Sunday is Father’s Day and I thought I should do a boring piece about things I do not understand such as fatherhood.
Many “dad stories” have been written to appreciate the dads who were there for their children, the absentee dads, and the barely-there fathers. Today, I will talk about the fathers that nobody dares talk about – the women who double up as mothers and fathers of their children. I celebrate you, dear women who play the role of both father and mother, for nobody knows your pain, your struggles, and the worries that occupy your minds.
And I am not just talking about single mothers here. I am talking about the widows who were left to raise their children on their own, the mothers who are married to absentee fathers who are too busy to be there for their children and the women who are raising their little brothers and sisters single-handedly.
I would be lying if I said I know how difficult it must be to raise a soul by yourself. I know on several occasions I have said here that it takes a man to raise a man, but the reality is that there aren’t enough men to raise the next generation of men.
This is why today I chose to celebrate you, dear women who play the role of the father for you are the unspoken heroines of today. You are a pack of selfless and determined women who have taken on a herculean task of being the "father" of the house.
For the single mothers, I understand that I have once or twice bashed you in this space, but that does not mean that I have forgotten to celebrate you for being the parent who stayed, the parent who stuck it out even in the face of a highly judgmental and hypocritical society that does not recognise single mothers. You are a pillar of strength, for steeling yourself to go through this long and treacherous journey on your own, and for that, you deserve to be told “Happy Father’s Day”.
For the special women, those who are married to men whose work began and ended at the conception stage, those married to men detached to their children and feel like single mothers, even though married, to you I say “hang in there”. It is not in my place to judge you for the situation you find yourself in, but today I chose to recognise you for your long-suffering patience and immense faith that you have exhibited over the years. Your love, your dedication to your children and your patience towards your indifferent husbands has not gone unnoticed.
Then there are those women raising their siblings, their nieces and nephews on their own. This, in my opinion, takes a rare kind of woman to put her life on hold for the lives of others. For choosing your immediate family over your hopes and dreams, for choosing to spend your money on children that are not your own and for loving children that do not belong to you. You deserve a medal for the immense sacrifice and those children that you are raising will never forget your love, sacrifice and kindness that you have shown them.
This also applies to all the aunties and grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren, selflessly denying themselves the pleasures and comforts of this world to educate and raise children they did not sire. I know a lot of great men and women who were raised single-handedly by grandmothers and aunties who put their lives on hold for years just so they could go to school.
The world may choose to forget you today, and overlook the great deeds that you are doing, but may I remind you that no good deed goes unrewarded.
As we celebrate Father’s Day on Saturday, a day that is not accorded as much significance as Mother’s Day, let us not forget these unsung heroes, the women who are playing the role of both father and mother. They need all the support, love and attention we can give them. Sometimes they just need a pat on the back, a nod of acknowledgement and a message of encouragement like this one.
We love you, we cherish you and we deeply respect you for the good work you are doing.