Father’s day was a few days ago and the flurry of social media goodwill messages were dotted with the occasional female who would wish herself a “Happy Father’s Day” for playing a dual role in her child’s life.
Maybe by divorce, death or simply a matter of choice; these women are standing up to the responsibilities required to raise a child without waiting for a father figure to chip in his bit.
School runs, bills payment, counsellor, disciplinarian, friend, protector, guardian, shoulder to cry on, homework assistant, maid, nurse, nanny – they do it all, with or without a smile.
True some might have grown bitter over the years but it is easy to cut them some slack. When we hear “single parent”, we instantly jump to judgement and think “she might have spread her legs for random men hoping to trap them with the pregnancy, but it misfired and here she is now, seeking for pity on social media”.
It might help if we bear in mind that for every “backfired” pregnancy, there was the option of a termination; but these mothers thought otherwise. It was through no fault of the foetuses that they were where they were and the least the mother could offer them was a chance at life.
The moment you take that decision however, your life as it were suddenly takes a dramatic turn. First you cope with pointing fingers and whispering lips…
“Which time she take marry when she don dey carry belle”?
“Na so. When every time she go dey waka wa wa wa, how she think say belle no go come”.
And all that jazz.
You sacrifice everything as it were, to raise your child. Potential suitors come and view your child as an obstacle to receiving your affection 100% and so after a while, you say “to hell with suitors” and focus on raising a complete being.
You shield and try to educate the child because believe me, the day will come when the question will be asked, “Mommy, what does it mean to be an illegitimate child?” or “Mommy, what does it mean to be a bastard?” or “Mommy, why are we not living in the same house with my daddy? Almost all my friends are living in the same house with both parents” or even worse “Mommy, why are you not married to my daddy”.
Yeah, it is easy to say “you should have thought of that before you took the decision to be a single parent”, but do not judge if you know what a condom is, have ever made a hurried trip down to the corner shop to ask for postinor. Maybe you even have your local quack on speed dial for all those wire hangar evacuations.
And then those who through no fault of theirs (if we must call single parenthood a fault), are raising kids alone. Should they have remained in an unhealthy marriage or relationship for the sake of the kids? Or sacrificed their lives in place of the ones that died?
Why then should a woman who plays a dual role in her child’s life not have the right to pat herself on the back and say “Happy Father’s Day, Mummy?”
If there is an emergency and the “man of the house” is needed, would she not step up and fill that role automatically? Would society question her then?
Ok, I thought we had agreed that the only roles bestowed automatically at conception were those of a sexual and/or reproductive nature?
Have we not said several times that it is not the ability to display a penis or produce sperm when “provoked” that makes a father? Sperm donors could also do that without the commitment of being physically, socially, financially, psychologically and emotionally available.
I am lost here really and I think it would be fair to state that I am more than willing to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the men who drop it all and take full responsibility for raising their children, especially on our side of the continent. More often than not, the men find the nearest female to co-opt into shouldering or sharing parental responsibilities and continue in their pursuit of being the life of the party.
A whole lot of women on the other hand drop it all, sometimes at a moment’s notice, to raise a child/children unaided.
So, tell me once again, why can’t they wish themselves Happy Father’s Day if they are so inclined? Or respond graciously when others wish them the same?
Trust me, I want to know…
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