Mum, We Won’t Forget What You Did
Today’s my mother’s birthday. She never fails to express how important it is that I write something for her on this day. Even though I’ve made it a point that I find it difficult to write under that kind of expectation and pressure. Last year, for example, I didn’t write anything.
It haunted me.
This year, she hasn’t brought it up — not directly anyway — and if you’re reading this Mom, this is going to be a little different from what you’ve read before.
I have been writing for you. But today, I’ll write for us two.
I love you, Mum. That’s one thing that I know for sure. I also know that we have a complicated relationship — at least, from my end.
I can also see how much we, your kids, changed you.
As your firstborn child, I can imagine the pressures to raise a good person. I can imagine how things were at the time, the moves for Dad’s work in Wum, Bamenda, Bafoussam. I can imagine you working, schooling and trying to raise not one, not two, but now four children.
That is all I can do — imagine. But no matter how much I read or think about it, I will never carry a child in my body.
When I take away the “Mum” in you, I see a woman whose body has brought forth life, whose breasts have fed those bodies, and how now, is struggling to keep up with technology, young adults, her siblings, her work, her community.
I see a powerful woman, who took all the bad things life threw at her, all the grief through losing her youngest brother, her father. I see a woman who takes care of her mother, fearing each day that you are with her could be her last.
I see you, Mom. And I love you.
I see that everything you did, you did because you thought it was best. You did because that’s all you knew.
There was no Google, no counseling, no Social Security, no therapy. As you moved across the country, relying on your siblings, learning on the fly, I cannot imagine how that can change someone.
We see you now and complain about everything. That you scold at us, that you’re mostly upset.
Guess what? I am mostly upset. Queen can tell you. I am angry about a lot of things. Guess what more? I see a therapist. I read books. I talk to Queen. I talk to Dad.
Even though I still have a community of people to talk with, I still have a hard time dealing with these emotions and the effect the people I love the most.
So, Mom. The point I am trying to make is that if I could go back, I would be more understanding. I would try to see things from your perspective. Even when I didn’t agree with you, I would not take it as personally as I did.
I would not fight you as hard as I did.
Because as much as I sit here, dealing with how burnt I was ( and I am), I know that you got burnt too. And not just by us, your kids. But Dad. By work. By Life.
You’ve been burnt many times, and the African culture is such that you can’t even admit to yourself that you have. You are not even allowed to feel broken because you are the mother — the pillar.
You birthed us. Fed us. Clothed us. Now we get older, what do we do?
Mum, I am sorry for forgetting. I am not saying that I am great, joyful and happy. No. I am taking this moment to put all those barriers aside and let you know, at least on this one day you’ve made a point to have me write to you, that I have not forgotten.
We may not talk as much in that house. We may not use our words as much. We may grovel and complain and cry, but we haven’t forgotten.
We will never forget that you chose to bring us into this world, do your best with the hand God dealt you and that each day that passes, you try hard to be there for us and all the people you love.
For all your kids, I write this to you to wish you a happy birthday.
We see you Mum. And we love you.
Your first son,
Written on Sept 15th.