Mothers’ Day is the one official day we get to celebrate motherhood and the influence women have on society. We celebrate the effort and sacrifices that they make to see their own and themselves succeed, against all odds. As a father of two daughters, I have no doubt about the key role we fathers play in moulding the kind of lady or mother that they end up being. Every father’s dream is to have daughters who grow up to be respectful, independent and responsible women or mothers if they so choose to be. It is for this reason that I decided to be present and hands on from the get go, as my relationship with them could have a long-term impact on how they turn out in their adulthood. Just like prince Harry, I decided that I would be physically present for all my children’s births. I was told that watching your wife give birth is the most traumatic experience any man could ever be part of, and one that can never be unseen or undone. But this was never going to stop me from being there to hold my offspring the first time they came to this world. To me, this would be the start of a special bond that hopefully nothing would break.
Today I thought of sharing some nuggets of wisdom with young fathers or fathers to be based on my own experience on raising girls:
1. Teach them that there is nothing like “boy stuff”
I have always been a big lover of cars since I was a child. It is no coincidence that I never allow my car to be serviced in my absence. As a teenager, I would sit around the garage as I watched the mechanic do his thing and question every single thing he did. I would also never shy from lending a hand and getting them all greasy while at it. Very so often, Xena and Xia accompany me to my friend’s garage in Kilimani to service my car. I have to bear with the unending questions. “Why are his hands black?” Xena quipped the first time we went to the garage. “Because of the oil, Xena” “What is that he is holding?” “A spanner, to tighten the bolts.”…..and the questions would go on. There is nothing like boy stuff. We try changing tyres and repairing stuff around the house and they love it.
2. Accompany them to the salon and also take them to the barber shop.
Two weeks ago, I sat in this long queue waiting to register for my Huduma Number. I could not help but admire this young girl’s hair. She seemed seven years old and was absolutely gorgeous in her kinky twists that framed her round face.
“Where did you do your daughter’s hair?” I asked the lady standing on her side who I imagined was the mom.
“At a salon in Kilimani.” She responded.
“You mind sharing the contacts?”
“Yes, sure. I can give you the number of Alex, the hair dresser. Your wife will thank me later.”
What she didn’t know was that I was not about to hand over the contacts and my daughter to the missus to take care of the salon business. At least not on that day. I was curious about how Xena would look in that hairstyle and I could not wait to get done with the painfully slow and annoying Huduma Number registration process and head to the salon. The salon was nothing like I had imagined. Most of the hair dressers were male, save for about three ladies at the shampoo area. It was also funny to see a good number of male clients getting their hair twisted, some with cuts on the side, others just preferring a full head of hair. I stayed there for a cool two hours and had a good time bonding with Xena and making fun at some of the adults who were grimacing in pain. Change scene, Xena and Xia more often than not come with me to the barber shop. They get to massage their small feet and colour their nails as I get pampered as well.
3. Cook with them and help in the kitchen.
Ever met a lady who says “I really don’t enjoy cooking. In any case that’s why we hire maids!” or “I am a career woman and I have no time to cook.” Well here is news for you, men really look for someone who knows the secret to their stomach. But no harm for fathers out there trying their hands in the kitchen. It is actually quite fun when you have little helpers. If you wonder why my roast chicken is such a hit, wonder no more. Team work with my little cooks is the name of the game. Xia, the younger one helps with stirring the pot to fuse all the stuffings together and Xena’s role is always to stuff the chicken before I place it in the oven. Do you think these two will despise cooking when they grow older? Your guess is as good as mine.
4. Take “solo” vacations with them
Mommy gets her me time for a few days and daddy and the girls get to break all the rules as set by mommy! Need I say more? This is a no brainer, a win for every body.
5. Treat their mother and other women around them with respect.
Children watch and learn from their parents. They also pick up stuff from everything that happens around them, whether in school or at home. How you treat their mother forms their basic understanding of how they should be treated by men. Have you ever asked yourself why some women take so much bullshit from men while others are so confident with absolutely zero daddy issues? I believe most of it boils down to how they were brought up.
6. Read to them and pray with them
This is powerful and also makes for a special time to bond with them and understand what they are thinking. Sometimes Xena shocks us with the things she prays about.
“I pray that you make daddy a boss so that he has less work.”
“I pray that you help mommy pass her exams.”
”I pray that you help daddy’s leg heal.” (I stepped on a broken cup and got a deep cut in the midsection of my foot during the easter holiday. My leg has since healed but she continues to pray for it on the regular.
“I pray that Xia will learn how to pupu in the potty.”
“I pray that mama comes home early tomorrow.”
All the best bringing up strong and independent women!