All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. – Abraham Lincoln
Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love. – Stevie Wonder
My mother is a walking miracle. – Leonardo DiCaprio
The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh
A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother’s love endures through all. ~Washington Irving
I have spent the better part of the week trying to find something to say today to celebrate mothers, whose day fell yesterday. Over the past 10 years or so, I have always celebrated mothers on Mothers’ Day with a message for mothers and I did not want to break the tradition neither did I want to repeat any of the earlier messages I have given on mothers and motherhood. Then last night, I came upon two stories that set my thoughts working. The stories are very different and teach very different lessons but they are stories about two mothers and they teach different lessons on motherhood.
The first story was the story of Christina Simoes. Christina is 23 and has a son who is 18 months old. Last Wednesday, Christina was watching TV in her third floor apartment with her son when she saw smoke outside the window. She looked outside the window and saw flames. She dashed to the bed and grabbed her son and made for the door but when she got to the door she discovered that the smoke was too thick in the hallway for her to make it out of the building with her son safely. She was trapped. Next, she run with her son still in her arms to the bedroom farthest away from the fire and hoped that she and her son could wait there till help the fire service people came to rescue them. When she got to that bedroom, she realized that the fire was out of control and there was no time to wait for any rescue. The fire will get them before any help arrived. So, what does a mother do?
Christina kissed her son, told him that she loved him and then she jumped with her baby cushioned in her arms. She landed on her feet and broke her back so badly that she could not walk but they were still not out of danger. They had fallen too close to the burning building. So, with her baby still cushioned in her arms, Christina crawled with her elbows to safety.
It was only then that helped arrived and she was rushed to the hospital. The doctors spent 6 hours operating on her back but the damage is so severe that the doctors do not know if she will ever be able to walk again or not. Her son did not suffer any harm.
Rudyard Kipling said, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” And William Makepeace Thackeray said, “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”
Christina’s example is only one of the uncountable cases where mothers have put their very lives and health on the line for the sake of their children. In little and big ways, mothers make great sacrifices for their children, often without a moment’s hesitation. And sometimes the price they pay is irreversible and yet if they have to do it again, they will do it with hesitation. Christina was asked if it was worth sacrificing her life for her son and she said, “It is so worth it because he’s ok.”
And this is one of the reasons we celebrate mothers. A mother will rather die than let her child come to harm. A mother will rather starve than have a child go hungry. A mother will rather go in tatters than have her children go naked.
As a man, I will never know what it is to be a mother. It is one of the privileges nature has withheld from men. But I know what it is to have a mother and I know that I can never understand full capacity of a mother to sacrifice for her children.
The second story has to do with a woman who was in the news in 2010. Do you remember Elin Nordegren? She is the ex-wife of Tiger Woods. If you remember, she is the woman who chased him with a golf club over his numerous affairs. Well, last Saturday, Elin graduated from Rollins College in Florida at the top of her class with a degree in Psychology and with a 3.96 GPA.
And as is the practice at Rollins College, the top student gets to deliver the commencement speech at the graduation and last Saturday was Elin’s day. I was very eager to hear what she has to say because this is a woman who managed to stay quiet even in the heat of all the controversy surrounding her divorce from Tiger Woods. Now towards the end of her speech, Elin spoke about her mother. She said her mother put her career on hold to raise her children but when the children were grown, she picked up her dreams again and today she is the Governor in Sweden. Elin herself has managed to earn her degree while raising two children as a single parent.
When women become mothers, they often are compelled to put their own dreams and aspirations on hold just to raise the children. Unfortunately, few go back to their dreams even when the children are grown. Many think it is too late for them to go back to their dreams. Others are made to feel guilty for even harboring the hope of picking their dreams or careers up again.
This morning, I am taking a cue from the life Elin’s mother and from Elin’s own life and I am saying to mothers, please don’t let motherhood become the death sentence to your dreams. And please don’t use the children as an excuse to put your life on perpetual hold.
It took Elin 9 years to earn a degree. Nine years because she had to put her education on hold on two occasions to have her children and then she had to hold her education on hold again when she was going through the difficult divorce from Tiger Woods. But, thanks to the example of her own mother, Elin did not give up and she managed to graduate with all the challenges, at the head of her class.
Going back to your dreams after becoming a mother will be hard and it will call for sacrifices from you, your children and your husband but it is worth it because it becomes an inspiration to the children. Besides, a fulfilled mother who is living her dreams is always a better mother.
What I have discovered that a mother who puts her life on perpetual hold at one time or the other becomes a difficult and an embittered mother. Such mothers become difficult for the children to deal with and some children run away from home or put a distance between themselves and their mothers because dealing with her has become too difficult and complex. The children still love their mother but they cannot cope with her whining and nagging.
Thank God that today, there are more opportunities for mothers to return to their dreams. And on the occasion of this mothers’ day, I say to all mothers who have put their lives on hold, please don’t give up on your dreams completely. Keep your dreams alive and keep looking for the opportunity to return to them or pick up new dreams that can equally fulfill you.
A belated happy Mothers’ Day to all mothers.