Why living through lockdown with my mother has encouraged me to finally move out at the age of 30

Illustration. Getty Images
Illustration. Getty Images

She probably doesn’t know this, but I worry about her being alone. My dad passed away 12 years ago and since then I’ve felt a strong sense of responsibility towards her. The memory of how my papa died is still fresh. While the two lovebirds were sleeping, my dada took his last breath in his sleep. I wonder if she still thinks about what happened that night when she lost the love of her life, after all, she still sleeps in the same bedroom.

Over the years I’ve gone from being a daddy’s girl to becoming a mommy’s girl. She knows what time I get up for work and what time I leave. What I’m likely to eat for breakfast and lunch, she knows what time I come back from the office and knows that if I’m not home at that time it’s one of my tough days at the office.

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The downside is, on those “tough days” a girl needs wine and I can’t have that at home without feeling guilty about it because my mother is very religious. Because of this, although I’m 30, I can’t enjoy certain freedoms and since lockdown started that has become more apparent than ever.

The past three weeks have been mentally and physically draining, so wine has been a great way for me to unwind after a tough day at the virtual office.

However, I can’t have a glass of merlot without my mother watching me like a hawk with her joko tea in her hand, saying it would be better if I waited for the weekend to drink it. She doesn’t understand the pleasure of it all. I’ve had to think of ways to smuggle wine into my bedroom, making sure the bottle doesn’t hit the wall or the tile too hard. I’ve had to drink red wine in a mug and carry it around like a thief – as you can imagine, this is extremely frustrating.

In black families, a girl child has house chores from a very young age and this doesn’t change as you grow older. This also doesn’t change when there’s a global pandemic forcing you to work from your bedroom.

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I’ve had to endure death stares for being on my laptop as early as 9am and leaving my bed only to open the fridge and leave dishes in the sink.

Days into lockdown, unprovoked she’d say, “People are opening the fridge the whole day, I wonder who is going out to Pick n Pay to face corona.”

I know it doesn’t seem that way when I’m at home, but I definitely am working. I can’t do domestic work and I’ve got to eat. Being made to feel guilty about this has been incredibly difficult. I’ve had to go to drastic measures to make sure I’m productive and mentally healthy during this time even though I’m being monitored so much.

I turned the outside room into a workspace. At 9am I leave my bedroom in the house to go out into my outside room to work. I leave the outside room at 5pm to go back into the house. To keep my mother proud that I’m not lazy, I volunteer to do the dishes after dinner.

The reality is every situation takes some getting used to, this one is not an exception. I am 30, so moving out is obviously on the cards, but until then I will continue living under a Catholic woman’s roof, who drinks wine only for holy communion.

I’m grateful for my mother and that she’s safe and healthy during these trying times.