When I was growing up, especially in my late teens and the first three years into twenties, there is so much that I told myself I would do different from my mother and many other older women I had interacted with. I told myself that I needed to be this person who will awaken the next generation of these versatile women who were positively resilient, go-getters, goal setters and independent. See, this was probably just when I was getting into media and had really not interacted with many women from different backgrounds and professions. All I carried and still carry is this insatiable hunger to be different, to stand out, to inspire generations especially the girl child. To make men appreciate and respect women. To be different. Then I started meeting different women, I read about some more, I was narrated to stories of exceptional women. Then I realized that maybe I thought a difference was what everyone felt and saw. I was wrong. I did not need to be applauded to know that I was what I wanted to be. I refused to be defined by the societal norms. I refused to be defined by my past or be measured by my social circles or be intimidated by my sex. I refused. A rebel was born.
Each day, I realize that I am more like maybe more of the things I hated in those women. I hated the extra effort that my mother used to put in at work where she had a very little, almost no appreciation. But she kept on doing it. For the 31 years she has been a teacher, she has always been known to be hard worker, result oriented, disciplinarian, clean, and organized and basically, a teacher some head teachers have clashed when each wanted her on their staff. Parents have transferred their children to the schools she has transferred to. I never got it. For a long time, I HATED the way she was used to work so hard yet it seemed in turn never got return on her investment. However, every time I visit her at school in the recent past, I am always amazed at how her pupils, parents and even former pupils treat her. Even the bullies bend before her. She is not big bodied, she rarely beats them but they respect her. You ask them why and they say that she is the best teacher and friend they have ever had. Even when she struggled with finances, she ensured that they sat their exams when they could not pay. See, I am not Mother Teresa or anything close to my mother, but I find myself working extra. Not because I will always be looking at having something extra on my work score or CV, but because I do not want to be associated with defeat. I don’t want to fail myself. No one cares that much if the system fails, because someone else can do what you do. Also, no one cares if you fail. It is only you who knows your strategic plan. I know what I want, in the short and long term. I work my ass off just to see it materialize. And trust me, success is good. Very good.
Another thing that I prayed to God id that to enable me get my family “in good time”, bless it with unity that there will be no divorce and keep away the spirit of death. Maybe I just never said it loudly but I had my reservations about single parents, whether by choice, circumstances or widowed. Sometimes I used to think maybe if my mother remarried or my dad was alive, life would have been much better. I always wondered why someone would walk out of a marriage, or someone would choose not to ever want to get married, or refuse to remarry. I just did not get it. But the older I get, I don’t think there is a time I treat these women with more respect than the next day. I sometimes just think of those that I know and I feel so remorseful that it took me so long to appreciate their choices. I still pray to God to let my children have their mum and dad living together amicably but I think everyone should look beyond the “single parent” tag and appreciate the amazing work the parents have done. The kids have turned not just fine but awesome. No one wants to play the double role but they do it so graciously that you would wonder where the extra energy comes from. Seeing a dad take his daughter to the salon, discussing the brands of sanitary towels along the supermarket aisles, the mothers nursing their sons after circumcision or teaching them how to put on boxers ( yes, it is not automatic like panties), it is amazing. The parents who take the double role to ensure quality education.
My mother turned 53 years today. I texted her in the morning and I was emotional as I wrote that message, more than any other year. Maybe for the longest time, I saw it normal for her to take care of my siblings and I because after all, she is our mother. I am so glad that every day, I see a bigger picture. I am glad that I picked some of those traits from her (Even telling my siblings to carry sweaters on a hot January afternoon). I am the strong woman majorly because of her. I am so proud to be called her daughter.
Happy birthday Love of my life , Mummy dearest !