When I left home at the age of eighteen to go to university, I was excited about two things above all. The first was my new life, the life that would begin with being a Rhodes student and end with unprecedented success in the journalism industry. The second was the idea that I would be so far away from my mother.
My mother is a staunch and passionate Christian woman who looks at the world through Jesus-tinted magnifying glasses. For her, there are only two types of people in the world. Those who have found real life (via her faith) – and everyone else. She was equally committed to her faith, and to the task of raising morally upright children. My siblings and I carried both the lessons and bruises of midnight prayers and 3 am rendezvous with the blood and fire of Jesus, into our adult lives.
My mother and I were different
I did not understand my mother. Her constant desire to correct me, albeit out of love, caused me to feel like I could never be good enough to please her God. So I eventually deserted what to me was always my mother’s religion, and began to practice African spirituality, much to her disapproval and disappointment. Our relationship became one of people who loved each other best from the next room. Our conversations would end in arguments, and sighs of disappointment from her. Even when I eventually finished my studies and moved closer to home, to my mother, her daughter never came back.
Being a mother is an unrelenting and steadfast love story.
The year I started a gratitude challenge in my journal, and asked the universe to help me manifest a better relationship with my mother, I fell pregnant out of wedlock. A twisted turn of events considering her rather strong opinions on what she called “immorality”. It made things between us worse.
Having my son humbled me
I gave up on the idea of that relationship ever improving and moved away from home once more. I moved in with a man who eventually left me. After I gave birth to my son, I tried to raise him on my own, which tested the limits of my sanity. One day I packed my bags, swallowed my pride, and went back to my mother’s house once more. She now takes care of me and my son, and continues to correct me where she sees the need for it.
For the first time since I started ‘adulting’, I humbled myself to my mother’s corrections, because I had learnt that I actually need them. My mother is brutally honest, emphasis on brutal, but she is always coming from a place of love. An unrelenting and steadfast love.
Being a mother is an unrelenting and steadfast love story. I can never give up on my son regardless of what he becomes. Regardless of how far away he goes from home. I have to hold him close now, and one day, be willing to let go and love him from a distance. When do you do that? How do you do that? Love appropriately for the season he is in. It is an almost impossible love. A lesson the universe has been teaching both me and my mother. For her, by taking away the daughter she thought she created in her image and likeness, and giving her a daughter she no longer recognised. For me, by giving me a mother who is unchanging and strong in her convictions. I am constantly reminded that to love is to appreciate, and not to possess, and that to let go is not to give up, but to accept. Motherhood is a practice in that delicate balance. Lessons I have learnt from both having my son, and through my mother.
I learnt a new reality
The more I have learnt about the world, the more I understood why my mother wanted to raise us with a set of values she felt would bring us security and stability. However, I have also learnt the security your parents build for you can be an illusion, or at least just temporary.
I want my son to never be afraid to take up space in the world. I named him “Mdali” because I want him to know from an early age, that he not only has the power, but also the responsibility, to create his own reality.
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