Tag Archives: African parents

Love Actually !?!?!?!?!?

It is the longest and oldest race ever run and the stiffest pursuit many have faced and yet, the world or most of us are still chasing it – Love. It is because of love that Romeo and Juliet died, it  was for the same reason that King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to be with his lover.

Love has been the reason behind some of the most heinous crimes known to man, and also the very reason behind the most unexpected kindness to man. Families have been known  to fall apart because of love when kids especially make “wrong” choices in partners. Love has brought the most unlikely people together and torn the most loyal of friendships into shreds.

Even the big book of Wisdom is not immune from the “wrath” of love; because Jacob loved Rachel so much, he endured an additional seven years of work after marrying Leah before he could finally be with his beloved.Rebekah loved and cherish one son over the other so much that she didn’t mind conning him out of his rightful blessings and the greatest love of all, that of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save us all from eternal damnation.

With all of these, you would think that “we” have enough love lessons to learn from or maybe conclude that it is too cumbersome for one to deal with, but that is absolutely not the case. Everyone still yearns for that someone to call their own; someone to share experiences with and make memories that will stand time. Everyone hopes that love deals them a better hand and prays that they are lucky in love.

I have had countless encounters with love; some good, some bad, some outright bitter experiences but at the end of the day, I have found myself confused. I guess my dilemma at this point is when do you actually consider love to be love?

I am a very sensual person, sometimes too akin to my feelings and emotions. When I first meet someone that I like, I am sure like everyone else, there are those butterfly feelings. Granted they go away but that deep longing is always lingering around long after the butterflies have left.

But what is it then when you neither feel the butterflies nor the deep longing but clearly feel, to a large extend some level of connection? Or can the type of affection you feel toward somebody change to be another kind of affection? Say, at the beginning you are romantically and even sexually endeared to the person and after a while, you become more endeared to them in a casual/ brotherly way?

I am aware of cases where people who were formerly friend-zoned transitioned to become the lovers. In those cases, the affection changed from friendliness to something deeper. I am also aware that people break up when they don’t feel anything for each other anymore, when they feel they just can’t make it work. But my bind here is this, what about those people who know for sure they feel something but can’t quite define it?

I guess what am asking is what happens when the butterflies go away, when the longing and yearning for one another diminishes or disappears in some cases, when the spark is lost, and when desire is gone? What happens?

I often wonder how couples, my parents inclusive are able to stay with the same person for that long. I understand that the “how to” business thrives on couples but outside of that, what keeps people together really? Love actually or the realization that that is the best they might ever get and stick with it? Or is it a calculated decision? (believe it or not,some peoples’ decisions to stay in a relationship are influenced by the economic advantages/disadvantage of staying).

Life is difficult as it is already (well, for most of us anyways who are in the 1%), add love to the mix and you are faced with a complex situation which can go either of two ways. If you are dealt the right cards, it eases your life because it provides you a partner to share experiences and struggles with. But if you are unlucky, you might as well be digging your own grave because there is no telling how bad it is going to get and how soon.

Yet again, there are those of us who are in a lurch, neither knowing what or how to describe what we feel and yet unwilling to let the other party go.Sure it is unfair to them, but then, there is that future uncertainty and the promise that time gives us, that things could change for the better or worse still.

One thing I know for sure though is that love is indeed a beautiful feeling and my wish is for everyone to experience it at least once in their lives. I have experienced amazing selfless love and right now, I am sort of in limbo about my exact feelings at the moment but hope I can resolve it.

I wish you all love today and hope we all experience it today either by receiving or giving. Have a blessed rest of the week and as always, any love tips, advice, experiences are welcome.Happy Wednesday folks.

To My Mom – On Her 50th Birthday

Happy Birthday to my adviser, my mentor, my counselor, my inspiration,my confidant, my anchor, my partner in crime, my love, my best friend and MY MOTHER. I cannot believe that my sweet young mother is 50 today. The big 5-0.

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Every one  always says their mom is the best mother in the world but my mom, she takes the crown of the best mother in the world ever. I don’t remember a moment in my life when my mom wasn’t there for either one of us.

She was only 19 when she met and married my dad and they both started a family. When her dream of going back to school to get her degree didn’t pan out, she graciously became a stay-at-home. It wasn’t that she didn’t have something to fallback on (she had learned every trade and handwork she could) but she decided she was going to spend her day and time caring for her children.

My mom was always there for us because my dad was mostly away at work (he was in the military and came as often as his job allowed him to) and because of that, she was both our mom and our dad. My mom understood early on (unlike most African parents of her generation) that spanking/beating wasn’t what got kids to listen and obey.

So she developed this system with us where she gave a warning the first three times we committed an offense before resulting to stringent discipline like spanking. For my sisters and I, we always adjusted by the second warning but not my brother, he got the most spanking from my mother.

We sometimes described her as having “split-personality” because one minute, she is laughing with us, telling us funny stories from her childhood or being our friend and the next, she is this stern, strict and no nonsense disciplinarian.

When I was first going away to dormitory school, my mom sat me down and tearfully pleaded that I do nothing else but study.She recanted how much she loved school and longed to finish her own education but didn’t have the opportunity and admitted how proud she was that I excelled in school, stating that she was fulfilling her educational goals through me. We both cried so hard when she dropped me off at school and she had to be escorted out of the “girls’ camp” because she wasn’t ready to leave me just yet.

She lovingly explained to me one Sunday morning when I wouldn’t stop panicking about how I had now transitioned from a “girl” to a “woman”. It was a beautiful sunny day and we both sat at the back of the house and she gave me the “lecture” about sex (very uncommon for African parents). I could tell even then, she felt very awkward discussing the topic with me but kept going.It was from mom I first knew that the fear of boys, was the beginning of wisdom (basically, a boy grazing me meant I was pregnant…lol).

She is our biggest critic and yet our biggest cheerer. She would always correct us when we faltered, always doing so lovingly; pushing us to be our best and assuring us at the same time that we were better than we gave ourselves credit for. We gave her many nicknames relating to different things and one of them was “report card”. It was an unwritten rule in our house that if you didn’t want dad knowing your business, then mom was better off not knowing either because once she knew, our dad automatically knew too.

My mom is down-to-earth, easy-going and the life of the party every where she goes. Just as we have nicknames for her at home, so do her friends.(Some call her “amstel”, don’t ask me how they came about the moniker)  She has an amazing sense of humor (I often wonder why I didn’t inherit that side of her) and incredulous one liners;she enters any room and a party ensues. My mom is so friendly that we sometimes get “jealous” of her friendship with our friends. Some fondly call her “Ma Caro”

My mom is always the first person I run to when something exciting happens to me and when things are not going well. She was reluctant to discuss my love-life when I first started dating (again, very typical of African parents) but gradually she came around and wanted to know every detail (I know, TMI to be discussing with my mom) and I obliged. Sometimes, she would offer tips “about how to treat a man”.

Everyone says I am a carbon-copy of my dad but my mom says I am totally and completely her in character. She tells me to tone down my aggressiveness towards my wants and dreams sometimes because as she says “I am going to drive men away”. She never fails to tell me how proud she is of me even when I don’t feel good about myself and never misses an opportunity to tell me she loves me.

She would fast for days and go on retreats praying for us and every time we talk on the phone, she always ends the conversation with prayers in the form of blessings. She never missed any opportunity to introduce us to her friends who mostly didn’t believe her, stating she was too young to have kids as grown as us; to which she would just laugh it off saying “if only the world had let my Merline be Merline”.

Merline is my older sister, the first born who as my mom tells us had an accident on the same day I was born. She became mentally challenged and epileptic following the accident. Many of my mom’s friends were always shocked when they came home and found she had a disabled daughter at home because she was always jovial, like everything was alright in her world.

We have watched her provide unwavering care and unconditional love to my sister and together with my dad, they have never stopped seeking help for her.

I haven’t seen my family in 7 years and I miss them all so much, but of all the things I miss, what I miss most is mom’s food. Anyone who has ever tasted my mom’s food will testify that she is “Da best cook”. My sister calls her “Master” because that is what she is, a master at her craft and once someone taste her food, they keep coming back for more.

It is hard even for me to grasp that my mom, my “sweet little mother” as I refer to her sometimes is turning 50, that she has been on this earth for half-a-century already. I called her this morning to wish her happy birthday and we spoke for over an hour and when I asked her what her wish was for her 50th, she said for God to bless her children that they live their full potential and for God to grant both her and my dad long life so they live to see our success.

My mom is a special woman, she is the pillar on which our family rests on and the glue that has kept and continues keeping us together. She is the woman behind the successful man my father is, she is the one we run to for support and protection when dad is mad at us, she is the first one to yell at us when we are wrong and the first one always encouraging and pushing us to be better.

I know that she lives her dreams vicariously through me and I am honored to be the medium that fulfills those dreams. She is not just my mother, she is my inspiration, my motivation, the reason I strive to be better and literally the reason why I am here. She chose to give me and my siblings life and even if for no other reason, we are indeed grateful and thankful.

I am proud to call you my Mother and on this day, I wish you a mighty Happy Birthday and pray that your wishes do come true. I love you mom and Happy 50th birthday.

The Switch

“When are you graduating?”

“When are we celebrating you?”

“When are you finishing school?”

These are the questions I get now when I visit my aunt and uncle and happen on some of their friends. These are friends with whom I have no ties or relations to, but they however find the need to ask about my educational prowess, despite the fact that they have no stake in it. Some of them, might have come to get used to my graduation date shifting further with each year.

My uncle stopped asking me questions along those lines two years ago. We now have this silence agreement of ” ask me no questions about my education and I shall tell you no lies”. If he noticed whenever he asked me such questions, then he must be wondering why my school load tends to increase with the years instead of reducing.

It is not that I don’t like talking about my education or tell my inquirers proudly and confidently about when I will finally graduate. The problem is whenever I delve into answering all those questions, the conversation almost always takes a life all its own. In the past, people have not been very understanding and the fear of been judged nudges me to embellish the truth instead of full disclosure.

If any of you are Africans reading this or have African friends who share their experiences, then you will realize that in most of our cultures, it is the norm for our parents to dictate what we study in school and what career path we follow. We simply obey and do as they say because after all, they are in charge of the tuition.

Back in secondary school, I was a well balanced student. I did well in both the arts and sciences but excelled particularly in the sciences. My parents noticed and pushed me towards science more,never stopping to ask what I would have wanted to do. They wanted to have a doctor in the family, if that didn’t pan out, an engineer would do and if all else failed, then a pilot.

And so it was that I found myself studying Microbiology my first semester in the states. My uncle convinced me to switch to nursing, citing my families financial situation to which I obliged the following semester. Still at the advice of my uncle, I moved from pre-nursing to pre-LPN. Subsequently, I kept shuffling back and forth between micro, pre-nursing and pre-med and back to micro. You can imagine what this back and forth movement would do to one’s psyche.

It took me moving out of my uncle’s house before finding my voice (as long as I wasn’t under his roof anymore, he couldn’t dictate my life) and deciding what it was I actually wanted to do as a career path.

Why did it take me so long to admit to myself that this was not the career path I wanted? Or that I was never really cut out for the sciences , considering how I have been dabbling in writing for a long time and honing my skills for God-knows how long. Well, there is the fear of my parents (reason why I have still not told my dad I am not pursuing a nursing degree anymore, he would find out like everybody else on graduation day) , the fear of disappointing them or dashing their hopes and there is the ballast factor. The guarantee of a stable income and better life that a career in one of those fields promises.

What these unlicensed and unauthorized journalists fail to realize is that no one is more perturbed about my education than I am. It would feel really good to be able to say I am a graduate but the simple fact is I am not. But I am working towards that every day and giving it my best shot.

I have come to the conclusion that I am a late bloomer. By my culture’s standards, I should have been working on my PHD or a second masters now (no pressure) but I am not. I always have my epiphanies when they are long overdue and my hindsight is always 20/20.

If you are like me, know that is totally allowed for you to feel frustrated but what is not ok is accepting defeat, accepting the statusquo. You are not in competition with anybody and even if you were, what matters is that you make it to the finish line. It is not how about how fast you get there but how far you make it, and that finish line is the goal.

Have a blessed rest of the week y’all.