Dirk Lotriet
2 minute read
27 Oct 2017
5:30 am

The 50 shades of parenthood

Dirk Lotriet

We owe it to our children to be parents, not mere occasional babysitters.

‘You can’t park here,” the car guard at the entrance to my favourite DIY superstore told me. “You are not a mother.”

And he pointed to the sign next to the parking spot close to the door. “Reserved for mothers with babies”, it said. Complete with the outline of a figure in a dress pushing a pram. And that was it.

I had to go and park in the furthest outposts and carry my fat little baby all the way to the doors because the usual parking spots are not wide enough to get the pram out of my car.

I think I had all the reason in the world to be upset. As an avid DIYer, I’m a loyal client of the store. Hell, even my weighty little offspring was home-made. But I failed to be anything more than slightly amused.

For the past year, since little Eva was only four months old, I have been her part-time stay-at-homedad from seven in the morning until I leave for work – sometimes at one, often only at three or four in the afternoon.

Those 12 months have given me the right to tell you, dear reader, that parenthood is the last fronter of the battle between the genders. And that we, men, are losing that war.

True, society is not always geared towards being tolerant of dads who partake in raising their own children. Parenting magazines are aimed at mothers.

The nappy changing facilities are often only in the women’s bathrooms. The special parking for parents and babies are only for moms – even at my favourite DIY store.

And I’m already quivering at the thought of the reception I’m bound to get when I take my daughter to a mom-and-baby playgroup next year.

But over the past decades we have become such terrible parents that we have prompted society to wipe our sex from the agenda of parenthood.

Please don’t get me wrong – I get a lot of praise for my dedication to my role as a dad.

Have we become such useless parents that we deserve to have praised heaped upon us every time we do the simplest parental tasks such as changing a nappy?

It’s almost the 2020s, for heaven’s sake. The adaptable world we live in has made it possible for every father to become a true co-parent. Do it.

We owe it to our children to be parents, not mere occasional babysitters.

Dirk Lotriet poses for a portrait, 2 February 2015, at the Citizen's offices in Industria West, Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell

Dirk Lotriet poses for a portrait, 2 February 2015, at the Citizen’s offices in Industria West, Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell