Musings of a 21st Century African father: Spousal roles today – reality or myth

About two decades ago the good Lord in His own wisdom took away my twin sisters. I was
too young then to understand what pain really meant, even though I shed some tears (I am
sure I did cry because I saw my parents crying for the first time). I loved them deeply,
especially since they completed what I considered a perfect maze of siblinghood, that is, two
boys and two girls. Ever since my twin sisters left for the other side, it has been my brother
and I complementing each other on this journey, until I found myself a life partner.

For years it was my prayer to have a daughter. I fasted and prayed for a Saturday born girl. My wife
preferred a Wednesday born male. Just as He has always done for me, God blessed me with a daughter. Not only was I blessed
with a daughter, but a very intelligent and witty 21st Century Ga lady. And oh, she arrived on a beautiful Saturday evening. She arrived with a smile first before following it with loud cries. That snicker in the labour room made me drop tears of joy. Events in that labour ward and
how it affected me (especially how I relate to women) will be for another day.

Okay, back to the matter. See, we were misled chale! All those crap about gender roles in
building a home as handed down to us were indeed unintelligent bits of age long bunkum
packaged as traditional oral education. Raising a child as working parents is no joke. Whether you like it or not, you will drop those backward ‘wife role vs husband role’ vagaries before you
even realize. I began doing some traditional wife chores thinking I was doing my wife a favour. Gradually, I realized she actually plays more ‘husband roles’ too. In less than two years of the little one directing how we live our lives, I noticed this week that what we considered spousal or
gender roles under this roof we call home have all vanished. We basically are passengers in a
bus conducted by a one-year-nine-month-old girl, simple. She decides who lays her bed, who baths
her and who she sleeps by. We have no say in who even drops her at school. Talking about school, she started that journey this week. Ironing her uniform for her first day gave me so much pride. I kept telling myself; this is the real deal. She has started the journey to formal education. Praying for her that morning, I committed her into God’s hands. I prayed
that she meets the right people. I would not be here today if I had met wrong people along my path. Unlike what I had, she will be guided by parents who understand what times we are in. My parents did their best, but growing up as kids in the 90s in a compound house filled
with blood relatives was a different ‘ball game’. Valuable lessons on survival I learnt then have
contributed to who I am today. My girl’s will be different. She has access to things I never had.

Thankfully, she will not grow up around parents who believe in ‘gender roles’. She will grow up in a home where she will be told to grab every opportunity she comes in contact with.

According to Hamlet, ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’. Gender roles as we have religiously stuck to are just a creature of our imaginations. Watching her in
her school uniform for the first time I was elated, since our rather unproductive and
retrogressive mind-sets which have held us back for a long time is something she cannot grow to accept as normal. No way.

By Francis Boye

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