Apparently, my blogging skills are lacking, because I somehow managed to delete my first ever post. So, since I’ve been inactive because of #PitchWars revisions, and I kind of liked that first post a lot, I’m just gonna repost it BECAUSE IT’S MY BLOG AND MY LESS-THAN-ONE READER CAN’T STOP ME! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Anywho. So here we go, round two.
Okay. Everyone comfy? Good.
Hi there. I’m Ron. I’m a writer and stay-at-home dad. As it happens, this is my first ever blog post. (Not anymore, but bear with me.) Initially, I wanted to tell you a story about something crazy one of my kids said, or impart some words of writing wisdom that other author parents might find helpful.
But then the guy behind the counter at the airport coffee shop called me Mr. Mom.
So we’re gonna talk about that.
At first, coffee dude was all, Welcome to the Savannah Airport, what brings you here today? To which I replied that my family and I were heading home to Germany. Which prompted the following exchange:
Coffee Dude: Wow. I never would have guessed you lived there. What do you do?
Me: My wife’s a teacher on a U.S. military base. I’m a stay-at-home dad.
Coffee Dude: *passes me espressos* Oh, Mr. Mom, huh?
Me: *envisions returning espresso by way of cup projectile into his face* Yep.
The thing is, I may sound pissed off, but I’m not. What I am is annoyed and disheartened. Look, I get it: Traditionally, most stay-at-home parents have been moms. The reasons for that are myriad, and I’m not about to drop a long-winded dissertation about gender inequality and societal expectations. But nowadays, plenty of dads choose to stay home. For me, the decision was simple: where we live, jobs are hard to come by, so even if I scored some sort of work, most of my salary would go toward paying someone else to watch our kids. Therefore, since my wife already had a decent job, we decided I would stay home. Plus, I’d have (in theory) more time to write.
Most people I know think it’s great I stay home with the girls. But some people–typically new faces in kid-centric settings–are either befuddled or straight-up weirded out. There’s a look people give me sometimes, when they first meet me and realize what I do. Kind of like they’re attempting to pinpoint the fundamental flaw in my masculinity that pushed me onto this particular road. I’ll admit, part of it could be my own insecurities making me extra paranoid, but I’ve been at this for a while. I’m pretty good at noticing when a conversation abruptly ends, or how what seemed like a pleasant chat with someone new fails to produce a follow-up the next time we run into each other. More often than not, it’s usually after someone finds out I stay home with the kids.
Which leads me to the point: I have no patience for buffoons. As such, I have no patience for the titular Michael Keaton movie that gave birth to, or at least codified in the mainstream conscience, the Mr. Mom moniker. Sure, the movie’s funny. And fine, he pulled it together in the end. But it popularized and reinforced the notion that dads, by the very fact of their testosterone, are incompetent morons totally incapable of caring for their own children whenever mom’s away.
Is there some truth to the movie? Absolutely. Some dads suck at being dads. But I’ll let you in on an industry-insider secret: Some moms suck at being moms.
At best, calling me Mr. Mom implies that I’m an inept, incomplete stand-in for a biological mother. At worst, it propagates the idea that, by their nature, women are better at raising children, and in fact SHOULD be the ones staying home. To which I say, MEH. I can hear the biological argument already, but in my experience, nurture trumps nature hands down. Can I, as a man, give birth to a child? No. Can I nurse a child? No. Can I comfort her, feed her, change her diapers, read her stories, hug her, teach her to read and write, show her the difference between right and wrong, shake my head when she throws a blanket over her head, starts singing “LET IT GO!”, and charges right into the closet door, and perform countless other tasks that fall under the infinitely expanding blanket of what it means to be a parent?
You’re damn right I can.
I’m not saying the role I’ve assumed came easily; it most certainly did not. I struggle with it every day, but find me a parent who doesn’t and I’ll let you ride the unicorn my kids and I rescued the other day and now ride to school. Her name’s Spike, and she sleeps next to Larry, the wyvern.
So the next time you think about calling a dad Mr. Mom, regardless if he stays home with the kids or is just giving his wife a well-earned and much-needed break, do me a favor: