There are two camps when it comes to the term Mr. Mom. There are those who are opposed to everything it stands for and there are those who aren’t bothered by it at all.
I’m not talking about the movie, but the fact that the moniker is associated with any man who decided to stay home with his children as the primary caregiver.
Stay at home dads hear the same old thing when we are out with our kids. The two most used phrases are “You must be babysitting today” and “Oh, you’re a Mr. Mom”. After you have stayed home for any length of time it is likely you too will hear it. Frankly, I get tired of it but will never be okay with not try to correcting someone when they do say it.
My friend Oren Miller felt that way even to his dying day. You see, Oren had Stage 4 cancer and he lived his life being a voice for dads everywhere. Proof that Oren was a true advocate for stay at home dads and fathers everywhere even in his final hours are best relayed in a story his wife told me at his funeral.
On one of his final days on this earth he knew what has happening and asked his wife, Beth, to have a reiki come in to treat him. When the she arrived at their house, Beth said Oren wasn’t moving and was so weak that he could barely talk.
As she started to work on him, she said “I hear that you are a writer and that you have a blog”
He said “Yes, let me give you my card.” Somehow he moved to his beside table and got one of his cards out to give to her. Beth was amazed at how he managed to move at all or respond the way he did considering how sick he was.
The woman took the card and looked at it for a moment and said “Oh, so you are a Mr. Mom?”
Oren replied “No, I’m a Mr. Dad.” he said with pride and a smile as he laid back down so she could work on him.
His words must have had an impact with the reiki woman as I later learned that she honored him by coming to his funeral.
Even in his weakest state he was still strong and held fast to his ideals. It would have been so easy to sigh and give in. It would have been easy to forget and move on. It would have been easy to not address the ignorance and turn away, but he didn’t. He continued to fight for what was right and that is the reason I will pick up his torch and carry it forward. Oren has inspired me.
It may seem trivial or not worth the fight but his steadfastness to the cause will always linger in my mind. Being complacent with people saying this to me isn’t an option anymore. Minimizing my role as a dad by referring to me as a mom just won’t fly with me.
If anything, I’d like future generations of men who stay at home as caregivers to their children, to not be defined as anything other than fathers. We aren’t Mr. Moms, we are Mr. Dads.