Friday, October 16, 2009

Job Description

What is Mrs. Somebody’s primary job? Is it wifehood or motherhood?When I was employed two years ago as a Client Service Executive in a PR Agency, one of the things I appreciated the most was a single sheet of paper where my General Manager had outlined the things that were expected of me in my role: My Job Description. In the post-university world where everyone is defined by their response to the question, “So, what do you do?” I never suffered from identity crisis. I knew what I had been employed to do, and the extent to which it was separate from whom I was. It was a most treasured document, not only because it helped me prioritize and focus on the important things, but also because it gave real meaning to my promotion when it came- I’d done way more than was required of me.

If you don’t know what exactly your job is, how can you do it well? When you don’t know what your primary duties are, you waste valuable time leaving substance and pursuing shadows. You never know what to do now and what can wait till later. Worse still, you never know what you should have done and what a colleague should have done. You bear unnecessary blame and guilt, and can never be truly productive.

I realize now that not all jobs come with a clearly outlined job description, which brings me to the real issue on my mind; when a woman accepts to be Mrs. Somebody, what exactly is she signing up for?

The vows taken in my church stress that marriage is first for companionship, and then for procreation, but I read in an old Christian (Catholic) magazine recently that marriage is first for procreation and then for companionship. Knowing that views taught in marriage counselling classes are sometimes “doctrines of men”, I wonder what God’s purpose really was. What was His real purpose in creating marriage? If we go by “It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Gen 2:18) then it would be companionship, but if we go by “…because He was seeking godly offspring” (Mal 2:15) then children would be the reason for marriage.

And then I can’t help but think of the only marriage I have studied closely-my parents’.

When my brothers and I were growing up, my mum used to be everywhere with and for us. Preparing us for school, picking us up when we closed (having set the table for lunch and filled the tubs with water for us to “do swimming pool”), taking food to those who had to wait for extension classes, taking us for haircuts and perms, searching for lesson teachers for us, taking us out to rent movies and visit our friends…the list of things she did for us is predictably endless. And yet, it never occurred to me then that she had another “client”, her husband.

Now that I know men aren’t just fixtures in the home called dads, I can’t help wondering when she took care of him. I laughed when as a teenager she told me how, when I was a few months old, my father told her that he felt neglected. He said he felt as if I had taken all her attention from him, as mum watched me even when I was sleeping. I laughed because I couldn’t picture daddy doing that, and it seemed rather ridiculous, even petty. Ah, the foolishness of youth. Now that I know what it means for a man to feel that way and verbally express it, my heart aches for him. I wonder if mum made amendments, if she made room for him, even as my brothers came after me.

I loved a man once; a wonderful, funny and exceptionally intelligent brother with whom I connected intellectually, spiritually and physically, but not emotionally. He genuinely loved me, but seemed incapable, at the time, of expressing his feelings, or lavishing affection and attention on me. I loved him dearly, but was having a hard time living without those things which I considered my “right” as his woman.

As the relationship deteriorated, I had a talk with my bosom friend. In my distress I cried, “I love him and I don’t want to let him go. I don’t want to live without him. But I don’t think I can survive living with him.” Well, she didn’t want me to leave him either so she came up with a solution. She said to me, “When you guys get married, you’ll have children. Then you can build your life around them and not worry whether he has time for you or not.” I rejected the idea immediately, insisting that I was marrying the man, not the kids. I wonder if I was wrong.

It doesn’t help either, that according to www.whitehouse.gov, “When people ask Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn't hesitate. First and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha's mom.” Does her husband know this? Is he okay with it? When my fiancĂ© got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, what was he asking for? To what have I said yes?

No comments:

Post a Comment