After my mother passed away, Mother’s Day became a difficult day. From the TV commercials to school friends bragging about what they had gotten for their mothers, I felt empty. However, this time around I feel particularly happy, and I would like to tell you why this is a very special Mother’s Day.
A few days ago, my little sister and I spent the evening reminiscing on life before my parents’ accident. I realized that our mother was the definition of a black woman who had it all: the loving husband, the beautiful kids (if I say so myself), the looks and the thriving career. This realization gave me the fuel to see Mother’s Day in a whole new light – it is a celebration of her life and a reminder that I do not need to compromise on anything just because I am a black woman living a patriarchal, racist and colourist world. My mother accomplished so much, and although I sometimes feel that she was robbed of her role of “mother”, she continues to mother my sisters and me through her legacy and the amazing life she built for herself.
Here are a few things about my mother which make tomorrow a very special Mother’s Day:
#1 She fought for Women’s Rights in Africa
In 2003, a week before she died, my mother received an award for her “contribution in the building of a Women’s Peace Movement in Africa”. As a judge and advocate for women’s rights on the African continent, my mother dedicated her career to the education of black women and fighting for their rights. I remember waking up to watching her on the news, speaking about African women with so much passion!
#2 She loved her husband
My mother had a full-time career and traveled a lot; but through it all she always found time for her husband (as did he for her). I remember being left at home with our amazing nanny (thank you Auntie Meissie) when my parents went on date nights. She always made him dinner and every Sunday she helped him re-touch his black hair dye. Watching the two of them was an inspiration to me and I knew that I wanted that for my own marriage.
#3 She was educated and didn’t stop even after having four children
I remember going to my mother’s graduation when she completed her Master’s Degree. When she and my father immigrated to South Africa, she had to start her Master’s Degree from scratch. She did it with a husband, three kids (she had four, but one had tragically died) AND a full-time job. She understood the importance of educating herself and she wanted the same for her children.
#4 She always smiled and looked beautiful every day
My mother was a real lady. Although I was a tomboy, I remember she would line my sisters and me outside and show us how to walk like ladies in heels. She always had her nails and hair done, smelled like perfume and always had an inviting smile on her face. She did this despite all the other responsibilities she had under her belt.
#5 She loved her children unconditionally
I saved this point for last because I still remember her warm hugs, her tickles and her nurturing voice. My mother loved us beyond measure. She didn’t let anything get between her and her daughters. Despite her demanding career, my mother spent all the time she could with each of us. I don’t remember missing her, because she was always there when we needed her the most. I don’t think I have ever known a love like the one my mother had for us. It was the strength that kept me through some of the darkest moments of my life.
My mother did it all and this makes me realize that I can do it too. I may not have children of my own yet, but I have a full-time job, I am a full-time student and I am a dedicated wife. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and I just feel like giving up, but then I remember how strong my mother was and what she was able to accomplish.
Dear Mother, this Mother’s Day I want to celebrate your life and the legacy you left behind. Sometimes life is very difficult without you, but at the end of the day I remember your strength and it lifts me up. If I turn out to be half the woman you were, then I will be truly amazing. Your body may have left us, but your spirit lives on. Happy Mother’s Day Rose N’langu Mpisi. We will always love you and remember you for the outstanding woman you were.