Midway through meal preparations yesterday, my sister and I reminded ourselves that we are not alone in the house. So, we passed along and shared the tasks around cooking with our brother. Albeit with a little protest from our mom.
Growing up, I was physically, emotionally and psychologically abused by my Aunt who would make me scrub smoky saucepans with sand and leaves until my hands and fingers were raw, cut or bleeding. Then, she would laugh and make jokes days later about how my swollen, painful and scabbed palms were my price for being a good woman.
I must add here that non of my ‘great cooking and domestic skills succeeded in securing for me a man to take care of me. I still huff and puff for my livelihood and my children. So the reward for which I was abused has never showed up. I know many women too with similar excellent skills who still have to struggle alongside their men to pay bills and put food on the table. This is on top of all else.
Anyway, I see, I hear lots of women share sentiments about how much they do not enjoy the holidays because of how exhausted they get from taking care of and serving everyone else but themselves. Allowing ourselves time and space, or provision to enjoy and rest and be entertained is a concept that most women are only beginning to embody without shame or guilt.
My turning point was in 2007. We were budgeting for the holiday meals at home. Mum stopped us midway and said, “No Christmas meals at home this year! ”
Of course, my sister and I were shocked to hear this, being that mum is one of “The Cooks” of her clan and peers. Her answer changed everything.
“All my life, I have cooked and endured smoke for others at Christmas or new year’s for the label of “Good Woman.” I don’t have to do this anymore.” Mum
Her requests when we asked were she would rather go for Christmas meals and entertainment was very simple. She said to us, ” Take me out instead for pork muchomo, cultural dance entertainment and a beer or two. I want to experience being served and entertained by others.” Mum.
We did just that, that year and ended up at Ndere Center for cultural entertainment after Lusaniyas of pork at Rhinos in Ntinda.
That day, I saw mummy dance, laugh, leap into the air, sing and call back at Steven Rwangyezis jokes. I saw a new woman that day.
To date, mum says that it’s the best Christmas she has ever enjoyed.
So, Dear woman, take responsibility and heal yourself from generational trauma, Generational abuse and feminine abuse.
Stop being “The one” who cooks and slaves to feed inlaws & relatives. Especially, during festive holidays. Unless, of course, you enjoy this genuinely. Find ways to share the chores at home and at social gatherings.
Being a woman does not make you the only one who has to do these tasks. You are more than domestic labour, You are Enough