A tribute to Mama


Growing up, I didn’t have a close relationship with my mother. I was a teenager who felt she “bothered me” too much. She would wake me up in the mornings when I really just wanted to sleep in. She would make me get up and go do the morning chores she had assigned to me. If she woke me up and I didn’t get out of bed, she would keep returning to my room until I got up and got out.

I was not allowed to watch TV in the mornings, it was unacceptable!

“Mornings are for chores”, she would say.

I could only watch TV when I had completed my chores, but even then, she would still interrupt my TV time by giving me more chores to do. It was like she never ran out of chores or errands for me to run. I hated it!

We had a house help who usually cooked our meals because my mum had to work a lot. If my mother found out that when the help was in the kitchen, I wasn’t there with her, she would scold the life out of me! I didn’t understand it, I mean, why did I have to be in the kitchen if the help was already there? Even when she was doing as little as boiling water, mum would ask me to go and stand there. She made me watch everything the help did and always told the help to make me participate in the cooking too. And when it was she who was in the kitchen, I dared not be anywhere else. Even if I had a friend over and mum was cooking or just in the kitchen, she would make me and my friend go to the kitchen and assist or watch her.

When a boy started to like me and I liked him back, my mum won’t hear any of it. I remember her tearing the letter he had written to me to shreds, I cried and cried. It was like, nothing I did was right in my mum’s eyes. Worst off, she wouldn’t stop talking, always advising me about every aspect of my life even up to whom I choose to keep as a friend.

Why couldn’t my mum be like my dad? I would wonder. Dad didn’t talk as much, he wasn’t always in my face either. I grew closer to my dad and further away from my mum. I was sure she hated me and I couldn’t wait to gain admission into University so I could go far away from her.

I got the admission and went into University, and she won’t stop lecturing me about what I wore. I liked to wear clothes that showcased my cleavage but she won’t have it. Why was this woman such a worry? Why didn’t she just love me? Her behaviour never made sense to me, neither did her constant calls. She was always calling my phone, it was too much!

When I clocked 27 years, I was set to get married. And for the first time in my life, I began to feel like my mother loved me.  She worked so hard to make my wedding right, she travelled to Lagos for my shopping and had sleepless nights planning my wedding. It turned out beautifully because of her.

I moved into my husband’s house and started my wifely duties, it was effortless! I cleaned and kept a neat home. I was able to cook delicious meals for my husband, meals he never left unfinished. He would clear his plate and afterwards, shower me with praises of what a good cook I was. I realized that I was able to do all that because my mum had taught me how. All that time I spent assisting and watching in the kitchen paid off! If she hadn’t taught me, I would have struggled to care for my home.

Then my babies started coming and I had a perfect understanding of how much my mother loved me. The way I felt when I looked at my children, that overwhelming kind of love that made my heart swell as if it would burst out of my chest, must have been how my mother felt about me too.

I remember saying as a teenager that when I became a mother, I would not yell like my mother did, boy was I wrong! As my children began to grow, I had every reason to yell and feel frustrated. For some reason, you have to yell to get kids to do what they already know they are supposed to do. My mother was not crazy after all.

I began to advise my kids whether they wanted to hear it or not. There was no way I was going to sit quietly and allow them make bad decisions. They would not make a mess of their lives, not under my watch! I loved them too much to let that happen. Each of them had to be well behaved – speak properly to everyone. Be respectful to all, do their chores when they were supposed to do them and not later. No one was allowed to turn on the TV until they finished their chores.

Ah! I finally understood my mum. I finally “got it”. I saw beyond all she ever did. She was just being my mother and making sure I led a path that would create a good future for me. And a good future it did provide.

Looking back now, I usually wonder who would have helped plan my wedding if I didn’t have my mum. Who would have gone above and beyond to give me a perfect day like she did? Who would have taken care of me after I had my baby like she did? Cooked my meals, bath my child, stay up way into the night with me without giving up on me? The times I faced marital hardships, who would have given me unbiased advice, filled with wisdom like she did? Who would wipe my errors and cover my shame? Who else would dream my dreams and sweat my nightmares?

Your father may be great, and your husband too, but there is a limit to the things a man can do for you regardless of how much he loves you, some things are just meant for a mother to handle. Another woman may be good to you, even wonderful, but she would not be your “mother”. Your mother is irreplaceable, she is the only one who would make endless sacrifices for you, and the only one who you are allowed to get angry with because no matter what you say in the heat of your anger, you know that she would not hold it against you. It would definitely be forgiven and forgotten.

It took getting married and becoming a mother myself to make me appreciate my mother completely, I am glad it wasn’t too late. Many women have taken their mother’s for granted and never had the chance to fix that, may that never be your story.

Pick up your phone this moment and let your mother know just how much you appreciate her presence and love in your life.


Written by Joy Terundu Ogbugoh

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