Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.
At the dinner table last week, I asked my kids what they did during the day with my husband. Ever since he lost his job in April he’s been staying home with Isaac and Gillian while I work part-time away from home.
“We played Loogan Lobster!” said my three-year-old daughter.
At the mention of Loogan Lobster, my husband and six-year-old son started laughing hysterically. I looked down at my meal feeling completely left out of the joke — and more than a little frustrated that the house was a disaster and the meal I was looking down at was one that I’d prepared myself. Back in the day, when I was more an “at-home” than “away-from-home” mom, I had dinner on the table in a house that looked a little less ransacked than it did that night.
“What exactly is Loogan Lobster?” I asked.
“Well, Daddy runs all floppy-like around the house pretending he’s a lobster,” my son explained. “When he catches us, he tickles us. Then we make burping sounds in each others faces.”
Never in my almost seven years as a parent — with half of those years spent at home with my children — did I ever play a game in which the end goal was to burp in my kids’ faces. In fact, if my kids burped in my face they’d be immediately banished to their rooms and their TV privileges stripped for a month. Then I’d bake cookies and throw a few crayons in my kids’ rooms to keep them occupied while I made dinner and cleaned the toilet.
And therein lies the difference between stay-at-home moms and stay-at-home dads — and why Huffington Post blogger Kathleen Hogan‘s insistence on lumping all SAHMs and SAHDs into the same category is wrong.
Her reasoning behind wanting to refer to all of us as stay-at-home parents is that the “quotidian” tasks we do are the same and can be done equally as well by a man or a woman. Technically, yes, both sexes can cook and clean. But if you were dared to do a sniff test in a bathroom cleaned by a dad, by the time you got to the toilet bowl there would be no doubt that the kid pee spills were overlooked. And have you ever gotten into an argument with your partner about how they do laundry “wrong”?
Read more: The REAL lives of stay-at-home parents >
Hogan warns that differentiating between genders when it comes to describing the role of a stay-at-home-parent is damaging. “We fall back on social imagery of SAHMs and SAHDs,” she writes. “You may have your own internal images of a stay-at-home-mom. Is it different from the one for a stay-at-home dad? I admit I have my own biases I struggle to banish, even though I’ve never met a SAHP remotely like these images I carry around.”
My internal images of stay-at-home moms and dads are different. Nearly all of the SAHMs I’ve met feel pressure to have a tidy house, drink too much coffee at playgroup and, yes, wear yoga pants and bake cookies and do crafts. On the flip side, most of the stay-at-home dads I’ve met also drink too much coffee at playgroup, but don’t give a hoot about a tidy house and can’t pronounce Pinterest — yet they can make the best paper airplanes. There are differences between the genders. Those differences are important. Those difference should be celebrated and identified by calling them by their hard won job titles of stay-at-home mom and stay-at-home dad.
And if Hogan even wants to play a round of Loogan Lobster, our door is always open. I’ll bake cookies.