By Nomaliqhwa/ @nomalili
To read part I click here
Trigger warning: suicide, sexual assault.
My mother was and remains a person.
A soft kind person, hardened by this process of watching her children grow into (not so well adjusted) adults despite the hardship she had to endure playing the role of “evil mother”. Surely her effort should have been worth something but here she was, checking her daughter into a clinic for 21 days.
A mental health clinic, because of severe depression.
Checking her in after she made a very serious statement to the effect of taking her own life. Checking her in after a date rape incident. And a month spent on the couch not eating. And being labelled a bad parent. A neglectful mother. As if she was not careful and there. But she was. All the time. Careful not to suffocate and just let me be. And I knew this because of her softness and her humanity.
I always cast my mother in the role of ‘mean mother’ whenever I thought about the story of my childhood. A woman who was too busy working to be the mother who packed my lunch and came to watch my netball matches on a Tuesday afternoon. As if my being in the team had nothing to do with the fact that the school I went to was too small to form a team without me. As if the games we played were anything close to being interesting, 11 year olds playing with a ball in a game that did not allow them to take more than two steps with the ball. I always held it against her that she did not come to watch my cross country races, but it’s not like I was particularly good at long distance running either. I was upset as if it wasn’t a working day and my mother worked.
She worked hard.
She was a boss of a non- governmental organisation and so she did not have the time to come and do this. And I wouldn’t have wanted her to because that would have taught me to chuck away priorities and not be uncomfortable in order to be comfortable. And that yes, being a woman was hard but it did not mean that it was not possible to be a woman capable of being powerful. And I would have hated to have grown all the years that I have no knowing that.
That is love. The kind of love that is productive. The kind of love that grows. Nurturing and kind. My mother.
But I say it is not until the eighth day into my stay at the clinic that I realized that my mother did not deserve one ounce of the hatred I had harboured and threw at her day in and day out. It was not until the eighth day that I realized my mother was a warrior.
On that eighth day I was sitting and thinking about when I had been assaulted outside my home. It had happened on a particularity sunny day and really is the reason I hate sunny days. I hate the blue sky, I hate the contrast of the green leaves against the sunny sky and white wall. I hate the sound of happy children, laughing and screaming in glee. I think I hate all those things because they created this sense of security. It was against the background of all things wonderful that a couple came and assaulted me. In broad daylight. And my first instinct was to run home screaming. And then my mother did something so peculiar that in my rush to understand it I just put it in my ‘mean mum’ box.
She went out the gate and she didn’t come back until she had found people who saw what happened to me, a guard to take down my statement and an all too trigger happy neighbour who had guns in his garage. Well very probably had guns in his garage. She didn’t go out there to ask any of these people for help. She had just gone to find the two very violent people who had hurt me and do what? Hold me them to account? Beat them with her bare very soft hands?
I just thought she left me to reel in the hurt but I don’t believe I truly believed that, even at the time. I think, in that moment, I was just too fragile to think even though my mother had always pushed me to think.
So on the eighth day I thought. And then I cried because I was so very sorry for not seeing this.
It was plain as day. She loved me. So much.
Every relationship with men and the world is supposedly formed around and because of the relationship you have with your father. This is so dumb, because mothers are the ones who raise strong women. The ones who carry whole families.
But no one teaches you to love your mother. If you are a girl you are taught to love your father and be the ‘little girl’ to him. Every relationship with men and the world is supposedly formed around and because of the relationship you have with your father. This is so dumb, because mothers are the ones who raise strong women. The ones who carry whole families. Who bring more to the table than they will ever take. Who educate, love and nourish.
The love of my life.
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