The goal for me is not to lean in or out, but to lean on. My marriage means nothing if I can’t lean on my wife and if she can’t lean on me. To do this best, we have to do what the military calls “cross-training,” where I figure out how to do what she does and she figures out how to do what I do, so if either one of us is not there the world will not stop.
After reading this Pacific Standard story, I perceive the crack in the bark of the writer’s tree so: by claiming her liberty to “lean out,” she keeps her spouse from exploring the same opportunities. One of our playground pals feeds her infant exclusively by breast, so her husband has no ability to wake in the night and feed the kid. Of course, it’s no problem for Mom, who asserts her ability (and readiness) to just roll over, let the kid latch on, and then return to sleep. This goes to my point of cross-training, that it’s our obligation as family members to be able to pitch in for each other. Limiting the feeding to one specific person rubs crosswise against that.
I have no idea whether this particular Dad would actually enjoy waking up at night to feed his daughter, but why should he have to give up that opportunity? Dad in this family is the breadwinner, and Mom stays home raising the kids. Specialization is for insects. I don’t say that everyone at any time has to be willing to step into another role, but in my own experience I have learned that different roles are fulfilling at different times in my life. I would hate to be stuck in one particular role.