Changing the Perception
Adam is a stay at home dad that blogs at Hanging With Dad. He has a 2 year old Isaac, and he and his wife Erin are expecting their second child this year. He’s one of those crunchy dads – in fact months ago he did a babywearing post on here that still is one of the most clicked. I have read him for so long I can’t even remember when I started, and I enjoy hearing about his side of this gig – from his frustration at no changing tables in the men’s rooms to going out on playdates with moms. Here he writes about how he’d love to change the view of a stay at home dad from that “Mr. Mom” notion.
Since stay-at-home dads don’t really exist in much of America (though we are a growing section), we’re typically looked at as the Black Swan of society (I have to credit Nouriel Roubini for that phrase). You might hear about us but you can’t really believe we exist until you actually see one with your own eyes. Because of this, I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about us (stayathomedads.com has a great list). After 2 years of doing the stay-at-home dad gig, the top thing that I would change about how people think about stay-at-home dads is the whole notion of Mr. Mom.
I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrated I get when I hear that phrase uttered. I hear it from guys at rugby every once in a while, I read it on blogs and I know it’s a bad 1980s movie with Michael Keaton that I’ve never seen. I get the whole concept of the phrase, but it really irks me.
I really, truly feel that we need to change the way that parenting is perceived in general. Washing clothes isn’t a woman’s job, washing dishes isn’t a woman’s job. Cleaning isn’t a woman’s job, grocery shopping isn’t a woman’s job. Changing diapers isn’t a woman’s job, taking the kids to practice isn’t a woman’s job. Working isn’t a man’s job, fixing broken things isn’t a man’s job. Disciplining isn’t a man’s job, rough housing with the kids isn’t a man’s job. All of the things I listed are a PARENTS job. It doesn’t matter who does it, just that it gets done. A man can do all the stereotypical “woman’s work” and a woman can do all the stereotypical “man’s work” and it really doesn’t matter. If the wife is willing to work so that the dad can stay home, who are we as a society to say “oh dad’s can’t do that!!!”?
And you know what? After 2 years I still do all the laundry in the house, I wash Isaac’s diapers, I’m potty training him, I tend to him when he hurts himself, I discipline him when he needs it, I pick up after him (and am starting to make him pick up after himself). NONE of what I do is a woman’s work, it’s just what you do as a parent. Sure it’s not what is stereotypically associated with what women do, but why should that still be true?
Do I love grocery shopping or washing diapers or folding clothes or washing dishes? Absolutely not, how many of us actually do? (please ignore the fact that I’m writing this for Diana, who actually does enjoy cleaning for some weird reason) Does Erin love leaving the house every morning to go to work while I stay home with Isaac? No, she doesn’t. But we each do what we do because it’s what we’ve decided is best for our family, and in the end that is all that matters.
Nothing that I do is trying to replace Erin. I don’t want to and I never will. Isaac has a relationship with her that he and I will never have. And I have a relationship with Isaac that Erin will never have. But both of our relationships with Isaac are amazing because we have each had a hand in raising him.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until people get it through their thick skulls. I’m not “Mr. Mom”, my name is Dad.