Reflecting On My Mum And Missing Her This Mother’s Day
In reflecting on my mum and missing her this mother’s day, I’d say she wasn’t always my idea of a bestie.
For she made me scrub the floor, do the dishes, empty the trash, sweep the compound, hang the clothes out, go food shopping, and worst of all, prepare meals!
Would you believe that I once cooked a fish dinner without remembering to first gut the fish?!
Why couldn’t she be like Pa, who indulged me to the last?
Why wouldn’t she allow me to watch TV a little more, sleep a little longer and hang around my brothers forever?!!!
She Was On A Rescue Mission
But that was my mother for you. She engaged me with one chore or another every day.
She was of the view that in addition to being intellectually stimulated and well educated; women should be able to run their homes, prepare delicious meals, and take good care of their children.
We both agreed on the importance of intellectual exposure and quality education.
To the rest, I’d retort by saying:
“Well, not in today’s world”
My Pa enthusiastically concurring by my side.
Why couldn’t she be like him? I would often ask myself.
He frequently told me I was beautiful and intelligent. I was his “slim fit four!”
He enjoyed watching me strut by the balcony, imagining myself to be someone important.
My presence lit up his room for sure. His eyes sparkled whenever he saw how excited I was to see him.
The feeling was mutual.
Pa made me feel special, introduced me to the world of music, the love for animals, gadgets, and photography.
I was undoubtedly the centre of his universe, but Ma, like a wet blanket, brought us back to earth.
She didn’t always entertain my dad’s softness in matters that concerned me.
Although Pa taught me to be strong, confident, and independent-minded, Ma taught me the art of being a woman.
Skills that I grudgingly imbibed.
She Did What She Had To Do
I must point out to you right away that my mum didn’t start out being that hard on me.
She was a dutiful, and nurturing mother who cared for us tirelessly.
Hers was a large household. She had 13 children alongside relatives and friends who came to stay with us, ever so often.
I can still picture how she used to wake my brother and me up early in the morning to prepare us for school.
We were well looked after; crisply ironed uniforms, well-packed lunch boxes, and a pat of some of her Yardley powder on our backs.
My mum was enterprising. However, our father appealed to her to make us her sole enterprise.
He promised to look after her and her children to his utmost best.
Even though it was a tall order, God saw his heart.
Despite this, she didn’t give up on her business very quickly; instead, she chose to do things around the home.
When her family began to grow larger and larger, she had no choice but to focus on us entirely.
Pa kept his promise to the last. With God on his side, he survived quite a few tragic events, including as a political prisoner during the Nigerian civil war for his role in the clamour for the creation of Rivers State.
Mother Knew Best!
My Bootcamp training only began as I transitioned into my teens.
Suddenly, I wasn’t permitted to play outside for as long as I wanted.
The kitchen was my new duty post, and I dreaded it!
I thought her to be impossible; I had no escape except for the occasional short holidays I spent in my sisters’ homes.
Things began to thaw as I approached graduation from university.
My mum and I became chummy and as sweet as ever.
I trusted her with my secrets and could tell her almost anything and everything.
She became my confidant and bestie. Almost immediately, I began to see a side of her I didn’t know existed.
Shortly after, I got married and left home.
Following the delivery of my first child, she came from Port Harcourt to Lagos to help me through postpartum.
The time she spent with me was one of the most memorable months of my life. While she was with me, she helped, nurtured, and advised me.
At this stage, we were at par, we spoke woman to woman.
She admired the woman I had grown up to become, and respected my matrimonial home.
It was then that I came to the full realisation of what the boot camp training was all about, and I’m glad to say that I thanked her for her relentless pursuit.
One afternoon as we sat in my living room, I expressed my thoughts about those boot camp years.
I went on to say that if she hadn’t done what she did, I would have turned out to be like a bull in a china shop.
Holding her hands and looking into her eyes, I whispered, “ma, imama” (meaning thank you ma in my dialect) to her. It was a very emotional moment for us. In return, she commended me for how grounded I was.
Her tactics worked on me. I saw then, the method in her madness and why she did what she did.
She would later tell me that had she left me to my dad; I would have been a domestic disaster.
Forward-thinking as he was, he often told her I didn’t need to be domesticated to be a successful woman.
I will pay for those services when the time comes, he would say.
But my mother, in her providence, wouldn’t have it in the belief that those skills will come in handy one day.
And they did, and I owe her everything. I was lucky that she lived to see my first three children.
Unfortunately, they were all under four when she passed away on valentine’s day, 19 years ago.
I Miss Her So!
In these 19 years, I have kept the memory of her locked away in my heart.
I didn’t want to invoke them, fearing my inability to cope without her.
Be that as it may, I’ll allow myself to relive those lovely memories of her, this Mother’s Day.
Looking back, I can tell you that my Ma was a gem among many.
She was the glue that held our family together, her husband’s steadfast anchor.
Other women scorned women who couldn’t bear male children for their husbands during her time.
Having girls as her first seven children, she stood side by side with her man to challenge the narrative.
She was going to prove to her tribe that female children were as important and as life would have it, she was right.
My mother was a different kind of woman, successful in the art of being a wife, mum, friend, and a role model worthy of emulation.
She had many exceptional qualities, including nursing a near-dead child back to life. I was a witness to this.
Her nephew, my cousin, was brought from my hometown to come live with us.
He was left for dead when one of my sisters brought him home to my parents before she went overseas to study.
Although he received urgent medical attention upon his arrival, he wasn’t out of the woods just yet.
As I sat next to my mum one morning, needing her attention due to fever, my cousin suddenly slipped into unconsciousness.
I remember seeing her put a spoon into his mouth to prevent his teeth from clenching together.
I can’t recall all that she did, but I knew that my cousin regained consciousness.
She never said a thing about it after that day. No-fuss or fume, just calm, in charge, and total control; she was a phenomenal woman.
March The Month For Women
As we celebrate International Women’s and Mother’s Day, I shall be doing a month-long series, paying homage to everyday women and mothers who survived great trials of their faith.
Among them are women who triumphed over tragedies, and childlessness to excel against the odds, and the heartwarming story of Julian Michaels.
I’ll also celebrate the recent growing phenomenon known as Mums In Love (MIL), where mothers-in-law are breaking free from the stereotypical mother and daughter-in-law treachery.
I’m not doing it alone. I have guest writers who are lending their voices to this call through their personal experiences.
One of them, an inspiring young man called Collins Omeruo Ezenwa, says of his mum:
“Many thanks to my mother, who though widowed, supported me with the might of a dozen men.”
Join me as we celebrate women this March.
Please leave your comments below.
Collins Omeruo LinkedIn