I’ve never really known how to be a daughter. I’ve learned how to be a “girl” and eventually I’m going to have to grasp being a “woman”, but that’ll probably take a while (can I be a “woman” and still find potty humor HILARIOUS? Is that even allowed? I REALLY don’t want to have to give up fart jokes…)
Until fairly recently being a daughter meant the following things to me:
1) Writing home on a regular basis (“My studies are fine and I’m well”), and I was terrible at that
2) Spending a month or so at a time with the family over holidays.
3) Greeting members of the church and people my parents know and behaving appropriately (“Yes yes Auntie, I’m fine, thank you” ” Oh yes, I’m almost done with school now” “Would you like more tea?” “You’re right, I have got really fat”(<– usually followed by gritted teeth and awkward I’m-going-to-pretend-I’m-not-offended laughter) )
4) Not doing anything that would shame my family and bring humiliation (or…preventing word of such activities reaching anyone remotely affiliated with Nepal on the off chance rumors would spread)
I never really thought about what it meant to be a daughter, to be someone’s child (and the younger one at that) until my sister and I had a conversation about her getting married. More correctly, it was a conversation (done over dishes as the dutiful daughters we are) about her not getting married…not anytime soon because she was enjoying being a “daughter”. I was baffled. It made no sense to me…if I found my soulmate and he was willing to marry me….I’d jump at the chance to live together. (Own place, own life, life with my love, and did I mention a guy who actually wanted to marry me – I’d tie the knot and hook him in STAT, but that’s just me). Anyways, she said she enjoyed living at home and being a daughter and didn’t feel the need to get married anytime soon.
I on the other hand, as much as I love my family and my oh-so-cozy little room, am looking forward to being on my own. I appreciate that my mother cares, but really, I will eat when I’m hungry (my mother seems to be under the impression that if she didn’t yell at me to go eat I’d never feed myself. I mean…really..me..not eat?! c’mon…) I will sleep when I want and wake up when I want and do it responsibly (or at least to a degree where I can handle it,…if I think staying up late to talk to a friend in need and getting only 3 hours of sleep is worth it, who’s to tell me it’s not right?) I look forward to when I can go out with friends, go with who I want, where ever I want, and do whatever I want – I realize that makes me sound like a selfish brat, and I know the billions of texts are just my mother’s way of saying she cares, but, it does get tiresome. I understand that in Nepali culture it’s normal for kids to live with their parents for a long long long time (possibly forever), and as long as we’re living under their roof we are subject to their rules….but…I for one do not want to be 29 and still having to ask my mom for permission to go on an overnight trip to Bhaktapur or Nagarkot. (Guess who JUST got yelled at for not having a proper meal today? It doesn’t matter that I’ve been really HEALTHY all day and munching on fruits and veggies. *sigh*)
Anyways, all complaining about my lack of freedom aside, I’ve been getting to know the “daughter” in me…the girl who will comply and leave her beloved computer to go help in the kitchen, the person who will call home and ask if there are any veggies or groceries that I should buy, the same young lady who will clean up the kitchen night after night and make sure everything is clean and everything is in its proper place before burrowing in my room for the night. I seem to have recently been promoted in my role as a daughter because as of late, my mother waits for me to cook and I seem to have taken over a large part of the kitchen duties…which I really don’t mind.
To a certain degree I think my mother fears she has failed to rear two responsible females who will be daughter-in-laws to be proud of. My sister, the talented, amazing young woman that she is…is…well (let’s not lie) utterly hopeless in the kitchen and we’ve all given up on making a “woman” out of her (then again, is being a “woman” defined by being able to be a professional as well as running the house, cooking and taking care of laundry? My sister would argue not). My mother seems to believe that I can still be molded into a desirable young bride and is adamant about having me make tea, cook, clean and run household matters (my sister has already found her perfect man and his family all know she will not be the daughter in law slaving away in the kitchen, she will be out saving the country). Again, I don’t mind..and I could use the help (just the other day, my mother asked me to cut up a cucumber and as I was about to happily chop the “funny looking fat cucumber” my mom turned out and expressed “tero bau ko tauko..that’s a squash!” Yes, my father’s head indeed..I swear…they looked so alike.)
And now, for three months I get to skip the nagging and yelling and general feeling of being a disappointment as a person and a woman. I’m excited about working, I look forward to being on my own, I’m psyched about not being told when to go to bed or when to wake up…it will be.so.refreshing. Will I miss my mother asking if I’ve eaten (and when I say I have, having her follow up question being “what did you eat?” as if this is something I would actually bother to lie about)…I don’t know that I will. Will I wish for the nightly phone call that comes around 6 if I’m not home yet? Probably not. Will I miss because called to kitchen duties because my mom is starting to feel her age and my sister isn’t even trusted to boil water? No, I can’t imagine I’ll miss that.
So maybe…I don’t actually enjoy being a “daughter” (I’m not sure…but it does appear that way right now. hmmmm). Maybe my sister and I are different in the way we perceive our roles as daughters of the house. Maybe I’m just a snarky, sassy, sarcastic pool of bitterness that just wants to be left alone. Or maybe, just possibly, I’m 22 and this is the first time in my grown up life that I’ve had to man..well..woman up to this role its and responsibilities and I just feel odd because I don’t know that I’m doing any of it right. 😦