An early commemoration of Mother’s Day grew out of the pain and heartbreak of the Civil War. Mothers on both sides of this American conflict had lost sons—sons that they had carried for nine months, given birth to in pain, raised with great care and love, only to have them slaughtered on the battlefields. Julia Ward Howe, writer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” became so distressed by the bloody battles of the Civil War that she called on mothers to band together to protest the senselessness of their sons killing each other. Her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” of 1870 called for an international Mother’s Day promoting peace and motherhood: Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts…arise. After decades of campaigning by many devoted mothers, Mother’s Day was officially signed into national observance in 1914 by Woodrow Wilson, who declared the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
"Dingindaba who is mother?" As we sat in the sports bar affectionately known as the Village in Morningside donning our respective team regalia, l couldn't help but run that question past my friend as we watched the Chelsea-West Ham game. At that moment, my eyes took me to the window and l catch sight of a woman. Seemingly troubled by nothing, she walks with her head held up high, her family the only thing she places higher and before the Lord. She has died to herself, her life seizing the day she got united to her husband. As the burdens and struggles of day-to-day life rape her, she remains steadfast, knowing that she has to live, if not breath for her family. At this sight, the word mother meant fighter to me. The next day as we walked past Bravo Bus terminus, l told Ndaba, the word mother means hope. The sight of many mothers sending off their partners to 'the promised land' in search of jobs, jobs for which they never had qualifications for, made me see hope in the eyes of a mother. As she waits for his return, she is a fighter in hope.
"Rand for two! Rand for two!" Those were the words that immediately quenched my thirst on that hot afternoon. We had spent the greater part of Monday afternoon outdoors. As l dived into my pocket in search of Zuma's coins, l noticed the passion in the eyes of the mother who was selling these super cools. She had a sense of belief, as if she knew that l had these coins in my pocket. As l looked closely at her, her eyes told a story. She had three children and her husband had four years ago, also taken the trip down South in search of a job. Like the women across the street, she had also seen him off, with hope that he would one day return, if not a better man, just return. In the hope that he would one day return, she had set up her small vending stand across the place where she saw him off and everyday as she sold her goods, she had the chance to watch the buses go in and out of the terminus, believing that the one she has seen off would, one day, disembark from one of those coming in. At that moment, the word mother meant believer. And before me sat fighter, in hope and belief.
"You are home this late?" The words of my mother as l walked in the house and said, "Litshonile." I looked at my watch, it was just six-thirty. Caring and concerned. Those two words instantly became synonymous with the word ‘mother.’ Today as we celebrate the life a mother, we celebrate life itself. The essence of life is embodied in this six letter word. Pregnant with meaning, every day the human race is born to their love, their care, their hope. The thought of what we would be without them, dares not cross my mind. The other day l left home and l noticed there was no cooking oil and mealie meal but when l got back home in the evening, l was welcomed by a hot meal by mom and l asked myself, how and from where? It's was at that moment that l concluded that l would never be able to comprehend let alone understand this amazing gift from God- a mother. Restless, sacrificial, an amazing creation. My favorite artist of all time, Sam Mtukudzi described a mother as life. The two are inseparable.
Mothers are not rare to find. Good mothers are. What makes good mothers? It is a pertinent question whose answer cannot be contained within a few words. Mothers comprise of a bundle of emotions that sometimes defy reason. One of my favorite examples of motherhood is found in the Old Testament. Hannah was barren for years but vowed that if she had a son, she would give him back to God. Her wish was finally granted, and even though she must have found it very hard, she kept her promise – she gave Samuel to the priest Eli to raise as a servant of God. Her childlike faith was rewarded not only once, but several more times: in time, she and her husband Elkanah were given five more children. When a woman works for God she cannot be conquered. I mean it! When she is truly working for God she is the strongest force in the world. She may have no authority, but she has something infinitely more important: influence. Authority commands actions. Influence changes your being. That is a woman's mission! Let us not betray it.
Mother’s Day is an opportunity to make life special for them. It is a chance to celebrate family. Mothers are the backbone of our society and the glue that holds a family together-their work is vital but often unseen. We all need to show greater appreciation for them. I pity the man who does not have a good wife to take care of him. A true mother thinks day and night about the well-being of her children, and is the first to praise, comfort and protect them. She is willing to sacrifice her life for them. The pains of pregnancy and childbirth are borne by the mother, and she continues to carry the child in her heart her whole life. I cannot thank God enough for the love of my own mother, and for her deep relationship with my father. And while it was clear that our father was head of the family, he never tolerated the slightest disrespect from us towards our mother.
To the mothers in prison, the mothers on the streets, the mothers going through the toughest and cold times of their life, the abused, the afflicted, those who suffer in silence, know that the world can throw anything at you and take away everything from you, but the one thing that it can never take away is the fact that you are a mother. Nothing that change that and your value lies in that. I am reminded of a single mother who happens to be my best friend. This is just one story but I am sure it is the story of thousands that are similar. To all those whose lives are similarly playing out, who may wonder if their children will ever appreciate what they are doing or hold it against them, I say never give up. One day your children will appreciate the gift that they have in their mother. It may take years and unfortunately you may never see it, but one day they will appreciate you and take the chance to say what every mother’s child should say: “Thank you, Mom.” Therefore, congratulations to all single mothers and grandmothers who do their best to raise children on their own. They often struggle under the most difficult circumstances. They are the real heroes of the family-and not just on Mother’s Day.
I think often too, of the many stepmothers who are exhausted by trying and having their affection rejected. God sees their love, work, and effort. A stepfamily may never become just like an original family, but does this matter? Through the years, God’s grace kept inextricably gluing my family together in a wonderful way. With his grace as the glue, each family can become as he intended. Many women today resent the idea of motherhood, but they forget that it is a privilege as well as a task. Once regarded as the highest calling of woman, it is now pushed aside by "real" careers and viewed as an inconvenience or even an embarrassment. While this rebellion might be understandable in the case of oppression and abuse, it achieves nothing. How different family life could be if we admitted our confusion over the roles of man and woman; if we sought to rediscover God's plan for both, and regarded one another with respect and love!
So, this is meant for all the young and aged mothers, working mothers and housewives, married mothers and the single mothers, those with money and without and for those without whom life would have been insufferable. Wish you a very Happy Mother's Day!! To all the young people out there, let us love and appreciate our mothers whilst we still have the time and opportunity. May wish they had someone they could call mother but here you are, you are blessed with one. Please l plead with you, honour them whilst you still have the chance too. And to all those that have lost their mothers, know that God is watching and he will bless all those you call mother and respect. May God bless all mothers on this day and every other day to come.
I woke up this morning to a text from Ndaba, and it read,
'Remember the question you posed on Sunday on who is a mother? I have been thinking hard about it and l think l have the answer. A mother is ....'
And with those three dots, he signed off. I figured he could not explain it either.
C.B Ink 2015
Written by Collin Banda