I’m eternally grateful to the creactors of the smartphone and mobile internet (even though #datamustfall)! Although I’ve missed my children terribly whilst I’m traveling, I’ve been able to keep in constant touch with them and their aunt and nanny. Basically parenting has continued, despite my physical absence. So far so good, no irreparable damage to daily routines for them, although I miss them terribly. A physical pain of sorts.
This made me think of some mothers, who due to various circumstances, have had to leave their children in the care of their own mother’s or grandmothers, often hundreds of kilometers away. For them too, cellphones are the best way to keep in touch.
And then I remembered that there are grown men, who voluntarily keep away from the children they made, perhaps only phoning on birthdays or when the guilt of absence overwhelms them. Some of these men are ATM dads – they pay the agreed child maintenance and carry on. They don’t want to be involved past the money or phone calls. Yet they want the title of dad or father bestowed upon them. Can one be honored with that title yet not be an active participant in the upbringing of the child?
“What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child, but the ability to raise one” ~ Unknown
This quote has haunted me for the past week. What is raising a child? Is there some sort of standard template nyana that indicates that in child raising, at a minimum these things (whatever they are) must apply? Does one need to be physically present in raising children ? Can one be deemed a bad parent for not being an active participant?
One of the most painful parts for me, as a single parent, is the knowledge that papa is actually “not busy”, but doesn’t want to be involved in my precious human’s life. That he couldn’t be bothered, yet has the guts to be proud of having such a “well raised son” – bathong, incredible really.
Raising a boy has been a very interesting experience , I know nothing about sport and I’ve realized that friends have aroused his interest in famous soccer teams, stereotypically I feel that’s a “dad thing”. There are several other examples. I feel we’ve deprived the boy from “things that boys do”. Also, when he does eventually become a man, he’ll have no role model on being a man/manhood in his childhood memory bank – his fundamental views on adulthood will be shaped by me, his mother. This could either be great or go pear-shaped.
We live in a world that is filled with mothers that have raised children on their own, yet our generation continues to perpetuate that stereotype, others even romanticize the notion of parenting on their own. As a single mom, I can attest that raising children is hard, especially on your own. It takes more than money to raise children, it’s an all in kinda job. It’s also more than a phone call once a month and leaving children hopeful that one day, papa will pick me up.
For every generalization, there are exceptions, but how do we expect to raise family men, who love, care and go all out for their children when they themselves have never witnessed it at home?
Too many questions and no answers… as is the norm with having children, I can only do so much and pray that God does the rest.