7 Things I learned From My Mom—My Hero, About Love and Relationships
My mom is my hero in so many ways. The irony though is, I do not remember us ever openly discussing anything about love, marriage and relationships. Surprisingly though, most of my beliefs and views have been shaped by her.
Because those unspoken words are sometimes louder than the loudest gong.
And, truth be told, I can't even come close to being my mom, because she is one super woman, with such grace. However, all I can say is that, from being a rebel to exuding some poise, for the most part, it is because of the way I interpret(ed) by mom's life. I am so grateful to have such a strong real woman I call mom in my life.
Here we go…..
- Respect, Love and Compassion for Your Spouse:
My mother’s respect for her husband was not the kind you would expect from a woman of her generation. She would not quietly take shit. Not even when she very well knew the bitter consequences of speaking out her mind. Unsurprisingly, she for sure got into trouble for that on several occasions. With that said however, my mom never forgot her husband’s place in a home. It was evident that she respected my dad and was committed to her companion. Even when we would be starving, my mom made sure that she first served my dad, and safely kept his share, ignoring the fact that he was indulging in a nearby bar.
My mother had love, respect and compassion for her husband. She would never rest, knowing that her husband was sleeping somewhere in the woods because he was overpowered by alcohol. She would have to get him home at all costs. My dad always had clean clothes, even without providing the basic needs. Oh yes, my mom never expected any of us kids to talk back to our dad. Indeed, there are many lessons young people in marriage today can learn from her.
- God Has To Be At The Center:
My mom knew that relationships could be rocky. I recall countless times when things would be beyond her control and she would retreat to prayer. She knew that human beings—kids, spouses, friends etc are fickle. When everything else failed, there was someone to turn to, her Savior. She was never without hope. She heavily drew strength from her faith in critical times, like when her marriage became extremely violent, grieving her children, living in extreme poverty etc. I never saw my mom hopeless. I hope I can grow to demonstrate this love of Christ to my kids.
- Never Marry a Drunkard:
Growing up with an alcoholic dad, I know firsthand the effects of alcoholism. Even today, those effects are alive and well in our lineage. As a result, even at a tender age, I decided that I was never going to get married to an alcoholic, even if it meant becoming a celibate. During my dating years, whenever I learned that my potential suitor would even touch a bottle of alcohol, I would literally run away, no matter how “tall, dark, broad-chested and handsome” he was! God was kind and gracious. My prince charming, my shining armor fears the effects of alcohol, as much as I do.
- Never Stay in A Turbulent Relationship:
My mother has been married to my dad for over 50 years. Her relationship, for the most part has been a turbulent one. And don’t be quick to judge my dad. If you are to ask me, my dad, is one of the most amazing men on this planet—handsome, great sense of humor, angelic eyes, very proud of his children, faithful to my mom, and I am sure he was a hunk in his good old days—well, even now 🙂 However, when alcohol comes into the equation, it alters everything. And he has for sure tried to quit several times, but for those of you who understand how addiction works, it takes more than trying. The best he has done is to tell his children to never ever taste alcohol. But as you can figure out, this message has not worked for all the children, a complex discussion we need to have another time.
I can hear you asking: "Why didn’t she leave"? The answer is really simple: She did not have many options considering the African society at the time compounded by other factors. She could not really do much with 10 children, no right to inherit land, no education, no home to go back to and of course, the entire stigma and shaming around divorce. The good news though is, consciously or unconsciously, my mother gave us the tools she lacked. She empowered us so that if we ever had to call it quits, we would not face the barriers she faced.
- Hassle and Support Yourself:
As they say in the African culture, my mom “probably wore the pants”. Not that my dad was not around, or was not able, but alcohol twisted his thinking. We watched his promising career as an architect go down the drain. My mom did not sit and whine. She hassled. She did everything a mother could think of, and some more to provide for her kids (and hubby). She even ventured into businesses, some of which were against her religious beliefs, like the brewing business because she believed that a mom had to do what she needed to do.
And God was gracious to her. She brought wonderful people in her life, who loved us and cared for us. We got amazing people to sponsor us in so many ways—food, school fees, handouts etc. If she knew of a place where any of her children could work in holidays or after school to raise some income to supplement school fees, she would not hesitate. From her, I started my venture into the business world. As a young girl of about 7 years, I recall harvesting wild greens and walking around the village selling them, venturing into a "gambling" card business— a hilarious escapade which taught me lessons earlier on in life etc. All in all, I am thankful for a supportive and hardworking husband, but that does not give me a ticket to sit my ass down and relax.
- Have Each Other’s Backs as Family:
My mom is the most disciplinarian woman I know. Even “simple” crimes like “picking corn” from the neighbor’s garden without permission because you were hungry, or crying that you did not want to share a bed with your sister would land you into BIG trouble. There was never getting away with anything. But we knew that our mom had our backs—at school, around our community, church etc. You could do and say whatever you wanted, but our mom had our backs. Oh ya, we would dearly pay for our sins behind closed doors 🙂 but that boosted our confidence. It motivated us to try our best and not disappoint her. But as children, we fail. Even today, she has not given up on us. We still drag her in the mud, but she stands with us. Never seen a love as strong as my mother’s love. I hope my kids (will) feel the same way.
- Importance of Education:
Even today, my mom probably does not know how to read or write. I am sure she is not even able to read this tribute. Born from a polygamous family, with her dad having four wives and multiple children but with very limited resources, her chances of going to school were next to none. To make a bad situation even worse, she was a girl, and the last one of 12 siblings. Her best chance at life was being married off to my dad, a promising architect at around 19 years of age. God knows where she would be had she gone to school. She would probably be featured in the Guinness Book of Records!
But she understood the critical importance of education, especially for the girl child. She would consistently tell us that she was "blind" but wanted all her children to see. And she purposed to make that happen. While others were encouraging their girls to get married at a tender age, my mother had a different vision. She would spend days without food, she denied herself any luxury and hassled tirelessly to provide for her kids and their educational needs. She single-handedly educated her five girls (and five boys). She cried and asked for help if she needed to. If you ask around our village, every one knows one Beatrice, aka "Bitureesi", the woman who slaved for every rich family, to secure a livelihood for her children.
Where can you find such a great strong woman?!
If there is any woman on this planet who deserves a medal, if there is a woman who deserves praise, it is my mom, my unsung hero. Even when her health is failing her, and age is catching up with her, I am so thankful to have someone like her to call mom. Mom, what a treasure you are to us! Because of you, I have a fruitful marriage, and I am not afraid to move on should things ever go sour. You are such a fearless tigress. I thank God for you every single day.
Well, I could go on and on, because I can never say enough or give my mom the credit she deserves. Now, it is your turn. Tell me about your mother. Tell me about your unsung hero! Let us celebrate all those strong women who have made us who we are.