i Love fatherhood | Part 1

Meet our new columnist Sithembiso Ndashe. In his first column for Living and Loving he reflects on how parenting is a partnership – regardless of your work or home situation.

I was having a conversation about fatherhood the other day with a new dad. He seemed so proud to be a father and was loving every moment of it. Since he only had a week of paternity leave, life had already returned to normal for him, and when I asked him what role he plays when he returns home, his answer surprised me. He said that he only sometimes helps with chores and caring for his baby as he’s tired when he comes back from work and needs to get up early the next morning. I was very honest with him about my own feelings about this, and I told him he is selfish.

Let me explain why I said this to him. Do you think that your partner just wakes up and relaxes while you are at work? Do you think it’s not tiring looking after a baby, having less sleep than you are used to, constantly working to a baby’s schedule? He is being selfish because his partner is working overtime to raise a baby both he and she made. Just because she is at home, it doesn’t mean she is on holiday.

Raising a baby is not an easy job. In fact, it’s the hardest job and requires both parents to help each other. If your job seems more important, demanding or tiring than the job of raising a child, you are missing the point of parenting and partnership. I know the sacrifices a man needs to make first hand – I’m talking about only sleeping three hours a night, waking up in the middle of the night and not closing your eyes again until the early hours of the morning. I wasn’t sleep deprived because I was jolling. No, I was changing diapers, making bottles, feeding and putting my baby to sleep.
I have gone through what a woman goes through when she has a baby, I have put myself in their shoes and experienced what it takes to raise a baby. Even today I am proof that a father and a mother can help each other raise a child, and give each other time to rest.

I dedicate time to my child. I put my work aside so she can have my undivided attention. While it does get frustrating sometimes when my little one doesn’t want to listen, she is my child and I love her. Instead of looking at the little things like not listening, I look at the investment of my time in her; the time I spend watching her grow, putting her to sleep, bathing her, playing with her and, most importantly, letting her know that I’m here for her always. The time I spend with my daughter also gives her mother time to relax – because she deserves that too.

I call on all fathers to take time out and do more than just what is required. Help your partner to enjoy life and have as much free time as you do. Gone are the days when it was a woman’s job to raise their child at home. We, the new generation of men, say that raising a child is a shared duty. As fathers, let us play our part and invest our time in raising our kids. It’s our duty.

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twitter @LOVEfatherhood
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