A friend of mine is trying to have a baby and it’s gotten me thinking about my own (eventual) quest to motherhood. I’m not the most “affectionate” of people, not because I have been denied hugs and kisses as a baby although… one of my sisters believes the differentiation in size in the part of the brain in psychopaths that reflects their inability to properly process emotion may be present in me but just not at levels of murderous deviation levels, so that isn’t inspiring.
My parents are your a-typical traditional “African” model. “Study hard so you can get a good job, get married, have kids, buy a house, retire and farm till your maker summons you”. The only thing they were really strict about is the getting married before having kids which is interesting now because none of my siblings have any children yet and the parents are craving some young ‘uns to spoil to oblivion. Hearing them drop hints about how one having children matures them is interesting when technically none of us are “allowed” to right now without being married.
Now… I lost my thread, where was I going..? Ah yes, affection or rather parenting. I have found myself asking what kind of mother I want to be. I have had this introspection before but now the question seems closer because of the pending wedding and this very close friend of mine taking the plunge. The question then got me thinking about how it is women “change” once they are married but men get away with staying the “fun guy”. Even when children fear their fathers, it more due to size than it is to do with rule setting… Dad’s enforce what Mum’s lay down. This assumes a “normal” household of course, no abuse and average emotional functions for all concerned.
So, why do mothers lose their “fun” streak once that ring is on their finger? From this point on, I am looking at this from a Zambian point of view because that is the data I have right at my fingertips (see what I did there, no? alright then…). On my little patch of earth, two people simply do not meet, decide to get married and live happily ever after (don’t even get me started on *gasp* co-habiting!). Oh no… over here, first your parents need to advise Elders. These Elders then get a group of people together that decide your value as a bride and the fella also has his own Elders that meet and negotiate the price tag and how much the fella will cough up before a marriage can take place (if he’s lucky maybe family members will pitch in but its really his tab). After this has been agreed, now the woman’s Elders decide what kind of “lessons” should take place to prepare this (usually young) woman for marriage.
In summary, these lessons cover “How to be a Good Wife”, which is admirable but what makes me bristle is the lack of dialogue that SHOULD happen between the two people ACTUALLY getting married. I haven’t undergone this particular tutelage but I understand not only will it cover what food I should cook so my husband eats well (which is valuable foundation to family nutrition but I don’t understand why his preferences are so predominant and why some woman who has never met him should TELL me that) but also what I need to do in the bedroom. What causes me unending bafflement is why this is not a dialogue WITH THE ACTUAL fella. I’m supposed to go off to some hut (where no one can hear me scream *insert evil maniacal laughter here*), learn THEIR version of what being a “good wife” is and then I am not supposed to talk about it with my partner! That not talking about it is truly what does my head in… how am I supposed to lay the foundation of my marriage with beliefs that I may not have had till right before my parents decided to throw out “western” education in exchange for secret traditions I didn’t even know existed? Those “Western” beliefs that may in fact actually have led me to pick the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.
I think I have to back track a bit. So, when I said that my parents were A-Typical African, that should be taken into account with their generational experiences. They both had a foundation growing up in rural settings (although my Dad more than my Mum) and were determined to have a successful urban future and they succeeded in that. They also made sure that their children knew where they came from. I’ve been to the village my father grew up in and have an appreciation for the life I live and how it really could have been VERY different, not in a bad way but my experiences would just have been entirely different. But one thing they didn’t really do was talk, my parents “did”. So you led by their example and what they showed you was important. I didn’t go to the village very often but I never missed a day of school and not simply due to logistics. I have some fond memories of family Tekken battles and my Dad helping my youngest sister cheat at Monopoly. What I have no recollection of is why after years of being told I need to be a self sufficient human being, I now need to “submit” to teachings no one can talk to me about because its all a secret but will define my value as a wife that exceeds any worth I may have accrued as a person on my own.
I’m sure this isn’t the last post I will have on marriage and expectations wives have and because I have meandered so far away from what I actually wanted to say I need to wrap this up and save us both from my rant. So… what the kind of parent I want to be is present… and communicative… no I’m not going to answer this in this post. Maybe y’all can tell me what kind of parents you would like to be if you aren’t yet, hope you are, if that’s where you are already or even why answering this question is a waste of time for you…
My, I have botched this… Sorry about that.