I was recently accused by a dad of being biased. That I was always in the momma’s corner, and how every issue opened and closed with how a woman, specifically a mother, was doing such an awesome job of raising children.
He brought up so many articles on motherhood I had written as proof of my bias and, in my defence, I also pulled up some articles on daddies and fatherhood, how men deal with infertility and even the story of the man whose marriage broke down because his wife could no longer deal with their infertility.
He wanted to go far by asking, “What do women do sef, that’s warranting so much noise, that men cannot do?” But I told him not to bother getting to that stage, because he was never going to win the debate. Especially as he is an African man and an undecided male chauvinist, so he will never win. Even he will campaign in my favour with his words. So, I let him off, but he chose tell me his real concern and it was about his guilt of not being there enough for his daughters, due to his work commitment and how his wife gets to do majority of the parenting of their children. I think he’s jealous of the time his wife gets to spend with their children.
Now, he was singing music to my ears. These are the types of men I like listening to. Men who don’t feel raising a child in this 21st century is solely the woman’s job. Men who don’t call watching their kid baby-sitting, but actually know that it is parenting and an opportunity to bond with their baby.
I will call him Tunde. He told me how his new job as a marketer has ensured he is never at home for a whole week at a stretch, and he ends up hardly seeing his babies, as when he’s around, they are in school and when they are around, he’s on the road. He only ever gets to talk to them on the phone, or do video chats when. But even this cannot compare with being with them physically. Now, this is something that I can absolutely relate with. Being able to hold and smell your child cannot be compared to hearing his/her voice on the phone.
At ages 6 and 8, his children are quite old enough to ask questions when he’s leaving, “Where are you going again?”
“When are you coming back?”
“Don’t come back late oh”
“Are you leaving again?”
Sometimes, his answers are good enough, as they go about their merry ways, and sometimes, he leaves his house with his two children sulking in a corner and his heart heavy. Starting the car becomes an issue. He just wants to go back in there and tell them he isn’t going again, if only to see the smiles on their faces and have them cling to him like a leech, in that special way that they are able to.
However, he still has a job to ensure they are fed, clothed and educated as they should be, and he has to work to be able to provide for all of those things that they need and even some that they simply want. So, he starts his car and puts it in drive and off he goes; trying to leave behind the memories of his sulking children.
Even at that, there is never a time his children aren’t happy to hear his voice on the phone. Never. He literally hears them jostle each other for a chance to get them phone to themselves.
He had had an encounter recently which made him realise that all he had been feeling all this while was actually guilt. Guilt over not being readily available to his children, the same way he had been when they were much younger and he had had a lot more time on his hands than his wife, who was then a banker, and literally working from Monday to Sunday.
During that time, he spent so much time with the children. He was the one who bathed them, changed diapers, got them to bed and fed them whatever momma had planned. He dropped off their daughters and picked them up from their grandmother’s place, and sorted out their baby school assignments.
So, he had many years to bond with the daughters and they had built a solid relationship that his new job was trying to put asunder.
He became aware of an important truth. “My kids actually care that I am away. I am a part of their lives in a way that leaves an absence when I am gone.”
His last trip had been for the whole week and he had come home to meet his children, who had simply said a sleepy “Good morning, Dad” when they saw him on Tuesday morning, as they went to prepare for school. None of the screaming “DADDDYYY!!!”… and he’s a sad man.
He has been trying to pay up and get into their good books, shelving his next trip and waiting for the right time to share with them his plans to quit his job and spend more time with them.
It sounds interesting right? But his motive is wrong. He can’t live his life only to satisfy his children. Women have been feeling momma guilt for centuries and we have managed to live with it. So, it seems to me like he is going overboard.
Besides, these children are a lot stronger than they look. A whole lot stronger and resilient, so we, as parents just have to live our lives and be good examples to them. Just my two Kobo, and I said as much to him.
Today’s dads must balance making a living and spending the necessary time improving and perfecting their craft, being an engaged spouse, being a present father and finding time for themselves (rarely). Welcome to the 21st century, daddy.
Lastly, when you feel guilty for leaving your kids again or working too much, be grateful they care…and that you care enough to feel guilty.
Before someone says I’m biased, stay strong daddies!
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