Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mama Love

Certain persons imagined they were doing me a big disservice by calling me “Mama's Boy.” They might as well have branded me with a badge of honor. I have long accepted and internalized the fact that I love my mother with a certain fixed loyalty. Some observers would call it fanaticism. What can I say? Mum raised me, my brother and sister, alone as a single woman for the majority of our lives. But it's not just that.

In my reading adventures, I found a book about corruption which accused corruption on corrupt elected leaders, corrupt citizens, corrupt public service and corrupt private sector. It was a real eye opener: corruption is everywhere because everybody's everything is corrupt. The author then made a special effort to single out single parents for corruption. At this point I evolved a dim view of the author.

Single parents love their children too much, said the author. In the absence of a romantic partner, they divert all the love intended for romance to their kids instead, over and above the share of love entitled to the kids as the kids. The kids then take advantage of too much love, in the process morphing into self-absorbed ungrateful brats who think their whim is law, to be enforced by the awesome potency of tantrum-throwing. Despite this unhappy outcome, single parents persist in over-loving their selfish little royal pains, to the extent that they resort to all manner of inappropriate corruption to find them good schools, jobs, opportunities, sometimes even partners...

Of course (I think) the author is wrong.

Women generally endure all varieties of inauspicious treatment from loved ones, the ones closest to them. Mothers especially make costly material and emotional sacrifices which are usually taken for granted by their children. Many will never breathe a word in complaint, accepting their lot to be their loving duty, some even enjoying it almost perversely. In these circumstances I strongly believe that it is childish to claim that we have reached the nirvana of gender equality as a society or as a human race. (Most men would not survive the motherhood challenge even if the childbearing part was cut out.)

Back to me. As a kid I preferred my dad to my mum, because my mum was the moral compass. Dad, on the other hand, was not emotionally available or physically present - but he was lots of fun when he showed up for brief periods, buying our affection with goodies and generally being the provider. In my small mind, the decision who to love more between a strict mother and a liberal affections-buying father was not a real dilemma. But, let's face it – (COVER THE CHILDRENS EARS!) - someone's gotta discipline the kids.

It took dad's death to come face to face with my mother's love for all of us. (This was a slow process anyway. Neither is the claim being made that us kids reciprocated that love very nicely – indeed, there is much to be penitent about.) Point is, I am here through very real sacrifices my mother made out of her love. One may claim that, due to continued exposure to such unconditional love, I am now a brat after generating an insensitive sense of entitlement to all good things in this life and even in the life hereafter. However, I assure everyone that my mother is not one to entertain such “hardheadedness” in her household. You don't get far in our household with ''looking lugubrious.” She continues to teach us values and things like that. Besides, in her own words, “I have taken you to school, and I have taken you to church...”

Therefore I beseech my writer friends to abstain from seeing corruption where there is only love, or at the very least, from exposing their biases derived from secure two-parent upbringings in their anti-corruption publications. Thank you all in advance. Now you can all run off and revise your manuscripts.

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