Survivor's Notebook

Survivors Notebook: Reflections of a First Time Father

The Maakmaah Family

Nadirah, Jauzeri and Kasabez Maakmaah

Since my son was born, everyone has been asking me how it feels to be a father. My answer has usually been that I can’t really explain. Honestly, it feels like the natural next step in my life. The difference is that I have never taken a step that has had such a profound impact on my life. This article is dedicated to all my brothers who want to start a family but are hesitant to take the first step.

Since I was a child, I always knew that I wanted children. Even in this culture that discourages parenthood, this never changed. The hard part was finding the “right person.” Ironically, I didn’t know who this “right person” would be or what she would be like. The most troubling thought was that I might meet this “right person” and she wouldn’t want me.  With that fear came the idea that I would have to improve myself. Still, this left me with only a vague notion of what kind of woman I wanted and the even less clear idea of what kind of man she would want me to be.

My involvement with The Earth Center is the only thing I have to credit with giving me a clear idea of what it is to be a man and what to look for in a woman. The roles of each gender are clearly laid out according to the values of Kemetic culture. The man is the head of the household and keeps order and stability in the household. Whatever it is the family needs, it is the man’s responsibility to make sure they have it. With this in mind, it was clear that my life would have to be stable. I would have to be able to provide for myself and also show a high level of emotional stability and moral integrity to attract the kind of woman that would spend the rest of her life with me and our children; a kind of woman that is hard to find in Chicago these days.

I knew also that in our culture, the woman is the backbone of the family. She is the one who brings forth the children and is the primary caregiver, especially in their first years. She is the one who cares for the home, cooking and serving the food and cleaning the house. The balance between the roles of the two genders is what keeps a family and community strong, for it is said that if a man becomes successful, he has his wife to thank. I would have to find a woman who would also accept this role. The life of a Kem is very rigorous. She would have to understand that hard work and sacrifice are a part of our lives.

Another thing I would have to accept was that, just like I am not perfect, I would not find a perfect woman. Maintaining a successful relationship would involve hard work and compromise on both sides. We would have to be patient with each other and support each other’s growth. Developing and maintaining the stability of the relationship is a necessary step before having a child.

Relationships built on desires and passions don’t last. All it takes is for one person to get bored and the union is finished! This often leaves the child in a situation where he is not being cared for by both parents and consequently doesn’t learn how a family is supposed to function. Even worse is the fact that working single parents are not be able to raise their own children. This leaves them in the hands of the modern education system and mainstream media to be bred to be monsters.

At The Earth Center, we say that we can’t take credit for the things that come into our lives. I know it was our ancestors who put me and my wife together. From the day I met her, I knew that I wanted to marry her, but at that time, I don’t think either of us were ready. We were friends for almost two years before we decided to start a family together. One of my brothers told me that he admired my patience and that if I had tried to force things earlier, it wouldn’t have worked.

During the time we were courting, she decided to take classes at The Earth Center. She said that I had displayed a level of integrity that she had not observed in any of the other men she had dated and that she knew it was because of The Earth Center community and the 77 commandments. Her decision to start classes was very important because it puts us in a position where we share the same goals and values. Is also gives us the support of and makes us accountable to the same community.

“The Earth Center community has great significance in our lives because it is community were everyone has the best interest of us and our family in mind, and whenever we have a issue in our relationship we have the support of our community to help us solve it. Because everyone shares the same goals and values, there is usually a consensus on how a successful marriage should function, although there are differences sometimes because no two people are the same.

This is also the case with parenting. Living in the community gave us the opportunity to have daily interactions with the children. Since all adults are considered parents to the children, I was able to experience a taste of parenthood before my child was born. However, no taste would completely prepare me for the reality of having my own child…

From the day we decided we wanted to be together, it was only a matter of a few months before my wife was pregnant. In Pen Renut, I will be 28. When I was born, my dad was 25, so I didn’t want to wait. My wife was hesitant, based on our financial situation, until one of our brothers explained to us that the child will not allow himself to come into a situation that is not favorable. It is more likely that the child will bring prosperity to the family. In traditional culture, a child is known to be the reincarnation of an ancestor. As each of us were given a chance to reincarnate when we were born, it is our responsibility to give that same opportunity to our ancestors who are next in line to return to the material world. When we put this responsibility to the side, our ancestors become displeased.

The time of her pregnancy was difficult for us. There were times when my wife didn’t speak to me. There were times when she wouldn’t even sleep in the room with me. It was often the case that I did not give her the attention and consideration that would have helped her emotionally. I would often get irritated when she was irritated, which never helped. Throughout her pregnancy, it often felt like we were being pulled apart. I figured some level of disharmony was natural, since she was pregnant but I had to make sure things didn’t get out of hand. It’s not easy for a man to know what’s going on in a woman’s mind, but whenever I took the time to get to the bottom of what she was thinking or feeling, I would be able to present a positive perspective on the situation and things would get better, at least for a while.

As a man, I had to remember that the stability of the relationship is in my hands and that I would have to keep a level head, regardless of her emotions and attitudes. I would have to be the one to keep our relationship stable. This meant that I couldn’t allow myself to react every time she wanted me to or expected me to. The emotions are a very dangerous territory. Every time we do something we know is wrong, we can point to some strong emotional influence behind our decision. Women are known to be very emotional during their pregnancy. A good husband is able to help his wife to control her emotions, especially during and after pregnancy. He will have to let her know when her thoughts, attitudes and actions are causing problems. Otherwise, they can easily be led down a path that will destroy the family.

Throughout her pregnancy, despite emotional ups and downs, my wife worked very hard, revealing a strength inside that I don’t think she knew she had. She worked an internship in which she worked in a garden for 3 months doing hard manual labor. After her internship was finished, she would often be the first one up in the house. She would go downstairs and cook breakfast for everyone in the house, serve it, clean up and then cook lunch, sometimes not leaving the kitchen for hours. Some will find this demeaning, but it is only colonial society that says one type of work is better than another type of work. If we know that we have to eat, then we know someone has to cook the food. It doesn’t make sense to look down on the one who’s work is what allows us to survive!
Since our son was born, my wife’s emotions have not subsided, if anything, they have intensified. A woman’s body goes through so many transformations throughout the childbearing process. It’s really amazing, but along with those physical changes come emotional changes. The time after birth is when the woman’s body is changing back to normal. These changes, along with the additional responsibilities of caring for the newborn can be very difficult, especially for a first time mother. As a father and husband, I will have to keep in mind that it is these changes with the challenges they bring, that allow mankind to exist. Again, I have to be very careful to do my part to maintain harmony. Thankfully, I’m not alone.

After his arrival, The Earth Center has provided essential support for us. We have many herbs to help strengthen the baby in different ways, both through his mother’s milk and through direct application to the skin. In the first couple of weeks after his arrival, the sisters assisted my wife tremendously, helping her with laundry, bringing her 3/three meals a day and whatever else she needed. We also have the invaluable advice of people who have done it before. In this journey of life, there is no substitute for the support a community provides.

And the boy? I see the magic in his eyes and I can’t help but smile. I see in him the potential to face the challenges that I have not conquered, to become the man that am not, because he is born and will be raised into a culture that supports the best of who he is. His very presence is inspiration for a better future, proof that life will continue despite the hardship, that we will prevail, we just have to survive…

Jauzeri Maakmaah, welcome back!

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