MANAMIKE: The daughter my mother wanted
By Tariro Manamike
The relationship between mother and daughter is an interesting, loving and complicated. For her, I had to be educated, get a degree, get capped and get myself a nice paying job.
If I did this, I could afford the expensive lifestyle that I so desired. I could also buy myself a car so I could go places; but not a very expensive car because I would scare the potential suitors away.
Even though I had the money, I had to continue staying under my parents’ roof because ‘God forbid, an unmarried woman stays by herself!’ The community would think I was a ‘loose’ woman.
Staying by myself would mean I could have any man over at my house without anyone telling me what to do.
Any man would want me to stay with my parents so that they would have some sort of control over where I go, what time I come back and what generally happens in my life.
My parents would want me to continue staying with them so they would be respected by the community: they would be perceived as having raised a beautiful daughter who is educated, financially well off and waiting for her ‘prince charming’ to turn her into a wife.
So far, my parents and my future potential husband are winning, except no one is asking me ‘what do YOU want?’
My mother wanted a son in law that she could show off to the world. A man of means. My mother always insisted that I get myself a man who is financially stable. One who can take care of me and our future children.
But not just for me; also for her. One that she could show off to her friends and family: that her daughter is married to a rich man who also takes care of her on occasion.
My mother would be in a position to make statements like ‘ Erica ari kumurume wake (Erica is at her husband’s house)’ or ‘ ndakatengerwa zvinhu nemukuwasha (my son in law bought me these gifts)’ or ‘ ndine vazukuru vana vemukuwasha mazuva ano (I’m with my grandkids from my sons son-in law).’
These statements would make her proud that she raised her daughter right and according to her, make people envious. I don’t blame her. She’s a product of her society.
But is that all there is to life? Money?
My mother wanted a daughter who would cook and clean and know how to manage her household: cook for her children and serve her husband well.
Speaking of children, she did insist on several occasions that children are a must for every union, to put it loosely, a bedrock of a marriage.
So I was to give my husband children. Under no circumstances was I to refuse to have the number of children my husband desired. My job would be to expand the family at his request.
But, what about me and what I want?
My mother wanted me to have things she never had: a happy home, a wonderful husband, beautiful children, a good paying job and a fantastic relationship with my in-laws. Sounds easy enough right? But life took a turn of its own.
I never got married because I never wanted to: the idea of marriage was never on my mind. However, I did have children by three different men: all beautiful relationships that unfortunately ended.
I take care of the three children without anyone’s help. I have a great paying job that awards me the muscle to provide anything for them under the sun and travel the world; seek new experiences.But this is not enough for my mother. I have brought her shame because my children have three different totems.
Shame because I am not a Mrs. So much shame that she doesn’t want people to know that I am not married but I have children. Shame because I did not live up to her expectations. Shame because my life is a testament of her not raising her daughter well.
Is she wrong? Others will say yes, others will say no, whilst others will say maybe.
What I wish for is that my mother accepts me for who I am, not for who she wanted me to be; and what I know for sure is that I am what I am meant to be: with or without other people’s expectations.
Tariro Manamike is a Zimbabwean radio producer, presenter, mom and health advocate. She has a keen interest in children’s issues and is an avid reader who hopes to make her mark on the African writing scene.
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