Mister Mister Mom Mom or Manual Manual Laborer Laborer?

by doodaddy on April 9, 2008

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It would seem that the internal monologue is getting pretty complex. Or maybe she’s just sleepy.

After not having heard it for weeks, I got called "Mr. Mom" twice in quick succession yesterday, at the very-quick-and-cheap haircut place and then by the supermarket checker.

I guess I do look a little like Michael Keaton.

Keaton

The double insult put an ironic cap on a long day of domesticity. Boobaby woke up in an oppositional mood: not clothing, nor toothbrush, nor breakfast cereal would satisfy the beast. So we (read: "I") decided to make it a home day and set out to accomplish what we could with a house torn apart by days of travel and neglect.

We washed a boatload of dishes, baked sugar cookies, watered the yard, ran a few loads of laundry, and by the time naptime rolled around, Boobaby was back to her usual peppy self.

I, however, was running-into-walls-tired. Doing chores with a two-year old means doing them several times over. She’ll wash a bowl, but then I have to wash her, and probably the bowl, too. She learned to fold napkins today, but then, of course, I had to fold them again. The watering, washing, and baking all took their toll on her wardrobe; she was in four sets of clothes, and each change took a negotiation and a wrestle.

Collapsing onto the couch after Boo went down, I popped a bunch of old newscasts on the iPod. I was only half-listening when a statistic caught my attention. I can’t remember exactly what it was about, but I perked up when the reporter mentioned that whatever social ill he was covering disproportionately affects "manual laborers."

Does that mean — me?

In what way am I not a "manual laborer"? Sure, my job requires a fair bit of thoughtfulness, but I expect that the same is true of a typical auto worker. I really don’t know how the statisticians split the labor force (and I suspect with some annoyance that they probably call me a "non-worker"). But today, at any rate, my sore muscles and I felt ample solidarity with the world’s lunch-bucket workers. What a day.

So if you’re going to call me "Mr. Mom," at least do so with a little respect for the toil that goes into that, won’t you?

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tagged as in housework,People You Meet,what's it like to be a stay-at-home dad ·

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen April 9, 2008 at 8:41 am

Anyone who would look down on you for what you do…hasn’t been in your shoes. Every time I play Mr. Mom, it’s exhausting! :)

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Jessica April 9, 2008 at 8:56 am

Amen!

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sugarplumsmom April 9, 2008 at 10:40 am

I don’t trust statistics.. they can be found and bent to back up just about any argument you want to make. You are most certainly a manual laborer.. and a darn good one at that from the pictures you’ve posted.

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Lisa April 9, 2008 at 2:23 pm

What makes me smack my forehead with shock and awe is: If you hired a nanny to care for BooBaby and a housekeeper to care for your home, then you got a job taking care of that nanny’s kid and cleaning their house, you’d each be viewed by society as a fine, upstanding ‘worker’. You’d (maybe) get health benefits, social security, etc. But stay at home, do the exact same tasks to raise your own child and all that ‘worker’ stuff gets tossed out the window.

(insert forehead smack here)

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doodaddy April 9, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Thanks!

Um, I guess… what I always wanted to be!

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Dr. Leah - Transformation Revolution April 9, 2008 at 8:11 pm

The thing that strikes me is just the whole issue of how the human brain wants to categorize. “Man with child doing ‘domestic’ things” = Mr. Mom. We have these mental boxes or constructs within which we put and keep people. We all do it; it’s just that the constructs oversimplify the complexity and richness of our lives. We end up living inside of or in spite of the boxes we are or are perceive by others to be in. It’s just unfortunate.

It’s like that crap of how “people” (read: my mother) slip and say things like “How nice of Jeff to watch the girls while you went to that conference.” No. He did not “watch” (nor “babysit”) the girls. He parented them while I was out of town.

No one tells me “Wow. It is so great that you’re willing to watch the girls while Jeff went on that trip.” Give me a break. But somehow, it was nice of him to “””watch””” (sorry – can’t stand saying the word “watch” without making my displeasure visually evident) his own children????

Back to my point and off of my cranky soap box – The point: I’m really sorry people are putting you into boxes.

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doodaddy April 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Oh, I don’t mind being in boxes. I just want to be in cooler ones. Like “Mr. McHot Dad.” Or “Sir Wittyalot.” Somehow, I never get painted with those stereotypes!

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