International: A tribute to Mothers

International: A tribute to Mothers

Date: May 12, 2013
  • SHARE:

Maputo: 12 May: “Ms Ayisi was late picking up her son,” the nursery assistant recorded in an official looking book after demanding a $2 fine for collecting my son two minutes late from crèche. I felt hurt and exasperated. It was not about the money it was about the principle.

I had just started a new job in New York. For the sake of a good impression, I did not want to leave early, to fetch Kwame, my three-year-old son ‘on time’. I did anyway, but felt like my new colleagues and supervisor were not impressed with me leaving slightly early. One colleague honestly yet benignly reminded me that it was not a nine-to-five job.

It dawned on me that I would find it difficult to work a highly pressurised job in New York and bring up a child as a single mother. This was one of the reasons why I decided to return to Mozambique – the home of my son’s father.

Although it meant leaving a well-paid job with bright prospects, I never regretted the decision. Returning to Mozambique diversified and emboldened my son’s identity and gave him the the opportunity to be close to his father and family. It also gave me the chance to develop a consultancy career in a country that I love.

I was no longer living in an individualistic society, but one where I had social support. I could spend more time with Kwame and could afford a nanny to look after him when I travelled for work. Alzira had no children and grew to love Kwame like her own son. After being a part of our lives for seven years, her sudden death pained us, especially Kwame, who had lost another maternal figure.

Mother’s Day gives me the opportunity to reflect on the support I have received in my role as a mother, and to remember the many mothers I have met through my personal and professional life that have inspired me.

I have encountered mothers who have made huge sacrifices for their children and overcome major challenges. I have met mothers living with HIV, who have persevered because of their children. They said they wanted to live long enough so the older child could care for the younger ones.

I met mothers who were so poor, but worked hours of overtime so they could send their children to school. I have met a teenage mother who was raped but who endured and empowered herself with skills to support her baby. I met a mother sentenced to life, but agonized over her daughter’s education since she dropped out of school.

I will never forget the mother I met in Sierra Leone during the war. She was with her three-year-old-daughter, in an overcrowded camp for displaced people just outside the capital Freetown. The daughter sat by her mother’s side with a lollipop in her only hand. With pain written on her face, her mother explained how rebels had entered the village and chopped off her daughter’s other hand.

After wrapping her daughter’s arm to stop the bleeding, they fled into the bush. Despite the trauma, she still managed to gather fruit to feed her daughter. The mother never once mentioned that she too had her hand chopped off. Only at the end of the interview did I notice that the rebels had chopped off the mother’s her hand too. She lived for her daughter.

I will also remember the kindest person I have ever met, my dear late mother.

Although my son is now 19 years old, I know the job of being a mother is never over. I am so fortunate and grateful that I have such a wonderful son, and that I have met and learnt from many mothers in different countries and in different situations.

Being a mother is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences and my hope is that one day motherhood will be appreciated and mothers will be given more support wherever they are. Happy Mother’s Day!

Ruth Ansah Ayisi is a freelance journalist and consultant who has worked for the United Nations and Gender Links and is currently completing a Masters degree. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service that provides fresh views on everyday news.



0 thoughts on “International: A tribute to Mothers”

Loga Virahsawmy says:

Fantastic article. Really enjoyed and how true, the most challenging and yet rewarding. I have seen mothers who have lost their children and can never get over the traumatic experience. Congratulations Ruth who I know very well and Gender Links for publishing this kind of article. Loga

Sheena Magenya says:

Loved this article and how it presents mothers as human beings and not larger than life people that have superhuman ability to contend with all kinds of suffering. Thanks for this Ruth.

Dorcas Hove says:

Mothers make enormous sacrifices for their children, irrespective of the magnitude of the challenges they face. Nice article Ruth.

Kathleen Barrett says:

Very moving article congratulations to Ruth and Gender Links.

Maki says:

This is the best article I have ever read on the realities of being a mother. As a single mom to a wonderful 13yr old daughter myself, I had to make a tough decision to leave Geneva, Switzerland, where I was based for a number of years, because I realised that as a mom, I needed support. I was alone with my daughter, and was often slightly late picking her up from the after school program. My memories of the three years are of rushing around, always running to catch the bus or the tram. When I first came back home, I was overwhelmed by the love and support I received from my family. I never regret coming back home. Thank you Ruth. I understand what you went through, believe me.

Comment on International: A tribute to Mothers

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *