For the longest time, I didn’t understand the influence my parents had over me. I always looked at them as guardians more than anything else, which they are. Black parents do their best to make sure that you turn out to be a decent citizen. If you don’t go to jail or do drugs, they tend to feel like they have done a good job. I am realizing today more than ever, how evident my parents influence is in my life.
My parents were together until death literally did them part. I grew up seeing them fight, disagree, love each other make sacrifices for us to have a better life. I never felt that I was not loved by both parents or even spoilt because one parent was absent and the other was compensating. My childhood was filled with hidings for basically everything from stealing a R2 note, to coming home late because I was having fun outside. I remember that if my father was home, chances are that I wouldn’t get the hiding, because the hiding duties belonged to my mother. My father only gave me a hiding once, and come to think of it now it makes sense; he was scared that I would get into the life of crime, as a young boy growing up under mostly negative influences in the township. Little did he know, I don’t have that ‘thing’, that destructive streak it takes to become a criminal. I have always been a nerd. My father’s business was next door to our main house, so I would hang around while my father worked, sometimes late into the night. It is no coincidence, that I now find myself an entrepreneur.
My parents would fight like any other couple really, actually I would benefit from their fights mostly because, it was during these times, that they both competed for the “parent of the year award”. What I didn’t understand then that I understand now, is that I appreciate my parents staying together for us because relationships are not easy. Both my parents were not easy to be with nje, so I understand the sacrifices they had to make to make it work. I think it was easier as well to stay together during the era of our parents because they were exposed to less. We know more therefore we demand more, we are exposed to more, we are part of the global community. Finding love is not only restricted to your race or, your country or even your continent. We are more understanding as well.
My parents were not legally married, but they were married traditionally and that meant that my dad couldn’t just decide on his own accord that he has another family without at least a fight or consultation – whichever came first. The older I got, I actually realized that both my parents decided to stay together for themselves as well, which I appreciate. Nowadays, getting out of a marriage has become as easy as simply breaking up. Even though we are more exposed to information, for example we know that therapy is not something to be ashamed of and we google most the stuff we go through, in order to better understand the opposite sex better – we still find it difficult to stay together. Our parents didn’t try to understand too many things, they just knew that things are like this, men are like this and you leave it at that. Even though men are still not viewed as emotional creatures per say, our generation of men is certainly viewed as more liberal and progressive.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who got married two years ago and he said that he wasn’t willing to have a child out of wedlock with his now wife. I asked him why because every time I say that I get attacked by women for making that decision and I understand that its viewed as some sort of rejection. I dated a woman with a child before and it was weird for me because I developed insecurities that were not there before. The biggest one, is your girlfriend shares a human being with someone else and they don’t share that with you. And you can’t also now have a baby hoping to fill that void because that’s what you think might solve the issue because it doesn’t. You are inevitably going to treat one of the kids better than the other, because you are compensating for something. There is also always that underlying fear of the ‘baby daddy’ wanting to unite to family again, then those things start to matter. I personally, don’t want to put myself in that position because relationships are hard with just the two people. I think when you add on a child to that dynamic, it gets rather interesting.
I am not saying this will work for everyone but this is what I believe and it makes sense to me. There was a point where I didn’t mind if my then girlfriend would fall pregnant because at the time I believed that we were going be together forever, so it made sense. I think after that relationship, I realized how important getting married is, well for me. My friend had the same reasoning why he couldn’t have a child out of wedlock; the fear of his partner easily walking away from the relationship with his child.
Personally, I don’t know what that world looks like as a child, therefore I will struggle to make sense of it as an adult. It could happen that I have a child out of wedlock, I pray to God I at least love that women to death because if I don’t, then I’ll be dealing with visitation negotiations, and that’s not how I imagine I would build my family.
Writer: George Gladwin Matsheke