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What happened to our « Poto Mitan »?

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When I think about being a mother in the future, my goal is to be just as dedicated as my mother or the mothers I’ve been around growing up. These mothers have given and sacrificed their all for the well being of their family. In Haiti, we consider them our “poto mitan’’. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for the values they instilled in us. But one thing I’ve realized is that all these sacrifices came with a price. The price of forgetting oneself, accepting the unacceptable and allowing oneself to be molded by society. Allow me to share the stories of mothers I’ve encountered to illustrate my point. Although the names are fictional, the stories I am about to share are real.

45 years old Jasmine is married and has three children. Hervé, the father, is known to be unfaithful. He has been repeatedly having affairs with women from the same social circles as his wife. Jasmine has been compliant for the past 15 years… as you know, her husband is the main provider in the household. Ending this marriage is definitely not an option because there is no way she can provide for all three children with her meager paycheck. She decided to stick around to make sure her children got the best education. Her health deteriorated, she lost tremendous weight and she now suffers from hypertension. Jasmine spends most of her time at home because she has lost her “joie de vivre” and is too ashamed to leave the house and face her friends and family. But she has been praying and she has absolutely no doubt the day will come when God will take her out of her misery.

Claire is 57 years old and is married to one of the most prominent accountant in Haiti. Their family is well known and well respected. Claire and her husband are always referred to as role models in the professional world. For their many friends, colleagues and family members they are an epitome of perfect family values…. Claire and her husband seem to have it all: the perfect marriage, the perfect children, the perfect lifestyle… But what most people don’t know is that Claire is living with an abuser. She has been for the past 37 years. Domestic violence was so ingrained into her daily life that she became an expert at hiding the evident by concealing her bruises with make-up. But that’s a fair price to pay to preserve her esteemed social standing and keep intact the family reputation, right?

Martine is 34 and has two children. Her position on the matter is firm and clear: she has no issue with her husband being unfaithful. After all, he is an amazing provider for the kids. On top of it, he is so generous with her, meeting and exceeding her every wish. The children’s school tuition, the family vacations, the shopping expenses, everything is taken care of. She really has nothing to complain about: she is living the high life, enjoying the many pleasures that come with her reality of kept-woman. It’s a rather simple marital arrangement: as long as he keeps the money flowing, there is really absolutely no reason for her to pick up a fight for something as silly as an unfaithful husband.

I could go on and on with these stories but this is not the point. The point is as mothers you are (or at least should be) your daughters role model so I am hoping you can enlighten me and help me find an answer to all these questions that have been boiling inside. What are you teaching your daughters? Is that the price that comes with being a “poto mitan”? We keep complaining about men being unfaithful in their relationship or absent when it comes to assuming their parental duties but aren’t we the ones encouraging their unacceptable behavior in some way?

Today I have some advice for every woman out there, on how to avoid falling into the money or fame trap. First, educate yourself so that you are able to provide for yourself without depending on others. Second, remember that money should never be the reason why you stay in a detrimental relationship. Third, keep in mind that your happiness is an also significant factor in your children’s wellbeing. Fourth, know and always remember your self-worth.

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Christelle Dossous
Simple and Complicated is how I can best describe myself. I have a B.A. in Arabic Studies and Nursing forensics and now currently in Medical school. I have a passion for languages and If I possible I would travel the world and learn new languages. I find it amazing. I am the owner of Onaturell a company that sell natural products for hair and skin. My experience with my natural hair and different natural products have convinced me to start my own company. I enjoy learning about anything that has to do with health and lately I've been doing a lot of research about diseases (PCOS,PMS....) that women of my generation are suffering from that prevent them from conceiving. Watch out for a blog or post about Women's Health.

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2 Comments

  1. […] le cas de la femme haïtienne (et ici je fais référence à l’article What happened to our poto mitan ? ), si on n’aborde la question de poto mitan que sous l’angle de […]

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