Sunday January 31 2016

Stay-at-home dad

 

By Mathias Wandera

For some reason, Facebook has turned into some sort of diary for some people-- a place where they come to relish their reflections and feelings.

A few nights back I came across a post by my former school mate. A long and deep post that he evidently wrote more with his heart.
It was about a girl.

Her picture sat right below the words, beautiful girl if you must know. He dragged on about his love for her, about how they met, and how the last 10 months have been the best time of his life and this and that—all the things love makes people confess. Then he extended his imagination into the future.

“I dream of the future, of us, and our house. I will be the best companion because I am not like most men. I do not care for roles in relationships.

We will wash together, cook together. But better still, I would like to do all that for you. I will make our bed, cook your meals, and iron your clothes.” He followed that with half a dozen emoticons, but he was not done. He went ahead to declare, “I could be a stay-at-home dad of sorts.”

He is the first man I have heard go public about his interest in being a stay-at-home dad. This got me thinking on whether there are men out there who would indeed welcome the idea of being a stay home dad.

Men who would perhaps resign their job as a sales rep and go back home to keep the homestead in order.

A stay home dad?
Alex Mukiibi, a father of three, who runs an electronics shop in Bweyogerere believes there is no one better suited to offer an opinion on the idea of being a stay home dad than him.
“I have been there!” he echoes.

Mukiibi lost his job in 2011, something he says threw his family off rail. “It was tough. I knew I had to find work real fast, but hard as I tried it was in vain. Finding a job had become my full-time job but after six months, I gave up.”

That is how he resigned to being a stay-at-home dad because as he says, they could not afford a maid yet his wife was now unavailable as she needed to work twice as hard to support the family.

“We had two children by then, and every break of dawn meant another long day for me. I would walk our children to school which was a few blocks away. Then get back home and get dirty. I would scrub the floor, tidy up the living room, sweep the compound. Then I would realise that the dishes do not do themselves and I would turn to that too. I also had to cook for my children who always had to come back at lunch time,” Mukiibi narrates.

Impossible task
Mukiibi, who opened up his electronics shop after two years of playing maid says the stay-at-home role is draining and the chores are not the real problem.

“Men are physically able to wash clothes or do the dishes. The major burden is in the mind. We are not psychologically equipped to bear the idea of being stay-at- home dads. It tortures you—makes you feel less of a man,” he explains.

Christopher Byaruhanga, 32, seems to be reading from Mukiibi’s book when he asserts that a stay-at-home dad role is a no-go area for him.

As he says, even if he had no job, he would still wake up and go out to do nothing than stay home to take on the domestic duties.

“In this age, even wives are also expected to be out working. So how do I explain to anyone who comes home that I’m taking care of the household while my wife is out in the economic trenches fending for the family?”

Culture dictates otherwise
For 27–year–old Moses Egesa however, his reasons for dismissing the idea of being a stay home dad are a case of culture.

Traditionally as he notes, men have been the breadwinners of the family. “And there is no way circumstances or trends should make any man even consider taking up domestic duties.” So the liberal spirit may bring up new trends, but as it turns out, men are not about to warm up to the idea.

Decide on duties
Before you officially become “stay-at-home dad,” you and your wife should sit down to discuss exactly what that title entails, says Armin Brott, founder of MrDad.com.

Sure, you’ll be taking care of the children, but does your job description also include cooking dinner every night, doing the laundry and running all the errands? “Create a list beforehand so they’ll be no arguments later on,” suggests Brott.

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