I’m sure this past Mother’s Day hit differently for us Ethiopians, especially, considering our country’s current political climate. I know we would have all loved to be focused on just enjoying our mothers as children, enjoying our children as mothers, appreciating our wives as husbands, or just plainly acknowledging the different mothers in our lives as a community celebrating “motherhood” as a whole. I know that regardless of our private celebrations, especially as women, the hurt of the reality of what mothers are going through right now could not be too far from our collective minds. I am not so naïve as to not understand that mothers have been struggling since the beginning of time. I am not so naïve as to the realities of the world and to the different kinds of suffering that war has brought mothers all around the world. But sadly, to be frank, it does conjure a different kind of emotional discomfort when it’s in our own backyard.
I know, my readers, that you will understand when I say we can’t lie to the fact that we do get de-sensitized to the horrific stories we hear about, the matters abroad that affect women and children. Simply said, we even get de-sensitized to the daily interactions we have here on our streets, either on our drives to our homes, on our walks to wherever; it’s everywhere to be faced with a mother begging on the street with her child or children, with an infant cradled on her back, or a mother on the side of the road with her infant, bottomless, walking amongst the bustle of people just going about their day. It becomes too much that we sometimes just walk past it, accustomed to ignoring it or we continue to drive on, with our windows up. One specific scenario, I know you have experienced—that hurts me the most—is the sight of a baby nibbling at the tit of the mother’s de-plenished breast, clearly for comfort and not even for nourishment. Female or male, your heart feels that whether you choose to ignore it or not.
This Mother’s Day, struck an immense wave of emotions and feelings that I had not seen coming and neither was I quite ready to handle. It presented to me a vivid rawness of what celebrating motherhood meant. Like any other time, all I wanted to expect was how nice it is to get cards made by our kids, messages from friends and family, getting wined and dined by our spouses etcetera. Instead, I felt utterly, painfully and deeply helpless. I couldn’t help but think of all the mothers in our country, currently, that are in dire need of the most basic of necessitates; not food and shelter but just plain safety and peace of mind. Two very crucial elements of the human’s needs. For the first time in my life, I thought about safety and peace of mind as a mother. For the first time I realized that I had taken these two essentialities for granted.
My heart hurt to think of myself as a mother with all my luxuries and privileges while there are so many mothers literarily fearing for not just their own lives, but more excruciatingly, the lives of their children. Mothers with no means of protecting their greatest possessions: their children. Mothers in the actual struggle of motherhood, stuck right in the midst of the ugliness of what politics can bring about. It hurt my heart to realize how incapable I was of coming up with any gratifying solution for it all. It was too large of a never-ending tunnel of darkness the more I thought about it.
So, I decided to myself that the only way to make the most of my Mother’s Day and to ease my uncomfortable feelings was to do the next best thing. I decided to reach out to a struggling mother; a dear friend of mine going through a difficult period of her life in terms of her marriage and trying to pick up the pieces of her broken and tired heart whilst all the while trying to maintain her children’s comfort and ease. I knocked at her door with flowers, just my way of reminding her that it was Mother’s Day, for I knew she had no clue. Hesitant to even let me in, I understood right away she was too embarrassed to ask for help, drowned in heaps of unwashed laundry and lost in the accumulated piles of dishes in front of her needing to be taken care of. I could see in her eyes that she didn’t even know where to start as she stared at her small apartment.
She hugged me for the mere acknowledgment and that I had thought about her. And right there in the hallway we hugged in silent understanding of the situation… too tired to even cry at the pain of contemplating how she even got here, trying to maintain her sanity and appearances. The social appearances that so many of us mothers have been imbedded to believe we must put on for the outside world to think we have it all under control when in fact we have lost control of it all and are sometimes hanging by the thin threads of the hope we still have left about ourselves, especially as mothers. Right there in her hug, as I held her close, I thought to myself, If I can’t do much, I can do a little. I would do this little thing for my dear friend, a fellow mother.
I pushed past her into the apartment, put down my purse and immediately asked her for a shirt. I asked for where her cleaning supplies were and with no other words exchanged, we both got to cleaning. With the whirlwind of emotions I was feeling at the time, that day, and at that very specific moment, if all I could do was put a smile on another mother who just needed a motivating shove and a little appreciation, then I think, for me, for Mother’s Day, even the Universe—in all Her greatness—would appreciate that gesture. In the silent cleaning, I found and celebrated a different kind of Mother’s Day.
How different was your Mother’s Day this time around?
Image Source: https://darbydugger.com/unlikely-mothers-day-message/