Mr. Mom is dead! It has been declared! Don’t worry boys, we can all just take the day off. I am going fishing, perhaps drink while I do it and then I will imagine myself flying a F16 fighter jet with Ice as my wing man. Ladies love fighter pilots.
As most everyone of us knows now, the Wall Street journal posted a headline tittled “At Home Dads Make Parenting More of a Guy Thing.” It’s been getting a lot of play in our little neck of the woods. Graphics have been designed, ad space has been sold and a funeral service has been arranged. However, as a SAHD, I’ve got a couple questions on this. Not that I don’t enjoy a good funeral with the pretty flowers and nice buffet afterwards.
Is the Mr. Mom moniker really dead? And if it is, should I actually care?
Yup, this is where I encourage stay at home dads everyone to pelt me with rocks every time I pass by. But please, not the face, it’s the only part my wife really likes about me.
When I go out during the day, I don’t get yelled at by passer bys. They don’t scream “Mr. Mom!” while throwing dirty diapers at me. Well, perhaps they do and I’ve never noticed it. But as a five year vet of the SAHD world, you don’t want to get into a diaper contest with me. I would destroy you.
Mostly I go about my day as everyone else. I go to the store, I do activities with my kids, I flex randomly every time I pass a mirror. Very rarely do I encounter a Mr. Mom moment. It just doesn’t happen that often to me. That’s not to say that it never has happened, it has. I’ve been asked if I’m just taking care of the kids that day, I’ve been asked where mom is at. My son’s preschool’s teacher once explained to the class that I was a “Mommy Daddy”. That last one may have hurt a touch.
For the most part though, the whole Mr. Mom thing doesn’t really effect my life mainly because the people that have suggested it never did so out of malice. It was never meant as a derogatory name, it was never meant as an insult. It was only the result of a poor assumption, a quick judgement call that normally I don’t hold against people. I try to place myself in their shoes and I totally realize that the act of a SAHD, to them, is something of a myth. It’s a quick shadow that goes in your peripheral vision. It’s something known but rarely seen. We are unicorns. Most people’s experience is with father’s who are just pitching in for the day. It is just when dad does the random pickup. Mom still handles the majority of the load in a lot of society.
I’m not judging this one way or anther, I’m just trying to see it through the eyes of everyday people. Everyone knows the stats on how many SAHD’s there are. Whether you believe that it’s on the high end or the low end, overall, there’s just that many of us.
The view on fatherhood doesn’t help sometimes as well, this forms their opinions. Homer Simpson like buffoonery is the norm for portraying fathers on TV shows. Everyone laughs because everyone needs the comic relief. It’s essential to any family TV show. And if I know anything about being a Father, it’s that a Father does what he has to. That’s his role. He sucks it up and he gets it done, which pretty well describes how I became to be a SAHD in the first place.
So should I care about the Mr. Mom thing at all? In reality it doesn’t affect my life other than me jokingly correcting a few people a year that make the assumption. I like dealing with reality, my reality. It’s nice here, I get to play video games. I get to play video games with my son. He is starting to beat me.
But on occasion, I think about the time when my SAHD job is over. I think about what will happen when all my kids are in school. I think what I will put on my resume. I think about how I will explain the last 10 years of my life to a prospective employer. I think of the abstract feelings that they will have when they look at me. Will they see me as unambitious, a slacker, someone who checked out of the world to go play duck duck goose? Will I get passed over for employment over and over again?
Which brings us back to the Mr. Mom moniker. Am I going to eventually run into people 5, 10 years from now that will hold being an at home dad against me because in their own heads, even though they don’t say it, consider me a Mr. Mom? That I will be somehow less of a man in their eyes? Please, judge me on the lack of recent work experience, that I can at least deal with. Just don’t throw me on the “exclude” pile just because of the being an at home dad.
This is where my conundrum comes from. I have a pretty thick skin and most times I don’t care what people think of me. I don’t think you can and enjoy this job. I’ve got the love of my wife and kids and that’s what matters to me. But one day, I will need the approval of someone else, at least partial approval.
I would prefer to be seen as a Dad that thinks he did the right thing by staying home with the kids and not someone who stepped into Mom’s shoes because I couldn’t hack it in the corporate world. That’s why I should care about the whole Mr. Mom being Dead thing. It’s a gradual process where I won’t see the rewards right away. Minds and attitudes will need to change, if not only for other father’s who may wish to care for their kids, but for me as well. I don’t need to be as someone who took over Mom’s job at all. I need, and we all do, to be seen as Dad’s that did their job.
On a day to day basis, the Mr. Mom thing rarely interacts in my world. It’s a non-issue, at least for now. It’s in the abstract though where the future battle is being fought and its in that place that I care, that I need to care. It’s the marketing only to Moms, it’s assuming that dad can’t change a diaper, it’s the attitudes that arise from years of Al Bundy on a Toilet and June Cleaver making lunch for her man. Its in that place that I care about because that place is what will change attitudes and the term Mr. Mom will go the way of terms like “radical” and “tubular”. And hopefully, the preconceived notions of what a SAHD is will go with it.