Despite not being allowed to join a local club for stay-at-home mothers and their children, stay-at-home Middletown dad Matt Brown says that his story has a happy ending.
A local MOMS club in Smyrna reached out to Brown and his two daughters, offering him membership, after the Middletown MOMS Club denied him membership for “being a guy,” he said.
“I’m happy,” Brown said. “I still wish that Middletown accepted me since I’ll see them and have to deal with them more, but I’m happy that my girls will have the opportunity to meet new people.”
When the Brown family relocated back to their home state two years ago for his wife Melissa’s new job, they settled in Middletown. Before this, they lived in North Carolina where Brown was the only dad in a local MOMS Club of more than 200 mothers.
His gender was not a problem for the group, because they did it for the children.
But it was here.
“The MOMS Club of Middletown celebrates the unique experience of women as stay-at-home mothers,” said local club president Jenn Franks.
The stay-at-home dad recently lost a battle with the club to join and give his youngest daughter, Breanna, 2, the same opportunities that his oldest, Kira, now 4, had in North Carolina.
“I want it for them,” he said. “It would be nice to talk to other adults about ideas with kids and just to meet people in the community.”
Before Kira was born, Brown held a high-ranking position at a bank.
But when the Browns’ first-born came along, he made the decision to step down from his vice presidential role and become a stay-at-home dad.
He wanted his oldest daughter to be able to meet and play with other children her age, so he joined a local MOMS club.
Two years ago when Melissa Brown, who holds her PhD in biomedical engineering was offered her ideal job in Maryland, the family knew that she couldn’t pass the opportunity up and made the move back to Delaware.
Being new to the Middletown area, the Browns wanted to find ways for Kira and Breanna, 2, to meet other kids.
Some of their friends suggested the Middletown MOMS Club to the stay-at-home dad.
But the local club that stems from a national organization has stricter rules than the one Brown’s friend started in North Carolina.
“MOMS Club is a nonprofit organization that is devoted to stay at home mothers and their children,” Franks said.
MOMS – short for Mothers Offering Mother Support – has club bylaws that stem from their parent organization.
Franks informed Brown by e-mail Nov. 19 that the club got together and the majority voted that “it is not in keeping with our fundamental goals and principles as a women’s support group to extend membership to Mr. Brown.”
Page 2 of 3 - If a non-stay-at-home-mom wants to join, such as a dad, grandparent or nanny, the bylaws say that the person can be voted in and allowed limited membership.
On Oct. 25, Matt Brown received an e-mail from Franks saying that, “at this time, [the club] does not feel it appropriate to open the doors to these types of memberships at this point. We feel that it opens up the club to a very complex arrangement of “who’s in and who’s out” and exposes us to potential accusations of being unfair in our selections.”
“They’re grouping the direct parent with nannies,” he said. “They just don’t want a guy.”
Brown didn’t want to join for himself; though he said having adult conversation would be nice; he wanted to join for his daughters.
“It would be fun for Breanna,” Matt Brown said. “We do things everyday, but I feel bad, she’s going with just me.”
Last week, Franks said that an emergency meeting would be held Nov. 19 to determine the situation.
But that’s not what Brown was told originally.
In an e-mail prior to the recent vote, Brown was told by a board member that a previous vote favored him joining, but that members were told to disregard the vote and it was retracted.
“I asked two of the moms at the stay and play today and they mentioned that the email went out to them saying the vote was cancelled and to ignore the email asking for votes,” Brown said Tuesday.
Prior to Nov. 19, Brown said the last time he spoke to Franks was in late October.
For Melissa Brown, the ordeal has hit close to home.
She went to school for a very long time to excel in her career field.
“It’s upsetting because now my children are being punished since mom’s not staying home and dad is,” she said.
The family’s concern is that when Kira begins Kindergarten next year, Breanna won’t have anyone to play with.
“Breanna’s friends are Kira’s friends,” Matt Brown said. “Kira got to meet so many people. Breanna won’t have the same exposure. She’s not meeting people in the area.”
When Matt Brown brings his daughters to the park in Odessa, sometimes they will run into a group on a MOMS play date, he said. “They tell their kids not to go near the dad.”
When the group was formed in 1983, their goal was to support moms, Brown said.
“It’s not 1983 though,” he said. “The economy has caused family shifts and there are more stay-at-home dads.”
But disappointment hasn’t stopped the stay-at-home dad and former United States Marine from doing what’s best for his daughters.
Page 3 of 3 - He and his daughters have already been invited to several play dates with the Smyrna club.
“They took a vote and welcomed me with open arms into their family,” Brown said.
Now, even when Kira starts Kindergarten next year, Breanna will still have friends to play with.