Don’t Call Me Mr. Mom

Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless: So are you still being Mr. Mom?

Me: You know, the term “Dad” works just fine.

Michael Keaton as Mr. Mom

I feel you, 1980s Michael Keaton.

Sure, I could have just let it go. I could have replied, “Yes, I am still being Mr. Mom.” thus avoiding the awkward pause that ensued. Don’t take it personally, I used to tell myself. It’s just a (tired, lame, unfunny) joke. But this terminology is pinned on me often and I have recently decided I am done with just letting it go.

It’s not that I feel emasculated wrangling the Twins all week. I challenge any “man’s man” who thinks stay-at-home parenting is for sissies to actually try it for one day. (In fact, I imagine it could make for a thoroughly entertaining reality show, with each episode culminating in a grown man sobbing.) It’s definitely not easy, but at the same time it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Many fathers would jump at the opportunity to spend as much time with their children as I do, especially at this age. I blinked when they were eight months old and was suddenly thrown into a DeLorean which promptly accelerated to 88 miles per hour, traversing space and time to today, as I open my eyes and find them eleven months old. Until I can get the Flux Capacitor to flux again, I make an effort each day to take it all in (and document it in HD) because I know how fleeting babyhood is.

The DeLorean

It all happened so fast…

It’s not that I feel like less of a man for shouldering the dishwashing, laundering, and cooking responsibilities. I don’t love to do them, but neither do most females on whom the duties usually fall (huh-huh, I said “duties”), and if I’m the one who’s home all day it makes sense for me to homemake the hell out of each task with finesse even June Cleaver would envy.

I don’t even mind referring to bottles as “babas,” diapers as “diapies,” and socks as “sockies.” To non-parent men, this may sound like the ultimate warrant for Man-Card revocation, but cuteness is more powerful than you could ever imagine. And yes, for any Textbook Parenting Enthusiasts with tape around the bridge of your glasses, I will tangent a little to say that while The Research dictates that using Baby-Talk Latin rather than The King’s English is detrimental to language acquisition, I’m not all that worried. I grew up thinking the entire English-speaking world called flatulent bursts “boofers” due to my parents’ euphemistic methods, but easily adopted the “fart” nomenclature once I began attending school. There’s also the fact that my children are smarter than everyone else’s, so with that in mind I’m quite certain they will be just fine. Until they are speaking in phrases and I actually feel it’s hindering Shakespeare-caliber vocalizations, I will continue to cute-ify my language. It’s my prerogative as The Only Adult in the Room Most of the Time.

I willingly make falsetto princess voices during storytime. I match my daughter’s pink clothing with flair. I carry a purselike diaper bag because hip dad-themed ones are too small for twin reinforcements.

Yes, I’m comfortable enough in my manhood to be completely okay with all of the above because I absolutely love being a dad.

However, if there is one thing I will not tolerate, it is being called “Mr. Mom.” Whether you realize it or not, by using this seemingly-casual, jokey movie reference, you are overtly calling me a woman. And that’s where I draw the line.

So, yes, if you insist on disregarding my anatomy, I will retaliate with a sufficient layer of snark. I’ll call you out on it and attempt to steer you in a more open-minded direction. It may make you uncomfortable, but I’m hoping it will also make you second-guess your choice of words.

I may be filling roles you consider motherly, but I still pee standing up, and if you suggest otherwise, you may find some on your vehicle.

Don’t take it personally. It’s just a joke.

.

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24 comments

    • John Pseudonymous

      With my blessing.

      The odd part is that it seems most people don’t mean it in an offensive way, and some don’t even seem to be joking–they’re completely serious. It appears this is just how they frame what I do–with a mediocre 1980s Michael Keaton movie.

      I don’t mean to upset anyone by biting back. I just want them to stop and think about what they’re actually saying. They’re calling me a girl. If I called other guys women or women manly, I’m sure they’d get where I’m coming from really quickly.

      But yeah, by all means, throw a right hook. It’s much easier than awkwardly explaining to people why they are boneheaded.

      Like

  1. Sarah Richardson

    Here is the thing…it is a disrespectful term for both men and women. “Mr. Mom” just needs to fall out of pop culture lingo and go “bye-bye”.

    Even when I tell people I am a Stay-at-home Mom…that evokes some snark and almost pity, as if I am “only” a stay-at-home parent and not capable of anything more challenging. HA!

    There needs to be a new word. A word that describes the pure ridiculousness of how hard this job is and that it can (and should) be done by either gender.

    And there is your task, Mr almost PhD and english guru…invent a new word to describe those enough brave enough (and maybe crazy enough) to take on this job.

    Like

    • John Pseudonymous

      Good call. I’m sure there’s plenty of other stay-at-home parents who feel the same way. Somehow there’s this “poor you” stigma attached to what we do that I just don’t want anything to do with.

      I actually saw a similar dynamic when I used to tell people I was a teacher. Again, it’s one of those occupations that makes people feel like they have to say “I’m sorry” or “I don’t know how you do it” or even “I could never work for so little money.”

      I don’t want anybody’s pity (unless they are a commercial entity willing to offer me a discount) or the awkward implication that all I do is sit around all day because I don’t let a career define me.

      So with that in mind, here are a few suggestions for our new title:
      Youth Development Specialist
      Human Engineer
      Pediatric Biochemist
      Professional Wrestler
      Chief Household Justice
      Residence Manager
      Post-Natal Entertainer
      Professional Role Model
      Hero

      If anyone else has suggestions, I’d love to hear them. This is a problem, so, yo! Let’s solve it.

      And check out the hook while my DJ revolves it.

      Like

  2. Daniel Coffman

    I’ve bitched about this before, both on my blog and in r/l.

    I hate that movie. Not just because it caused people to coin that insufferable term, but because it also sucked. I hate anything pop culture that shows men being clueless and stupid when they attempt to parent.

    I love your response and this story very much. Hang in there. Twin girls? Yikes!

    Like

    • John Pseudonymous

      I agree. There are way too many portrayals of men as complete idiots. Not only is it demeaning–it forces me to field idiotic comments from people who actually believe these portrayals and assume I have no idea what I’m doing as an at-home parent and that I hate it because I’d rather be working a manly career like smashing boulders or something. Tired of it.

      I actually have a son and a daughter. I played up the daughter in this post, though, because I was trying to emphasize the fact that I’m okay with catering to the feminine aspects of raising my daughter while still being a man.

      Like

  3. JJ - The Dude of the House

    Great post! I totally know what you are talking about. That’s why when people ask me if I am a “Mr. Mom”, I just say no and tell them that I am the Dude of the House. Obviously there’s a big difference between the former (an effeminate insult) and the latter (a more manly moniker).

    Of course, no matter what people call me, I still have to change a lot of nasty diapers. So I guess I’m just a parent.

    JJ – The Dude of the House
    dudeofthehouse.blogspot.com
    http://www.facebook.com/TheDudeOfTheHouse
    Twitter: @DudeOfTheHouse

    Like

    • John Pseudonymous

      Dude of the House. I like that.

      I imagine another decent comeback to being asked if you’re a “Mr. Mom” would be “So is your face.” It wouldn’t make sense but it would definitely steer the conversation into a new direction. I just love plot twists.

      Like

      • JJ - The Dude of the House

        Thanks, John. At first I thought I might be a Man of the House, but then I realized how boring that was. It sounded like a sitcom starring Tim Allen (and this was before I knew about his new/current show). While I am a man, I’m definitely more of a Dude. Great meeting you. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

        Best,

        Jay

        JJ – The Dude of the House
        dudeofthehouse.blogspot.com
        http://www.facebook.com/TheDudeOfTheHouse
        Twitter: @DudeOfTheHouse
        Check out my new blog post: All I Want for Christmas is Jews. http://bit.ly/tDTpog

        Like

  4. EduDad

    You don’t even have to be a SAHD to get called this. As you know, I’m a teacher and when I’m on holiday I get told that now I get to be Mr. Mom for a while. I’ll even get called this when I’m looking after my kids on the weekend while my wife is out for coffee with friends. While I’m on this rant, it also drives me nuts when people say the kids are with mom but dad is babysitting. There my kids. I don’t babysit them.

    Like

    • John Pseudonymous

      Another excellent point. Some people I know have even referred to what I do–as a SAHD–as babysitting. I’m the one who’s home with them the most, and I’m their father. Yet, I’m still somehow “babysitting” because I’m not their mother. Why is that?

      Like

  5. Charlee

    Wow. Somehow – possibly because I’ve never seen said film – this term has passed me by. First time I’ve heard it: today. It truly is punch worthy.

    This is the sort of demeaning, belittling, don’t-take-it-seriously-dear-it’s-only-a-little-joke crap that women have been putting up with since the 1950s. More and more, these days, I notice men being undermined in the same disgusting way, as if painting them as idiots who can’t raise their own kids somehow redresses the balance. But when it comes to gender stereotypes, everyone loses.

    I don’t let anybody casually undermine decades of feminism without calling them out on it, and I’m pleased to see you standing up for stay-at-home dads in the same way. The woman-centricity of parenthood drives me insane. The idea that a man bringing up his children is in any way different to a woman doing it is entirely ridiculous, not to mention insulting.

    Great article. :)

    Like

    • John Pseudonymous

      Yeah, the movie itself is mediocre at best, at least in my opinion, so it’s totally okay that you’re not familiar with it. You’re not really missing anything.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement. It really is time to stop portraying men as “idiot” parents. There are plenty of men who stay at home like me and even more who are the antithesis of the dumbasses mass media. In fact, I think these stereotypical idiots make many dads vow not to be that way. I know it’s contributed to my outlook.

      Like

  6. suesnutritionbuzzsunithi

    Hi there, new tribemate visiting & of course I went to what I thought sounded like the most interesting post. Don’t blame you ‘Mr Mom ” is quite awful… maybe soccer dad or super dad instead ! Twin girls .. awww bet they have you wrapped around their fingers. Have 2 girls myself (older) but both Daddy’s little girls. Enjoy them ! see ya in the tribe !

    Like

    • John Pseudonymous

      Great to meet you, Sue!

      I’ll take just “Dad” any day, but “Super Dad” works, too. I actually have a son and a daughter, but I kind of emphasized the “daughter” things I do in order to make a point that I’m okay with doing those things while still being a man. But yeah, my daughter does pretty much have me wrapped around her finger. I’m working on that…

      Like

  7. Jodi Blackburn Maynard

    I hate that this implies that as a man you are incapable of caring for a child. My sons were given baby dolls as toddlers to play with as well as kitchens to go along with their trains, planes and automobiles. There is nothing wrong with a father knowing how to care for their children and raise a family, it is indeed the opposite that is shameful. Now I must add that I drew the line a barbie dolls and all their anatomy for the boys LOL

    Like

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