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 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.