Friday, March 22, 2013

Mr. Mom? How about Dad...

Every once in a while you stumble across something that you wish you had seen years ago.  Today is one of those days.  In 2010, I stayed home for the year with my then three children (we now have four), while my wife returned to work.  The year was amazing, although not without its challenges.  I was a rookie.  Not a rookie Dad, but a rookie 'Stay at Home Dad'.

Don't get me wrong here, I have always been an active participant in the care of our children, and in the upkeep of our home.  Cloth diapers, laundry, dishes, house cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, gardening, and yes, all of the typical 'men' work as well (maintenance, technology, etc). We have always maintained that we would be equal parents.  We fulfill different roles, but the time and effort we would invest in parenting our kids would be equal.  Some of my male colleagues still joke with me that they are going home to 'babysit' because their wife is going out for the evening.  They know it rubs me the wrong way (but I can take a good ribbing all the same - they mean it in good-natured fun and respect)

I was a rookie because I left work.  The work that was my identity (I'm a teacher) became secondary, and my role as 'Dad' became primary.  It was good to get knocked down a peg as every parent does.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart, and it takes a lot of effort to do it well, and even more effort to accept that one is not going to be perfect.  I did some thinking and even some writing about the topic.  My best resource and adult company was my neighbour who I considered a professional (he was home for 7+ years).  Had I known about, I may have been even better.

No, society does not yet treat us as equals....yet.  Curiosities maybe?  Out of place?  Suspicious?  It is humbling to be whistled at from the construction truck as they ask where your skirt is (on a walk with the stroller), it's difficult to be eyed with suspicion at the park as moms keep a close eye on the man who may at any moment abduct their children, and its isolating to not be invited in to the conversation, or simply ignored when attempting to have some 'adult' conversation at the local parent/child drop in.  Thank goodness there were other parents who 'got it'.  I'm not complaining.  I wouldn't trade my year home with my kids for the world.  The world ain't equal, though, despite our efforts to make it so.

I am so thankful for groups like this who further the cause of equal parenting, of stripping away stereotypes, and of encouraging dads to 'step up' to the amazing opportunity and responsibility of their title.  Their current campaign 'Mr. Mom is Dead' is inspiring.  My hats off to you, gentlemen.  I consider you peers even though I know none of you.
You are an inspiration.

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