September 21, 2011
KID OR CAREER?
I am 36 and am having my first baby, due in December. I am thrilled out of my mind—I have always wanted children—I can’t wait! The problem is, my husband wants me to quit my job and stay home with the baby. I think it is because I make more money and have a more powerful job than he does. I think he has always felt threatened deep down. He makes enough money that I could quit, but that is not the issue. I have worked really hard for my success and am not sure I want to give it all up to be a stay-at-home mom. It makes me feel like I’d be a quitter, as if I would be admitting to defeat. What do you think?
—Quitter? in Quebec
Dear Quitter? in Quebec,
You need to wait until December so you can make an informed decision. At the moment you have no idea how your little baby is going to change your life and your perspective. I promise you it is life-altering and you cannot even begin to imagine it! It should not be about whether your husband harbors fears and insecurities about you being the more successful breadwinner. It may make him feel good and more of a man to be the only provider, but hopefully he is suggesting you stay home because you can afford to. Maybe he simply wants his child to be raised by a woman he loves and respects rather than by a fresh-off-the-boat Filipino he has yet to meet. As for feeling like a quitter, think again. Being a hands-on, stay-at-home mom is much harder than any other job on the planet. It is exhausting, consumes 24 hours every day, and there is no room for bad moods, computer games, Facebook, gossipy phone calls, after-work cocktails, or even a shower. Your notions of being a quitter will melt away about as fast as a popsicle does in Texas on July 4th! Then you will have to ask yourself: Which job do you really want to do? A lot of women go running back to work after maternity leave because they can’t handle it and are desperate to have a shred of life as they knew it way back when. Raising a child is so difficult it will bring you to your knees, but the payout of watching your child grow is priceless. Wait to decide.
CRINGING OVER COLOR
The other night while discussing one of our favorite clubs with my friends I said, “The light black man was a better DJ than the dark black man.” Everyone got upset and stared at me as if I had just exited the bathroom with a smudge of poop on my cheek. I really had no other way of distinguishing between the two! I thought it was as basic as saying taller or shorter. Seriously, how else could I have described the men without using color as a descriptor? They were roughly the same height, same build, same color hair, and same color eyes. I feel terrible that everyone got so upset, but I really don’t think I said anything wrong or racist. What do you think?
—Accidental Insult in Los Angeles
Dear Accidental Insult in Los Angeles,
Maybe you were supposed to say “lighter African American” or “lighter-skinned man” to avoid using the word “black.” Maybe it was expected that you go into a lengthy description of facial features—bigger eyes, bushier eyebrows, stronger jaw line, and a longer face. Maybe you were expected to draw a portrait on the tablecloth to avoid using any words at all. Maybe you should have kept mute and demonstrated their differences through pantomime. If it is racist to use the word “black” in a physical description, that is a sad state of affairs and would mean the word by itself was offensive. Under those conditions, people would have to be careful about saying, “What a pretty little black dress” to someone at a party. Now, had you said, “That goddamned stupid dark black can’t DJ for his life,” you were being an offensive racist and deserved the poop stare. But to use the word “black” or “dark” merely as a physical descriptor should be considered a factual observation and should not be taken as a racist comment. But what should be and what is actually in the PC Handbook are two totally different matters. You would need to ask a black man if saying “black man” is offensive and racist, because only he knows the answer and not a bunch of white people making poop stares in a restaurant.
KICKING THE CONCUBINE TO THE CURB
I left my wife and two children for one of our nannies about 10 years ago. She has been living with me ever since, but now I have found someone new. The problem is I feel guilty and downright scared of leaving Olga. She is from Moldavia and was only legally staying in the country because I kept “hiring” her as our nanny. If I leave her, which would entail kicking her out, she would be forced to find another job or go back to Moldavia. What should I do?
—Deportation Depression in Florence
Dear Deportation Depression in Florence,
You should have thought about the ramifications of leaving your wife and children for the nanny 10 years ago. She could have kept working regardless of your relationship, but it sounds like she thought she had it made and became dependent. That is not so much your fault, because she should have known that if you left your wife and children, maybe you would be prone to leaving her as well. She should have kept her bases covered and her options open. Scared of Olga? Please. Be a man and take what is coming to you. Face the music and dump her.
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