By John Gregg
I’m a stay-at-home-Dad. For better or worse, that’s just the way things are right now in my family. Today I’m cool with it. Ask me tomorrow when all three kids are crying, and you’re sure to get a different answer. I know that I’m lucky to be in the position I am, but I struggle daily with my role in the family. Some days I embrace it, a lot of days I wish I could talk to somebody….anybody…over the age of five.
But being a stay-at-home-dad can be an extremely annoying vocation for me at times. I know I am infinitely fortunate to be able to spend so much quality time with my kids and to have the opportunity to make a direct and lasting impact on their lives. Believe me. I know. But I still get irritated on a near-daily basis.
It is not the incessant whining or flabbergasting temper tantrums. Those I can deal with. It is not the non-stop parade of poopy diapers either. After five straight years of dealing with excrement, I’m pretty much immune to its foulness.
No, what annoys me are adults. Grownups who are probably well-meaning and decent folk, but through small-mindedness or sheer ignorance, are flat-out offensive. I run into these folks everywhere I go. I cannot escape them, they are avoidable. They are at the playground, the mall and sometimes even in my own home.
I’m talking about grownups who refer to me as “Mr. Mom”. Yeah…them. They piss me off.
Some of them are close friends or even family members, so I try my hardest to give them a pass. But I can’t. It’s just too damn annoying.
I would like to think that being a stay-at-home-dad is not a cute novelty anymore. After all, our numbers are at an all-time high. But if that is true, why is the term “Mr. Mom” so common in our society’s vernacular? Is it ignorance? Laziness? Lack of a better term? What is it?
I’m not sure why it bothers me so much. Maybe I am still wrestling with my own masculinity in my role as a stay-at-home-parent. Or maybe I’m just being too sensitive. Either way, the term “Mr. Mom” does not apply to me.
The fact that the term has a negative connotation and is a stereotype for a bumbling and sophomoric male who makes terrible blunders while “babysitting” his kids is offensive enough. But that really is not the reason I object to its use. Unfortunately, that is the idea that some people have of stay-at-home-dads. Whatever. That viewpoint is slowly changing. I hope.
No the reason it bothers me is because I am clearly not a female, and therefore cannot, under any circumstances, be a Mom.
A “Mom” is just the informal word for “mother”. A “mother” is defined by Merriam Webster as being “a female parent”. To be a female you have to have female reproductive organs…and a vagina. See what I did there?
I don’t have a vagina.
So I cannot be a Mom. I just cannot, because I’m not female and I don’t have a vagina.
I am a male and I have… a penis.
A penis which, as my wife can attest to, is partially responsible for the existence of the three children I parent each day. I’m all man. There really is no mistaking it.
So if you call me “Mr. Mom”, you are calling me a woman. That’s the kind of stuff that will get you knocked out on the schoolyard. Not that I’ll do that. But I will scowl. Menacingly.
Plus you’ll sound like a moron. I mean who the hell could confuse me with being a female? I have a beard for God’s sake.
I get the origin of the term “Mr. Mom”. I saw the movie as a kid and laughed like everybody else. But it’s 2014, and it is just not a funny term anymore. It’s flat-out incorrect and has no factual basis. You just cannot be a male AND be a Mom.
I did not switch out my genitals when I signed on to be the primary caretaker in our family. I’m still all dude.
There are those that might argue that I metaphorically gave up my penis when I decided to stay at home with the kids. They’re wrong, but for today, I’ll let that slide. For now we will work with the simple premise that for better or worse, I’m a man who stays at home with the kids while my wife works. If you need a term for that, feel free to make one up. I give you permission to call me anything else you want, no matter how degrading or sexist it is.
But don’t call me “Mr. Mom”. Because Moms are female parents with vaginas and I’m a male parent with a penis.
So do me a favor, drop the term “Mr. Mom” from your vocabulary now. You will immediately gain favor with me and your male friends who are at-home-parents. Most of all, you will stop sounding like a moron.
But…if you do slip up when you see me at the grocery store with my kids and say something like, “Playing Mr. Mom today?”
My reply will be this: “Do I look like I have vagina?” And then I’ll scowl. Menacingly.
After nearly twenty years working in the hospitality industry, John Gregg now spends his days as a stay-at-home dad to three children age 5, 2 and 9 months. When he is not chasing children, he can be found running, drinking green smoothies or working on projects that he knows he’ll never have time to finish. He writes about his ongoing personal transformation and the joys and frustrations of being a stay-at-home parent on his newly launched blog Left. Right. Breathe. You can also follow him on Twitter.