I’m Not Mr. Mom

Stay-at-home dad Jeff Bogle is creating a new image of fatherhood, every day.

The kids in grade school teased me because of my big head. They were right. It was, and still is, larger than most. How else am I to store away my super brain?

Later, the majority of my classmates in the all-boys prep school I attended for four years thought I was gay because I didn’t speak about girls in a degrading way. They were woefully mistaken, but I have fabulous taste in curtains.

So if today, as a grown man, I face some playground mom who thinks that what I am doing is babysitting my daughters, not parenting them, or I watch as some detergent company labels me as a bumbling Mr. Mom, or I happen to read a mommy blogger with a national audience put my efforts down in some offhanded way, my gut reaction is, basically, whatevs. And a little bit of screw off.  But mostly, what. ever.

My girls, the people who’s opinion I take into consideration the most, don’t ever call me Mr. Mom. Just as they wouldn’t call their mother Mrs. Dad. No, they call me daddy, and they ask me what I am making for dinner, if we can bake cookies, if their favorite pajamas are done in the laundry, if they can have their allowance, if I’ll play ‘traffic’ with them and a hundred Matchbox cars, or help them build a new Batman LEGO set, if I can read to them tonight, if I can hold them while they cry about getting in trouble at school, if they can sit on my lap and watch FC Barcelona on the big screen on a Sunday afternoon, or lay next to me in bed early on a Saturday morning to watch Arsenal on the iPad, if they can paint my nails, or if they can serve me pretend food in their pretend restaurant (called Picnics, and I do recommend their turkey dinner special—delish!).

I totally get the burning desire to fight, to beat down the walls of the stereotype, and combat the condescending bullshit from some moms … and from much of corporate America who collectively continue to push the tired trope of the dummy dad.

I do it all, and I am a dad, and that is what my girls know, and what they will carry forward in their hearts and in their minds to the day, someday, many moons from today, when they might become moms. Moms who know what a dad can be.

We also laugh and sneer at toy catalogs showing only girls in the play kitchens, and only boys playing with r/c cars. They get it, and they are a tiny bit of the future of the world that I am helping to make better. And somewhere, there is a dad doing the same thing with a pair of boys, showing them the way of the modern man. And maybe my pair and his pair will meet and our worlds will explode with goodness. See, no jokes about me and a shotgun, or telling those boys to stay away from my daughters. How’s that for modern?

I am, without a freakin’ doubt, changing the image of the modern dad, albeit more organically, by being a modern dad for my daughters. Sometimes, often really, I think that this is all I can do and all I really care about.  But I totally get the burning desire to fight, to beat down the walls of the stereotype, and combat the condescending bullshit from some moms who haven’t experienced modern fatherhood firsthand, and maybe, who married poorly and feel the need to publicly take that disappointment out on all dads, and from much of corporate America who collectively continue to push the tired trope of the dummy dad. There is fight in my snark, and it can’t help but bubble up. I understand completely the hunger to show the rest of the world what you know to be true. I have been doing exactly that for years now with indie kid’s music and get pissed when I see anyone, let alone one of my fellow dads, dismiss or fail to try to discover something that I know to be a fact. But I have in a way resigned myself to organic growth there too, with waiting for the kindie kids, including my daughters, to grow up and have kids of their own, and show them that the arts for children exist beyond what is on TV and on Radio Disney, because they will have learned that that is true themselves. Such is my thought with the Mr. Mom conundrum.

This has been just my gay, big-headed two cents on the matter. I can’t really talk much more this morning though, ’cause I’m about to strip the bedsheets and dust the baseboards, and listen to the new Not-Its record seamlessly alongside classic Superchunk albums.

 

This was previously published on Out with the Kids.

Read more on Real Fatherhood on The Good Life.


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About Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle is a stay-at-home dad who writes about parenting and All Things Childhood: kindie music, books, toys, gaming, & culture at Out With The Kids. He is married to an adorable redheaded gal and has two lovely little ladies under the age of 10 who provide him with countless hours of humorous in-home entertainment, and who get to do, hear, see and play with more cool stuff than you can possibly imagine. He considers himself one of the luckiest guys in the world, although he needs to be reminded of this fact from time to time. Jeff also blogs for The Good Men Project.

Comments

  1. Good on you, Jeff, and may there be many more like you. I’m the daughter of a man who was a modern father and it has absolutely shaped who I am as a wife and a mother. Your daughters are lucky to have you.

  2. Yes! Yours is a story that warms my heart, to know the path has been traveled before and that a daughter is grateful for her modern dad. Thank you for your kinds words and for sharing a bit of your story with me!

  3. I get this. I too get that urge to make a fuss about all the silly things I read or hear, but in the end I’d rather spend my time being a father. And you know what – all the silly stuff, it’s nothing to do with me. I know what I’m worth as a parent, I and I know that I’m the one doing must of the housekeeping stuff in my family. That’s what works for us. Just like I’m the one to repair broke bikes and take the kids on crazy downhill skiing expeditions. Because I’m man enough to take my daughter out shopping for a fancy dress *and* to go tumble down a snowy hill with her. There’s no contradiction there.

    I don’t much get the SAHD stuff – but then, I live in a culture where stay-at-home parents are rare. I like to take care of children, I like to run the house, and I like my job. For us, a model where we both work full time and truly share at home is ideal.

  4. Spot-on, Lars. What does matter most to the people we love, and what will make most easily identifiable change in our own world is to demonstrate what it means to be a *modern* father by being that kind of dad to your own children. Outwardly enjoying all those piece of lives — childcare, running the home, and working — is a wonderful thing for a child to witness and will carry them far in life.

  5. Jeff Bogle you are a good man. I agree with everything you said and do my best to do the same with my three boys. But, don’t go so hard on Mr. Mom, I loved that movie, and don’t forget he gets the “mom” thing down in the end. Don’t worry too much about the condescending BS you get from other moms though, I see it as an insecurity issue on their part, as clearly you are a threat to become the “Kool-Aid house” (in my youth that was the house the neighborhood kids always congregate at because its always fun and always had great Kool-Aid”. I get some pretty interesting comments too when somehow I am discussing with with the neighborhood “super-mom” who I really don’t like, on how my sons and I planted tulips and potatoes in our backyard, and picked the tulips in the spring and harvested the potatoes in the summer and made mashed potatoes from scratch, I mean real scratch. Her condescending comment was “how cute, you do gardening? did your boys end up eating the tulip bulbs too, because they can be toxic” and I replied with a squinted determined stare and said, “maybe”.

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