I have a friend on Facebook, whose posts sometimes rub me the wrong way, simply because I know he hasn’t actually lived those experiences he talks about and thus, shouldn’t not be bothering to offer advice in those fields.
He recently wrote about the fictional character, Nnu Ego, in a novel Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, and how many moms are like that these days. Frustrated young moms who barely live their own lives, in the hope that the children whom they are sacrificing everything for, would grow up and be able to buy “wrapper” for them. In this context, “wrapper” means different things to different women.
His most recent one was on single moms, who put the blame of how their children turn out on the absent fathers. He had gone on to castigate and then talk about how his own mom had singlehandedly raised four boys. He wrote about her favourite methods of discipline were fasting and reading the Bible and the fact that these had worked wonders with him and his brothers, who have now all turned out well. God bless their mom.
I was enjoying his piece up until he started castigating the young moms for being weak themselves, and that it would be a struggle to train their kids. He literally said there was nowhere those children would have turned out right with the kind of mother they had. At this stage, I wish I could have a sit-down with him and tell him about the different struggles that his mom might have gone through, most of which she hid from them in order for them to turn out right. I bless God for his mom, but judging other moms on your momma’s standards is unfair. I just pity his wife to-be.
I have been through both scenarios this young man had painted in both posts I have been frustrated, I have felt like the weight of the whole world was on my shoulder and wondered if I would be able to mother anybody, the next day, I just felt tired and overwhelmed with the whole motherhood journey. But I do not think there was ever a time I had the lofty idea that my “sacrifices” (read: responsibilities) where so that my kids would repay me in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I pray and hope they do, but it’s not a do or die case.
I have read the biography of a woman where one of her sons said he prays in the name of the God of his mother and I was literally shaking in wonder, at how much work that mother must have put in to get that kind of output. I craved it, and that night, I told God about how I did not want to fail at this mothering business, not necessarily to become like that mom I had read about, but to succeed in my own journey as a mother and that would show in the way my kids turn out.
At the times when I have had to discipline my kids by myself, because their dad is a softie, I have wondered if I was doing right by my kids. My fear is simple, ‘I don’t want to fail in my responsibility as a mother. I wonder if I’m not over doing it or underdoing it in the discipline department.
I like to think that the fear of failing at motherhood is a basic fear most moms have, but have learnt to deal with over time, because they have become more confident in their ability and choices, as a result of several years’ worth of experience.
At this stage in my motherhood journey, it is an almost regular prayer point for me. I tell God about how I can’t afford to fail at being a mom, especially when I have had a tiring day with the kids. The times I have had to teach sex education to children of ages 4 and 8. The times I had yelled most of the day in order to get my kids to act the way I want them to, rather than the way they want. (Yes, I yell and I know I need to keep calm).
How I pray for that grace not to fail, when it feels like my devices aren’t mine but theirs; there are four pair of hands all the time, trying to open their favourite app at the same time, on my device. I pray not to fail, while I consciously try not to yell, as I think of a way to rescue my device from their hands.
I pray not to fail when I deal with elementary mathematics almost every single day of the week. Like right now, when someone is trying to shove a book filled with math questions, asking them to find the HCF, while I’m trying to articulate my thoughts. Sometimes, I just feel like all these assignments school teachers give their students are actually made for their parents…or maybe not. Just the way I feel right now. An aside, am I the only one who feels like their kids listen more to their teachers than us the parents?
I honestly need grace not to start crying, when four different people demand four different things to eat for dinner and I have only the ingredients for something else entirely. And I’m in prayer mood, prayer not to yell at whoever happens to be the latest ring leader, for demanding something else, and in the blink of an eye, everyone else wants the same thing, and it isn’t want I want or even have.
I would wonder if I have not failed sometimes, when I walk into my home and my whole house is strewn with toys, clothes and my children are in different postures, eyes all glued to the television, or just sleeping and I wonder if I did not inculcate the value of keeping the house neat in these ones.
And the times I have come in and my quiet older daughter is filling me in on the latest gist and things that her siblings have gotten themselves into. Sometimes, the confessions and the counter-confessions make me feel surreal, as I wonder if I’m actually the mom of these arguing kids. I just marvel at how grown they have become. I just swoon at how mature they are now, compared to several years before. And that sets me off, I feel my time to inculcate the right values and habits in them is going each day, so I go into panic mode.
Trying to enforce every law in my house, rules like “Don’t talk while you’re eating.” “Lunch must be eaten before you show me your assignments.” “Put your toys where they should be.” “You will eat whatever I cook!” “ Hugging me is not the same as saying ‘Good morning’” and the endless other rules I come up with as we go along.
Ah, this motherhood journey of twists and turns, ups and downs, of high and low moments. It is filled with fear on one level, and so much senseless joy on another level. It’s a journey that can consume you. It’s a journey that is different for everyone. It is a fulfilling journey to shaping lives.
The simple knowledge that generations to come are being shaped by what I do, or do not do, today is enough reason to keep pushing on and asking for divine help to make sure I don’t fail.
And I will not fail, neither will you. Amen.
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