We’ve often considered it, but never out loud and most definitely never to the previous generation, born just before or after independence. If they can’t get over the concept of a President from a different tribe, then evidently they’d shit bricks if they found out some of their sons were seriously considering being house husbands or stay at home dads. Gender roles in modern day society, especially around urban areas, are slowly being eroded; hearing about a male nurse no longer instills giggle fits in twelve-year-olds and the female matatu driver is no longer such a novelty that she gets the prime spot on the 9 o’clock news.
The subject of many pub conversations and fireside chats is the role of women in the homestead. Should the role of primary caregiver remain with his royal hubbiness? is it possible to flip the traditional roles and have her bring home the bacon? Aside from an aversion to washing dishes, I did think I could pull it off, sit at home, invite James over for a glass of whiskey before lunch (it’s four o’clock somewhere in the world) and gossip about who said what on the ‘Kilimani Husbands’ Facebook group. Before my wife/ husband/life partner got home, I’d hide all the used glasses turn on the telly to something mindless like Tim Njiru’s TV show and complain about immigrants getting into Kenya. Sounds like the perfect life not only would my responsibilities be more than halved, but I’d have more time to experiment in the kitchen and on my writing. Being a kept man sounds like…well, Fun. Aside from the obvious blow to the male ego that comes with being a dependent, it sounds like a pretty sweet life. Of course stereotypical living situations created and perpetuated by a media obsessed society that glorifies the Kardashians and vilifies the not-so-famous lady in the short skirt, would think that early morning drinks and lazing around make up the bulk of the housewife’s day, never taking into account running the household proper, figuring out why the tap in the downstairs bathroom doesn’t work, balancing the house books, running endless errands — from finding a vet for Simba to getting the right gluten-free flour because one of the demons you birthed and love so much developed an allergy to gluten and his body doesn’t care that ‘gluten-free’ is an alien word to most supermarkets in Africa.
Considering all this, office life isn’t too bad, either. I feel like I’m less likely to pull out my hair if my editor cuts off an entire paragraph than if my daughter comes home with headlice and the conviction that only homeopathic solutions will be used in her hair; “It’s great that Chimamanda convinced you that chemicals are bad for your hair sweetie but Daddy doesn’t have time to go out and look for lavender, tea tree, rosemary, geranium, lemon and ylang ylang. You’re getting Johnson & Johnson’s and you’ll like it!”
See we always figure that getting time at home with no official work designation will be the easiest thing to do. We lie to ourselves that we’d have more free time to figure out how to make a banana daiquiri that doesn’t taste like ass and not more time to learn how to fix the plumbing in that damned downstairs bathroom since Njoro, the plumber, wants to charge Ksh 5000 that you don’t have and an article in “Home and Living” called it an ‘easy fix’ (which of course was a gross over-estimation of your wrench wielding skills). I feel like coming home to a drink after a long day at work to relax would be better than having a never ending work day at home that essentially would drive me to drink more than I normally would out of stress. Being a kept man (or woman, for the ladies in the house) is great in theory, but in practice I think I’ll stick to trying to create a more balanced household where everyone is involved in the house stuff and not just little ol’ me who just wants to maintain the tipple all day long.