BY brenda viola
Looking back, there are a lot of things I would have done differently. Growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor, a pilot, a teacher, a lawyer, etc. At least that is what I said to see the radiant smile on my mother’s face and the proud look my father gave me. Mother was happy, and father was delighted. What more could a seven-year-old ask for? Nothing.
And so I grew up, always seeking the approval of my father and the assent from my mother. Those two were my world. Maybe I could have engaged in sports more if father didn’t think it too boyish for his little girl. Perhaps I could have played football with the boys and slide on the mud after the rain with them if I did not listen to mother’s subtle reprimands. A girl is supposed to act like a lady, calm and interested only in what defined a woman. Maybe I could have lived a little if I did not listen. But they were my parents and I their little girl.
So I wore the skirts that mother laid out for me and cooked the meals father brought home from work. I joined the church choir and played all the games my fellow girls played. As lackluster as it seemed to me, I always reminded myself that it made mother happy and father proud. I yearned for the freedom, the release. The day I would gather enough courage to tell them that I was indeed their little girl, whether I would wear trousers, ride bikes with the boys or climb the tree at our home. I was just different, not the conventional daughter they wanted, but still their little girl.
Looking back the years haven’t changed much about me, I still want to play with the men and have little to no interest in ‘what defines a woman’ as my mother so clearly put it. As I watched the numbers on the elevator near that to my office floor, I couldn’t help but wish I had done things differently. Fortunately or unfortunately, I got up every morning, I did my basic morning routine, and I was sited before my work desktop. I am not complaining because, despite the monotonous nature of my job, I couldn’t complain since it gave us our due. Was I being too safe, a coward? Did I dread the uncertainty of the unknown? Or did I still seek the approval of my parents?
A smile crept to my face, merely thinking of all the things I could have done by now. I was twenty-seven yet already having my midlife crisis! I smiled at the colleagues I met on the way, a form of greeting that was acceptable at the office. I sat on my chair and checked the notifications on my phone. My younger sister was yet on another adrenaline-filled adventure, zip-lining in the forest of some park. She looked happy from her posts. I went ahead and viewed her previous pictures, she already trekked up Mt. Kenya, visited several children homes, did a cross-country with her group of friends on bikes and other more excitement filled adventures. At times it was hard to believe we were sisters, two peas in a pod. I mean, she was only twenty-one and living as though it was her last day!
If it crossed your mind whether or not my parents approved, then I’d say you guessed right. They did not. However, she always said, ‘live a little, what’s the worst that could happen anyway?’ True to her words, she lived, and not just a little, but a lot. My parents never really came around, accepting that their little girl wasn’t what they’d call orthodox. She was not immune to wanting approval from them, she simply wasn’t a prisoner of their ways. I envied her, her drive and passion in doing what she truly wanted, regardless of whether or not my parents were delighted by her choices. She had stories to tell during the family gatherings we’d have and I only had to tell a story about how Janet from HR always thought me a prude. Let’s face it; nobody ever really wanted to hear about Janet. They preferred adventure to bland. I closed my phone; it was time to get back to my reality, one that I had made for myself. Maybe one day I’d get the courage to do as my heart wanted. Today was just not it.