I have finally gotten down the Haitian wife and mother growl. It was something that I admired and awed at for years, but never knew how to do, not that I attempted to do it. But the other day, it just started naturally coming out of my mouth when calling to Ilayas.
Haitian women know how to use their voices to communicate in a way that expresses their anger but still displays their femininity, and therefore, respects men's masculinity. A woman who expresses her anger in any other way is usually put in her place by an array of methods, so it is necessary that the wife and mother growl is used, as it seems to express anger in a way that is acceptable by men and others in general. Haitian women also have a very sing song way of communicating at times when calling to someone or when asking a question to someone not right next to them such as, "When are you coming back?". I assume that this was developed to replace what can come off as a naggy yell. While men who have ample space to themselves may be able to bear naggy yelling at times, men who live within tight quarters with it obviously cannot and the practice, therefore, has needed to have been replaced with something more pleasant to the ear.
So what the growl is is just a little rolling in one's yell. Our little active two-year-old loves to run around outside. He has friends all along our street and loves to visit them and play with them. But I am trying to teach him to be a better listener when I tell him to come. Before our baby was born, I just scooped him up and brought him back and we made somewhat of a game out of it, but now that I have a smaller baby in my arms, he has to mature and just listen. Sometimes he listens well and sometimes he doesn't. I call his name and if he doesn't listen, I call his name with a big of a roll or a growl in it. It seems to be effective for the most part. He understands that I'm serious.
I observed this growl from many women, one of the first being Jireste's aunt Mari who has five boys that she takes care of quite well despite difficulties with their fathers. They are from three different fathers but really she spent most of her life with one strong man who, in the end, could not keep his life united with hers. To me, she resembles strength, not just because she has large scars across her face and body along with fake teeth which are results of abuse from and conflict with her husband, who she divorced from a few years ago and now has a new partner who she had her fifth son with, but because she runs her household with her five sons and one grandson with complete order. She has so much on her plate but she maintains a joyful attitude and maintains her strength.
I have heard the mother, wife growl come out of her mouth when she disciplines her son, and also in a fight she had with her brother, where he was definitely being disrespectful to her by taking the side of a mutual friend in a conflict over charcoal. The friend was being silly and Mari was defending what was hers. So perhaps this can be called the sister growl as well.
Another woman I have admired the growl from is Jireste's sister Manouchka. To me, she resembles grace. I do not see American women with this grace unless they are professional ballerinas. This is the grace of a woman who was brought up to serve. I do not agree with the way Haitians, although things seem to be changing, raise daughters to fetch water and do all chores while they raise sons to play and do whatever they want basically (not to offend anyone), but in Manouchka's case, I think this upbringing created a very gracious individual, while still strong. She had her first daughter with a man who was paying for her schooling. She ran away and did not want a relationship with him. I think it was a relationship she felt obligated to and pulled into because of the financial help he provided her. She came to the Dominican Republic and was criticized by family members for not staying with him. After all, he would provide for her financially. I love her for that, (while I still love the idea of parents staying together and children being raised by both parents). To me, that is proof of someone living with a free and fearless heart. I would've most definitely done the same as I didn't do so with men but did with my country of residency. She then fell in love with a construction worker man here in the Dominican Republic who many in her family don't approve of. She has a second daughter with him and lives with him and her two daughters. It is obvious that she is now content. I have heard Manouchka use the growl when calling to her first daughter and when disciplining her squirrely youngest brother.
This growl that I now use is a reflection of a state of being I have developed. It is a state of being that hasn't been easy to achieve and hasn't come quickly, but has come through years of living here and facing the challenges that come with this life. This state of being feels empowered yet subdued. I feel accomplished and as though I have a full plate but I feel at peace and as though everything is under control. My head used to spin with all of the issues that came with running Project Esperanza. People used to get mad at me so often over money and all sorts of things. Managing adults older than myself used to truly stress me out. However, I have learned so much and matured so much. I now feel like someone who can really keep her balance. My dedication and effort was always strong, but I now feel mature and in control.
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