I celebrate men who take long parental leaves. How could I not? My husband did the same for our kids, to save my sanity and live his fatherhood to the max. There’s plenty of talk around about gender equality and women carrying most of the burden of family life. I feel this is shifting, yet much more is needed for a change to happen and we could start from updating our vocabulary. Dad blogger Shannon
tells a humorous story right about that in this new post of Daddy’s Got This
“Well, dear,” the preschool teacher said. “He has a Daddy-Mommy.”
I stopped in mid-stride and reached between my legs. Nope, I still I don’t have a vagina. That’s a good thing, as I would miss my junk very much. I use it to write my name in the snow. So then the question becomes, do I let this slide or do I actually do say something.
My four-year-old son holds my hand. With the other one, I carry my newborn in his baby carrier. This is what I do. My oldest son goes to preschool for a half day twice a week while I stay home with the newborn. I’ve been staying home with the kids for five years at this point and as I just confirmed, it had not turned me into mom. My oldest daughter is in school. But until these two get to school, I will remain an at-home-dad.
I put my newborn back down and turn. I’m hoping that it’s some sort of Gone With The Wind type turn. Oh, I’m going to give it to you, Rhett Butler! Wait, that sounds like something that mom would do. And I learned long ago, in the very beginning, that I can’t do things like mom. I don’t want to. So I turned around, like Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales. I need to find something to spit on.
The preschool teacher, Mrs. Rose, looks up at me while she gets a snack for the rest of the kids. Little goldfish with dabs of positive reinforcement. Mrs. Rose is an older lady and for the most part, I have been very happy with how attentive she is to my son. She was responding to a question from one of the other kids. It was a very simple question, and I don’t think she really thought about the answer.
“Why does Oscar’s daddy pick him up from preschool instead of his mommy?”
And that’s when Mrs. Rose called me a Daddy-Mommy.
Easy Clint, easy now. Let’s play this out in our heads before we pop off.
First off, I’ve been an at-home-dad for a pretty long time now. And this is not the first time I’ve been called a version of Mr. Mom. Dear Lord, I hate it. But it’s where we are at in the world at the moment. That movie from the 80’s is how most people still see us at-home-dads.
Here’s the thing though, equating me to mom should be seen as an insult to Mom as much as it is to me. Do we call a working mom Mr. Dad for going out and making a living? No. No, we do not. I can’t even imagine that happening.
But for a bigger reason, I think it gives the impression that I’m some sort of incompetent. And how could a mom, a mom!, leave her children with such an incompetent bastard? Mom’s have it hard enough, let’s not give them any more shit to deal with. Have any of you witnessed when breastfeeding goes wrong? It’s not pretty, man. Not pretty.
I’ve tried to do the at-home thing like a mom, and it doesn’t work, not for me. First off, people seem to give me pity when out in the world with the kids. I constantly get asked if it’s Daddy Daycare. Fuck no. I’m parenting, it’s called parenting. And second, I need to be held to the same standard as a mom. When a mom shows up in sweatpants with jelly stains, that’s not a failure. That’s life. And society gives her absolutely no wiggle room. There’s judgment right away. I decided early on that it was all nuts, and I would have no part of that. None at all, thank you very much. We need to give mom more credit and dad less. So I stopped trying to parent like mom, ignored the offhand Mr. Mom comments, and did it my way. I have a dad’s group. We go to museums and teach the kids how to throw axes. Well, only once, but it was awesome.
But stuff like this keeps happening. Mrs. Rose looks up at me, expecting that I forgot something because, after all, I’m just a Daddy-Mommy. She’s an older lady though, and I don’t think I’m going to change hearts and minds by going Dirty Harry on her. She meant no disrespect, she honestly didn’t know how to deal with the question.
I take a deep breath.
“How about we just call me dad instead of Daddy-Mommy”, I say.
Because that’s all I am, and it’s all that I want to be.
About the author
Shannon Carpenter is a strapping older gentleman who enjoys the occasional doughnut topped with chocolate. Who are we kidding, give him all the donuts. His writing can be found on his site Hossmanathome.com, The Good Men Project, and Robot Butt. Follow him on twitter @Hossmanathome Represented by Chris Kepner.