Taking the bus to my mother’s hair braiding salon every Saturday and Sunday was a wonderful experience. Or on some weekends, when he was not working, my father would drop my mom and I off. Helping my mother at home and in the salon was satisfying. Always near her side at the age of twelve. As the first born and only daughter, my parents gave me all their attention. Positive and negative. However, I would say mainly negative.
In the home, you would think I was the only child. My parents gave little attention to my younger brothers. As a girl, you must cook. You must clean. You must be near your mother’s side. You must come home early. You must tell your parents where you are at all times. The attention continued as I got older. I always thought it would end, someday, my parents would just let me be. But, I thought wrong.
The older I got, the more dependent they became. I am the mother. I am the father. I am the child. I have always talked about this box in my previous posts. The box that my parents have put me in. When I first talked about this box, my goal was to reach the edge of it and be free. However, I am struggling to reach that edge. I can’t reach my freedom, not even grasp it. I have become the “yes” daughter. Yes, mama I will do that for you. Yes, papa I will do that for you. Even when I have work. Even when I have other responsibilities that must be taken care of.
And the more I think about it, there’s always this guilt. Can I leave my family to live my own life? Doesn’t that make me selfish? I have goals that I want to achieve, but I must think about my family first. If I leave now, who will take care of them? If I leave now, who will be the one to carry the household?
But, what I have come to realize is that thinking like this will not get me anywhere. I am not being selfish for leaving. I am not being selfish for living my own life. It’s quite frustrating that my parents are okay with me leaving when I get married, but not on my own. I can either continue being the yes daughter, or the daughter that will pursue her goals and become successful. I cannot keep blaming my parents for holding me back. No, at this point, I am holding myself back.
I know I must be by my mother’s side, but for how long? I was on a tricycle once, with the help of my mother. Her hand resting on my back, and her encouraging words guiding me. At 23, I am no longer on that tricycle, and my mother’s hand is now holding mine, waiting for me to lead.
I am speaking to the first born African daughters. I am speaking to the only daughters. I am speaking to the daughters who are the head of the household. You are my hero. You have done so much for your family, and I want you to know that you are appreciated. You are not alone in this. You are not selfish for making your own choices. You are not selfish for living your life. You are not selfish for taking a break and taking care of yourself.
Written by Diaka Thiam
Thank you for reading! Look out for The Six Suitors post! 🙂