Family

Sins of the Father

It’s an unfortunate truth that we all become our parents before we die.  I often think one is made up of both their parents not just physically, but psychologically and spiritually, and if you’re lucky and able to, you add on the little authentic pieces of yourself as you become yourself.

This is how I asses who I am.

When I was young I was my mother. Naive, caring, sweet, considerate, emotional. I was thoughtful and diplomatic.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve pushed my mother’s positive attributes aside and become my father.  Short tempered, occasionally belligerent, secretive, deceitful when need arises, and selfish.

Growing up I never understood why my father was as he was.  It wasn’t until I knew about his background that I began to somewhat understand his behaviour.  My grandfather was a polygamist who preferred his second wife over his first wife, my grandmother, and therefore neglected his children by her.  My father and his siblings would go for weeks on end without seeing him and when he was around, he’d cause a ruckus and then fuck off. My grandmother in turn became resentful and took it out on the children [not so much physically as psychologically].  My father would often run away from home or hide and wouldn’t speak to anyone for weeks on end.

He left home at 17 and went to start a life in Phikwe, close to Bobonong, then eventually joined the army and moved to Gaborone to prosper.

My mother came from a loving, close family in Moshupa. She went to school and lived a peaceful existence.

Now imagine that union.  The two of them together is a trip, to say the least.

Although both of them have gotten this far in Life, maybe what deterred me from becoming my mother was what I regard as weakness from her when it comes to dealing with hardship and things of that nature. There’s such a thing as “too nice”.  Watching how my mother was unable/unwilling to stand up for herself and was constantly crying over something someone else had done, I decided I didn’t want to be that way.

I, however, thought I was too intelligent to become my father.  I thought it wasn’t something I had to stop myself from becoming because deep down I knew it wasn’t okay. Kind of like being a murderer. You don’t constantly have to tell yourself not to kill because you don’t think about it, you just don’t kill.

I learned that the best way to deal with him was to become like him.  For lack of a better expression, it was kill or be killed.

Now my mother, who honestly tried her hardest to shield me from his flaws, has no choice but to admit that I embody them. And it’s unfortunate but I do believe it necessary to be so.

I see it in the way I interact with people, in my romantic relationships and my decision making, I can be a bully and rather irrational. And I swear it’s getting harder to change the older I get.

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On bad parenting. [Excuse my French.]

As a child, you learn, maybe, to accept the fact that your parents are people too, in order to shield yourself from all the disappointment.  By telling yourself “They’re people too, they’ll fuck up” the things they do don’t hurt so bad.  Sometimes however, they just don’t give a fuck.  They take your maturity for granted and use it as an excuse to shrug off parental obligations.

 People tend to think kids are the needy, deceitful, manipulative ones.. You haven’t met some of these parents hey.  Some parents will shamelessly rob their kids of the beauty of youth. Teach them to hate, to belittle..pass their venom onto them.  Use them for their own selfish bullshit.

 

Oh but let the child attempt to get out of it..To stop being a pawn..To no longer carry them.. The child is “ungrateful”, “doesn’t understand”, is getting involved in things that “aren’t their business”.

 There’re a few things that I hate about this family shit, and I hardly ever use the word “hate”.  

I don’t like that these people feel like you owe them your time, energy..And that they think they can take it and it’s whatever. That you’re somehow indebted to them simply because of a surname/DNA/your gender etc

I don’t like the expectation.

I don’t like the forced bonds.

I don’t like that sometimes, you can’t do anything about anything, for whatever reason.

I don’t want it. I don’t want to have relationships forced on to me.

I don’t like cooking when I’m not hungry. You’re hungry, fix that.

The “has your father eaten?” question like he isn’t able bodied. I don’t know.

The fact that the men will sit, the whole day on a couch, waiting. For food, for attention..anything..Just waiting. And it’s fine.

The “You can’t do that/act that way, you’re a woman” shit.

But most of all..

That everyone, everyone wants to create you for their own personal, selfish reasons.

Man, I hate this shit.

They also don’t know how to leave people alone. They smother you with their mess and call it love.

I hate always having to tell people where I am or where I’m going..It doesn’t matter. I’m gonna lie anyway.

“Where were you?” Does it matter? Am I dead?

These people that you’re born with aren’t always your “family”. Fuck around and end up trying to learn to love toxic people.

They don’t go away, they don’t leave you alone, they don’t let you grow [into what you wanna be].

I am mad as shit at shit I never discuss. Seething.

 

– Courtesy of my Twitter timeline. A bit crude, I know. But I was rather bothered. 

Mama said

  1. Never show a man you love him too much. They will see this and take advantage of it knowing you won’t leave.
  2. Never love a man too much i.e more than yourself. He can never give you more than you can give yourself for as long as you can.
  3. When you cook maize meal, add a bit of salt and oil.
  4. Your marriage won’t be worth much if your partner isn’t worth much. If you insist on settling down, let your partner build you.
  5. Take care of your body. Especially your figure and your skin. Your whole appearance as a Woman shows how you feel about yourself and has the power to give you the confidence you need.
  6. Buy attractive lingerie for yourself, not to show it off to someone else.
  7. Family is everything. Friends come and go but if you find those worth keeping, do so. 
  8. Never let another person steal your joy. 
  9. Buy pretty bedding.
  10. Sometimes you need to pray. [Or as I call it, Talk to the Air.]

 

Sound advice, she’s tried.

 

But as I found myself thinking about my future children, especially my daughters, I grew distressed trying to figure out what to teach them and how.

See, I believe my mother didn’t teach me what I feel my daughter should know. And I understand why. For her, some of the greatest lessons have come about through trial and error and being reactive to certain situations which, probably could have been avoided had one of us been proactive, but I understand because she isn’t as vocal as I am and hope to be by the time I have kids. 

She didn’t tell me that boys would lie until I’d already been lied to and led down undesirable paths in the name of Love.

She didn’t prepare me for the emotional Beast I’d become once a month when my hormones kick in.  The Education system failed me here too. Y’all just made it seem like a bit of bleeding, not cramps that feel like a kick to the vagina resulting in what looks like a Spartan battlefield on a good/bad day. The anger, emotional texts to Ex’s [although that could just be me] none of that.

She didn’t tell me that as a female, you’re a walking target. I guess I understand why. My mother doesn’t really see things the way that I do. She still victim blames, I admit, but a lot of her generation does. Also, I doubt she would have wanted me to grow up looking over my shoulder expecting to have something happen but, I feel it’s something every girl should know. Rather rob them of their childhood with honesty than have them end up in a situation far worse because they were naive.

Pregnancy scares. We don’t discuss those obviously. I doubt we ever will, but I want to with my daughter. I guess we’ll squeeze it into the Sex Talk.  One of the few times we discussed pregnancy I brought up abortion and my mother was mortified. “We don’t kill what God creates” she said. I laughed and said those are her views and we’d need to be logical and consider whether bringing a child into the world would be the best thing. She said I was speaking like the Devil, which amused me. I know though that I don’t want my daughter feeling obligated to keep a child because of emotional blackmail. I want her, should she find herself in that position, to make an informed decision.

She never told me to know when to leave a man, I found that out the hard way.  

I learned that one should avoid patriarchal men like the plague out in the world too. My daughter will know the same. Although I guess the “Have a partner who builds you” part covered that.

Cook because you want to, not because you have to, for someone else. I hate that. Having to interrupt your time of doing Peaceful Nothing to fix a meal for someone who’ll probably decide it’s not worth it and sleep by the time you’re done. 

I believe Sundays are peaceful. For solitude and everything else you want. Sundays are Selfish days, to be worshiped. I’ll tell my daughter. 

Mama always wanted a happy family that bonds over dinner and cooks together and laughs all the time and such. We are the exact opposite. She knows her children love her but I always tell her, personally, I don’t feel the need to always be in my family’s presence. I spend a fair amount of time alone and there isn’t anything wrong. She says it’ll lead to me being in an unhappy household, I tell her I don’t want to raise kids  who are dependent on another person for comfort, it’s simply how I am. 

I drink quite a bit. I drink when I’m sad, when I’m happy and when I’m excited. No, it isn’t as often as you may think, but beer, wine, straights, they all get a pass with me. And no I don’t get sloppy drunk unless I’m home and with close friends, and even then, I never want to because I always want to know everyone is alright. My mother drinks a few glasses of wine every two months and thinks I’m an alcoholic. Dear Future Daughter, drink if you want to, just don’t be a fuck up.

Religion. If you haven’t figured it out by now, she’s religious. Christian. I was once, and then I read too many books and thought too much to continue believing in a White man in the Sky and virgins giving birth to Saviors. I hope my daughter isn’t religious, I won’t lie. Spiritual, yes please. But that’s her choice to make. 

Sexuality. I’m guessing you can figure out mother’s views on that. Marriage, monogamy, kids, the basics. I still have to explain to her how gay people have sex sometimes when she’s drunk and curious but thank god she’s not a homophobe. I want my daughter to do with her body as she pleases, to own herself.

I will stress the importance of an education. Not just degrees, they’re nice, but to be smart and know the world, understand people, understand yourself. Nothing’s more depressing than a person with a degree and an empty head, there’re too many running around.

I want her to know she’s always stronger than she knows and sometimes, than she wants to be, and her mother was too. 

I want her to know that Love is everything. And true Love, for anything or anyone, should never leave you feeling Less Than in anyway. 

And that mistakes happen and there is no shame in Living. 

I hope I raise a little Warrior. A beauty. An Amazonian Princess honestly. A woman who could have held her own had she been born in Sparta. Someone like Cleopatra. One who walks with pride and is firm in her knowledge of Self and depends on no none, needs no one, who isn’t worth it. I hope I raise a Queen who unfortunately, will know loneliness because those of her kind will be rare in society, but I know she will seek out and find comfort in like minded people.

I know a fair amount of the lessons will come about as me being reactive too. I realize that with parenting. I appreciate what my mother has taught me and what she kept from me, she was doing the best she could and I will do the same. Maybe one day my daughter too will point out what I could’ve taught her but didn’t. And that’s alright.

The whole point of relationships is to learn. My mother has taught me and I have taught her. Lessons I hope we both spread out into the world. 

Lessons of Love. 

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All Falls Down

The first decision I ever made as an adult was to drop out of school.

As my mother stared at me in disbelief, tears in her eyes, she asked me why and I said “I want to be happy. I’m not happy.” and started crying. She looked at me like I’d gone mad as my father rolled his eyes.

Ware [You say] happy? Get your degree and that will make you happy.”

I didn’t budge and neither did they.

My aunts came wondering what had gone wrong. My father stopped speaking to me and my mother seemed to wither away.

One of my aunts asked me why I wouldn’t go back and when I told her it’s because I didn’t want to, she said “Life is not about what you want” to which I responded “Then what is the point in living?” She didn’t have an answer for me.

I stayed home for close to a year. Wallowing mostly. In self pity, shame.

Was I wrong? Why couldn’t I be miserable and yet focused like the other kids? Had I shamed my family because I didn’t want to be one of those people who wake up at 36 and think “Fuck. I wasted it all.”

The worst part was, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. I had simply jumped off a cliff with no parachute and I felt silly.

My father would lie to people as I stood next to him and tell them I was still a Business student. My mother would look away, smile her sad smile and sigh. Me? I became annoyed with society. It was then that I realized just how expectations can steal your joy if you let them.

I wasn’t doing what I was expected to do and so I was considered a failure.

I had to choose between going back and soldiering on, hating every moment, and getting through where I was now.

I couldn’t go back.

Things had already gotten bad, how much worse could it get?

A few months later I applied and got accepted to a school in SA. Everything looked good, My mother was happy for me and we were excited. Until my father, being the one with the finances needed to pay for my fees said “I’m not paying for her to do anything that doesn’t make sense” and walked away.

10 days before I was set to leave.

Again, I wondered if I’d made the right decision.

After a few more months of self loathing and doubt I was finally accepted to study Journalism here.

I can’t say I was happy, I try to avoid that, but I can tell you it felt right.

Were my parents pleased now?

No, not really.

Because Journalism wasn’t a “real course” and they wanted me to go back and try Business again.

What I learned from that is as  much as parents claim to have good intentions, a lot of them need to tell us outright “I will only be happy with your Life if it goes how I want it to.”

Now, when people ask me what I do with my Life I have a very proud “Nothing” ready. For the next month or so. Then I explain why and I get the “You’ll be starting first year again?” question like that’s the worse thing to ever happen to someone.

And I proudly say “Yes, doing a course I love.”

The sooner you decide what you need to do, the better.

A lot of people don’t even realize that in a few years, they’ll be miserable. They think they’re in a bad space now, but when you look back and see all the time you wasted and none of it was because you wanted to do it, you didn’t enjoy any of it, there’s a certain kind of sadness and shame that creeps in.

Realizing you had all that time and all you did was give it to someone else to live for and through you.

We tend to look at people who think about their lives before deciding to live as idiots. As if they’re wasting their time and they’re weak but what’s so strong about following a routine everyone else has?

Some people are content doing what they’re supposed to.

Others only know how to live how they want to.

But I get it though.

“The concept of school seemed so secure.” – Kanye West

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