My Mother’s Daughter
Photo Cred: Agen Judi Bola Tumblr
Strange. Mysterious. Confusing. Strong. Fearsome. These are the words 10 year old me would use to describe the quiet woman who birthed me. The intimidating presence whose silence carried so much weight that an entire conversation was had without a single word having been uttered.
She terrified me, my mother did. I could never measure up to the standards she set – standards that my sisters seemed to surpass as easily as I seemed to fall short. At least that was my view. Why was she so angry with me all the time, I wondered.
I never quite understood why everyone was so afraid of my father – he was the easy going one, while mom laid down the law. A law I often found myself on the wrong side of. The few years that my brother tried to convince me that I was adopted didn’t help, but that’s a whole other story.
Fast forward to my late teens, and I found myself living alone with this stranger. Dad worked away from home and all my siblings were away at school or work. I was on a long school break, having just completed high school, and now waiting to get into university.
“Patience is the mother of a beautiful child.” – African Proverb
“Soooo…it’s just us, huh? That’s not going to be awkward at all…” I thought, already feeling extremely awkward.
What would we talk about? Would we watch TV together? Wait…did she even watch TV? What should I do when she gets home from work? Should I get out of her way? Or would that be rude and unsociable? Does anyone have these thoughts about sharing a space with their mom? Do I need therapy???
Then I met my mom. I actually MET my mother during those months that we lived alone. At age 18, I met a gentle spirit, soft, easy-going and kind. Those few months undid everything I felt was wrong in our relationship. I don’t know how. We never spoke about the past. Something just shifted that I still cannot explain.
My Daughters’ Mother
I am now a mother to two daughters. Every single day I can make a mile long list of all the things I did wrong. Mom guilt is real and it is a heavy burden to bear.
There’s a mom out there, who is missing out on her baby’s first day at school because she has an important meeting that she absolutely cannot miss at work. She has to see her baby’s first steps on a video call with her babysitter. She has to sing her baby to sleep over the phone. And she has to contend with the judgment that she receives from other moms, about how her priorities aren’t straight, even though she knows that if there was another way, she would rather be home with her baby.
“Mom guilt is real and it is a heavy burden to bear.” – Sbongile Lugube
There is also a mom who spends her day at home. Her primary job is to raise humans who will grow up to be normal members of society, who will be respectful and kind, and pay taxes and lead nations and start families and change the world. She needs to make sure that until they get to that point, they are fed, bathed, dressed, well rested, educated, loved on, and covered in prayer at all times. She also needs to make sure they learn how to do all these things themselves.
She is exhausted, tired to the bone. She can’t even fathom doing a single squat, and she is bombarded with images of everybody else’s “snapback” and …do other women just wake up with lipstick on??? How do they not have cereal stuck in their hair? And don’t get her started on hearing “You’re so lucky, you get to do nothing all day!!!”
She sees her life slipping by while she watches the 987th episode of Mickey Mouse Club House, and feels guilty for missing grown up time, because everyone tells her she should be grateful for this. And she really is. But she has not been trained to do all this. Her degree is in Accounting or Sociology. She did not study Motherhood. She is learning on the job, and at least 10 times a day, she sees a message somewhere – social media; a look from a stranger in the mall; a parenting blog – telling her that everything she is doing is wrong and will destroy her child(ren) if she doesn’t stop it right this minute!
Discipline them! No, don’t! Just let them be! They need to express themselves!!
Tell them the truth! No, they’re too young! You will ruin their innocence!!
Vegan diet! No, too restrictive!
Stay at home moms are the best! No they’re not! They create needy and clingy kids!
Vaccinate, no, absolutely NOT!!! What is even in those meds??
Home school them!! No, you’ll make them socially awkward!!
There seems to be no correct way to raise them up. It seems like no matter what she does, there will be a group of experts and perfect parents who will disapprove.
But here is the thing though. My mother’s daughter will tell my daughters’ mother, it’s going to be ok. You will mess up and you will make mistakes. I can tell you my children swing from loving me dearly to loathing me completely at least 8 times a day, but they remain utterly obsessed with me, and I with them. We will be mad at each other, but we will be mad together. In each other’s presence. Mommy’s angry, but did you get enough to eat? Baby’s angry, but can we cuddle?
I salute every mom that’s doing her best. If you missed your kid’s birthday party because of circumstances beyond your control, I salute you. If you have to take 5 minutes to cry into a pillow because you just really need to talk to someone over the age of 6, I salute you. If you fed your kids take out for dinner because you were too exhausted to cook a balanced meal using all organic ingredients, I salute you.
If your guilt is killing you because your baby is more comfortable with your helper than with you, I see how that hurts you. I feel you. If you’re tired of refereeing fights between your kids and sometimes just leave them to figure things out on their own. If you let them watch YouTube on your tablet or play games on your phone just because you need a few minutes of peace.
“Being a mother is not about what you gave up to have a child, but what you’ve gained from having one.” – Unknown
For Mother’s Day, some moms want breakfast in bed, some want a pampering session at a spa, some want perfume or jewellery or clumsy little arts and crafts made by their kids. Others just want to hear their baby daddy say “You’re doing a great job, mom.” And yes. Some just want to be left alone for a few hours. I see you all Moms. You’re amazing, and you’re strong.
I find myself staring at my sleeping kids and wonder, do they really know how much I love them? Have I made it clear? Or did my little outburst earlier leave any doubt in their minds? Then I remember my mom, that strange woman who raised me. And I know for a fact that she would go to war for me. I don’t know a woman dead or alive, that I love more than that stranger. I’m a grown woman now, but when I get hurt, she’s the one I want to call. When my kids go rogue, she’s the one I turn to for advice.
Write your own book Mom. You’re raising unique children in a unique way because you’re a unique mom. There is no one correct way except “in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). So relax. You’re doing OK. I bet your kids will say the same.
Sibongile Mlotshwa Lugube
S’bongile is an awesome woman of God who spends some of her time being a wife, and mom to two seriously cute little girls. She also happens to be a singer and song writer – she’s written a few for gospel artists across the African continent; you may have also seen a few of her articles online. S’bongile is passionate about discussing faith, music, motherhood and women.
Thank you S’bongile for penning a beautiful tribute to all mothers. Love and the guidance of God offers the most powerful tools for raising children.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Do you feel misunderstood as a Mother? Have you found peace of mind in how you raise and care for your children? How can you celebrate Mums all over? We’d love to know!