Happy Mother's Day!
It's Mother's Day in many countries except in the UK. We celebrated ours in March, but I'm taking a moment to be thankful for the woman who gave birth to me, and my brothers and sisters – our mother.
I know she won't read this, she's further away from civilisation! The message I sent this morning went unread, but I will still go ahead and celebrate her being my mum. As much as you've read about my father, I'm honoured to say that my mum made me. She grew up a fighter and raised me to be one as well. I've raised two children, away from family, but one thing remains true, what my mum taught me has stayed with me. Used to complain about having to do housework even when we had a helper. I'd be chilling like a princess after a meal, expecting the maid to wash the dishes, and mum would say, "sit down, let Fortune do it."
Oh, how I used to hate it!
These Manicured Hands Can Plough Fields, Make Bread, and Knit
Being hands-on is what I grew up doing the most. If I had my way, I wouldn't have done as much housework, but my mum insisted. Laundry, dishes, cooking (I could cook for the whole family by age 7), ironing, gardening, feeding the chickens, and transforming a live chicken into finger-licking goodness, I did it all! I know back home, what I'm talking about is regular stuff, but not in the UK. From ploughing, planting, weeding the maize fields, harvesting and shelling maize, don't let the manicured hands fool you, I can do it! I just choose not to do certain things now, especially gardening. However, all these activities became second nature and would serve me well when I had my own children. So many times, I've wished if my mum lived near so she could to put the kids in line as far as helping around the house is concerned. They do try, but not to the same extent as I did.
Today, I decided to make some home-made bread. A friend of mine gave me some wholemeal flour sourced directly from the millers. I've been sitting on it for a while but thought I'd use it today. Why? Because making bread from scratch always reminds me of my mum. There were certain times when we were cash strapped and buying bread would be nothing but a mere luxury. My mum was always a step ahead; very brainy I'd say. She then decided to ask one of our neighbours who worked in a bakery to teach her how to make bread and rolls. The man did, and so my mum taught me as well. The moment I started doing it comfortably...well, I became the chief-breadmaker. It was fun at first, but I grew up to resent it. That and the fact that I associated baking your own bread with poverty. I never knew she'd equipped me with a skill that I'd value for life. To this day, I don't do measurements, I don't use a bread-maker, and yet, my bread always comes out well. I just know how to do it, without thinking much about it. Thank you, mum!
Pretty Little Things
Although life could be tough sometimes, my mum provided for us in so many ways she could. She'd sew items for sale, sell stuff, and tried numerous small-scale businesses to supplement my dad's meagre income. I can knit and do cross-stitch too, my mum taught me. She also believed in me and tried the best she could so I could attend decent schools, even when she didn't have an opportunity to complete her schooling. Despite all that, my mum is sharp, a cut above the rest. Ask anyone who knows me well, and they will tell you that my mum and I sometimes clashed a lot. Usually got in trouble for talking back; always paid the price. It's only now that I understand how irritating I must have been because I simply don't like it when my daughter talks back at me.
Although my mum rarely verbalised how much she loved us, she showed it through her actions. For that, I am deeply grateful. As a child, you're bound to compare yourself with others, especially those who come from slightly well-off families. However, my mum had a way of making me believe that I had enough and that I was enough. Not only that, she taught me how to take care of what I had. It's something that I now do naturally. Some of my 'best' items of clothing are several years old. I learnt to invest in quality, not quantity a long time ago. That's what my mum used to rave about - quality! Even when I didn't like the style or cut, my mum would still highlight quality. Above all, my mum taught us to pray at a very young age and had it not been for prayer, I don't know where some of us would be.
Took a walk down memory lane this morning, and it transported to my first grade. My first teacher was called Mrs Duff, and I simply adored her. I was on the bright side, and so, she treated me rather well if I may say. One day, Mrs Duff didn't turn up for lessons, and another teacher (can't remember her name) stepped in. As we were doing our Maths classwork, she stood next to me and checked my book. I thought I was doing OK, silently working away, but she didn't like what she saw. She slapped me across the face, as she shouted, "what are you doing?" I was confused. To this day, I don't know what my crime was. Nevertheless, the mighty slap was followed by a nose-bleed. I dare not go into details about what she made me do to stem the bleed. After school, I walked home. Mum took one look at me and asked, "What happened?" Started crying as I told her what had transpired.
That was a very long time ago, and I can't remember some of the things that have happened in recent years. But I remember that day so vividly as if it was yesterday. My mum was sitting under a tree shade. She was wearing a red dress, that I remember. The moment I told her what had happened, she leapt from where she was seated and started running towards the school. The poor woman didn't even put shoes on! I definitely need to ask her what happened, but I know that she turned up at school, ready to beat the teacher up! Now she's a prayer warrior; I can tell you that. But even as a young child, I was so proud to know that she always had my back. To this day, I am going places thanks to my mother's support, encouragement, prayers and values instilled in me from a very young age.
I am grateful for my mum and pray to God that she may be blessed with many good years so she can enjoy the fruits of her labour. I don't come from a perfect family, but I know one thing for sure: what you see in me is mainly due to how I was brought up. Mum was also good at spotting idiosyncrasies that make individuals unique. In the 90s, there used to be a girl who was disliked by some people because they said she was full of herself: the way she walked, spoke and dressed just didn't go down well with some locals. Not my mum! She asked her to be one of her bridesmaids because, "Sarah is so pretty." Sometime last year, I asked her what she remembered about me as a child. She immediately said, "You always loved beautiful things. As a toddler, you'd ask for shoes the moment you got up. And so, I always made sure that you had beautiful shoes." And she did.
Because she spoke beauty into my life, most people treated me like a princess. I probably acted like one too. My uncles would spoil me with so much good stuff. I remember when one of my uncles used to visit, insisting on cooking vegetables a certain way because it was classy. At some point, he was hustling to make ends meet, yet he never lost his touch. He'd turn up and say, "When I make my money, the only person I'm going to take to the hotel for lunch is Fortune, because she's the only one who appreciates nice things!" Let's just say I got the genes from my mother's side even though my mum is very humble. My auntie though...yes, something else! Each time I talk to her on the phone, she almost always asks for a beautiful dress and some perfume.
Happy Mother's Day to you too auntie!
What I've been trying to say is, my mum never made me feel 'guilty' for aiming to be the best even when we didn't have much. Most people who see me for the first time usually jump to the conclusion that I'm somehow loaded. I've seen their levels of respect being adjusted when they realise that actually, I'm just a regular girl! My mum tried the best she could to make sure that no matter how tough life would be, I'd always have a few beautiful moments and items to cherish. As a result, I'm richer than most people who earn significantly more than I do.
I am so grateful to have been blessed with such a phenomenal woman in my life.
Happy Mother's Day!
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