Reflections on fatherhood under lockdown
Moses, who lives in Gordon's Bay with his wife and two children, had no father figure to growing up. Lockdown has had an unexpected impact on his idea of fatherhood.There has been a ‘beautiful chemistry’ in his house, and book-sharing has been a key part of this. Moses encourages other fathers to follow suit.
Moses is into 'breaking cycles'. He grew up with his mother and siblings in Soweto, Johannesburg. 'When my Mum got pregnant with me, my Dad ran away,' he explains. Life was not always easy, but he has always been aware of his desire to be an active, loving, dedicated father.
Under normal circumstances, Moses works for Bolt (a company much like Uber). Keen to be active in their lives, he would make adjustments and time to see his daughter Elouise (4) and Noah (11 months).
Moses' job was put on hold as the national lockdown was announced.
On the 16th March 2020, Moses – along with his fellow South Africans – faced an uncertain prospect. The national lockdown, announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa, kicked into force that night. Drivers, like Moses, were out of work and would be staying at home for at least four weeks. And although Moses’ income was at risk, another aspect of his life was about to grow.
Lock Down Dad
It is in times adversity that our strength is revealed."
This formed part of president Ramaphosa's announcement of the lockdown.
At first, Moses was wary of the impedements lockdown would have. But, as time passed, this house-bound time has strengthened his identity as a father. “I never thought that I would feel the way I feel now with my children. This house has a rhythm now, and I am part of it.”
The new routine of waking, eating, washing, playing and book-sharing has morphed his role in the house and the relationship with his children.
Importance of book-sharing
Book-sharing has played a key role in the changes in the Khumalo household.
“These books are helping her with her confidence to talk, because with those books, you can have a good conversation with your child.” Book-sharing has also proven to be a bench-mark in terms of measuring Elouise’s development during the lockdown period. “Through book-sharing, I can see that Elouise has changed a lot since we started. Her vocabulary has evolved – in fact, I would say she is a chatterbox!”
Moses has also enjoyed the creativity that book-sharing inspired.“It’s different to reading a book with text. With picture books, she is the creator. She needs to explain to me what is going on in the story – and I am right here, listening.”
Of course, things will change one day. Elouise and Noah will return to creche, and Moses will be back on the roads. But a change has been sparked, and book-sharing has been aspecial part of that.
“There has been a beautiful chemistry in this house. We have created a bond that I thought me and Elouise and Noah would never create."
A message to other dads
As a man who had no father figure, Moses understands the fear that can come with being asked to ‘step up’ as a father. But, with courage, men can start to break cycles that he finds so pervasive in communities around him. Moses says he would attend book-sharing training – and encourages other fathers to do the same.
“Absent fathers must open their eyes, and their hearts. We must break the cycle, and realise that there is nothing more beautiful than seeing your own children grow. You see, the love in my house has grown.”