In its quest to chronicle the challenges faced by wealthy white people during the economic recession, the New York Times goes retro in this article about newly unemployed dads who find themselves playing “mom’s” role. In other words, they’re picking their kids up from school and making them snacks. The title of the article is actually “Mr. Moms (by Way of Fortune 500).”
Dads don’t “babysit” their own kids, nor should they ever, ever be referred to as “Mr. Mom.” Are these men’s working wives “Mrs. Dad?” Caring for children is not a mother’s unique purview. Men who spend time with, read to, make dinner for and/or comfort their own offspring are not doing anything unnatural. “Mr. Mom” is unnecessary when we already have a word for that: dad.
The gist of the story is this: High-earning men who’ve been laid off from their fancy jobs fall down the rabbit hole, which leads to a mysterious world once inhabited exclusively by women. They navigate Costco! Their financial expertise comes in handy at PTA meetings!
“A man is supposed to hunt and gather and bring home and provide, and when they don’t, that goes to their identity,” said Jane Robbins, a PTA member. “If they can find some solace in being the parent, if they can take that out of it, God bless them.”
Vom. One dad, Mr. Emery, describes his transition to motherhood as “humbling.” Another, Mr. Levy, admits that one uncomfortable aspect of his new life is the loss of power. It’s hard out there for an underappreciated, unpaid caretaker, ain’t it? By the way, Levy had saved 18 months’ worth of salary before losing his job. His wife is not working either but their nanny still has her job. Let that sink in for a minute.
Some of the out-of-(paid)-work fathers say when they return to the workforce they hope to pursue careers that allow them to stay involved with their children. The article suggests that the recession is forcing at least some upper-class white folks to discover and prioritize the important things in life. “Success” is about more than the number on your pay stub. It may also be an opportunity for men (and women) to learn they can do “women’s work” just as well as a woman!