Sunday is Mother’s Day. I won’t get any cards. I won’t get any gifts. I won’t get breakfast in bed or a special blessing at Sunday Mass.
I’m not a mom.
However, because I am at-home with our four children every day, instead of out in the workforce, people call me “Mr. Mom.”
I detest that term.
Of course I realize “Mr. Mom” comes from the movie of that name starring Michael Keaton. But that movie was released 29 years ago. A lot has changed about the roles of moms and dads since then.
Calling me “Mr. Mom” today suggests that I am merely a replacement for mom, that mom is the primary parent and I’m just subbing in for her while she’s at work.
I don’t accept that. I am just as important of a parent as my wife. Perhaps on my first days as an at-home dad, I struggled as Keaton’s character but today I am quite the accomplished homemaker.
My wife, too, is in an uncommon role as a mom who is the sole financial provider for our family. But no one calls her “Mrs. Dad” or even “Mrs. Al Watts.” No one attaches any such moniker to her that suggests she is not capable of handling her job or that this is not the true role she should be doing.
And, just like my wife does not do her job in the same way a man would do it, I do not do my “job” in the same way she would do it. I handle discipline, cooking, cleaning, playtime and just about everything else differently than she would. Everything I do is like any other dad would do it because, well, I am a DAD. The only difference is that I am with our kids for more hours of the day than other dads.
Heck, I am home more hours of the day with our kids than most moms of today.
So don’t call me “Mr. Mom.” Call me “At-Home Dad.” This clearly defines who I am without the negative connotation that I am somehow a replacement for mom or an incompetent homemaker or somehow less of a man.
But feel free to send me a card or gift…
On Father’s Day.
Al Watts is an at-home dad of four children living in west Omaha. He also is the president of The National At-Home Dad Network. He writes regularly for The Good Men Project and Role/Reboot and is co-editing a book project titled “Dads Behaving Dadly: Chronicles of the Fatherhood Revolution.” Read him Wednesdays on momaha.com.