Indeed, I can say I am blessed amongst women to be raised by four strong women. Some came before me, while other joined along the way. Today I salute my Mom, My Mom in law of blessed memory and my Grandmas (also of blessed memory). As I stared at a picture that my daughter drew of me with almost eight hands representing the different roles that I juggle daily, I am reminded that I am who I am today because you all charted this path so graciously. You were such great models. I can go forth to do greater works because, like an arrow, you sharpen me and now I am free to wander to places that you could only imagine. Mothers!
Who sat and watched my infant head
When sleeping on my cradle bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed?
Growing up, we will get so excited when a new dress was bought, we could not wait for the next outing to wear our new dresses. My Mom on the other hand, always had other plans for our new clothes. The plan followed this pattern all the time, new dress goes to the bottom of the suitcase with the perfect response, ‘Were you walking naked before the dress arrived?’ A good question but still a tough pill to swallow. We quickly recognized the pattern and normalize to our fate in life. We had only two options, live with it or return Mom to the Mom store and ask for another Mom or a refund. But the second option only exist in dreamland, so we lived with it. A grown version of me appreciates the lessons more as I have grown to determine what trends I follow and not allow trends rule me. I also learned to be more than comfortable in my skin.
Who taught my infant lips to pray
And love God’s holy book and day,
And walk in wisdom’s pleasant way?
My Mother. *
Mom taught me the Bible as she doubled up as Sunday School teacher at some point in my life. She lived out the lessons from the Bible in a few dramatic ways. As I flash back in time, I remember when it was party time, we will get so excited to go but Mom will always insist that we eat and not only eat but finish the food if not, there will be no party. I hated those moments because the food will feel so tasteless and the mountain before you looked like it was never going to come down, yet the clock kept ticking. Again, Mom had the perfect response, ‘you want to go to the party and start behaving like people who don’t have food at home’. You can say I have been saved from getting angry when the food service doesn’t get to me at occasions like weddings because Mom’s voice stuck and I always try to show up with a full belly or at least know to behave more gracefully when the food doesn’t get to me. It takes skill and practice to stay calm at these events when you get cut off from food service especially when you are so hungry or so close to the food.
Mom used everyday events to shape our character and she was not afraid or tired to go down the unpopular or uncool path. One of those days, my clique of friends agreed to show up for a birthday party dressed alike. We all agreed to wear boots. At that time, the only pair of boots that I owned were rain boots. I was young and foolish and guess what, my little mind was prepared to show up to the party in rain boot. My way of fitting in with the girls. Trust Mom, she had her own plans and boots were not a part of the plan. I cannot remember her reason but knowing her so well, it probably had to do with teaching me a silent lesson on Peer Pressure. Imagine for a second if I showed up in rain boots that day. O well, on that very day, Mom’s unpopular position saved me from a scar that may have earned me a bad nickname, lots of laughs and a bruised self-esteem. The other girls had fancy boots on, I did not and honestly after I realized what type of boots were expected, I did not care. I was simply happy that Mom in her strange way saved me from that embarrassing situation. The party was fun, no one noticed I did not wear boot and even if they did, the party lasted for about three hours and we all went our separate ways.
My Grandmas on the other hand taught me what to expect from my future in-laws, not in words but in action. They both loved their son and daughter in-law so much. To Dad’s Mom, my Mom could hurt no fly, she loved my Mom so much and I remember her taking short walks every single day to ask my Mom what she wanted to eat whenever we visited the village. In fact, it was a taboo for my Mom to cook when we visited, if she did, Grandma will ask if her food was no longer tasty, their relationship was made in heaven. Grandma always told my Mom that when she was tired of cooking for her, she will know. On that fateful day, when she took her last breath, we all knew she was tired but not without saying goodnight with one last meal. I watched my Mom and Grandma closely and when I became of age, I prayed that God would give me a Mom in-law just like my Grandma. Yes, he did, even though she went to be with the Lord early, I enjoyed ten years of food exchanges, lovely gifts, laughs and teasing, African Magic and Zee World forced down my throat. Even in her sick bed, she wished she could do more, wanted to do more and all she asked of me was to take care of the children, her children. Every single memory of her leaves a smile on my face because she was just right for me in so many ways. More importantly, she raised a son who loves God so dearly and for that I am thankful. In Idorenyin’s words, ‘Mom’s watchful eyes reached far into the future to protect her children from threats yet to come’. The Mother Eagle.
And can I ever cease to be
Affectionate and kind to thee,
Who wast so very kind to me,
Ah, no! the thought I cannot bear,
And if God please my life to spare
I hope I shall reward thy care,
My Mother. *
Moms have a tough job, sometimes it requires them being uncool for the moment. I would like to dare all mothers out there to set the pace for their children to follow. We, each and every one of us will give an account of what we used our influence as mothers to do; build or destroy, pull up or tear apart, instruct or ‘destruct‘.
So today and always, we say thank you Mom for teaching us life in those simple daily interactions and being bold and intentional about it. Thank you to all mothers for wearing this badge of honour so gracefully. God Bless you!
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Have a great week ahead!
*Poem – ‘My Mother’ by Ann Taylor