It’s Mother’s Day and the stores are buzzing with gifts; the church choirs have a special rendition for mums this Sunday. All over, there’s a reminder to ‘call your mum and do something special’. The celebration just lasts for a day but it really shouldn’t after all the sacrifices made by the special someone called Mum. Most kids are closer to their mum or have a special bond, but that shouldn’t be any surprise as they lived in her womb for almost forty weeks.
Women are tough, resilient, emotional, fragile, and vulnerable, but still they remain strong through the different stages and phases of motherhood. Unlike the men, when a woman is in her twenties or even earlier in some cultures, everyone is on her case to get married. Whether she’s educated or not, society begins to pressure her to get ready for the acts of procreation and raising kids.
When she’s finally married, the pressure goes up another notch as everyone’s looking at the calendar hoping there will be a growing bump. When there’s a bump, all is well but when her face, belly and feet refuse to swell, she soon becomes the gist on every gossip’s lips. She endures the shame and pain of infertility. Even when the diagnosis indicate her spouse might be infertile, society still casts the blame on her. She’s the only one running up and down looking for a child anyhow.
When she finally gets a baby, she remains in the background at a lavish naming ceremony as the men ‘take credit’ for the safe delivery of the child. Her sleepless nights begin nursing a colic child as her husband snores on the other side of the bed. With the sore wounds of childbirth yet to heal, she continues to mop and cook, fetches water with a baby on her back by a hot stove while her husband has a drink with his friends.
In some cultures, if she’s had no male child, she either becomes a second wife or keeps on making babies till the baby boy is delivered. When she’s done with having kids, her stretchmarks reveal the pain of childbirth. She begins the journey of contraception; she has to endure the daily jabs and side effects of the numerous options to avoid another pregnancy. When the contraception fails, she’s left with no choice but to raise yet another child with less energy as she’s much older.
When the child grows up and turns out to be respectful and hardworking, her spouse takes credit for raising him well but when he’s got special needs or isn’t of much use to the community, the woman is to be blamed for her genetic disorder or poor parenting skills. The society has defined the roles at home so even when she’s got a job, she still needs to be at the school events, supervise homework, keep up with shopping, cleaning, cooking, and still be a sexy wife.
How do women cope with all this? It’s a tall order, isn’t it? They must have something special in them that keeps them going. Even when they aren’t well and strong, they still manage to flip pancakes and make smoothies. They take care of everyone except themselves. They continue to give of themselves even when there’s nothing else to give. They always find a way to make things work, they never give up till their mission is accomplished.
To all the mums who haven’t given up on their call to motherhood, Well done! Whatever stage you’re at, it’s demanding and challenging. For mums of very young kids, they are sleep deprived, constantly keeping with a hectic schedule from dawn to dusk. They don’t get a chance to lie down till midnight. Sometimes, you wonder how you got yourself in this situation, raising three kids under five, you continue and hope they will grow up so you can breathe some sigh of relief.
Mums who have teenagers are struggling with understanding what’s going on. You’ve raised this child for so long but you can’t tell what will happen next. You daughter is so quiet and reserved, prefers to be in her room for most of the day either reading a book or chatting all day on social media. You want to connect with her but she wants her space. Your son is now so independent and you seem to be losing him.
Mother and baby - Makueni Camp
For those whose kids have moved out to start their own lives, you’re so worried for them; you toss and turn all night wondering how they will cope in life. As an empty-nester, you look back two decades when your life revolved about diapers and toys, you could hardly keep up with the noise as you desperately waited for each evening so you could get some quiet and rest. Now you miss all that as you struggle with the deafening silence and loneliness you’re faced with each day as you wait for a long-distance call from your kids.
I personally think Mother’s Day is best celebrated by grandmothers, they’ve seen the full cycle of motherhood and they’ve got a second chance. They have no one waiting on them, they can sleep all night and look forward to the next day without school runs, a pile of laundry or dirty dishes. A few grandmothers are taking on so much in raising their grandkids so their own kids can focus on their careers. Well done, grandmas for investing in the next generation all the wisdom you’ve learnt over the years.
And all the single mums struggling to raise their kids with less resources hoping their kids will stand out one day, keep up the great job! Most times women aren’t valued and appreciated even with all the daunting and exhausting tasks they’ve got to do. Don’t let this Mother’s Day go by just with a regular card or phone call; go out of your way and really make your mum feel special and cherished. You really can’t repay her for all she’s done, can you?
BY FACE2FACE AFRICA STAFF