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Published: Sunday, June 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Fatherhood's changed a lot since 'Mr. Mom'

Do you ever find yourself wondering what happened to Michael Keaton. First he was Beetlejuice.  Then he was Batman. Now he's nowhere to be seen.

I'll always remember Keaton from the 1983 classic "Mr. Mom," which was one of my all-time favorite movies growing up. But I bet if you showed "Mr. Mom" to an audience of 8-year-olds today, they might not get any of the jokes.

Fatherhood has changed a lot in the past 30 years.

Nowadays, television commercials show dads doing laundry and packing lunches. "Don't forget the Go-Gurt, Dad!"

But in 1987's "Three Men and a Baby," Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg had us cracking up over their inability to even change a diaper.

That wouldn't be very funny now. In fact, it would cause a modern-day leading man to lose dream-worthy status with women across America. (I'd like to think that Brad Pitt knows exactly what to do with Desitin.)

There are lots of Mr. Moms in Snohomish County, but these days they are called Stay at Home Dads. They do everything Stay at Home Moms do, plus mow the grass.

I also know plenty of working fathers who find time to volunteer at their child's school, inside and out. A generation ago, dads were sometimes involved with field trips, but they weren't showing up every Thursday to run a math group.

But to be fair to 1980s fathers, I'm not sure teachers even thought about asking dads to volunteer on a regular basis back then.

Oh, how times have changed.

Last year, I organized a needlepoint craft project for a first- and second-grade classroom. My assigned volunteer was a dad who had never sewn before. He learned the finer points of plastic canvass in about two minutes. Then he spent the next three hours teaching kids to cross-stitch.

In 1983, Keaton could have turned that incident into high comedy. But in 2013, it's just a typical day of fatherhood.

Take kids to the bus stop, go to work, swing by the grocery store on the way home and fold that pile of laundry on the bed. Whose day am I describing?

Dads in the 1980s who learned to change diapers were pretty rad. The ones who learned to cook were even more awesome.

But, dude. Dads of today? Have a happy Father's Day. You've totally earned it.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

Story tags » Parenting

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