At first, when you’re with a newborn and constantly tired and trying desperately to find a groove, you’ll probably take offense at a lot of these questions. I get it, I do. I’ve been there. You’re new to the gig and struggling to embrace and identify a new role for yourself, all while trying to make sure you don’t mess up, or forget the baby somewhere, or put off emptying the Diaper Genie, make dinner, do more tummy time, join a group, clean the bathroom — argh! No wonder a tiny, innocuous question can set you off.
But as the years roll by and you find yourself not only doing ok but doing an amazing job, some of these questions will probably make you smile. You’ll be an old hand, a pro, a king of the carpool lane and protectorate of the play date, and you’ll look on these questions less as digs against your manhood and more as sort of a window into the die-hard societal notions of parenthood in the 21st century. You’ll be like Jane Goodall at the PTA — and oh, you’re going to love the PTA someday.
I was chatting with a new acquaintance the other day, and he was telling me how his wife has been out of town for the last four months, returning only a couple times a week every and then and how he has had to do the bulk of household duties: the cleaning, the cooking, the drop-offs at preschool and weekend adventures. Then the talk turned to my life and he said, “So, I hear you’re doing to the Mr. Mom thing?”
I told him it sounded pretty much exactly like he was doing the same thing. His eyes went wide. “But I’m not a mom!”
Dads shouldn’t have to embrace the word mom to be good parents, to be involved, to stay home or to simply be there when needed. And yet, judging from the crazy questions SAHDS get all. the. time, that’s partially what’s expected. So please, for the sake of not embarrassing yourself, here are the top 7 things not to say to a stay-at-home dad.
1. “Are you babysitting today?”
I am, yes. Sure. Babysitting. That’s what I call parenting, too. Not only do I help raise my own children … I get freezer privileges!
2. “Man, it’s got to be nice not to work!”
Totally. It’s just a sit-on-the-couch-with-my-pearls-and-my-bon-bons type of gig. Woops, time flies. Have to get home because my stories are almost on.
3. “I wish I could hang around at parks all day.”
Yeah. Me too.
4. “You mean you can sit home and watch sports any time you want?”
Well, sure. I mean, the kid is totally going to feed herself eventually, right? Or wipe? Play? Get to school? Or at the very least stop drinking everything under the sink? (I actually feel a little guilty about this question, because you know, when I’ve got the house under control and the kid is at school, I actually do get to watch some sports. Score!)
5. “So what do you… do all day?”
This one? I don’t mind. I think people are genuinely curious. But think about it for a second, would you? I am doing the exact same thing any parent in any town across the country does every day. It ain’t special. If you’re young and single and genuinely don’t know and are curious about the gig, I’ll be happy to explain. But if you’re a dude and you have a wife at home doing the same thing, you really shouldn’t have to ask.
6. “Got a sweet little sugar mama, huh? Aww yeah!”
I hate this one. Why does she always get the cool-sounding title? Why can’t it be rephrased: “So, doing the trophy husband thing, huh?” Then I’d look down at my unwashed clothes, my three-day stubble and my pile of dishes and say, “You know it, pal.”
7. “So, you’re doing the Mr.Mom thing.”
Seriously, is this the only parenting movie that is going to survive the ages? I can’t believe it is still relevant 25 years later. But look, bottom line, a dad doesn’t have to embrace the word mom to be a good parent.