A few months after the birth of my third son, I flew with the baby and the four-year-old to visit the East coast. My husband stayed home with our two-year-old. When I told people about the upcoming trip, they said, "Yikes, what will your husband do? Will he be ok?" or, "Wow, you have a fabulous husband!" All commentary focused on my husband's situation. Not a single remark was made about my role as a traveler with two young children.
Several months later, my husband flew with the baby—and only the baby—on his own East coast trip. I stayed home with the two older boys. This time, comments ranged from, "Wow, he's brave to fly alone all day with a baby!" to, "Oh, man, at least he'll have some help when he gets to the other end!" Again, all attention, be it concern or praise, was focused exclusively toward my husband.
Life seldom aligns itself into such a clean experimental setup. I love these parallel travel stories because the role of gender is so clearly isolated and exposed.