I believe we are the Sex and the City generation. If you’re not clued up about this ode to the unapologetically independent women of the world, what I’m referring to as the “Sex and the City” generation in Africa is the first phenomenon of its kind in the history of our people. For the first time, young Africans are cosmopolitan, fiercely confident and adventurous, and on par with the rest of the world with regards to popular culture, lifestyle, opinions and even often, values. In my mother’s generation, it was absolutely unheard of to have a young girl in her 20s working in a foreign country, and (wait for it)….. Living alone! *cue gasp*. This lifestyle is however the norm to my peers and me. In my opinion, it complies with the tools we were empowered with growing up. Our parents worked harder than ever to ensure that we would not share their struggles and that in our lifetime; we could match and even exceed their accomplishments.
My festive season experience showed me that in doing so, my parents may have created a little monster and if some of the stories I’ve heard from my peers and colleagues are anything to go by, I’m not the only monster around. They were right when they predicted that the world would end on the 21st of December, because that was the day that “Sex and the City” met her African mother.
I remember when mum arrived she was absolutely shocked that I knew my way around this foreign city so well. I drove around with calm and ease, and knew all the little nooks and crannies to avoid traffic and road blocks. I was never for a moment anxious at the fast pace, or moved by my vibrant surroundings (although I was always collectedly alert). Nevertheless, our arrival at my apartment was marked by the monumental lecture- “these are the times you should drive, and in such a manner etc” I thanked her gracefully for her loving advice, because where mothers are concerned these things are always said out of love. Our lectures consistently increased as the holidays went on as I realized my independent spirit unsettled her. I’m going to spare you the excruciatingly painful details about having to wake up at 6am each morning, cooking 3 meals a day and just generally being on what I call the “errand standby”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a lazy girl and I enjoy the domestic responsibilities of my home but I realized that our lifestyles don’t require much domestication. Our generation is usually up before breakfast and home after dinner. So, how awkward is it when our parents look at us like we’re mentally unstable when we walk in the house from the afternoon escapades, purely to freshen up and change ensembles for the evening mission? (This is completely normal for us, especially during the festive season, no?)
Anyway, it doesn’t always have to be apocalyptic when Sex and the City meets her African mother. I’ve put together this fantastic survival guide. These tips will see you through! I promise, they have been tried and tested.
1. Per-cook and freeze! On the first few days of the holiday, when you’re still very eager and enthusiastic cook for days! You’ll thank me when your bestie decides to have a lovely soirée at her place and your folks refuse to eat take out to make time for you to let your hair down and spend time with your peers. It is possible to have your cake and eat it. You just have to keep it well cooked, then frozen and on standby for your social calendar. SOS.
2. Sneak take-out into the house and dispose of the evidence! If your folks are anything like mine and they are adamant that take out will not be eaten in a house where there are girls to cook, then this one is for you. Take the Tupperware to the restaurant with you if you must, then sneak the take out goodies into the house while no one is watching. Empty contents into pots and let the aroma fill the air. Ta-da!
3. Smile and nod. We all have habits, and of course we have opinions of other people’s habits. Our parents, however, are entitled to comment on our habits and lecture them out of us. Now, I’m not advising that we hang on to bad habits, but when we live alone some things are more deeply entrenched in us than we would ever care to acknowledge. It’s often instinctive to defend ourselves when these long standing habits are challenged. Independent people are usually very defensive (let’s face it, it’s true). My advice: smile and nod. Spare the family the long explanation, because it will only make you look stubborn. Smile and nod. Use what makes sense, let the rest go out the other ear. This will make your holiday smooth and confrontation free. ( I do suggest you have a bestie on speed dial because there are days when you will want to explode).
4. If all else fails, go back to work early. Yes. I said it. If you are on the brink of madness, your place of work will have to call you back due to an emergency. This is your ultimate ticket to freedom. However, this is only to be used in emergencies!
We are young, free and more often than not, wild. We love and respect our folks, but our world has evolved so much from theirs. But at the end of the day, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do!