don’t call me mr.mom.

There’s a thing over at USA Today that claims only 159,000 men in this country are full-time caregivers for their children, which would make me part of a very small minority.

What kind of ticks me off about that little snippet is the attached poll.  The question is “How would you describe stay-at-home-fathers”, and the choices are as follows:

a.) Just call them “Mr. Mom”

b.) Have strong family values

c.) Think it will be easy

d.) Give men a bad name

e.) No opinion

When I read the article a little while ago, 12% of respondents said that stay-at-home dads “think it will be easy”, 9% thought that guys like me “give men a bad name”, and 20% think you should just call us “Mr. Mom.”

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that “Mr. Mom” shit, I could have the minivan gold-plated and fitted with ermine fur seats and ivory ashtrays.  Folks, that’s not a compliment.  Mr. Mom was a crappy movie, just a bag full of cliches and misandry.  Oh, look, Dad doesn’t know how to change a diaper!  Oh, no, the washing machine is going nuts on him!  Check out his fight with the vacuum cleaner!  That’s hilarious!

We “think it will be easy”?  Hell, no.  I never expected stay-at-home parenting to be all about sitting on the couch and eating Twizzlers, and three and a half years and two children later, I can tell you that this is the hardest, most demanding job I’ve ever done in my life…and my professional resume includes four years in the army, a year as a loading monkey at a trucking company, and two years as a bagger and stacker at a fertilizer company.  I’ve been working twelve-hour days for three and a half years straight, without a single day off, and I’ve been on call the rest of the time.  Full-time parenting can be called many things, but “easy” is not among them.

And what the hell is up with the idea that I “give men a bad name”?  How exactly do I damage the reputation of males everywhere by personally making sure my kids are fed, clean, safe, entertained, and happy?  Is it because I’m supposed to bring home the bacon, and because changing poopy diapers and reading “Goodnight Moon” are female responsibilities?

Christ on a moped.  I’m starting to think that child care really is women’s work, because most men simply couldn’t hack it.  Have you ever stopped to think about how much your stay-at-home spouse actually does all day, especially if you have multiple small kids? 

And the next guy who calls me “Mr. Mom” and looks at me like it’s funny and original will need to spend a week on the couch with Mr. Green Giant to cool the swelling in his balls, I swear.

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19 thoughts on “don’t call me mr.mom.

  1. Diane says:

    “Superman” may be a better name – to do all of the child care and yet still be able to put coherent sentences together would be difficult enough, but to write as well as you do in the pockets of time between kid things – it’s nothing short of miraculous. It’s obvious how much you enjoy your kids as well.

    It is amazing what can be done if you are motivated – a friend earned his bachelor’s degree online while providing child care for their first three kids (one per year for three years). Having a positive male role model who provides most of their care has produced happy, well-behaved little kids. It’s a little early to say that about #4 – he’s only about 10 weeks old.

  2. Pappy says:

    Marko,

    I, as most of your readers do, I’m sure, applaud you for being the primary caregiver to your children. If I were to tease you about this, it would be because I’m jealous of the time you get to spend with your children.

  3. Mark says:

    Don’t sweat it, probably 90% of the respondents were women. There is a pervasive attitude in America today that men are incompetent at everything.

    Look at advertisements, when was the last time you saw a man doing something right in the house? EVERY commercial shows the guy a complete moron who can’t figure out how to pour the soap onto the floor or how to open the right box or how to read and needs the smirking “you are such an idiot” woman to help him. I even saw one where the guy complained about how hard the instructions were and the woman turned the papers rightside up for him.

    Basically, I think from years of it being pounded into our heads, most men subconsciously feel they are incompetent anywhere but at work and thus there is a natural tendency to lash out at someone who “shows them up”

  4. theflatwhite says:

    Herr hausfrau und mutter?

  5. theflatwhite says:

    😉

  6. deadcenter says:

    Richard Feynman’s wife said it best when she asked him, “What do you care what other people think?”

  7. MarkHB says:

    Mark,

    It’s not just the US – England’s got more than it’s fair share of ads and ents all based around some moron who couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel. And, yes, the inevitable smirking Ms. Useful, that gaudy parody of Heinlein’s Competent Man, is always stood there ready to help poor hubby out.

    Yep, I’m tasting powdered tooth enamel here. It’s amazing how negatively people react when you call then a sexist for loving such shite, though. Probably why I keep doing it.

  8. Jerry says:

    Well, I just wanted to chime in. Seems all the best comments have already been made.

    I’m pretty old now, not over the hill old. I have a granddaughter and sitting her is a full time job for both O’ma and me. (We liked the way we heard it while stationed in Germany.) We “double team” so we can get things done around the house. But, our major goal is to totally spoil her. 😉

    Can’t understand the stuff about men not knowing how to run the machines. I had to show my wife how to operate almost every machine we have. I told her to read the book on the last one though.

  9. pawnbroker says:

    nurse and nurture…

    protect and provide…

    there’s a lot of meaning in those four words when it comes to the functions of a real parent…culture mostly attaches the more obvious implications of the two former to mothers and the two latter to fathers, and so do i.

    men and women are different and differently equipped, so i have no problem acknowledging that some of the literal meanings of nursing and nurturing are best left to women, and vice versa that some natural and/or archaic functions of protecting and providing are the chosen/assigned domain of most men.

    but if nurturing also means helping my children grow their souls, and nursing means holding them through the night to take away their pain, then count me in on that…the experience was the among most gratifying of my life.

    and if protecting means my wife ‘s vigilance over our kids like a lionness, and providing means giving to them the confidence, and hope, and courage, and strength that she embodies throughout herself, then that is her role as well.

    expectations aside, who does what doesn’t matter much, but that it gets done…for the children as well as for yourselves, and fulfillment will come naturally from within…it is wonderful, you will miss it when it is gone but the rewards will last you a lifetime.

    jtc

  10. Don Gwinn says:

    For you and me, maybe they were lousy cliches. But cliches come from reality.

    My dad loves to have my kids stay over, but if mom’s out of town, he won’t take the baby. He can’t change a diaper.

    He once helped me swap a 302 V8 from a 1977 Bronco into a 1982 Mustang (where a 255 had been, complete with fabricating a dipstick tube on the “wrong” side of the oil pan) but keeping a baby overnight is beyond him. It’s just the way he was raised.

  11. Lynnie says:

    What a weird poll. It doesn’t seem to have a single answer covering so many people’s descriptions of what stay-at-home fathers are. We are working towards having my husband be able to stay at home with the kids because we have a very demanding small farm, and because he’s a great dad. His ideas of what to do with the kids are always unique and right on. I think the poll is missing:
    F) Just a regular dad doing what dads should do

  12. Jay G. says:

    Marko,

    I’m not, nor have I ever been, a stay-at-home dad (tho’ I’d love it). I’m just a guy who likes being involved in the care of his progeny.

    That said, even *I* get pissed off when I see 99% of all articles in the kids’ care magazines (Parents, etc.) geared to women. All the ads show women. *IF* men are mentioned, it is almost universally “how can I get my husband to help more?” type stuff.

    ‘Scuse the hell out of me. I changed diapers faster than my wife (I used to call it the “Nascar diaper change” – even making powered socket set sound effects which the kids loved); I cleaned up pee and poop and puke and everything in between. I pushed the stroller. I ran alongside the two wheeler. I drove to baseball games and karate lessons and soccer practice.

    Been there, done that.

    There’s a reason I don’t watch television. Seeing all men portrayed as bumbling imbeciles is merely the tip of a very large iceberg IMHO…

  13. Phillip says:

    I’ve been the one that stays home with my (now) 2 1/2 year old when he is sick. Not terribly long ago, he went to daycare one day in the week. By the end of the week, I wanted to tear my hair out. I love taking care of him once in a while, but I don’t think I could stand it full time. I respect anyone who chooses to stay home with the kids.

  14. BobG says:

    “And what the hell is up with the idea that I “give men a bad name”? ”

    The ones who give men a bad name are guys who take no responsibility in raising their children.

  15. Larry says:

    I have a different name for you.

    “Lucky b@stard.”

    Enjoy it while you can, the teen years are coming 😉

  16. Larry says:

    And the commercials would be more realistic if they would end up showing Dad flopping back on his easy chair, picking up the remote, and telling his son “THAT’S how you get out of housework!”
    But of course, they wouldn’t sell as much product. So much for truth in advertising.

  17. CrankyProf says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who uses the frozen peas as an icepack.

    You rock, Marko.

    And I’m speaking as the (largely) SAHM who regularly fixes the diaper tapes with duct tape.

  18. Dedicated_Dad says:

    When my Ex shoved a 6-week old colicky baby at me when I came through the door and grunted “I hate her. You’re going to come home one day and find a dead baby” I quit my job. Never went back.

    For the next ~5 years I too was “Mr. Mom.” I got crap from everyone, including my parents. I started a business and averaged better than $50k/yr working from home, mostly (ahem) tax-free. Even this didn’t suit – my Mom summed it up when she said “I just think a man is supposed to have a job.” Even though I made more staying home than I could “working”???!!

    Huh?

    Of course when the inevitable custody-battle ensued, I was painted a “deadbeat” who “wouldn’t work”, etc. but I don’t care. Eventually I was awarded sole custody, and my kids continue to thrive in spite of their Mom. I’ve moved on to a rewarding IT career, a spin-off of my former business.

    What I’m trying to say is:

    (1) Been there. Glad I was able to.

    (2) It’s your business, not theirs.

    (3) Eff-’em.

    DD

  19. kelly says:

    This made me laugh….and remember when I met my husband, he was a single dad of three and doing a superb job, but all the women in the neighborhood, and the schools were like SHARKS..always telling him how to raise his kids and this and that…he hated it..because they assumed that because he was a man, he couldn’t possibly be nurturing. Let me tell ya, he’s taught me a thing or two and it’s all about being a part of the team.

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