least until the teens anyway. Honesty with kids better than anything.

  34. annie
    annie says:

    I think almost every parent has felt this way about their kids. You stuff it to the back of your mind and you suck it up. It’s called “Being a mature adult who made the adult decision to have kids.”
    “No intellectual banter”?? How about you try talking to them. They’re YOUR kids. If you tried talking to them you would find that kids say the most amazing things, and often very fuuny.

    The REALLY sad thing is you and so many other people don’t have the ability to realize that they’re not just “Kids” or “undeveloped little people”, they’re YOUR kids and one day they will be adults and can possibly be the best friends you’ll ever have. And they’ll hopefully take care of YOU one day when you’re feeble and you’re shitting your pants.

    Shouldn’t we treat our own children with a little more respect?

  35. Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com
    Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com says:

    Penelope, regardless of what David said, the comment you put up on Twitter (I saw the original) made me go “ouch” for the KIDS’ sake. (I hope they can’t read your tweets.) And it wasn’t about Staying at Home With the Kids. It was about Staying at Home With the Kids for ONE DAY. What you implied (or how I heard it) was that staying at home for ONE DAY was painful for you. Boring. Impossible. If I were your child I’d be really hurt by that comment. I think that is what people might have been responding to, no? I’m a mom. I was a single parent. Was it tough? Hell, yes. But I wasn’t tweeting about it or broadcasting that fact in public. I might have told a few sympathetic mothers, but not my daughter for Pete’s sake, or in a place where it might leak back to them and hurt them like heck, as in, for YEARS. As in scar them. Good you know NOW you’re not cut out for it. But there you are. A mom. Do your best, dear.

      • Meredith
        Meredith says:

        First paragraph:

        I tried for four years to be a stay-at-home mom, only to discover that I am not meant to do that.

      • Sara
        Sara says:

        She said she wasn’t mean to be a stay at home mom, not that she wasn’t meant to be a mom at all, which is why Kathryn was saying.

  36. Dominic Humoroso
    Dominic Humoroso says:

    Kathryn, you don’t seriously believe a six-year-old will one day read her Tweet and be scarred by it? Part of the fun of becoming a grown-up is remembering what a pain you were as a kid.

    I cried on the first day of school, generally was a grouch when I got up in the morning, and was way too obsessed with Star Wars. And sometimes my mom yelled at me about those and a thousand other things. Now at family gatherings these are funny things to discuss.

    I have enough self esteem not to have needed mommy to tell me “you’re special and interesting” every breathing moment. Or for her to have even listened to most of what I said.

  37. April
    April says:

    I’ve only skimmed the comments, but I’m sorry to see that so many are missing your point. I’m not a stay-at-home mom and of course that means that I let my kids be raised by others, so I’m sure none of those people will care what I say, or place no value in it, but whatever.
    I loved this and am so glad it got tweeted for me to find!

  38. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    What is really sad is that the whole culture says kids are special but their priorities are really low when it comes to making the programs that help them develop into functioning adults. Anything having to do with educating a new generation is seen as superfluous by our society.
    I think I just realized also why I don’t like Twitter – and I wonder if David still likes it.

  39. Eduardo Di Lascio
    Eduardo Di Lascio says:

    You make my world so very much richer. And saner. Thanks for the all the wisdom.

    Eduardo Di Lascio
    São Paulo
    Brazil

  40. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    Geez–I have to admit I’m surprised that anything anyone could say to you would upset you this much. Do you get this upset every time someone accuses you of not loving your kids because you work and travel all the time and have a house manager and a nanny? What was it that bothered you so much about this particular comment?

    I’m not really sure where I stand on this issue: I was a stay-home mom for 8 years–and miserable for most of that time. Now I work and feel guilty when I have to go to work when my kids are sick or on vacation. Just like every other mom who either feels guilty working or hates being at home but needs to be there because she feels its what’s best for her kids.

    I guess all I have to add to this conversation is that it kills me when people assume that every job is interesting and intellectually stimulating, and therefore better than being home with kids. Most people don’t have a startup or a blog with 32,000 subscribers and are at the mercy of a boss when their kids are sick. Most people sit at a desk all day, bored off their asses and with a boss who treats them like crap. They also don’t earn enough to have a house manager or a nanny; many don’t earn enough to even cover daycare.

    The last thing I’ll say is that the millions of mommy bloggers out there who write about how being home with kids sucks…at the end of the day, they’re still choosing to be home because they feel it’s the right thing to do for their kids. Just because it’s boring and depressing and you may or may not be suited to it doesn’t mean that the only answer is getting a job. And even if you get a job it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be happier.

    • James
      James says:

      After she had time to think about posting this, I’d be really afraid of what she’d say to him off the cuff.

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