His week started off on a virtuous note, left home early to make it to work on time after all he had to be in good form as this was his first day in Project Management. So excited finally the change, he could almost taste the smell of transformation in the air. A sigh of relief he made it on time, Developers are people who don’t have a sense of normal working hours, he was not about to be the odd PM who is fixated to the 9 – 5 routine. Hardly a minute in his phone rang, he answered. That had to be the most dreaded phone call that any single dad expects to get, especially not with a 7 year old by herself in the house. This is not happening he thought, “What fire? Where is my daughter? “Okay I am on my way.
Here is a man who was raised well by our South African standards. As much as life had not been a fairy tale for him but he tries to be the best father to his daughter in spite of the mother not being in the picture never mind being interested in the daughter’s well-being or upbringing. I know what you thinking, those were my exact thoughts _ what kind of a mother deserts her daughter to be raised by the father only? Yes the marriage failed it didn’t turn out to be what she predicted it to be, but they were both young and naïve, they thought they were in love, however they were both from totally different backgrounds and upbringings, their interpretations to life were totally dissimilar. Why should the child be his responsibility alone? Why was she not bothered? This is the kind of a mother that we usually read about in stories like “Weston mom leaves 22-month-old alone in car to drink with friends” and be quick to pass judgment without knowing the full details of the situation. Little do we ever asks ourselves where is the father, because our society has taught us that, it is the mother’s obligation to look after children, either in a marriage setup or as a single parent. She is the kind of a mother we see in shows like ‘KHUMBULEKHAYA’ (Khumbulekhaya is a touching docu-reality series tracking the journeys of real South African families who reunite or reconcile with lost or estranged family members).
This man decided that his child, his daughter (much as she is part of the statistics now of being raised in a single parented home) would grow up to have only the best. He was determined to give her all the love he had, best education best child care etc. However as we all know life will at times through some curvature balls your way unexpectedly. (Well they are not called curve balls for nothing).As life kept on throwing these curves balls, tradeoffs had to be made. Does he continue to subscribe to DSTV so that his daughter can have a little TV entertainment and be conversant and have something to add at school amongst other kids? Or does he discontinue the subscription and get full time help for his daughter while he hustles?(but how will he pay the help?) Should he stop dreaming and just give up on life and live on the social grant (Wait do men qualify for that?).Why does single parenting not come with a manual like most things? How do all the single mothers do it? While single parenting is hard , he admits it has its perks – like when he walks in malls with his daughters women admire him, some to a point where they walk up to him and complement on how cute he looks with his daughter. Wait did you say cute? Yes cute amongst other glamorized words.
>>>>>>Why is it seen as something unusual if a man is – a single, responsible dedicated parent? Yet if it’s a women it’s supposed to be normal and natural?
>>>>>What if I tell you that this is not a story of a man? But it’s that of a woman, myself, my everyday challenges and the most recent one that happened this week which I am still too crumbly to pen it all down.
>>>>What if society saw and treated both men and women as just humans instead of male and female with certain obligations placed upon them by virtue of their gender?
>>>>What if I told you that single parenting is as rigid for a woman as much as it is for a man, Yet single mothers are not applauded instead it is just sort of expected of them to play the role of being a mother with or without the help of a man.?
Does the premise emanate from cases where woman are expected to be virgins all their lives with reed dancing hosted to celebrate such? Girls who come out virgins from the whole testing thing will be praised while boys aren’t-
How is that expected to work out? So when a girl has failed the testing she is frowned upon? What are we then saying to the boy who is as responsible for that(I mean a girl cannot just lose her virginity without the help of a boy, so to speak) .Are we saying it’s okay lets let them be an not hold them accountable? after all _ Boys will be boys? And how is that expected to play out in adulthood?What kind of boyfriends, husbands,brothers will they grow up to be? The kind that refer to women as ‘eziway’ (eziway – just one of the pejorative, misogynistic ‘supposedly’ Xhosa term some Xhosa and other men use in reference to women).
What if boys were raised the same way as girls not as male or female but as human beings, who will grow up in life to treat people all equal and not expect men to behave in certain fashion when it comes to taking care of home etc. What if both boys and girls were taught how to cook and clean? What if both boys and girls were imparted that respect goes both ways? What if both boys and girls were taught not to link power with masculinity? What if our young girls were taught to have aspiration as men do, I don’t mean the kind where a girl is constantly told to behave in a certain manner because she will Wed, I am talking about the kind where she could be free to be just a human being without a lot of expectations placed on her by default of being a women?
My friend said to me the other day “You have this thing of wanting to behave like a man”. I am not sure what that means or where he based it from. If by that he meant standing up for what I believed in, and believing in equality, then I will behave like a man anytime.