Thanks to Rebel Dad for publicizing this media monstrosity: Meet Mr. Mom, a new reality show where mom gets a spa vacation while dad stays home with the kids. Now, I'm all for the spa vacation. Mothers all over America surely share my longing for a spa vacation. And no doubt, so too do fathers. We are all busy, and we are all tired, and we all could use a three hour massage and a facial, and someone to cook our meals for a day or two. Darn, I'd settle for a 1 hour anything at the day spa up the hill. The catch to this show: Well, first, mom has to watch a closed circuit TV rendering of her family all the while. If I get a spa vacation, the last thing I'd want to do is watch a TV camera trained on my home. How unrealistic: no mother I know wants to wreck her spa day like that. And that's because, well, there's no need to. Fathers are perfectly capable of childcare. This, Rebel Dad points out. Fathers know how to take care of children. There's no reason why should still be debating this one. End of story. And from a feminist mother's perspective, stay at home fathers are a woman's best friend. I know lots of mothers who are still able to work fulltime, with very little ambivalence, and without the extra work of packing lunches and daycare drop offs, because their partner is at home with the kids. I loved writing about at home dads in "The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars." I only wish I'd had the time to interview more, and to really find dads who are combining part time work with at home parenting, the way so many mothers are. I think these are the untold stories of american parenting today.
This is one of the primary things we all need to recognize for things to change: Fathers can parent as well as mothers.There is nothing biological or genetic about chidlcare, aside from breastfeeding. Nothing. And as my friend Peter likes to say, fathers make damn good mothers.
So in time for father's day: a salute to all fathers who actively care for their kids, whether they're at home full time, working part time, or working full time.
Last month I was interviewed for a profile in Literary Mama, and one of the things I wrote about was that dads too should get adjectives. Not to divide them from each other, mommy-wars or daddy-wars style, but an adjective that lets them combine their parenting lives with their working lives. I want to meet a dad at a party who tells me he's a working dad, just like I meet women who tell me they're working moms. Dads too should get some adjectives, some recognition of all the work they do.
So thanks Rebel Dad, all the rebel dads, my own dad, who took care of us and made us meals and raised us up right, my husband Rob, and to all the dads out there trying to figure out what a good life of work and parenting might be: happy fathers day.