Exercice - Vision of the family
Juliet and her husband Benedict have been invited by the Milfords, whose daughters attend the school where Juliet teaches.
Matthew talked on and on. He talked about politics and taxes and the people who got in his way. He talked about people who were lazy. (…) He talked about women. Every time he employed a woman, he said, he spent a year training her and sending her on courses and getting her up to scratch, and then she promptly got pregnant and went off on maternity leave. Well, he wasn’t going to employ women any more. (…) Didn’t care if it wasn’t politically correct. (…)
“I do think Matthew’s got a point,” Louisa said to Juliet. (…)
“I had a girl phone in the other day,” he said. “Mr Milford, she says, Mr Milford.” He put on a silly high-pitched voice as the girl. “Mr Milford, I’m afraid I can’t come back when I said I would. Why not, I say. Well, Mr Milford, the thing is, my baby needs me.” He paused, and pantomimed bemusement. “I need you, I say. But it’s not the same, she says. It’s not the same thing, Mr Milford. All I’m asking for is a little more time, she says. Darling, I say, how much time do you think you’ll need? Will eighteen years be enough?” (…)
Matthew laughed loudly.
“But did you let her have more time?” Juliet asked. (…)
“Of course I didn’t. I’m not running a bloody NCT group1. I told her she could come back when her three months were up or not come back at all.” (…)
“That’s illegal,” said Juliet.
There was a silence. Matthew stared down at his own powerful arms, folded across his chest. A dark red colour rose into his neck and face.
“I don’t think you can really say it’s actually illegal, Juliet,” said Louisa.
“I can. That’s exactly what it is.”
“But you can’t blame Matthew!”
Louisa looked around at them all with an air of gracious incredulity.
“Look, sweetie,” Matthew presently said to Juliet. “I’m not saying I don’t value all the wonderful work you women do. It’s a big job, running a family. It’s hard work. I know because it’s all Lou ever talks about, how hard it is managing the kids and the house and how tired she gets all the time. (…) What I do say is that sometimes you don’t think about how it’s all going to get paid for.” (…)
“She could take you to court,” said Juliet.
He lifted his head a little with predatory alertness.
“She won’t,” he said steadily.
“Well, she should.”
Arlington Park, Rachel CUSK, pp. 14-18, Faber and Faber (2006)
1. a NCT group : the NCT is UK’s biggest parenting charity. It provides support and information to parents.
Texte 2 - Just Wait Until Your Mother Gets Home
In 2006, James Griffioen was a litigator at a national firm in San Francisco with an 18-month-old daughter and a problem. “Having to go back to the office and work 70 hours a week (…) cracked something in me. Something broke,” he said. (…) “I looked at it over the next five years and thought, ‘There’s no way I’m even going to see my kid.’ ”
So he huddled with his wife, a public interest lawyer. They took a hard look at their relative career satisfaction, discussed their desire to have one parent stay home instead of relying on day care, and decided that it made sense for the family to flip the ’50s sitcom vision of the American family and have Mr. Griffioen, now 35, leave the work force and join the nation’s swelling ranks of at-home dads. (…)
Until recently, stay-at-home fathers made up a tiny sliver of the American family spectrum. Few in number, and lacking voice, they tended to keep to themselves, trying to avoid the inevitable raised eyebrows. In the last decade, though, the number of men who have left the work force entirely to raise children has more than doubled, to 176,000. (…)
Meanwhile, the identity of the at-home dad is evolving. (…) The decision to stay home with the children is seen not a failure of their responsibilities as men, but a lifestyle choice — one that makes sense in an era in which women’s surging salaries have thrown the old family hierarchy into flux (…)
“Just a few years ago, I was usually the lone dad on the playground during the day,” Mr. Somerfeld, 39, said on a recent sunny Wednesday morning, while hanging out with eight other dads at the Heckscher Playground in Central Park. “The moms and nannies gawked at me like I was an exhibit at the zoo. Now, I’m the new normal.” (…)
[However], the modern at-home father is not immune to Betty Draper2 disease: the isolation and tedium3 familiar to housewives throughout the ages. (…)
Questions about the division of labor can be a challenge, even when couples enter the arrangement willingly. “Make sure you define it really well with your spouse,” said Dan Bryk, an at-home father in New York. “There are times when your working spouse will come from a particularly tough day at work and will just forget what a tough gig this is. As I’m sure men did for a century, they just take for granted, well, ‘What did you do? You kept him from injuring himself for eight hours?’ There’s a lot more to it than that.” (…)
Adapted from The New York Times, August 10, 2012