Two weeks have passed since our Prime Minister returned to work from maternity leave. Photos and video of Jacinda Ardern with baby Neve have ignited the internet as twitchy-fingered curmudgeons comment about the gall it took to reproduce at this moment; the impudence with which Ardern flouts the child (purely for political gain and not because Neve needs to breastfeed every two to three hours if she's like other babies); and the cheek of planning to take the nursling to the United Nations meeting in New York City next month.
It's time, gentle Kiwi men, for a chat.
We need to talk about logistics of siring a new generation of New Zealanders. It's not my place to tell you when to beget the hatchlings; how many to have, or when to have them. Except if you're in a position of authority.
If you lead a company, a board or even a country, we need to discuss your family. Specifically, about whether you procreate and how you handle yourself and your progeny. In a perfect world, you would man up and not have children at all. At least, not during times when people at work are counting on you. Or, you could quit your job as soon as the pee stick turns pink.
Politicians with babes in arms are a popular trope. Who doesn't love a man holding an infant with wrist and leg rolls so succulent-looking, your mouth waters? Admit it, Bubs is cute and humanises her grown-up. "Look! Baby just spit up on Mr Leader's suit. How funny. How normal." Meanwhile, adversaries grit their teeth and growl. How dare any man breed at an inconvenient time, let alone bring the beastie to work?
This might sound harsh, but I suggest (completely voluntary, of course) sterilisation for men in leadership positions. This would remove temptation to procreate at inappropriate moments, i.e. when trying to lead companies or govern. Everyone knows men are incapable of simultaneously raising children and holding a position of responsibility.
Many New Zealand men have had the cojones (no pun intended) to govern or shepherd a business while shackled to family: John Key had two teenagers when he became Prime Minister. Those children, Max and Stephie, would have been in primary school when Key was elected to Parliament as an MP in 2002. Former PM Bill English took procreating to the max (he is Catholic, after all), having six children. English's first child was two-and-a-half years old when his dad entered politics. A 1999 photo shows Bill and wife, Mary, posing with newborn son, Xavier. Oh, the PR opportunity. The pandering to regular Kiwi families, trying to show you're just like us.
Kylie Klein Nixon wrote for Stuff last year,
"I clearly recall the time [Prime Minister] Bill English was asked how he was going to balance the national books and his hectic home life … oh wait, no I don't, because it never happened. Bill English literally has six kids, and no one cares."
Tauranga MP and National Party leader Simon Bridges had his third child, a daughter, last December. It's a miracle he can speak a coherent sentence for the Opposition while sparing a thought for baby Jemima and her brothers, Emlyn and Harry.
Outgoing Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings had three teenaged children when he took the reigns at the dairy giant, reaping what may be the country's largest pay packet of $8 million. One wonders how he juggled the demands of corporate life with family in tow.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon also has children. So do chief executives of Auckland Airport, Spark, Vodafone and Fletcher Building, though some of those kids have grown and flown the nest.
Listen, meminists (men who think the sexes are equal): I know you've been told you can have it all - career, family, extreme sporting competitions and sheep shearing photo-ops, but you have been fed a fat lie. You don't possess the capacity to do your jobs, feed children and check on them via video link during breaks. Most certainly, you cannot bring a baby to work. They sleep too much to be productive. Wait until they're at least 5 years old and teach them to make a decent flat white.
Members of my club (two women in active wear reading political blogs on their laptops) and I will not rest until you understand your role: either you do a damn fine job at work or a damn fine job parenting. At home. You can't do both. Because I say so. Also, it's biology - your brain isn't sufficiently wired for two mammoth missions.
Maybe, men, you should return to traditional tasks: cooking, cleaning and making babies. Leave the Beehive and the boardroom to women.