I’ve been a full time stay at home dad (SAHD) for over 12 years now. Over the course of those dozen years our family has grown by four kids. My duties as dad have increased as well. The laundry and cooking and cleaning and driving and homework and practices and games and reading and playing and hiking and on and on and on. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it. My wife and I decided years ago, before our second child was born, that we didn’t want to put our children in daycare and that I was better suited to be the at home parent. So at age 29, I quit my job teaching 7th grade science and embarked upon this strange new journey that I jokingly referred to as “Mr. Mom”.
I thought that the 1983 movie “Mr. Mom” was pretty funny. When people asked me what I did for a living I could simply tell them I was a “Mr. Mom” and they immediately knew what it did. Only they didn’t. The movie was hilarious but completely inaccurate. I’m still waiting to get the other moms over for the weekly game of cards. (Poker didn’t sound right.) When I first started staying home other moms I’d meet at parks or church would comment about how much their husbands would love to do that if they could. Really? When asked, those guys all liked the idea of bumming around with the kids, having fun but not actually working at running the household and all of the related daily activities. Their idea of being a SAHD was like “Mr. Mom”. Fictional.
As a SAHD I’m not trying to be my children’s mom. They already have one. And she’s pretty terrific. I care for them and nurture them and parent them as their dad. I would like to think that my kids are getting a pretty cool childhood experience because I’m home with them all the time. As dad, I bring talents that are unique to me that help me to related to and interact with my kids in a manner that is different than their mother. And that difference is the beauty of it all. Neither way is better or right. It’s the combination of the two that shapes our children into young adults. I’m just asking that you recognize that I’m not trying to be “Mr. Mom”. This is 2013. Gender roles now are much more flexible than the rigidity of past generations. Although, there is still work to be done. Just this week I took my youngest two to the clinic for an appointment for my four month old. As the nurse was getting the background information from me my three year old daughter became quite clingy – to the point of wanting to sit on my lap, arms wrapped around my neck and face buried in my chest – while I tried to hold the baby at the same time as I talked. That’s when the nurse told me that I reminded her of one of her favorite movies. You guessed it. “Mr. Mom”. I didn’t even bother responding to her as she was chuckling to herself about her witty reference. Ignorance is bliss, right? Maybe next time I’ll enlighten her like I hope I’ve enlightened you. Please, for the love of Michael Keaton, please stop calling stay at home dads like me “Mr. Mom”. He’s dead.
Instead, call me DAD.
What a great read! Thanks for writing this.
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