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March 2018
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In Honour Of Womanhood: Her Strength

pebblesWe go through life and for long periods barely take account of who we are, what we are and where we are heading. Today, I am in a reflective mood and its all down to my mother. My mum and I have been through a lot together. I have loved her and there have been times when I didn’t like her. Yes, there have been times when I didn’t like my mum but that’s not to say I have never loved her. There have been times when I have been very angry at her, I mean anger that is livid and hot and if I had my way, if not for culture and tradition which demands we respect and honour our parents, there is a slight chance I may have done things that are unthinkable. I admit, she has done things that hurt. So, have I. We have fought to the point where we didn’t speak to each other for periods of time. Truth is, you cannot have two queens ruling the same house. That’s not possible, one must decide to become a princess.

Winter is one of my best seasons which some people look at me and think, you must be crazy. Summer is good but the heat and I are not best of friends. It is one of the most uncomfortable times for me because I cannot take the heat, it practically renders me lifeless sometimes. I cannot stay in a room that’s hot or in a hot environment. I bargain with people on London transport to leave the windows of buses open. In the summer, I don’t fancy going underground because I have learnt my lesson. When it gets too hot down there, I go into a panic attack mood. So, I have learnt to leave my house early and take the bus to get to wherever it is I need to get to.

And so, life too is in seasons; winter, autumn, spring and summer. I bet you no one likes the winter of life but we do have to deal with, so you best adjust your seat belt when you find yourself in one and work your way through it. It has been winter for close to a year now and a really cold winter of multi-layered levels. From relationships to dreams to daily living, it has percolated into every aspect of my life. But there have been some constants and they have become the props that hold me together and reassure me about the advent of summer in the metaphorical sense.

My mum is one of the constants.  I remember in December, I got sick when I went out and it was really bad. Luckily, the person I was with had a knowledge of my history and so she knew what to do. Then, she called my mum, who dropped everything to come over to mine and stayed with me until 2am at night before she left with my aunt. And since December, no matter how much I try to put up an act that I am okay, she calls me…I have stopped counting. She does my shopping and at other times, comes over to help me with my cooking. If it was a one off, I would say, okay, thanks mum. But it has been like this for 15 years. My mum dropped everything when I got sick all those years ago and came to London with me to look after me. I tell you, we have been through some shitty situations together, cried at the doctor’s diagnosis, cried at the lack we sometimes had to endure in a foreign land, cried at the fact that we had to adjust our lifestyle in order to get on. No more was she the Madame that told her driver what she wanted or where she wanted to go and sat comfortably at the back seat of her car. Instead, she got on the bus like everyone and paid her fare to get a ride. No more was she the boss but she had to work for others.  Even if she does not tell me, I am sure she sometimes gets angry at life and God like I do, and ask questions. I tell you, it hurt to see my mother go through that change and still hurts but I refuse to go to my grave discouraged. I rejoice that she will live to see me do what I was told I could not do.

I marvel at her strength. It is a strength that can adjust to any situation it finds itself. My mum reminds me of women world over, especially African women, who you will find with a baby strapped to their back, yet they are busy toiling their land because they know if they don’t, they will die of hunger. It is a strength I admire because it is willing to go the extra mile for others. I look back now and see there are things I could have done differently but I still have tomorrow to do better. Her strength is one I wish I have and I hope I have it. For it is an unassuming strength. Her strength is what it is for what it is. You cannot add to it or take away from it. It is a strength that cares for the masses. It is an indomitable strength that cannot be overlooked or ignored.

I don’t know if it is the fact that lately, I have been having thoughts of my own daughter and what she would be like that has led me to finally acknowledge my mother’s strength.  I have been writing letters to a face I have no knowledge of. I don’t even know if her father is African or Caucasian at that. I just know, I want  a daughter. I cannot describe the hunger but it is one that has pushed me to write a piece titled, ‘For My Little Girl.’  The same hunger makes me go into shops, especially shoe shops for I love shoes and I pick shoes for little girls, and I have paid for one. And so, I wonder the type of mother I will be? Will she have fights with me like I had/have with my mother? Will we laugh together like my mum and I now do when we talk about siblings and family members? Will we sit together in silence when we remember some painful parts of our family history that the world has no knowledge of and agree that there are better days ahead, and so we must look forward.

Hope looking upI wonder what it is she will notice about me and wish she had like I wish I had my mother’s strength.

But this I know, it is the strength of a woman that wakes her up at night when her baby cries for food and she snaps into action to feed her child.

It is the strength of a woman that helps her raise that same baby to become a lady or a gentleman. And though we all don’t turn out the way our mothers would wish, they did have the dream for us.

It is the strength of a woman that would make her work two jobs to keep her family alive and together.

It is the strength of a woman that sometimes makes her stay and endures in a home where she is not happy but tells herself, her children matter more.

It is the strength of a woman that keeps her going and she does not give up on the child many call ‘drugie’ or ‘junkie.’  And so, she hopes and hopes, and prays and pays for the different interventions to get him cleaned up.

It is the strength of a woman that makes her get up and when the authorities say anything that is incorrect about her child at school, she goes down to make sure the record is set straight. It is the same strength that will make her look her child in the eye and say, you are wrong. And this, ‘Not in my house.’

It is the strength of a woman that nurtures leaders and keep a home together.

It is with that same strength that she fights for her home when a little ‘Queen B’ steps up to her man. And she let’s her know, ‘Hell to the No’, you were not there when I picked him and cleaned him up, so you best get stepping before I step on you and step the life out of you.

It is that same strength that will make her say, enough is enough because she knows she is worth so much more. And so, she can step away from a man who does not value her.

Her strength is like a set of balanced pebbles, stacked on each other for they know, they can trust the foundation to hold them together. That same strength is hopeful and refuses to give up.

It is a strength, I pray each day to possess, so  my daughter can pray the same prayer.


9 Responses to “In Honour Of Womanhood: Her Strength”

  1. Temitayo says:

    Awww…this is such a sweet post. Will you let your Mum read this? Does she know this? That mother/daughter relationship is a very interesting ones…battles seem more intense in teenage years, I think because of Mother’s fears that certain things do not happen to their daughters. And daughters thinking their mothers want to recreate themselves through them. As soon as both mother and daughter understand that they are both royal ‘Queen and Princess’ (in themselves) and not in contest for some King’s attention all the wahala really ends.

    The Strength of A Woman is phenomenal, I agree. And many have used it against her almost to the point of servitude. Have you read Buchi Emecheta’s ‘Joys of Motherhood’?

  2. Belinda Otas says:

    Thanks Temi 🙂 I have a few of Buchi Emecheta’s books but yet to read the one you mentioned. It is going up on my list then. I better search for my copy. Thanks for the info and your nice message. 🙂

  3. Ogochukwu says:

    Wow…I almost wished it would never end. One of those articles that make me proud to be a woman. Would it be OK to cut out some extracts from this piece? I promise to acknowledge the author…(and bring traffic this way 🙂

    In so many ways I can also say my own mother has been/still is…a strong woman.

    I have also read Buchi Emecheta’s “Joys of Motherhood”….and like Tayo, I also think your mum should see this.

    God bless

  4. Belinda Otas says:

    Hi Ogo, Thanks for your kind words. Yes, you can take extracts, acknowledge author as stated and of course, bring traffic this way. Send us a link when you do. Thanks!

  5. dta says:

    this brought tears to my eyes cos all through I had a picture of my mum and her strength.
    this sums it up ..”Her strength is like a set of balanced pebbles, stacked on each other for they know, they can trust the foundation to hold them together. That same strength is hopeful and refuses to give up.”

    Good piece

  6. Belinda Otas says:

    @ DTA, thank you. Good to know you can identify.

  7. I loved reading this cos I can relate. My mum and I have had our share of ups and downs, but we’ve always come through 🙂 Like you, I also wonder what kind of relationship I would have with my children, especially a daughter. The mother/daughter relationship can be complicated, but where would we be without the love and support of our mothers?

    Thanks Belinda.

  8. Belinda Otas says:

    @ Favoured Girl, you are welcome. It sure can be a complicated relationship but one that is very important and in a way you learn form it. True talk, where would we be eh? 🙂

  9. […] but for today, I say ‘tata’ to progress. Today, I choose to celebrate my mum for her strength and support in my life. I think Mother’s Day should not be resigned to one day of the year. It should be […]

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