So you’re a stay-at-home dad? Or a single dad? Or a dad out with his kids with no mom in sight? If so, I bet someone has called you Mr. Mom, or a babysitter, or given you awkward, unnecessary kudos for doing nothing besides being a half-decent parent, or something like that.
As a one-time/sometime Stay-at-home dad myself, I’ve never had a problem with any of that stuff, not even being called “Mr. Mom”, despite the clear double-standard (no one ever calls women “Mrs. Dad”), but I know plenty of attentive fathers who do.
Some dads take to their blogs to voice their frustration, some dads boycott offending brands and advertisers, some dads use their influence to try to change things. I’m none of those dads. But I understand the struggle.
And I say: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
It may be too late this Mother’s Day, but moving forward I say we use this day to celebrate all the Mr. Moms out there, those dedicated dads who are somehow holding it together in this woman’s world, bucking millenia of evolution and genetics and nature and nurture to be adequate (at best!) caretakers to their children. I know from experience that it’s just not easy for men to keep their children alive and safe, let alone raise them right and teach them well and all that shit that comes naturally to the fairer sex.
It’s just not in a man’s nature to love and treasure his children. We don’t have the same biological bond that mothers do, and as such I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly forgotten my son at the grocery store or left him in the bathtub or fed my baby spare ribs or given my toddler a few beers. I’m only a man! I only have so much room in my caveman head for football schedules and fantasy stats and beer preferences and 34-24-36 and BACON. I just don’t know from parenting, and I don’t care! I’ve never been pregnant and therefore who gives a shit about my offspring. I’m not a Lannister. I have no bloodline to preserve. So quit yapping, I’M TRYING TO HEAR THE GAME!
But just because I stink at it doesn’t mean I don’t parent. A lot of us dads parent. Half-assed and nowhere near as well as moms, of course, but a lot of us try. And trying counts for something, right? I’m no asking for respect, that would be ridiculous. But don’t we at least deserve a little recognition for our efforts?
I know. We already have Father’s Day, during which we get steaks and blow jobs – wait, that’s a different day. We already have Father’s Day, during which we get to eat turkey and watch football – no, wrong again. We already have Father’s Day, during which we get to grill stuff and fix stuff (if we can) and maybe go fishing? That’s the one! – that day is much more about being a guy than it’s about being a dad. Regardless of what it’s called.
Think about it. What do we get on Father’s Day? We get ties, we get grill accessories, we get fishing rods, we get golf clubs. We get “guy” shit. That random Sunday in June is not about being a parent, it’s about being a man. And for all those misters (fathers) that be doin’ it (parenting) for themselves – the ones constantly being mocked for not having a natural proclivity for raising kids; the ones dismissed and insulted as babysitters, condescended to and made to feel inferior to moms merely because of their genitals; the ones who actually have been called Mr. Mom? – that feels a little off. Because even the most guy’s guy-iest dad of all is a parent too, no matter how inferior he may be at it.
That fact is, Father’s Day isn’t a parenting holiday the way Mother’s Day is. And for some guys, that’s fine, that’s totally cool. I like getting a gift certificate to the driving range too. But for dads who also want to be respected as the parents they are? For the “Mr. Moms” who deserve recognition for their parenting as much as – if not more than – Mrs. Dad, what’s left? Not much. Not much except Mother’s Day.
So this May, I’m starting a revolution. I’m co-opting Mother’s Day for all of the moms out there, and that includes the gay dads, and the single dads who do it alone, and even the working moms whose husbands stay at home and the nannies who care just as much for their charges as biological parents do. And it includes the so-called Mr. Moms too. Because “Mr. Mom” shouldn’t even be an insult. If such a stupid, out-dated term is still going to be thrown around, it should be accepted as a compliment.
Moms are the gold standard of parenting! Being called a mom is a fucking badge of honor. It’s why I’m spending the day honoring mine, and my son’s, and so are all of you. But the fact is I know plenty of dads who are just as strong, just as caring, just as nurturing, just as devoted, just as depended upon and just as exhausted as the best moms out there, either by necessity or choice or, as it is for most of us, but some combination of the two.
Rather than relegate those great dads to a second-tier holiday in which their chromosomes are more celebrated than their child-rearing, it’s time they started sharing in the one parenting-based holiday there is.
So go ahead, call them Mr. Moms if you want. Just make sure you include them in your brunch plans.