I have been single for so long that I might as well have been the one person who entered Noah’s ark without a mate. And being single for long means getting approached by various brands of men. So naturally, I was convinced that I had witnessed and encountered all forms of male chauvinism.
But then I visited my friend who gave birth a month ago and her husband proved me wrong.
As soon as I congratulated him on his newfound role as a parent, he immediately started recounting just how difficult it had been for him. Feeling traumatized by the screams of his wife’s labour pains. Being too scared to watch his wife give birth. Wondering if he could drum up the courage to go through it again.
And just like that, he managed to make the birthing process about himself. It takes special talent to pull off that sort of thing. I was in awe.
As he was still drowning in self-centeredness and condescension, the baby started crying. The baby had been fed and cleaned so clearly, she just wanted attention. Her mother had gone to the bathroom.
I waited for the man to pick his baby up. But he didn’t change his sitting posture or raise his eyebrows. I thought that maybe it was a parenting technique. Something about teaching the baby to self-soothe. Or maybe he wasn’t allowed to touch her.
I mean I have met new mothers who won’t let anyone touch their baby because they think everyone is harbouring some incurable virus. Even the baby’s father.
So I asked him if he was going to pick the baby up. He replied, “The mother is coming.” And then he increased the volume of the TV. I thought the cry of a newly born baby was heartbreaking but he had a different view; it ruined viewing experience.
Indeed his wife came and soothed the baby to sleep. Immediately afterwards, he said, “Eh Honey I’m thirsty.” And his wife poured juice from a jug on the dining table a few meters away (I am mentioning the distance because he is not disabled) and set the glass before him. My friend and I then prepared lunch.
He didn’t move when lunch was ready. His wife served him from ‘his spot.’ I ate and then held the baby while my friend ate. And for the first time since I arrived, I noticed the eye bags. I noticed the exhaustion.
No one is helping. She is a new mother and she is doing everything by herself. On top of that, she is waiting on a human being who thinks that being a male is some sort of achievement and he ought to be rewarded for it.
My friend had asked me to stay all day but I just couldn’t do it. I foresaw myself stepping over the line and saying some very unkind things to this man.
But I guess I needed this experience. Because after that, being single didn’t seem so bad anymore.