While futzing around on YouTube, I came across a video by “The Skit Guys” entitled “Mom Goggles”.
I loved “The Skit Guys” in high school. They’re one of the few things from my Evangelical background that still moves me–their skit on “Grace” still makes me tear up. “Bad Ways to Witness” still makes me laugh. I remember seeing them live at the NYG in 2007 (which was ten years ago, gulp). “The Skit Guys” fit in nicely in the “Pleasant Nostalgia” box of my Evangelical upbringing, right next to classic Newsboys, Superchick, and Veggie Tales. (All of which I still enjoy and will defend, mind you.)
So watching “Mom Goggles” and feeling intense frustration came as a very unpleasant surprise to me.
The basic premise of “Mom Goggles” is this: Two moms go on vacation for a weekend while the Skit Guys (Eddie James and Tommy Woodard) promise to watch the kids for the weekend. The moms glance at each other skeptically and drive off. And so begins the tired out trope of “Dads who do not know how to perform basic child-rearing functions” while the kids run wild. It quickly becomes a Lonestar song until one of the Skit Guys orders “Mom Goggles” online. Suddenly, they see their children through “Mom Goggles” and parenting becomes a snap.
Near the end of the skit, one of the Skit Guys remarks that “God gave moms a special way of looking at things”, commenting how we learned servanthood and God’s love first from our moms. They express appreciation for their wives and are glad they “catch a glimpse of their wife’s world”.
And then the vid ends with the daughter character charging out of her room with rubber gloves and a broom yelling, “This place is like a pig sty!”
Okay. So there are a couple of things that intensely bother me about this skit. Where to begin?
I guess I’ll start with the incompetence of the Dads. Even played for humor, this trope is sooo overdone and is now veering on the edge of insulting. Surely in this day and age Dads know how to change diapers and feed their kids. Surely Dads can clean and entertain their kids without the womenfolk holding their hand as they go. While watching the adorable Skit Guys bumble their way through it, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell they were doing while their wives were at home. Were they really not offering to clean up the kitchen while she picks up the playroom? Were they seriously handing off the babies with smelly diapers to their wives to deal with, never mind that dinner needed to be taken out of the oven?
Lord, this reminds me of a moment at my old church where I was handed an infant who needed a diaper change and told that I had to change their diaper because the men weren’t allowed to. (I am single and at that point had never changed a diaper) Eventually, the dad had to walk me through it.
Secondly, this expectation that women have an instinctive God-given knowledge of childcare and homemaking. I mean, shouldn’t that be like any other gift? Is it exclusive to women? I know plenty of Christian men who are gifted at caring for children and managing a home. I also know plenty of Christian women who have neither the interest nor the desire to have and raise children.
This isn’t to say that I don’t understand what the Skit Guys were trying to do. I do get it. They were trying to express appreciation and love for their wives. They’re acknowledging how hard it is to be a mom. Hell, I even agree with them to a certain extent–my first experience of God’s love came from my mother.
But this expectation, this undercurrent…that women instinctively see their children and home differently than men do and therefore are better parents and homemakers. That just puts so much more work on women, especially women who want to do something additional to mothering and homemaking. In fact, I came across this really fascinating cartoon this morning that hits this very idea. There’s this concept of “The mental load” many female partners deal with. I can recall several moments in my childhood where it fell solely on my mother to do something home-making related, never mind that she had about five thousand other things to do–and this got expounded when she had to go back to work.
This is a pretty poignant cartoon that fits in well with the Skit Guys video. Is that the other side of the Skit Guys narrative? “Why didn’t you ask for help?” I’m sure if these moms “had asked” the Skit Guys for help, they would have. But why did they have to ask? Shouldn’t parenting be a partnership, with both sides lending a hand? Instead of having a nice phone call with your wife telling her how much you appreciate her and sending her on vacation every once in a while, how about you show that appreciation and pitch in a little more?
This kind of mentality stresses me out. I love kids. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. (Yes, yes, I know the stereotypical millennial hates kids and prefers their pets, but I genuinely do love and want kids.) I consider myself pretty good with kids too, and I love spending time with them. But I also consider myself a pretty darn good writer and a pretty darn good musician–these are talents that God gave me too. I worry a lot that–assuming I find someone that finds my angry feminist rants charming, is willing to watch “The Mummy” several times a month, and likes to have in-depth discussions about C.S. Lewis’ influences–suppose I fall in love with this guy and I have to deal with this expectation that the child-rearing will fall squarely on me. Suppose this guy doesn’t understand how to share parenting duties.
Is that what a Christian marriage means? Kids and home goes to the mom no matter what, good luck if she wants to do anything else?
Like I said. This mentality stresses me out. And I don’t think it’s God ordained.