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Can a Military Man Really Have it All?

Carmen Villanueva watches as the Villanueva children mob their airman after he surprised them with his return from a one-year deployment. H. Andrew Hall/U.S. Air Force

Have you seen this?

It's a satirical Twitter account that takes the same advice that's doled out to women and points those words instead at men.

The magic in the account is that when we see words directed at men that women long ago became accustomed to hearing, we see just how ridiculous those words really sound.

Consider:

"Working dad? Empower yourself by starting a gratitude journal. Log every occasion your wife helps you with the housework or kids."

Or this one:

"My wife has really grown in confidence with the kids. She's great with them now they're older. I'm so lucky."

Twitter limits posts to 140 characters so the author features longer fake quotes like these on his blog:

"I make sure I plan at least 30 minutes of 'me time' every day, with an hour of 'me time' on Sunday. It's really important to take time out to just be you. I relax in a candlelit bath with a glass of wine and a good book. Daddy heaven."

"To be honest, I'm a dad on the verge. My life is manic and I feel like I do everything. I know that if I didn't keep on top of the house and kids, nothing would ever get done. I'm frazzled and exhausted. I look at other handsome, well groomed dads at the school gates and wonder how on earth they do it."

The provocative tweets and blog posts are supposedly written by a working father of three, though the author has insisted on remaining anonymous.

"I have absolutely no problem with male managers, as long as they leave their hormones at home."

As a woman who is used to hearing these statements (and, I'm ashamed to admit, has even written similar advice myself),  this all sounds very familiar to me. But when they're turned around and directed at men, the nonsense is obvious.

"They treat me differently at work now I'm a dad. I'm always rushing home to pick up the kids and I'm so tired during the day it's hard to concentrate. I get no help. My family are miles away so I have no support network around me. My mind is like mush. My wife helps out but she works full time too and I don't like to nag."

For decades, women's magazines have been filled with stories on struggling to "have it all" even as "it all" -- family, career and, presumably, sanity -- has been the default for men.

In her new book, "Unfinished Business," famed writer Anne Marie Slaughter contends that so-called "women's issues" aren't going to be resolved without a corresponding male revolution. She comes right out and says that the only way for women to have a successful career and a healthy family is for men to increasingly dive into home duties.

In that spirit, Slaughter gave a shout out recently in Real Simple Magazine to Jeremy Hilton, the 2012 Military Spouse of the Year, a self-described MHP and a frequent reader of this column.

Slaughter told Real Simple, "In 2012, for the first time, the U.S. Military Spouse of the Year was a man. His name is Jeremy Hilton. His wife is in the military, and someone's got to be home with the kids. He came and heard one of my talks and emailed me ... at the end [of his letter] he wrote, 'I think I'm just secure enough in my own manhood to do this.' And that's the way I see it. My husband is very secure ... he really isn't troubled by what people think because he thinks he's doing the right thing."

Which is exactly what most of us -- male or female -- are doing when we solo parent, isn't it? We saw a need in our family, and so we filled it.

Must-Have Parenting isn't about women's issues, or men's issues, or really anything that has to do with gender at all. It's about being willing to take on a larger share of parenting in order to facilitate a partner's career or other life situation for as long as that situation is necessary or meets our family's needs.

As more men follow Jeremy in taking on an MHP role, which Slaughter's own husband did when she became the director of policy planning for the State Department, trite, ridiculous advice and statements might be directed at them un-ironically.

Like this @ManWhoHasItAll tweet:

"I have absolutely nothing against fathers in the workforce, as long as they can concentrate on the job."

Or this one:

"TODAY'S DEBATE: Is fatherhood the end for career men?"

#Mindblown.

Related Topics

Rebekah Sanderlin Military Parenting Family and Spouse

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Contributor

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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