Category Archives: manly

The Death of Mister Mom

Dad in the kitchen in the 1960's wearing a pink apron doing dishes, children smiling.Mister Mom?  In your dreams.

I was walking past the girls room the other day, and heard them playing dolls.  One said, ‘This one will be the mister mom’.   I almost dropped my rubber gloves and feather duster.

I know.  It’s real cute.  Guy opens a diaper,  calms a sick tummy, or gets mushy peas into, instead of onto, a toddler,  and the six o’clock news anchors fall over themselves cooing about ‘Mister Mom’.  Cue the laugh track.

Mister Mom.  Women hear it and smile knowingly.  Real men take one step away from each other and chuckle, manly.  He’s a joke.  Mister Mom.

Mister Mom is the slack jaw guy who can’t figure out pasta sauce for dinner.  Who uses the smoke alarm for a kitchen timer. The doofus helplessly holding his infant boy turned pee fountain.  The ‘here, you take the crying baby, you’re a woman’ guy, who then wipes his hands on his faded football jersey like he’s afraid he’ll catch something.  The man whipped by life or love of a woman into domestic submission.  He’s the rough male forced to fill in for a real mom, out of his nature and out of his depth, trying to ape what real moms do, in his silly, clumsy way.

He’s not someone you’ll ever meet, however.  You won’t find that guy in your neighborhood, or any neighborhood, unless you’re watching the flat screen.  Because Mister Mom is pure fiction, a Hollywood cartoon,  a figment toasted by ad men everywhere.

Ever wonder where he came from?

If you look back at macho 50’s and 60’s TV – black and white glory – you won’t find him.  Just the opposite.  There’s ‘Sky King’,  a spy chasing pilot raising a couple of kids himself.  And ‘My Three Sons’, being raised by a pipe smoking engineer and tough old male housekeeper.  And, ‘The Rifleman’, an iron-spined solo frontiersman running a homestead in the West, standing up to bullies, bringing up  a son.  Up on the Ponderosa,  Ben Cartwright mans the house in ‘Bonanza’.  Danny Thomas, in  ‘Make Room for Daddy’, takes charge of the home and kids for a stretch after his TV wife dies.  Chief Warden Rick chases criminals in Coral Key Florida while raising two sons with some help from Flipper, a dolphin. By the 1970’s we find Fred Sanford, who raised son Lamont by himself, and Manhattan widower Phillip Drummond bringing up three youngsters in ‘Diff’rent Strokes’.

Throw in a dozen or so movies with single fathers – think Atticus Finch of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – and there’s plenty of testosterone-at-home culture.  And every single one of them was just called, ‘dad’.  With respect.

It wasn’t until the 70’s that dads at home caught some disrespect.  First they were laughed about as ‘househusbands’, and with 1983’s movie release of “Mr. Mom”, that term took over.  Suddenly, the notion was,  men who fell out of their ‘traditional’ male roles as breadwinners, were morphing into female roles, and being feminized in the process.

And in my opinion, that’s where the Mister Mom stereotype comes from.  From the disrespect many have for feminists, and feminism, and men who didn’t fear it.  As women moved out, and men moved in, suddenly the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s man at home, a strong highly capable male raising kids, turned in the public imagination into a wimpy incompetent pretending to be a mother.

The sad fact is,  that’s the image that’s stuck today, and frequently repeated in major newspapers, magazines and television coverage.

What difference does all this make?  I’m not just being cranky.  It doesn’t dent my ego to help raise my children or man the kitchen. And there’s a legion of dad bloggers out there now proving the same point.

But, how many other men in this country, and around the world, avoid taking more time with their children during daylight hours, or contributing to their home life, because of that stigma?  How many children grow up thinking that men can’t be men and raise them at the same time?  How many women work double shifts, out and then home, to make up for it?

It’s time to bury Mister Mom.

It’s time to recognize that a man at home isn’t less a man.  He’s not a surrogate mother.  He’s a father.  Dad, trying to be the best dad he can be.  Nothing more, nothing less.

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My Affair With A Star

Dark clouds with the sun's star light  burning throughSometimes we find what we’re missing, and can’t look away.

Every parent has those days.  When life starts to feel tied down by lost socks,  late starts, long waits and detours.  The kind of day that eats patience like a tornado, and spits out insults for fun.  The kind that makes some white beach barefoot and burnt somewhere look like a perfectly acceptable career move.

And after weeks like that, no matter how bright the nightlight at home, a man sometimes thinks about what could be over the horizon, and feels the lure of another’s warm caress.

I’ve got that, bad.  And I’m having an affair, with a star.

It started innocently enough.  A few months back, I finally accepted that I’d reached the last notch in the belt, and the only six pack I’d likely see for at least a year was in the fridge.  I thought about what I’d been eating.  Looked for any  sign of diet control. Couldn’t remember any exercise besides bench pressing kids. Time to burn pounds.

I thought I’d kill two birds – get some P & Q out of the house and see if my heart still pumped – by working out on the running path near home.  My legs protested, my lungs ached, but I started, and worked on steadily pushing my distance further.

And for the first month, I burned, all right.  With humiliation.  Grey haired women stroked smoothly past me with grandmotherly smiles.  Women with babies and diaper bags and prams flowed around me like a flood past an immobile rock.  I was enjoying how every single person coming the opposite way would raise a friendly hand, and ask, ‘how are you doing’, until I realized, they were asking out of concern.  Kids running high school track bounded past so fast I actually appreciated the breeze.

There comes a time when we re-view where we actually fit in the scheme of things, and mine came.  Definitely not the Nike athlete.  Definitely not built for speed.  So rather than be iphone immortalized like an Amish farmer on the freeway, one morning I decided to take the back route, the dirt trails that wound through the hills, out of traffic.  They were tough and steep, rocky, narrow, winding, but to my happy surprise, nearly unpopulated and a challenge I discovered I could master.  Just what the doctor ordered.  And that’s where the affair started.

Out on the dirt path, rising out of the wooded canyon, across a sloping hillside, into the wide open, I ran into star shine, into a blinding bright shot of sunlight.  Sunlight reached out to meet me, and I stopped short, heart pounding.  I don’t know how I’d forgotten what it felt like to be so hot, exposed, sweaty, and primally alive.  Wide sky, empty land, and the energy of our neighbor star beating down.  Strong, beauty like a pressure on the skin, irresistably tempting, but with a dangerous streak. It hooked me, by the cells, like an ancient craving.

Since then, my legs have hardened with some muscle, I count in miles, and I had to buy a new, shorter belt.  And I can’t stop thinking about our next rendezvous; now, in the semi dark at the keyboard, when I’m on the road, or doing homework with the youngsters, and it keeps me going.  I count time between visits. When we get together, I smile, and take an eyeful for as long as I can.  A good romance is like that.

5 Things Dad Should Never Do in the Kitchen

Man cooking kitchen finger food drippingMost of the time, a guy in the kitchen won’t think twice.  Which is why women keep a careful watch.

Let me say, I don’t know of a single case where a family has ever keeled over and expired because of a man doing any of these things.  In fact, most of the time, the family probably gets along just fine for years without ever noticing.

Then, occasionally, someone does notice and an alarm will go up, so even distant neighbors pause behind their windows and wonder what  sick biohazard stuff dad’s been up to in the garage.

In the interest of domestic tranquility and general hygiene, consider these five tips on kitchen and cooking mistakes you might want to consider breaking.

1. Do Not Taste Food with Your Fingers   Now, at first it seems reasonable that those pointed things on the ends of your hands were custom built for the job of dipping into food, to check flavor or doneness.  However, its come to my attention that some people think men do not wash their hands nearly enough.  Or, they do not know where those hands have been. Therefore, it’s unwise to slip them into the pot or serving dish for sampling.  Especially more than once.

2.  Do Not Mix Food With Your Hands  This makes little sense.  A spoon or fork is slow and clumsy when it comes to,  say, tossing a salad, unless you want it on the floor.  And for blending sugar or spices into food that’s thick as paste?  And, are we  sure a spoon is really cleaner? I’m willing to bet, you have no idea where it originally came from. Or what somebody did with it before you got it.  Even so, some people consider it completely gross when you use the good hands you’ve had your entire life.

3.  Do Not Get Food On Your Clothes   Somehow, food which is good enough to put into your mouth, is no longer safe if it lands on the outside of your jeans or t-shirt.  Once there, it apparently turns instantly foul and repulsive.  You can no longer eat it. You need to immediately change, because wearing food below your neck puts some people completely off their appetite.  Apparently the only way to avert this disaster is to wear an apron.  A food-smacked apron makes folks feel homey.  On your t-shirt, the same thing is just stains and grime.

4. Do Not Mix The Wrong Foods Together   Many dads don’t realize,  certain spices, ingredients and seasonings need to be kept as far from each other as possible. If they ever are put together, the food turns instantly disgusting.  I’m told, someone doesn’t even have to taste it, to know its bad.  Apparently, everybody (who is not a man) knows this. You just don’t mix certain things together, even if you think it might work.  Or because they were the only food items you could find in the refrigerator. That’s a concoction.  Decent people don’t eat concoctions.  That’s why we have recipes.

5. Do Not Use the Kitchen Sink for Cleaning  Dirty things have no place being washed in the kitchen sink.  It’s used for washing.  That’s  just the way it is.  If you want to wash hands in the kitchen, go wash them first in the bathroom.  Don’t bring that filthy dog in here.  Don’t even dare think about doing anything greasy, gummy or grimy in there at all: the sink might get dirty. And then where would we wash up?

Good luck with all this, and take my word, there’s no point going to the mat on a single one.  By the way, when I talk about aprons, I’m talking about the kind a man should be comfortable in.

And since I get asked what that means, I decided to come up with a few one of a kind, Dad’s own, like the one’s below, that a guy can be PROUD standing in at the sink or stove.  Not your mother’s apron, by a long shot.  And, enough with the BBQ already – these are for men who cook in the kitchen, with some attitude.  Tshirts, for those who prefer to just wipe the hands.  Printed and delivered through Zazzle, a pro place that does high quality work, and ships worldwide.   Dad’s In the Kitchen! Gift Shop

Go over and take a look if you’re in the market.  I’m told some women find a man in an apron sexy. There are some fun ones, I come up with new ones every week, customizable, plus mugs and other gear.   Let me know what you think, or what you’d like to see .Gift cooking aprons for men and dads Chicken Dinner and I Love Dad's Cooking

Ban Sex Til Men Cook More Says Naked Chef

A sharp-eyed reader sent me this clip, and it was wrong on so many levels I wasn’t sure where to start.

I’ll admit, at first I was distracted by ‘naked chef’, which conjured up some interesting kitchen images.  Then, some frightening kitchen accident images.  Then I googled and found a fully clothed Brit, Jamie Oliver, goes by that name.

Personally, I think I’ll continue imagining my wife as the chef. And I’d probably even suggest she try it.  If I planned to tell her about this, which I don’t.

What kind of crazy suggestion is this?  To offer this actual advice, Mr. Oliver must be living in a kitchen round the clock.

Loyal readers of Dads! know I’m in favor of men cooking more.  But this is coming at it all wrong.  If the lady of the house wants to stimulate more kitchen time from the lug glued to the game, I guarantee she can make him an offer he won’t refuse.  And it doesn’t involve spending more time alone on the couch.

Any way you cut it, it seems  more in a woman’s interest to take the positive approach.  65% of women already admit they think men cooking is sexy, according to the Harris Poll I mentioned in an earlier post.  So, it looks like a win – win.

But, I’m willing to put it to a vote.  What do you think?  Which is better motivation – more, or less? Take a minute and let me know.

And if you run into Jamie Oliver, tell him I suggest he sticks with cooking than sex advice.

Do Real Men Bake Holiday Cookies?

I was hanging lights from the peak of the roof one year, and as I reached out for the farthest hook, trying to recall whether our insurance covered three-story falls,  a small crowd gathered in the yard near the ladder.  This is somewhat of a Holiday tradition.  My wife sends the kids out to see if Dad’s done a header, and the four of them stand shoulder to shoulder on the lawn and watch, ready to dash back in the house to report as soon as it happens.

Now, that’s an invitation to joke.  So, I swung one arm around my head, wobbled back and forth, and made like I was losing my balance.  Which, for one icy moment of electric fear, high on the extension ladder and one hand’s reach too far from anything solid to grab onto, I did.  The ladder screeched on the gutter, I leaned left, it stopped its slide, and then it was over.  Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.  And, sorry to say, scared the kids, proper.

They hit the porch like the blitz and before I could get down to ground level had reappeared with their mother.

“What are you doing up there? The kids thought you were going to fall!”

“Just kidding around. All safe.  How do they look?” I said, looking up.

“Not funny. Not one bit.”  She motioned with her eyes to the kids. The elder girls looked angry, the small kids  still wide-eyed.  Not going to let it go.  I started to reassure them, but their mother steered me off.

Now, my wife has a look.  It’s exactly the look I imagine she would have used if we were standing at the altar to get married, and I said, ‘Can I think about it?’ when we got to the “I do’s”.

‘I have an idea’, she said, and gave me that look.

‘Would you like to make cutout Christmas cookies with your Father?’, she said.  And to my surprise the frowns melted.  Smiles came out. The neighbors came to the window to see who won the superbowl.

‘Now…’, I said, getting ready to explain why I’d be putting the chainsaw to some firewood rather than doing ballet with a rolling-pin and green frosting.  But between the tugging and shouting, laughter and the look, I never got the chance.

I don’t know about you, but I remember my own mother, and grandmother, and cutout cookies at Christmas.  Mostly, I remember how they rolled the dough just so, and carefully cut and then lifted the cookies onto baking pans ever so gently, so as not to break off heads or hands or tips of stars or trees in the process.  And, I remember how they eventually gave in and just let me squash my broken attempts up into lumpy round Christmas balls.  I became an expert at Christmas balls.

And I wasn’t looking forward to making more as an adult.

To make a long story short, I gave in.  And, I was wrong.  I ended up dusted in flour, with a real kitchen mess, a few dozen colorful cutout cookies and one pan burnt beyond eating, but four chirping, happy kids having the time of their life laughing at me and making cookies.   We had a really good time.  Holiday cheer. And they did some up specially, as gifts for Dad, to make up for my meager attempts.

After we put the kids to bed, my wife got busy with the pans and bowls.

“Now if you go and kill yourself, at least the kids will have one big happy Christmas memory to remember you by’, she said.  And threw me the  dish towel to dry.

If you decide to make some memories of your own, I’ve put up the best, failsafe cutout Holiday cookie recipe and complete instructions over at Dad’s In the Kitchen.  Have a great time.

Top 10 Reasons Men Should Cook

Ok, this list came to me while I was cooking. Actually, I was standing by the oven explaining to my son for the 18th time when dinner was going to be ready. Actually, at that moment I was trying to decide what would happen to the chicken if I was to crank the temp up to 5o0 F.

‘Why should men cook?’ I heard myself asking, to the rhythm of the knife on the cutting board.

Maybe you’ve got some good reasons you can share. Let me know. Here’s mine to get you started.

1.  Pride I don’t know about you, but deep down, I refuse to done in by a dead raw chicken.  My inclination when the smoke alarm goes off is to open some windows and gear up for round two.  I said I was going to put dinner on the table, and dammit, I will.  If it takes all blinking night.

2.  It’s Sexy. Not to me.  To her.  That’s what most women say, check it yourself. Something about a guy serving her and her taste buds. Taking charge, showing some skill and moves.  Or, maybe, being vulnerable enough to get in there and show her just how badly you really need her help.

3.  Survival I often wonder how those TV survivor guys would do if they dropped from a chopper into a kitchen with an empty table and a roomful of hungry kids.  Sure, you can open a can with your bare teeth, but can you get them to eat something you whip up in thirty from what you can scavenge from the back of the fridge?  Arrrgh.

4.  It’s Manly I don’t need to point out how many of the world’s top chefs, restaurant owners, food inventors, and TV cooking personalities are testosterone primed members of the y chromosome club.  But you want to prove your masculine prowess? Toss a pizza in front of a crowd of third graders.  And their mothers.

5.  It’s Cheaper If you’re dating, or not any more you’re not, there’s no question your wallet will be fuller if she fills up at your place.  And if it’s the whole family, then you could buy a small car with the bucks you save in a year not eating out.  And if you know how to cook, you can turn out some fine eats with not expensive ingredients, so you don’t have to look as cheap as you really are.

6. She Needs a Break Men got lucky when women decided to work outside the home, because nobody told her she didn’t still have to put food on the table too.  We just quietly minded our own business, let her make a career, and asked what was for dinner like nothing had changed.  Well, it’s a sure bet, if you don’t man up and give her a hand once in a while, she’s going to figure that out, and then where will you be?

7.  It’s Healthier Guys are immortal and bulletproof, so there’s not much reason to care about what we eat.  It’s just a meal. Or two.  Or in a few years, an open invitation to invest in pharmaceuticals and try out for the big money, as poster boy for the weight loss industry.  What’s the difference between a box or bag of mystery ingredients and knowing what’s in your food? Time will tell.

8.  Eat Something You Like Ever since your mom stopped delivering your favorite dish, just the way you liked it, you’ve had a hankering for it. Admit it.  And come to think of it, there’s more than a few things you’d rather eat than what’s staring up at you from the plate.  There’s one sure way to get the food you want.

9.  Family As in, being a part of.  Hard to do long distance, and nothing’s closer to home than the kitchen.  Sooner or later, every member of the brood passes through it.  And if you’re in there, you’ll be surprised what gets passed around over a snack or drink.  Set an example.  Everybody on the team pitches in, everybody feels like they belong. Including you. Especially you.

10.  Make Memories When the years roll by, that’s all anybody’s got. Are you making any? The time you tried to deep fry a turkey. That one dish everybody remembers you did.  The way you always tried to scrape off the burnt bits in the sink and thought nobody noticed. How proud they were to tell their friends about something you made.

Well, chicken’s done, gotta put it on the table.  If you have some good reasons of your own, stop by the forum on my website and leave em, www.dadsinthekitchen.com.