I suppose I have a sense of filial piety and do love my mother but undoubtedly I do not like her. As a person and as a parent. But due to the fact that that’s my allotment in life c’est la vie I suppose. The thing is that I liked my dad. He was a great guy as a father and as a person.
Growing up my mother would always say “Don’t joke with me, I’m not your friend,” or “don’t talk to me like that I’m not your friend,” and the one time that my father caught her saying that he was like “aihwa Mai Tanatswa” (don’t do that (mai means “mother of” in Shona)). He was someone that encouraged freedom of speech and expression and exploring the world. He widened my perspectives and opportunities while my mom did everything to try and narrow them and force me to stay at home.
The reality is that my father has his own life out of being a father and husband which made him a balanced person. He took his responsibilities and made a plan even when it was hard. He was a strong yet soft man that I could talk to and sit on his lap and roll my eyes at when he called me “littlie” (ironically I stood 5’7 by the time I was 12 ). His ability and ambition to move forward in his life and grow as an individual made him into a better parent and spouse.
My mother on the other hand likes to blame everyone and everything else in life for whatever happens to her including bad luck and demons. Considering that my father came from a rural area known for witchcraft it would have made more sense that he would be the superstitious one. I’m not downplaying spiritual beliefs but I’ve learned that to people who don’t want to face themselves it becomes a crutch. Her entire identity centered around being a wife then that cushion was taken from under her when my dad died and it turned to being a toxic mother. Up until now she has no sense of self and many times shows resentment at me trying to figure out my life when she hasn’t figured out her own. That’s not uncommon in African woman as society often taught and still teaches women that a woman’s ultimate worth is in marriage and kids.
But realistically speaking your spouse may die or leave you and your kids definitely will leave you. Her inability to forge her own identity didn’t benefit anyone especially not herself and especially not me.
I’ve talked to numerous girls who go through or have gone through the same things. And the common trait we all have is we feel that our mothers harbor some sort of resentment towards us. In Psychology they’ve noticed that there’s a competitiveness that develops between mothers and daughters and often fathers and sons as the children come of age and reach their peak while their parents are…not at their peak. But it seems that with mothers and daughters it can reach truly toxic levels.
I like my dad because he build the foundation for there to be that. He made me feel comfortable around him, was always affectionate and I knew I could trust him. But with my mom I’ve been through years of verbal abuse, attempts to control and hot and coldness that as an adult there’s no room for friendship. Friendship with your child starts when they’re young.
The thing that always worries me is that I’m not a lone case by far. My courage (or disrespect as some might call it) to talk about the toxic nature of my mom has people open in up about their relationship with their parents too. And on Twitter many African children are talking about the long-lasting negative effects that their parents’ strictness has had on them.
My father was only in my life for thirteen years but the positive effect he had on me still lives with me. I hope that the negativity from my mom won’t last long though…