My relationship with my mother is the longest relationship that I’ve had with any woman. I was with my mother for 31 years. And out of her 50 years of living, she lived and experienced 31 years of those years with me. That makes her relationship with me the longest relationship which she has had with any man: my father passed on a while back and I am the eldest son.
Perhaps this is the reason why I have tended to date women who are in some way like my mother: she is my first and longest and I am hers.
I wasn’t always aware of this, though.
As a teenager, I preferred dark-skinned girls as girlfriends but always ended up with light-skinned girlfriends. The girls which I ended up with were not part of my preference but somehow I ended up with them. Somehow I always ended with girls who I ended up with girls which have the same skin tone as my mother.
And of course, I didn’t understand why.
The answer, or at least a big part of it, came the week that my mother passed on. One of my cousins had my cell phones and was scrolling through my gallery, looking at images. One of the images was a picture of my mother, followed by a picture of my then-girlfriend. He said that the two women looked the same and when I looked at the images, I agreed.
I looked at the images and it finally clicked: I date my mother.
That moment left me thinking about my other relationships, like when I was 28 and a relationship and in love with a girl who had an identical background to my mother’s. I hadn’t known this going in and had only discovered it six months into the relationship.
This relationship seemed to just work.
I didn’t quite understand then but it worked because it was familiar, and because it was familiar, it was comfortable. I was dealing with something familiar, with familiar issues; issues that made sense to me. She made sense to me.
And honestly, being in that relationship helped me to better understand my mother and her struggles.. .
The issues and fights which my parents had when I was growing up started to make sense because I was essentially dating a younger version of my mother.
Of course, it’s not all roses and picnics, dating a younger version of your mother. It may work; be familiar and comforting but it still has its own set of challenges.
The biggest and most immediate challenge is that the girlfriend and the mother will not get along. They are the same person, with similar to same issues, with a common object and factor – me.
I am my mother’s beloved precious golden boy. I am her pride. She is proud of me and to her my future is the brightest. She wants what is best for me. She wants to see me doing well. She also would love for me to settle down at some point. But with that being said, my father passed on a while ago and I have been the de facto head for a while, so she also sees and treats me like her husband; something which obviously doesn’t go down with her younger version, my girlfriend. To her I am a future husband and baby daddy.
It is particularly not roses and picnics when the penny drops and my mother sees my girlfriend as a younger version of herself… which is dating her beloved son.. It is no picnic because then my mother becomes territorial and will do everything in her power to protect me from this younger version; which happens to be the woman that I love. It is no roses; it is no picnic; it is major problem for me.
It is a mess, dating my mother.
Writer: George Gladwin Matsheke Editor: Nomfundo Shezi Photographer: Adrian MacDonald