I am not a mother, in case that post title was somewhat misleading. I am a father. But I may not be one in the traditional sense of the word. As a stay-at-home Dad, and blogger about such things, I am at the forefront of the online men’s movement to become more like women. Wait, that was misleading too. We don’t want to become more like women; we want to become more like people. We want recognition that man are not aggressive bundles of testosterone and that women are not beautiful objects that produce food and children. Or not just those things. We want to be able to explore all of the parts of ourselves. We want the cultural freedom to be whole.
So here I am, trying to be all progressive, but even in my own mind I have a long way to go. I have not fully replaced the words “mother” and “father” with the word “parent” when it comes to tasks and roles. And while it has become much more acceptable for women to assume “manly” chores, like working at jobs, wearing pants, or sportsing, it has not become as permissible for men to do lady things, like interior decorating, wearing dresses, or using Pinterest. We are just not there yet. And I have to continually remind myself that I can do “mother” things, even though I am, clinically, male.
This past week I have been really craving some homemade chocolate chip cookies. Now, let me lay a few facts out for you. I am the baker in the family. I make the Christmas cookies. I make the pies. I make everything except the banana bread, because my wife does that. It is delicious. I am not messing with that formula. But overall, I do the baking. I have loved baking ever since I was a kid and would spend hours in the kitchen with my mother, making cookies, pies, cinnamon rolls, donuts, and all sorts of other goodies. We would always have some sort of baked good for dessert that we had made. And now I am an adult, and time has progressed to January, 2015, and I am sitting in my house wishing that we had some of those treats around. And I did not make any. I bought some at Costco instead.
I did not make any, not because I did not have the time or the ingredients, but because my vision of who was supposed to make those cookies included a woman in an apron, face covered with flour and smiles and love. Despite all of them facts I just listed, mothers make the chocolate chip cookies, and I am not a mother. But I am a mother. Words are changing. Times are changing. Mother really has two definitions, one literal and one cultural. I am not literally a mother, which is to say a female parent, but I am closer to our traditional cultural definition of mother than I am to a father. I have taken on the homemaking role. I do most of the chores. I am home when the kids get back from school and I give them snacks and send them to play outside so I can vacuum. I do these things because my wife has to go to the office for an important meeting with the executive vice-president about budgets. We are a 1950s couple in reverse. But not really.
In reality, we share both roles. I have a job too. In fact, I have at least three of them at any given time. I play video games and laser tag and watch the Super Bowl. I roughhouse. I am a father. My wife bakes banana bread. She takes the children to doctor’s appointments and reads them stories and tucks them in and shares her love of movie musicals with them. She nurtures them. She is a mother. So it’s really time for these definitions to go away. We are both parents. She is the female mother and I am the male father, but everything else is just parenting. I can make the cookies. She can make the money. And we can both love our kids and do everything we can to provide for them and raise them right. The details and task breakdown of this mighty endeavor ought to be the last thing we separate out by gender. Now I just have to finish convincing my brain.