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.
"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.