‘I am used to it’
Mapule Kobela struggles with the strain of having to be on top of everything by herself when her partner always has a ready excuse about why he cannot help out with the parenting or household chores.
Kobela (41), runs a busy beauty salon in Katlehong. She also has two children – Mbali (10) and Ofentse (7). She and her parter Tiisetso Mlangeni (39) have been together for more than a decade.
“My partner and I are self-employed and his job requires him to wake up very early in the morning,” she says.
“I open my salon at 9am and close at 7pm every day of the week, but I still have to wake up at 5am to prepare the kids for school. I spend hours standing on my feet at the salon, yet I still have to come home, fix dinner and help the children with homework. It’s extremely straining.”
Mlangeni, who runs a business with his brother, was not there to argue – he had just left the house for a routine session with the gents after work.
But this does not stop Mbali from defending him: “My father is always away at work, but when he is around he irons our clothes, cooks for us, prepares our lunch tins and sometimes drops us off at school.”
Ofentse agrees, but his mother doesn’t.
“Tiisetso only does all of this once in a while when its suits him. He also does this when he’s apologetic about something. He always forgets about the little things that require me to play various roles. I need to organise, remember, remain attentive and be aware of almost everything in the house,” she says.
“He spends a lot of his free time watching football and having drinks with his mates. I once mentioned that he could help with cooking, and he told me that his father didn’t raise boys to cook.”
Despite these irritations, Kobela says Tiisetso is a “great father who takes very good care of me and our children, which is why I’ve been with him for 10 years”.
Kobela says she always jokes about being the hardest “rock” among her friends. She often brags about running a thriving business and bringing up not only two children, but raising a husband too.
And although she has become used to the mental load, she would love it if Tiisetso would help out with cleaning and laundry on weekends when she works so that she can use the time saved by not doing this chore to get some much-needed sleep.
“I am used to being an organiser, warmth creator and a strong leader in my home,” she laughs. “But I am grateful for my two wonderful children and a loving partner.”