There's some good discussion going on over at Feministe about what's really going on when politicians talk about motherhood being "the most important job there is." If you're a wealthy woman, at least.
As I've mentioned here before, I thought I might take a year off from work after Anton was born, but I took a wait-and-see approach, and didn't make a definite decision because I didn't know how I'd feel in this very new situation. And I was very lucky to be in a financial position to have options. And, as it turned out, I got rather bored with the whole SAHM thing and started to ease back into work when Anton was 3 months old, by commuting to NOLA every couple of weeks to see old clients. I continue to do that, and have now added another part-time massage job closer to home.
The thing is, I love spending time with my baby. But not every second. Some of it is lots of fun. Some of it is quite tedious. And although, overall, I put a lot of work and thought into The Job of Motherhood, it's not as if I'm the only person on this planet who possesses the necessary skills to change his diapers or feed him applesauce, tiny spoonful by tiny spoonful. Sometimes it's great to get a break from all that for a few hours, and use some of the skills I've spent years refining, like my massage skills, or my writing skills.
It is patronizing when Important Men talk about the hard work involved in staying home with the kids (unless you're a poor woman, in which case...get your lazy ass off the couch and work, right?), not because it isn't hard work, but because it is also tedious work, which they are unwilling to do.
It reminds me of when I had an admin job, and one of my tasks was to take a pile of rumpled receipts and create an expense report for one of the executives. It was a frustrating task, because he never sorted anything out, so it was hard for me to tell if a particular restaurant receipt was from taking clients out for a dinner meeting, or taking his family out for dinner (and if it was the latter, I didn't really want to help him get reimbursed for it, when I was surviving on boxed mac and cheese). When I expressed my frustration, which I often did, as subservience has never come naturally to me, he would try to placate me by telling me just how good I was at making these expense reports. Because he was just so naturally disorganized, you see. He needed someone like me to sort things out for him.
Thing is, if he'd seen the state of my apartment at the time, he would have seen that I was naturally disorganized as well. I only forced myself to be organized at work because, well, it was my job, and I needed to pay rent and buy a bus pass and that aforementioned boxed mac and cheese (I wasn't vegan yet at that time, obviously).
Child care, like most jobs, is a mix of fun stuff and important stuff and hard stuff and tedious stuff. But when ambitious men claim it's the Most Important Job In The World, they're just blowing smoke up our asses. I'll believe it when they quit their less important jobs to be Stay At Home Dads.