"I have one conservative standpoint," says Flanagan. "I really have traditional emotions about having a full-time, at-home parent, be it mom or dad. For that, the left has excoriated me, humiliated me, called me names in print -- one of which I had to look up."
She doesn't think of herself as a theorist, as her new book, "To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife," makes clear. But in a culture of universal female grievance, she earns elite female disdain for noticing how much good men (sometimes) have to put up with. The women she knows and writes about are educated, liberal, at-home mothers who too often proudly announce: "I'm home taking care of my kids, but I'm sure as hell not home to care for my husband."
"It's not a fair division of labor," says Flanagan. "He comes home, he's exhausted, the house is a mess, the kids are out of control and there's nothing to eat."
It's also, in Caitlin Flanagan's mind, deeply counterproductive: "My goal in life is to be treated extremely well. I am the late-life child of really besotted parents. I want to be treated really well by my husband, and the way to be really treated well is to treat him well. Try just doing something nice for your husband. Set the table, cook something you know he loves and see what happens." Flanagan pauses to let the message sink in. "Take the kids to the park on Saturday so he can watch the big pre-game show in quiet. See what happens. That's all I'm saying."
For Caitlin, the point of having a mother at home is not so that your children will get into Harvard, or score that big executive job. A home is not a factory for producing children for corporations. The home is not a mere means; it is one of the great things in life you can have, create or give to someone you love. The real point of having a mother at home with children is that children get to be home with a mother who loves them.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.