A Trip Down Mother Lane
By Lightness Mtaita ~ Senior Project Coordinator at Empower on 18 May 2020Parenting
Mother, that name seems to bring all sorts of thoughts and memories to my mind since I began my journey with her long before I had hands and feet, long before people could call me a baby, long before I graced this world with my presence. It amazes me that even before I was a reality, I still depended on her for survival, and she still took care of me as if I were. The term mother is associated with bringing forth, with birthing, with nurturing, with taking care of.
My Mumzie is the true definition of an African mother, from the secret pinches in public to keeping me upright with her side-eye, to waking me up early in the morning to “clean the house” when really all she wanted was company, because we all know there is a silent rule that states that if mother is up, you cannot be asleep. Although she may have her side of the story, I distinctly remember her waiting for my then favourite TV Show (Passions) to begin for her to send me to the kitchen or bedroom, or anywhere that was not near the TV. I still remember how you would wake me up when I just got to bed because I forgot to turn off the light in the kitchen, or I forgot to put one cup back in the cupboard; the question always was “iyo taa inammulikia nani?”, or “Hicho kikombe unamwachiya nani” - translation; “who are you leaving the light on for”, or “who are you leaving that cup for?”. Trust me, these are just but a sample of the many rhetorical questions my mother would ask me. I always wondered what would happen if I answered with a name, no need for wondering, it is pretty obvious what would happen.
We all remember the famous "if you want to live in my house you abide by my rules”, but really her rules applied to any and every house, whether granny’s or aunty’s or a friend’s or just the grocery store. You could almost feel the side-eye staring at you whether she was present or not during your mischief. Now that I am half grown-up, I still have a lot of growing to do, I wonder how I could not see that all she was doing was fixing my crown, fixing my manners, and really just molding me to be a good human being. How blind I was to her rebuke and her correction, always focusing on how uncomfortable it made me feel and not on how much better it would make me.
Isn't it funny that the older you get, a mother takes on different roles, like somehow she starts becoming your friend, you start to talk about boys, and neighborhood gossip and she starts to confide in you? But there is always that moment where you get too comfortable, and she has to take back her mother hat and remind you who she is. For me, that moment was in grade seven just before I turned thirteen and joined the “I know it all” train when I said to her “Mom, you do not have to know all my friends” following her remark that she did not know the boy that had called me on the family landline; you know, the one that was protected with wooden casing and a padlock that we always found a way around. Normally mothers are more than capable to deal with our mischief, but there are those rare occasions when they feel the need to invite their husbands to the scene and say the scariest thing any mother could and that was “when your father gets home, you will tell him yourself what you have done”. I heard this statement twice in my lifetime. Once in this instance and the second time when I stole money from the “loose change container” and was caught red-handed. Now, I am sure you can imagine the uh uhs and umms that came before the story was told. I cannot begin to describe how I felt, all I can say is it was frightening, embarrassing, and it is just downright wrong to have to recite your mischief to anyone, let alone your father. No matter how smart we think we are, our mothers are always one step ahead of us.
In the same token of mothers taking on different roles, I watched my mother take care of my nephew as if he was her whole world. Once she was speaking on the phone and of course I was eavesdropping when she said “ why didn't you tell me there is so much joy in being a grandmother”; as if one generation was not enough, after all we put her through, she still had more to give to the next. My mother is a comedian on the down-low, she is the type to say a joke that everyone would laugh at and she would still have a straight face. Also, you know how people write lol on messages but aren’t really laughing, my mom does that in person, she will literally say “usiniuwe mie” (you’re killing me with laughter) with a straight face, which makes me burst out in laughter each time. Laughter aside, she would jump in front of a bullet for me without even thinking, “what’s there to think about” she would say. There is no one stronger than my mother, okay maybe Dwayne Johnson, but other than him, there is nobody stronger than my mother. There are few giants I know, and am proud to have met but to quote Ebony Stewart my mother like most mothers is the “kind of giant that has been through what she has been through but you can still depend on”.
Mother, I love you with all of me, and I have you to thank for the half-grown up I have become, and the full grown-up I am yet to be. I know that the more I go through this journey of life, my gratitude for you will increase exponentially as I experience what you have experienced. I am beyond grateful to have been and to still be your baby girl. You have shown me what love looks like, you have shown me what it takes to turn a house into a home, you have modeled strength, grace, and patience right before my eyes. You showed me, love, even when I did not deserve it, you believed in me even when I lost hope in my essence, you grabbed every opportunity to make me happy, even if it meant giving up a piece of yourself, and sacrificing one more thing. My prayer for you is that there would always be joy in your heart, a smile on your face, and peace in your soul, and I hope that I may have something to do with that :-). Cheers to all our mothers, we celebrate you and the memories you created for us!
By Lightness Mtaita ~ Senior Project Coordinator at Empower