The phrase I love her to death, or I love him to death is very commonly used, but I think very few actually know what it means or have experienced it. I have experienced first-hand from my mother. She is a strong woman. A well-respected woman. A woman who is feared. She is well educated and extremely religious….Catholic to be specific. She loves children, or rather she says she does. She says she prefers to work with children than adults. Which is why I guess she quit her job as an agriculturist and became a primary school teacher. She is currently retired, but from the time I started high school until I left for college she was a teacher. A great one at that. There wasn’t any child in her class who wouldn’t learn. There were absolutely no complaints from her students’ parents or her peers about her teaching skills. Parents requested for their child to be placed in my mother’s class. She is also very active in the church. She loves God and lives a life of devotion to him (the best way she can). She is even active at the diocesan level, as she is a Catechist.
My mother is always giving of herself to her children. Like my father, she never made us want for any of our basic needs. For most of my life, she was the one supporting us financially. Making sure school fees were paid, books were bought, food was on our table, uniforms were made, etc. Things were very tight in regards to money, so we didn’t always get what we wanted, but we always got what we needed. We didn’t always get what we liked, but we always got items that could serve their purpose perfectly. She always put us before herself. We were always in her thoughts and prayers. Like most black families, going to church and participating in various activities put on by the church was not optional. She was also very strict. She did not spare her rod at all, and she used it along with her harsh words.
My parents ended their relationship when I was 12 years old. I lived with my mother until I left for college. When I was in the sixth form I used to spend a few days per week with my father, so he can help me prepare for my exams. Living with my mother was my version of hell. I cried every day for multiple reasons. She always shouted at me for minor things. She made me feel as if I was her worse child. My sister was living with us at some point, and they were like best friends (she was an adult). My brother who is 6 years younger than me was her ‘baby’. He was her favorite and it showed. I don’t even know if she tried to hide it. My brother and I quarreled every day. We could never get along. We were so different. Every time we argued, my mother and my older sister would come running to defend him and attack me, no questions asked. Their conflict resolution skills were non-existent. They just added fuel to the fire. I am not saying I was a perfect child, no child is, but to this day I can remember various scenarios where I knew for a fact that I was not wrong. Even family friends would comment on how strict my mom was with me….and only me and they would confront her about it. My uncles and aunts saw it too but said nothing to her. My cousins made subtle comments behind the adult’s back. They would just treat me extra nice to make me feel better. It seemed as if she always tried to embarrass me around them. She would always speak poorly of me to them, in my presence and absence. She always compared me to my cousins and neighbors my age group, making me feel like I was not only the worse of her children but the worse of anyone I was around. Any chance she got, she would blame for something, even if it was out of my control. She made me feel dumb, and ironically, my teachers, my classmates’ parents, aunts, uncles, cousins almost everyone thought I was a brilliant girl. They expected greatness from me and they told me so. Even to this day, everyone I meet automatically has me at high standards (for a good part of my life I didn’t know why and thought I didn’t deserve to be).
My mother’s relationship with me wasn’t always like that though. It happened when my brother was born. Before he was born I was the apple of her and my sister’s eye. They hugged me and showed me, love. I received gifts and encouragement. I was treated how a child should be treated, never spoiled, but shown affection and love.
I am now back home. I am 25 years old, and when I say that I have some deeply embedded issues, I mean I have some deeply embedded issues. At a point in my life, I felt dead. I pushed everyone away and was numb. I was doing terribly in school and had the worst relationships with peers and also myself. There were days when I would pray to God that he would take me during the night. I regretted the day I was born. I was sad, depressed and mentally unhealthy. I am now working on myself. I am unlearning everything that I was taught and teaching myself how to live my own life and be happy. I died because my mother was my source of everything, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, and most of her actions and words did more harm than good. I was not living I was existing, and it showed. But my love for my mother never went away. It is still here thriving and will always continue to. But I am finding myself. I am learning how to live life on my own accord and to love myself. My journey has just begun and I am excited to share every step of the way with the world. I am excited for…..BEING ALIVE.