Yesterday I thought of the time I had my art exhibition in matric, and how my mom told me over the phone at the last minute, that she wouldn’t be able to make it because she was held up with something. Admittedly, I felt very dejected, swallowing the threatening lump in my throat – I knew, however, that she was doing her very best to be everything to everyone only months after dad’s passing, and resolved to cheer myself up by joining on to families of my friends. One incident that struck me significantly, was what I saw that immediately made me aware of a gaping void in my life: while walking through an isle, I saw my friend Danielle’s family standing in front of her display – I mean, her mom, dad and two little brothers were there and so engrossed in the pages of her source book and art works on display. I remembered then, the fact that I would never have that in the capacity of a child, but instead, I could only strive to make that a reality for my children.
Now, the dynamics of my family are fairly complex: my parents were married, and truly, until death did they part. My dad suffered from cancer for almost two years, and eventually succumbed to his stage 4 liver cancer. In his health, he played his part as “dad” by: taking care of our transportation needs during the week, grudgingly, and with much complaint, letting go of R20-R3O for my lunch some days of the week (LOL: I miss you dad!), asserting his authority by occasionally denying a request to go to the mall with friends, giving mom awkward pecks at the most inopportune moments, giving me a congratulatory handshake when I received my term’s report (I actually looked forward to these.) and every so often, making time to hangout at the car wash after school – which I hated then, but wish I had appreciated more now. Guys, to call a spade a spade: my dad wasn’t the best of dads, but he was present – to some extent, I think that matters.
See, parenthood is a serious character building responsibility, not just for the parents, but the children too, who become the products of their parents’ choices and methods of upbringing. This quote terms it better:
“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
― Mitch Albom,
We may perceive damage as negative, but with enough introspection and awareness of self, we may find it is quite the contrary: my parents damaged me in many ways. Mom, too often, yielded to many of my requests for junk food, and I became a fatty (STILL recovering!). She damaged me with her kindness, both good and bad – I knew I could rely on her to oblige any of my requests if I just asked nicely which in the end, fostered a terribly bratty attitude in the face of rejection, on the other hand, I grew to view the world with much optimism and certainty that things would work out in my favour – I had one person who would view me in a positive light no matter what I did.
My dad, in his difficulty and rigid character, helped solidify the mushy marshmallow mess my mom had made me become, he helped me grow in patience and eventually, strength of character: towards the end, I realised that I couldn’t choose when and not to honour him as my father – despite my reservations about so many matters concerning him.
When babies are born, they are like a bag of flour – what happens thereafter, is the parents choice: will they rear him/her to be a little croissant, macaroon, loaf of bread, chocolate cake, dumpling, brownie, tortilla, pizza base, doughnut, cookie or waffle? Our nuclear families act as institutions: here, our character is moulded and identity defined (sometimes…), morals and values are instilled, our levels of self-esteem are largely influenced by what happens behind the closed doors of our homes, a level of discipline is set, a sense of belonging is inspired, & humility and understanding of one’s self as a member of society and small community are taught. All these things are like measured quantities of salt, sugar, baking powder and the like – to create a fully rounded individual, ready to face the big bad world.
Modern culture has opened the door for a sexual liberation that is detrimental: we’re so bent on maintaining this new notion of absolute freedom, that anyone who stands in opposition of that, is seen to be a thorn in society’s side. Apart from the health aspect, our rampant “sexing” is affecting the individuals that are consequently being born to single parent homes. Please don’t get me wrong, one does not automatically become a lesser being because they’ve grown under the care of a single parent, but we must agree that single parenting has its disadvantages: after all, and you may think this argument to be quite elementary, if the “family” was meant to work ideally with one parent, we’d reproduce asexually; also, if we weren’t created to grow in family settings, we would be R-type reproductive strategists (I hope that’s right) – giving birth to many offspring and abandoning them at birth.
Guys, we’re messing it up. It’s easy to chat a woman up and get her into bed without intention to maintain a relationship, for women, it’s maybe even easier to express your sexual freedom by sleeping with whomever comes your way – but what thought has been given to the little person who will be born into this world, unwanted and unplanned for?
Our lives never happen exactly the way we plan. Things go wrong along the way, and many times, when we need it most, the people we care about the most let us down and leave us in difficult positions. My little brother will be the product of single parenting, and I know my mom is doing a stellar job! My older half sister who was born to another woman after my parents got married, on the other hand, didn’t have the same luck – she’s living on whatever little means she can manage to make, with two children to feed and a home to keep warm.
Our circumstances are never the same, and no family is one like the other: on that note, the next time you’re caught between the choice to engage in unprotected sex or not – don’t: use protection! Otherwise, as an unmarried Christian, you should probably just keep it in your pants.