Now, this… this piece right here… close to my heart it is.
Honour your father and mother so that your days will be long…
I meditate on this part of the scripture often and the meaning rings clear each time: Revere your parents or die young!
It is easy to honour parents who are wonderful, parents who put you first, who don’t abuse you in any way, parents who understand the concept of sacrifice. What about the other types of parents though? The ones who cuss you out whenever they feel like, the ones who gossip about you with your siblings and relatives, who are not responsible, who wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if you packed up and died today, what about the parents who forget your birthday not out of having too much on their minds but out of carelessness, who may even regret bringing you into the world? What about them? Do they get honour votes too? How do you honour the parent who is not an angel?
These are the questions that a certain female asked me. Of course, I went into a long-winded speech about how you just have to, how we don’t know why God chose them to give birth to us, how everything that happens to us is for a reason, blah blah blah. We talked some more and after she felt better and after I was sure she wasn’t gonna go fling herself off some random roof top, we hugged and said our good byes. Hours later though, while listening to music(rock music, music of the gods… Through The Trees by Low Shoulder to be exact), I mulled over my conversation with the female, and to be honest, I felt hypocritical giving her “the” speech. In the light of her intense pain and suffering, the logical thing to do or say suddenly seemed awfully shallow and so so bleh. For that moment, I felt all her pain like it was my own. I mean, this is a grown woman we are talking about. Obviously, the failure of her dad at being a prime parent still brought bile to her throat.
This begs the question: What is parenting all about?
If I may answer, to me, it is essentially about one thing. Sacrifice. A selfish person cannot be an effective parent. You give all of you and more for your child. You do not seek rewards. Expecting dividends(so so wrong) is pretty much like asking snow to show(rhymes yeah?)in a desert. Impossicant(now, excuse my twist O ye grammarians but I had to lay emphasis and impossible doesn’t quite cut it for me right now, hence, impossible+can’t=impossicant). It doesn’t work quite that way. Raising your child or children shouldn’t feel like punishment. It’s bad enough that people rush and get married without due thought and process; but having children when you are not mentally prepared? Not cool. If your children haven’t had decent meals, you have no business sitting pretty. If they are broke and stranded in a land far away, you have no business sleeping well at night. You have to worry, you have to pray, you have to give a damn. That is what the job is about really. If you cannot comply, then you have no business with procreation. Wait until you are prepared. Wait till you can be selfless. Wait till you can be responsible. Wait till you can cope. I know that there are no perfect parents, yes, but there is such a thing as trying. Trying and falling short of expectations is infinitely better than not trying at all especially when the lives of your offspring are concerned. For you simply cannot afford to fail. There are almost always no second chances. Almost never!
I recently heard the gist of a lady who when she was in college, fell ill and was hospitalized. When she got better and had to pay the hospital bills, as she was still a student, living far away from home, and with no source of income whatsoever, she asked her dad for money. He told her that her illness was her fault and that it was not his business. The end. This lady was in a place where she knew no one and short of sleeping around to get the cash, there was no other source of help. It is not as though her dad didn’t have the funds(and even if he didn’t, surely there are better ways to convey the fact), it wasn’t as though she did anything to him either. He just didn’t give a damn.
Also, I have seen instances where mothers are too selfish to actually do the nurturing that a mother should be known for. They prefer instead, to leave the welfare of their children to strangers. They just do not want any form of responsibility. They are lazy and selfish. Why then did they give birth? To prove that they have functioning wombs? Well, I never!
The story that was big news a while back about the young man who killed his father and cut him into pieces got me thinking too. We all went gaga on that one. How can a normal kid do that? Was he on drugs? Was he influenced by demons? I never once heard anyone ask, did his parents do anything to provoke him? What kind of upbringing did the boy have anyway? Why did he unleash that kind of fury on his father? What went wrong?
Now, don’t get your knickers in a twist just yet. I am not saying that what the guy did was right or even normal. What I am trying to point out is that what if it wasn’t all on him? What if it was just a precipitated event in a long chain of events? What if his case was that of chronic bad parenting? What if? See, if you grew up in a normal home, count yourself blessed. If you go out there and hear people talk about what they have gone through and what they are even still going through, you would wonder why we don’t even have more child murdering parent cases. Some parents could be so Taz-ish.
The same scripture(for those who would want to hide under it’s umbrella), that says we should honour our fathers and mothers so that we may live long in Exodus 20:12, also quotes in Ephesians 6:4, that fathers(and I think fathers in this context can be said to encapsulate the essence of parenting and maybe mothers too), should not provoke their children to wrath. The profound relationship between cause and effect comes into play here. Garbage in, garbage out. A child reacts badly and everyone turns judgmental… No one points fingers at the parents because in our part of the world, they can never get it wrong. They are after all parents, right? It is their God-given right to be blameless always. Sad.
To those who already have children, caution is the key. Ruin the life of one child and generations will be wasted. You cannot afford to exhibit NEPA behavior (NEPA is the name of the “ghost” power authority in a certain West African country)… On today, off for one month. Life is not The Jerry Springer Show where absence of common sense is unbelievably bae. We can never get it right all the time, but hey, we can at least give it a shot. To those who are yet to be parents, prepare yourselves. If you aren’t sure you can live the somewhat thankless and sometimes selfless life that is expected of a parent, chill biko( biko means “please” in my very sexy Nigerian Igbo language). Children are not livestock. You cannot just have a baby because you are financially empowered to take care of it. Be mentally and spiritually prepared… and just like in the preparation of tomato sauce for pasta and white rice, if you stick to the few but important principles and not try to overdo or underdo, you’ll do just fine.
May the grass beneath our feet be perpetually green…
See y’all good people next Wednesday.