December 5, 2005 · Posted in: General

Men as mothers

IN this era of large-scale transnational female labor migration, the Filipino family has had to deal with profound changes, foremost of which is the situation of motherless children. This has in turn caused a shift in gender roles that has forced the men to assume the role of caregivers in the absence of their wives.

macoy.jpg"Men as Mothers" tells the stories, some not so successful, of fathers and husbands in coping with the gender role reversal that has resulted in what sociologist Alicia Pingol calls a new masculine image that does not necessarily threaten Pinoy manhood. Stay-at-home husbands do so invariably by efficiently managing their wives’ remittances, remaining loyal spouses, attending to their children’s needs, or continuing to contribute economically to the family income.

The traditional notions of housework and child care as "feminine" however prevent many men from playing the role of mothers to the hilt. Often husbands who are left behind delegate the household tasks to female relatives (given an extended family setup), at times even to the eldest daughter.

Still, there are a few who have willingly embraced the "second shift." Ever since wife Florence decided to resume her work as a nurse in Jeddah for the sake of the family’s finances, Maximino ‘Macoy’ Leyba has kept house — cooking their meals, taking care of the children, doing the laundry, ironing the clothes, and balancing the family budget.

An overseas worker himself assigned as a transport firm supervisor in Saudi Arabia until 2002, Macoy says he has gotten used to the household tasks after doing the same routine day after day for the last three years.

But Macoy admits life has not been easy since he became Mr. Mom. "It’s hard for the man to become the mother. if you think about it, it’s a heavy burden. Of course, fathers can take care of their children. But I can’t do everything a mother does."

Read on at pcij.org.

5 Responses to Men as mothers

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Kikay2

December 6th, 2005 at 12:01 am

I read this and I’m wondering about Mr. Mom’s wife in Jeddah. I am just like her. My husband and I are just like them. I too work in the Mid-East while my husband works in Manila. It used to be that I was in Manila and he worked abroad. Now I have a job here and his contract in d Mid-East has ended. He takes care of our kids and our home now, trying to be both mom and dad. He isn’t exactly a Mr. MOM because he does go to work everyday while my in-laws and the nanny takes care of our children’s well-being and the household. But my husband does a lot of the things I used to do when I was juggling my work and wifely chores without him i.e. attend parent-teacher meetings, buy our kids’ shoes when they are worn-out, make sure there is enough food in the pantry for my in-laws, manage the maid and the finances, tend to the medical needs of old people, stay up late when the little ones are sick, etc. Its tough on him because he is so new to it; he was away for many years. I used to carry those burdens.Now he tells me, I spoiled him and did not confide the extent of it. How hard it is. It is painful to be apart like this, to see him struggling to cope. The way I used to. But I think it is a blessing as well, for him to know what it was like for me when he was the one abroad. How many couples are given this eye-opener and no longer take a spouse’s burden for granted? I think we are still lucky. Now he appreciates me more, my sacrifices back then. And I love him more because he is trying so hard. I am hoping that one day things in our country would have changed so much that this Filipino diaspora will end; that separating husband, wife and children would not be a policy supported and encouraged by a dollar remittance-greedy government and families will not be subjected to this kind of pain in seeking a better future for the people they love.

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naykika

December 6th, 2005 at 2:37 am

Admin let me know if am off topic;

Mr. Mom, that’s more than apt in our case, because not only that husband stays home and the wife goes to work but they can interchange.

Maternity leave is allowed to a maximum of a year and if the couple choose to split if between them (e.i. the wife takes 3mos. and the husband the rest) for financial benifits it is allowed and encouraged. What a novel approch. The reason is sometime the wife is underemployed and the maternity benefits is a percentage based on the salary. Letting the wife continue working and the husband taking a bigger percentage on maternity leave would not incurber the family income in the time when they needed it more. So Mr. Mom is here to stay albeit in different circumstances.

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CGBacani

December 6th, 2005 at 3:44 am

In the US, a growing number of Pinoys married to a nurse are called “Chemist”. Meaning “kay misis” umaasa. As they face the rigors of children growing up, men take the role of the the houseband. The wife – nurse work for a 12-hour shift and so the husband does the cooking, laundry and ironing and other house chores. He drives the kids to school and if the wife does not know how to drive, then become the official driver of the family.

Thus, the shift in gender roles have actually brought power to women which is an entirely different situation when they are still in the Philippines. Dito sa US, saludo si Mister kay Misis.

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Major Tom

December 6th, 2005 at 3:58 pm

This is really a new cultural phenomenon happening our country right now, in this age of worker migration. While it is basically a mode of adjustment to the realities of life—a demanding one at that—men as moms provide insights on how the society evolves and let us view by now how in the future we will see men and women as relating to each other. As men, we learn that mothering is a wonderful thing while it becomes strenous at times. As women, they learn that initiative and guile is not merely the territory of men.

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Alecks Pabico

December 21st, 2005 at 5:18 pm

An emailed comment from Edgardo Dacpano:

Well, it’s reality and filipinos are so in-demand abroad that we have to make do whatever comes our way. In-demand actually is not the right word, it a neccessity for survival. A lot of Filipinos are leaving their homeland because they don’t want to just let authorities in the government ruin their life with too much “stupid politics”, the exact reason why I left for the United States to start a family and re-invent my life. I salute those mothers and fathers who give an ultimate sacrifice of leaving their families so they could earn some dollars to make the lives of those left behind a little bit comfortable.

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