Okay, the “mom” part of the trope name isn’t something of which I’m terribly fond. Being a single dad who’s the primary caregiver for my kids, it would be nice if society didn’t gender home and family caring in that way, but it does. So let’s just look past that word and take it for what it means. First though, let’s look at what the mom part DOESN’T mean.
It doesn’t mean that the author is feminizing Stiles. It doesn’t mean that they’re assigning feminine traits to the “bottom” in a gay relationship. In any given fic, Stiles might not be the bottom but still be characterized with the Pack Mom trope. It doesn’t mean they’re ‘heterosexualizing’ a homosexual relationship. It doesn’t mean they’re ‘Mary Sue-ing’ Stiles if the author is female. It means that they’re putting Stiles in the position of the person who does the primary caring for the needs of the pack. Because we live in a fucked up society where ‘dad’ doesn’t carry the same caring connotation that ‘mom’ does, the name of the trope is ‘Pack Mom Stiles’. That’s all there is to that. No need to write tons of meta about all that other nonsense with regards to Stiles. But I’m all behind you if you want to write about how screwed up it is that dads can’t be assumed to be as caring as moms are in general. Because boy is that one of my huge pet peeves in life.
Now that that’s out of the way, onward. What is a ‘Pack Mom’? Again, let’s start by what it’s not. It’s not someone who is caring about everybody equally. Remember, it’s PACK mom. Meaning everyone outside the pack comes second to the pack bonds. A pack mom is fiercely defensive of the members of his or her pack. Think of a mama wolf and her cubs. Come between them at your own peril. But someone else? Mama wolf will look up, arch an eyebrow, and go back to her nap. She doesn’t care about anyone outside her small group of family/pack.
Which is why it’s such a perfect trope for Stiles and not for Scott.
Scott cares about everyone, pack or not. Sure, he cares more for his pack and his family than a complete stranger, but he doesn’t value them to the point of letting them put a stranger at risk. Stiles does. Stiles doesn’t give a flying fig about anyone outside his select group of friends and family. Some outsider being a problem? Kill them, let them die, whatever. He doesn’t care.
Scott will keep trying to find a solution that saves everyone, even if it puts one of his pack/friends/family in momentary danger, even if it means lying to his pack/friends/family, even if it means taking away their bodily autonomy. Look at how he lets Deucalion live after he threatened his mom. Same for Peter. He is fine with them continuing to be potential risks to the person he loves most in the entire universe because he values all lives equally. He would sacrifice himself if it is for the ‘greater good’ outside the pack ties. Those are the perfect characteristics for a traditional ‘hero’ but not for a ‘pack mom’.
Stiles is so not like that! He has a lot of the same traits as Scott does. He’s brave and can be just as selfless. The difference is, he will only do it for those he cares about. Only for his pack. He’s also got traits that Scott doesn’t that come in good stead for a pack mom. His ruthlessness, his willingness to let someone else suffer if it means his pack is safe, his pragmatism, his ‘evil sensing’ ability, his ability to lie, and his cynicism. He uses these traits in canon to protect the people he loves. Sure, that’s a very small group. At the start it’s only his dad and Scott and Lydia (though he’s not above calling her cold and putting her on the list of suspects.)
The pack mom trope doesn’t change Stiles’ character, it simply expands the pool of people he’s willing to consider ‘his’. That’s a very small change from canon, actually. We see signs of that expansion already in the show. He’s beginning to think of the rest of his gang of friends in that way. Sure, within it there’s a hierarchy still. Just like a mama Alpha wolf will put her own cubs above those of a Beta if push comes to shove and she can only save one batch. No one will ever eclipse Stiles’ dad’s place in that hierarchy. Then comes Scott, then the others, probably in a constantly shifting order. But I think that we’re seeing Derek taking a pretty steady place at #3, what with how interested Stiles was in him during ‘Visionary’.
Thing is, the accusation against the Pack Mom Stiles trope is that it takes Scott’s characteristics and ‘gives’ them to Stiles. It doesn’t. It takes characteristics that the two boys share, but in different forms, and expands upon them. They are both caring individuals. It’s just the form that caring takes is drastically different.
If anyone wrote a fic that had Stiles defending some random person’s life on an equal basis with someone in his pack, then yeah, I’d be first in line to jump in and call it OOC. But that’s not what I see when I’m reading PackMom!Stiles fic.
The other thing that people pick at with the pack mom trope for Stiles goes back to that feminization idea. Stiles cooking for the pack. Doing the housework. Taking care of their ‘den’. They say this is OOC for him, but I disagree. He and his dad have been managing on their own for eight years. His dad works a more than full-time job. Stiles would have had to have helped out around the house. He’s not going to be your stereotypical teenage boy who doesn’t know which end of a vacuum cleaner to use. That would be more likely to be Scott, who is being raised by a single mom. Single moms tend to take on more of the burden of all that solo, not wanting to put it on their kids, and dealing with all the guilt that society puts on women about home care.
Stiles and his dad would be more likely to take a pragmatic approach to divvying up the chores, both because they’re guys and because their characters are that sort of pragmatic types. The Sheriff doesn’t have the weight of society’s guilt on him if his son does the laundry. Melissa does. So having Stiles be the one to gripe about another batch of bloody t-shirts he has to clean after a fight isn’t unbelievable or OOC. It’s certainly not taking a Scott trait from him. And it’s only feminizing if you’re saying that only women do laundry. In a household made up of two guys, someone has to do the cooking and cleaning, and that’s going to be a guy, so the task loses it’s feminine connotations within that context. I doubt Stiles thinks of cooking or cleaning as doing ‘women’s work’, since it’s something he’s been helping out with since he was 8.
Looking at who’s in the Hale-McCall pack, it’s going to likely be Stiles or Isaac who wind up doing the den care. They’d probably fall into doing it without even thinking about it or realizing that they’re doing it, because they’re both from similar family backgrounds in that their family is made up of two guys on their own. They’d probably even fall into doing it more than Lydia or Allison would, because both of those girls seem to be the type who would resist being pegged for it and not just get up and start doing it when it needed doing. Whereas Isaac or Stiles would see an empty glass or a dirty plate on the coffee table and pick it up on their way to the kitchen just because they’re used to doing that at home. Derek too. Derek would be the type to pick up after himself because he hasn’t had a mother to do it for him for a long time and Laura would’ve been working. Whereas those with intact families or with mothers, would still be into the whole teenager thing of ‘mom will do it’. Allison has lost her mother, but it was so recent that she’s probably not yet adjusted out of that attitude.
Which makes for Pack Mom Stiles.
I mentioned Isaac would also be likely to do den care. Why not Pack Mom Isaac? Because Isaac is a Beta wolf. In Sterek fics, which is where the pack mom Stiles trope occurs, Stiles is Derek’s partner/mate/what-have-you. Which puts him in the ‘Alpha bitch’ role within pack dynamics, even though he isn’t a werewolf. Even with Scott as the Alpha now and Derek not, Scott is unattached and Allison is an unlikely candidate for den-carer/pack mom. She’s never been shown in canon as particularly caring in that way.
Other issues might turn up depending on how the pack dynamics of the Hale and McCall packs sort themselves out in the future. But most fics with the pack mom Stiles trope assume a combined pack with Scott and Derek as equals or with Derek still the Alpha.
The TL;DR of this whole thing?
1) Pack Mom Stiles isn’t a change of Stiles’ character or OOC for him. Stiles is shown to be very protective, caring, and nurturing for the select group of people he considers ‘his’. The pack mom trope simply expands that group of people to include the pack in addition to his dad, Scott, and Lydia.
2) Pack Mom Stiles isn’t about putting Stiles in a traditionally feminine role or heterosexualizing a homosexual relationship. The traits needed to be the person who cares for the pack’s den and well-being are already there in Stiles’ character. It is based on the canon events of being a boy raised by a single dad and on the wolf pack dynamic of being Derek’s partner/mate.
I was gonna write a thing about Pack Mom Stiles but then I found this and well. It says everything I wanted to say and more.
stiles hates the loft.
he loves everything in the loft, okay. he loves the high ceilings and the windows and the kitchen cabinets and the space. loves the random blue couch and the bed that never seems to be big enough for his gangly limbs and derek’s broad shoulders.
but he hates the loft. hates that he can remember the exact spot boyd died. hates knowing that the darach spent a night with derek twisted in sheets that derek burned months ago, but the mattress is the same.
sometimes, stiles wonders if derek can still catch her scent when the sheets are in the washer and the mattress is bare. derek won’t go near it unless there are sheets stretched out over the corners of the mattress, and that makes stiles’s heart sting a little.
he hates the loft. and he knows that derek does, too.
but when he asks why derek won’t leave?
"i already had one home taken from me. i won’t let this turn into the same thing. i need to - it has to be better, stiles. it has to be.”
the next day, stiles comes home with a newspaper and a red pen between his lips.
derek quirks an eyebrow. “the hell is that?”
"apartment listings," stiles says softly. "because i want a home with you that you can live in, derek. one that doesn’t have betrayal and death in its past.”
derek’s jaw clicks.
"i want a home with you, hale," stiles says quietly. "and sure, we can stay here if you want. we can try to live our lives here and give this place some happy memories, but."
stepping closer, stiles breathes out a soft sigh and continues, “but you and i both know that all you think about is what happened here. i do it, too. you deserve a home that you want to live in, derek. you can have that.”
"i haven’t ever had that before," derek rasps.
stiles watches as derek’s eyes fall to the newspaper in his hand. smiles gently and whispers, “it’ll be an adventure, then, yeah? i’ll be with you every step of the way.”
derek nods. curls his hands into fists.
lets them uncurl.
"i want to find something farther away from the city," derek says, and the corner of his mouth tilts up when stiles immediately nods and flips to a page in the paper.
OMG FVKFJHGJDFH! THIS IS SO PERFECT IT HURTS. THE LOFT THINGY IS ONE OF THE TW THINGS THAT BOTHERS ME THE MOST AND THIS IS A PERFECT RESPONSE TO THAT, OMG, THANK YOU!!!
Inspired by Brii’s beautiful Love is on the Next Page AU.
It’s the second week of the semester and his third day on the job. Stiles is sitting at the library circulation desk reading a battered copy of JS Mill’s ”On Liberty” with the butt of a highlighter held between his lips. He’d found the book at a thrift store for only a quarter and had bought it because it was required reading for one of his classes. He was ten pages behind where he needed to be for class in three hours, and that might not sound like much but Mill was a pretty slow going book.
Stiles had thought having no classes between 10 and 4 two days a week would be a godsend, until he’d had to sign up for Work Study hours. He should have just been glad to get Work Study in the library again, because it was a toss up between that and the Archives. His supervisor had lent him out of the Archives for one week last semester and Stiles swore, never again. Still, the big gap in his schedule had meant to be for getting homework done and that was hard to do when he had to work.
Days like this was fine. The student on shift before him got all the returns shelved and the requests pulled, so all Stiles had to do was be present at the desk and get some homework done.
Some days weren’t so good. Either there was no student on shift before him, or the student had decided to leave all the work for Stiles to do and he ended up dragging overfilled carts of books into the dusty depths of the library shelves, cursing the Dewey Decimal System as he tried for force space enough for a thin paperback volume between two music theory text. (Let it be known, shelving the 700’s was a curse and a punishment.)
And then, some days… ding ding ding. Some days Derek Hale showed up and decided to harass him. Derek Hale was quarterback and big man on campus. Stiles didn’t know him personally, but he knew his type. Ding ding.
"You don’t need to ring the bell when I’m sitting right here," Stiles said, capping his highlighter and putting down his book.
"How else am I meant to get your attention?" Derek Hale asked with a cocky grin that Stiles wanted to punch off his face. People like Derek Hale existed to make the lives of people like Stiles, hell. Stupid jocks who got into supposedly elite colleges because of their game stats and not their grades. Hale probably had a full ride sports scholarship, Stiles’ academic scholarship left him needing to do work study and still take out a few thousand dollars in loans.
"Your big hulking forming blocking the light does a pretty good job of announcing your presence. If you just stood there silently, you would have been awarded my undivided attention once a reached a good stopping point."
"That wasn’t soon enough, I wanted your attention now."
Stiles slid his glasses up his nose and tilted his head back to get a better view of the quarterback standing on the opposite side of the desk. “Was there something I could help you with?”
"I need help finding a book."
Stiles sighed inwardly. Hale always came in here saying he needed help finding a book, but they both knew the real reason he was there was to annoy Stiles. “What book?” Stiles asks, placing a bookmark into “On Liberty.”
"Machiavelli’s, The Prince."
Stiles arched a single eyebrow at that statement. Machiavelli was pretty heavy reading for a dumb jock. Though, come to think of it, he didn’t actually know what Hale’s major was. Not that Stiles actually cared. He quickly looked up the requested book in the computer and wrote down the call number on a post it note. “Here you go.”
Hale glanced at the post it, then looked back at Stiles. “These are just numbers and letters. I don’t know what they mean.”
"Of course you don’t," Stiles couldn’t help but saying, letting out a long suffering sigh and sliding his chair back. He’d given up on teaching Derek Hale how to navigate the Dewey Decimal System sometime last semester. "Please follow me," Stiles said with a patronizing smile.
Machiavelli was shelved in the 300’s, which was a particularly dusty area tucked away on the library’s third floor. Stiles briefly considered taking the stairs just to avoid the awkwardness of being alone in an elevator with Hale, but the extra serving of curly fries he’d had at lunch threatened a reappearance if he actually went through with that thought.
"May I ask you a question?" Hale asked, jamming the button for their floor once they were in the elevator. This was not lost on Stiles. Hale obviously knew where they were going and had only pretended not to in order to irk Stiles.
"I have a feeling you’re going to ask anyway."
"Why do you dislike me so much?"
The question actually threw Stiles through a loop. Derek Hale had no right sounding so insecure and unsure of himself.
"I never said I disliked you."
"You didn’t have to say it."
"You come on my job just to harass me all the time and you wonder why I don’t like you."
"I don’t come here just to harass you."
"You expect me to believe you’re actually going to read Machiavelli?"
"Yes, actually. It’s a great book. I’ve read it twice already."
Hale huffed. “A prince being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from snares, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize snares, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this.”
"It’s a direct quote from Machiavelli’s The Prince. One that stood out to me the first time I read it. Another of my favorite quotes is: there are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, and the third is useless.”
Stiles just stared at Hale, ignoring the fact the the elevator had reached the third floor and the door were opening.
"Do you need me to tell you another line, or will you start believing now that being good a sports doesn’t mean I’m bad at learning. Stereotyping me as the dumb jock is offensive and I actually thought it was beneath you, but perhaps I was wrong."
Derek brushed passed Stiles and exited the elevator. Stiles just stood frozen for a second, before rushing to follow him out, squeezing sideways through the elevator doors as they were closing. “Derek!” He called. half-running to catch up with the football player (who was headed directly for where the book he wanted was shelved despite saying he needed help finding it.)
"I’m sorry," Stiles said, tripping over his own feet when Derek came to an abrupt stop. "I…"
"Will make it up to me," Derek cut him off. "Tonight. Over milkshakes. And you can tell me all about what you think of On Liberty and the Harm Principle at that time."
Stiles frowned. “That almost sounds like you’re asking me out. Like on a date.”
"Don’t be ridiculous. Me asking you on a date is a preposterous and unheard of as me reading Machiavelli for fun."
Stiles just looked at him for a long second, and then grinned. “I have a night class at eight that doesn’t let out until ten. How about tomorrow instead?”
DEREK AS A MACHIAVELLI’S READER, OMG, I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE. I’M SO INTO THIS ‘VERSE RN, YOU PPL DON’T EVEN KNOW.
friendly reminder that we haven’t had a sterek scene since august 13th, 2013
the great sterek thirst of 2014
january 6 - march 10
someone get me an mtv true life episode for lasting this long thanks
mtv true life: I DON’T ASK FOR MUCH JUST PUT THEM IN THE SAME ROOM ALREADY
book about the sterek shipping phenomenon titled “maybe this week they’ll share a scene!!!”
documentary about sterek shippers titled “BUT SURELY THIS WEEK???”
news headlines that read “10 weeks, 2 dudes, 0 scenes: struggle so real”
my autobiography named “and when it finally happened, he was possessed”