So here we are, in the 21st century, trying to raise our Millennials & Gen Z’s. While the title of this article might bear some similarity in name to the 1980’s Michael Keaton movie, let’s say you have no idea what I’m talking about. Though I’m sure ‘Mr. Mum’ gives away the possible rant that is to come. Let this not be a rant, but an intellectual debate.
My wife and I have the pleasure of raising our baby girl together and we have let the lines of ‘Mum & Dad’ blur over time.
Our journey to parenthood, while a little painful, has afforded us the luxury of being side by side through it all. We value the gift we have been given and are taking the time to invest ourselves in her well-being and development. Scheduling decisions, mid-night feeds, playtime, it’s all a family affair. We firmly believe that teamwork makes the dream work.
The love of my life is a teacher and works tirelessly to help parents raise their offspring as upstanding individuals. I, well I am self-employed. Till very recently, our home was a place of business by day and an abode by night. I have flexibility, she doesn’t. I am still referring to our work, not personalities.
My flexibility has afforded me the well-deserved and envious title of “House Manager”. I must say, I do love it. Imagine being able to discard anything, at will, no questions asked. While that kind of power may not be for everyone, I have revelled in its glory for far too long. This isn't a family secret, short of printing business cards, everyone knows how much I love being at the forefront.
So naturally, when our little angel came along, the world seemed less concerned about my wife’s maternity but a little more curious if I would be spearheading the battles of parenthood at the frontier. One such member of the female gen-pop went as far as congratulating me and asking… so are you “Mr. Mum” now?
We have let the lines of ‘Mum & Dad’ blur a little, and that is a good thing, for us anyway. Drawing a little attention to the line itself, is there and should there be one? I like to think of ‘Mum and Dad’ as a salutation. Something that comes before our name, like Mr. & Mrs. It’s hard not to view them as a job description, but as a Gen X & Millennial couple, raising a Gen Z, it is incumbent on us to keep blurring those lines. Some may argue that Mr. & Mrs. bring with it their own job descriptions and to them I’d say, touché, now set sail back to the mid-nineteen hundred.
By calling me Mr. Mum, two very grave assumptions were made. For one, it’s the mothers job to take the lead in child rearing. I use the term rearing to highlight the archaic nature of the assumption. If that isn't the case, then the second… it’s likely that I’m a stay-at-home dad. I haven't told you much about what I do, simply because I may or may not be a stay-at-home dad. This prose isn't about feminism nor the advocacy for a mans need to take charge at home but does question the need for balance. How are we to raise our boys to be gentlemen and girls to be equals, if our homes are not reflective of this?
Michael and Teri, in 1983 had to switch roles. In 1983, those roles existed. Michael lost his job and Teri found one. Circumstance required them to swap and figure out the intricacies of gender burdens while maintaining their relationship. Fast forward to 2017, Michael and Teri shouldn't have to do any of that. Almost 35 years later, they can focus on being better examples and raising better quality citizens without having to be forced into a box.
By no means do I think my wife and I have it all figured out. Nor do I think we are model parents. Like everyone, we have our pressure points and learn something new every day. But we do choose to learn something new every day. We want to take responsibility and raise our baby girl without gender bias. To be who she wants without the social pressure of growing up to be a great home-maker and mother. We want to be an active part of this paradigm shift, and to do so we are starting with ourselves.