Coontz on Mothers

For Mother’s Day, a cool piece by Stephanie Coontz about moms. Coontz’s Marriage, A History is a great introduction into how our cultural memory of marriage is more wishful thinking than fact. So is her NYT article:

For their part, stay-at-home mothers complained of constant exhaustion. According to the most reliable study of all data available in the 1960s, full-time homemakers spent 55 hours a week on domestic chores, much more than they do today. Women with young children averaged even longer workweeks than that, and almost every woman I’ve interviewed who raised children in that era recalled that she rarely got any help from her husband, even on weekends.

In the 1946 edition of his perennial best seller, “Baby and Child Care,” Dr. Benjamin Spock suggested that Dad might “occasionally” change a diaper, give the baby a bottle or even “make the formula on Sunday.” But a leading sociologist of the day warned that a helpful father might be suspected of “having a little too much fat on the inner thigh.”

I’m not even sure what exactly that’s supposed to mean: can any of you explain that expression? I’m guessing it’s a bit of gender baiting, in the sense of more fat = less muscle and less muscle = not sufficient masculine, but it’s not familiar to me.

Happy Mother’s Day, moms and non-moms and dads. For me, to be honest, this day is a very pleasant reminder of why I’m child-free.