Much Ado About Paternity Leave
That Mother Nature has the role of women well cut out for them, cannot be disputed. Or better put, everything in the world, it does seem, is ‘divinely arranged’ to work in favour of and to the advantage of women. Although a lot of men will argue that they will rather not think or imagine trading places with women. This may, however, not be surprising as we live in a patriarchal society.
Yet, the truth of the matter is that women continue to earn my respect and adoration, for the onerous task of carrying babies in their wombs, for all nine months, going through the pangs of child birth and eventually proceeding to the maternity wards, to be delivered of their ‘bundles of joy‘.
While it, therefore, seems logical and well-deserved that working pregnant women, at the appropriate time, should go on the famous maternity leave, I find it not exactly well though-out that men, whose wives are pregnant, should begin to go on paternity leave. I hear that such men, who fall within this bracket, and have to stay with their wives (for 10 days while heralding the arrival of the first 2 children). I have heard too that some states are still working out the modalities of this leave for men. But, my concern is not so much about the leave or its duration rai·son d’être.
Candidly, what will be the duty or duties of the breadwinner of the home, when he takes time off work, for even a day or two, to tend to his wife and new born baby or babies? Apart from being at odds, in my view, with all that is masculine, it is assumed that a home, which has just been blesses with a bouncing baby is never lacking in more experienced and caring hands,
Even if the man were a nurse, as a matter of profession, the traditional role of assisting the woman in bathing the baby, schooling the young mother on how to keep warm and in shape, belongs to the mother-n-law or such other practiced hand that is close to and approved of by the family. so, why consign the man to days of clear disuse in the name of paternity leave?
I am also inclined to think that the period of the new baby’s arrival is when the man of the house must work even harder, since he will have more mouths to feed and an additional family member to care about. Although I have not sat down with any policy-maker in the governments of those states considering making the issue of paternity leave statutory, but my gut feeling tells me still that taking time off work by a man is not only an overkill, it is also a waste of time.
To be further practical,a man’s place in his home when his wife is just delivered of a baby should be, largely, unobtrusive. But, how is this possible when the man is all over the place, night and day, for 10 days? If he does not die of boredom, I wonder what else will speed his end. Or tell me, how does a man fit into these moments when only women are allowed around? I mean those moments when women talk about all and everything, which they insist is not gossip.
And this, to be sure, is not exactly a man’s province.
Most objective men I have discussed with agree that going on paternity leave only means one thing: REDUNDANCY. Others, however, see that period as one of the deserved leave-taking from waking up so early to embrace the perennial heart-breaking traffic on the way to work. I will, however agree, when all is said and done, those men who insist on taking a paternity leave or have one foisted on them, can only make themselves useful in the home by taking over the ‘school runs’ (if they have not paid for the school bus or the children are on holidays or in the boarding house).
Otherwise, the idea of a paternity leave seems to me a ‘me too’ palliative to those work-harried husbands who think men deserve just as much rest from work as the women.