Permit me to talk about my mother today. Follow me as I take you on this journey into our relationship. I promise, there’s a point to this story that you are about to read.
For those who don’t already know, I’ve had a bitter sweet relationship with my mother. When I was a child (between age 5-9), my mum was just a figure. I hardly remember much about her in those years to be honest because my dad was the centre of my world. Then my relationship with my mother changed after my dad left. This was where it all became bitter. We fought constantly. There was physical and verbal abuse. School was my only escape. I still remember how much I dreaded going home. I didn’t have my dad to protect me from my mother anymore. The more she hit me. the more I resented her and I became immune to the strokes of the cane. At a point I was a black sheep. I stared at her and talked back at her. I didn’t care. In fact, I was convinced she wasn’t my mother.
Going to uni in the UK was my big break; I was finally going to be free from all the torture. On the day I arrived in the UK, my mother came to pick me up from the airport and took me to Leeds. Due to my visa not coming out on time, she had gone a week ahead to help me with registration and other things. She had sorted out my accommodation and put a to do list on my wall because lectures were to start the next day. My mother did a lot for me but I didn’t appreciate it. I was too eager to get away from her. When she told me she had to spend a night in my room that evening (she was to leave the UK the next day) I was not in anyway pleased. “Why couldn’t she just leave now?” I called my dad immediately because he always resolved issues between my mum and I. He cajoled me to let her stay and she ended up sleeping on the floor while I slept on the bed. I told her the bed was too small for us to share. I wish I knew better.
When I moved back to Nigeria, things were worse. I wanted to be treated as an adult and I was ready to fight for that. So my mum and I were at loggerheads. I remember one argument we had and she threatened to hit me with a ladle and I looked straight into her eyes and I dared her. She didn’t hit me that day; my cousin held her back. After a series of fight, I just got tired of it all. I wanted peace. I had tried in the past to make peace with her but it never worked. I was convinced that she was the problem. I decided to change tactics. What if I was the problem? So I prayed to God to teach me how to be a better daughter. I told Him to teach me how to truly love her despite her behaviour towards me; after all, love conquers all?
Did that prayer work? I can tell you that it absolutely did. I said that prayer two years ago and I can tell you that there has been a drastic change in our relationship. We’ve lived together for the last four months and there have been no fights. That’s an absolute miracle. Even though I prayed, I had to take some conscious steps to begin to appreciate my mother. She is not a bad mother. She is human just like me and she is not perfect. I began to reflect on the things my mother has done for me. She taught me the value of hard work. My mother works so hard sometimes it is scary. She doesn’t believe in sitting around expecting people to get things done. She gets them done herself. Sound like someone you know?
She also taught me how to be resilient. My mum is an Ijebu woman to the core. When I tell people how Ijebu my mum is, they think I’m exaggerating. Everything is rationed in my mum’s house. You don’t eat more than one piece of meat. Taking a full glass of juice is not permitted. I could go on and on. When we travelled abroad and we wanted to spend all the shopping money that my dad had given us, my mum would say, “So because you have money is that a reason for you to spend everything?” I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated that statement when all I wanted to do was shop till I dropped. When my dad went broke, I appreciated my mum’s ‘Ijebuness’. It helped me to survive on less than £100 in a month. It helped me to survive when I had no money in my bank account. I learnt how to ration things during the rainy day and I learnt how to do it with a smile. My friends insult certain things about me today but they would not understand. There is a way being broke humbles you. You learn not to spend money anyhow. That was the lesson my mum was trying to teach me back then.
She taught me to be content. She taught me make use of what I have. She doesn’t believe in having too many friends. My mum lives a shielded life and so do I now. Although, I am praying to God to help me overcome that because of His calling upon my life. So what is the essence on this long story? It is to tell you that whatever may have happened in the past does not need to dictate your future. Your dad my have let you down. Your le boo may have broken your heart into a thousand pieces but you still have a choice. You have a choice to forgive and love them anyway. My mum and I could still be experiencing bitterness in our relationship if I didn’t make that decision to learn to love her. Have things been perfect since then? No way. She still says things that annoy me but I have learnt to shut my mouth and say “I am sorry” even when I am not wrong. When she begins to complain I listen and apologise afterwards.
I have chosen to let go of every hurtful word she has ever spoken to me. The scars of the beatings I received are no longer on my body but I had scars in my heart which God has healed now. Do you know how much burden it is to be bitter towards people? You can never move forward that way. I met someone recently who was complaining about what her mother did several years ago and do you know what I told her? I told her to let it go. Her mother has done what she has done. She made a mistake and it hurt; I didn’t deny that fact but the burden this girl was carrying was going to kill her if she did not release it. I told her to pray and then call her mum to tell her that she loved her.
It’s not easy to love people that have hurt you but you need to do it. Life is already difficult as it is. Why do you want to carry the extra burden of past hurts? Free yourself. If that pain is too deep, run to God. God made me a better daughter. In making me a better daughter, He has also made a better mother in ways I am yet to understand. I now appreciate certain things my mum did for me. I remember that night that I made her sleep on the floor in my room and it makes me sad. Till today, my action breaks my heart. How could I have done that? Months later when my friends would come and visit we would all squeeze ourselves on that same ‘small’ bed. Then again, I could have slept on the floor while she slept on the bed. I wish I had known better.
You have a chance to make things right. Don’t resent your parents. They are God’s gift to you. No matter how they have treated you or what they have done, you can still love them. I have learnt that you can love people without necessarily approving of their actions. Learn to differentiate the two. Love bears all; it truly conquers all.