Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo
2 minute read
21 Jun 2018
8:15 am

For the mothers who also have to play dad

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo

Society has made a norm of parents who make children and, upon their birth, parental responsibilities become an optional extra.

Picture: AFP/file

Every Father’s Day some dads say it is not a day to celebrate single mothers and grandparents who are raising children without their fathers.

They tell us not to talk down to fathers who dodge their financial responsibilities, fathers who parent on a part-time basis and fathers who do nothing, say nothing and are nothing to their children.

But we talk down to these fathers because it’s a problem that such fathers exist in the first place.

As mothers, most of us have remained with our children – through good and bad.

Social workers, psychologists and activists keep reminding some that they cannot stay in abusive and oppressive marriages – but some stay because of the fear of their children not having the quality of life they have become accustomed to.

We sleep right next to our abusers; we wake up each day ready to face the world – for our children. Grandparents have raised these men, changed their nappies – and now they’re changing their grandchildren’s nappies as they have had to become father figures.

Society has made a norm of parents who make children and, upon their birth, parental responsibilities become an optional extra.

A few days ago, an acquaintance announced that in nine months’ time he would be welcoming the arrival of a baby with his girlfriend. Most of us congratulated him – but one person asked: how could he be excited by the news that he would soon be paying maintenance?

Is that what parenting means to men of our generation? Sending a little brown envelope to your child? Or pressing a few keys on a keyboard for an EFT into an overworked mother’s account – and as a father your part is done?

We celebrate mothers on Father’s day not because we believe single mothers outweigh the stellar job done by those fathers who are active, who are present.

We celebrate these mothers because of their consistency: in good and bad times, on days when it is easy to love and even on days when it is an uphill battle.

Excuse us as mothers while we take ownership of Mother’s and Father’s Day …

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo

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