As the Bible says in Psalm 111:10a, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”, my life skill version growing up was, “The fear of my mother is the beginning of wisdom” Nkansa 29:4a. Growing up as a child my mum (NYPD – Nana Yaa Police Department) was strict. She was very nice and caring but if you played the fool, you would receive your due portion of stern looks, blastings with a loud semi-deep voice, and wonderful butt and body taps with her hand or a belt. Do not be deceived, NYPD cannot be mocked! Spare the rod and spoil the child. We were four, so you can imagine what she had to put up with. I believe my mum was the hardest on me, especially being the first girl. I think she saw a lot of herself in me and so, she used to ‘mafia’ me. One day, she actually confessed that she had to ‘break me’ or else… Well, let’s just say that we thank God for the transformation in my life, because…
I couldn’t wait to ‘grow up’ and make my own decisions, go out and come back anytime I wanted and all those nonsensical teenage blabs. I just couldn’t understand why she was so hard! Any party I got invited to, my mother insisted that all my siblings came along and she wouldn’t leave too. She would sit there and wait for us. It used to annoy me. It was so not cool 🙄. She cut my hair when I was in class one, along with my other sisters and at some point, she insisted on cutting our hair herself. Holes be what? I dreaded those moments on our balcony, having my hair cut. In high school, when everyone would come home for vacation and braid their hair, my mum would send me straight to the barber. I used to beg her to allow me to do s-curls but she wouldn’t budge. She would say, “ you’re home for only a few weeks, why waste money and time doing your hair when you’ll cut it all off and return to school?” I was that girl who would be at parties with her ‘sakora’. Yup! One of my friends used to think that was my go-to style for vacation and she thought I was killing it! Killing it? Really? Girl, I wanted to do some of your rasta. Smh. I couldn’t wait to finish high school to finally do my hair. That fateful day came and guess what hairstyle my mum said I should do; when my friends were doing secret, rasta, twists, water curls, cornrow rasta, weaves and the likes? NYPD said I should go and do bob (the rasta that is up to your cheek and fire is used to burn the bottom). Yup! I was like, no way!!! Back then, it was ‘yawa’ but who would have thought that it would come back in style. And now look at me, I’ve cut my hair 🙄. Teenagers 🤦🏽♀️.
No boy could come to my house. Who born you? The first day she met my husband, he had taken me out on our first date and came home to drop me. She wasn’t home at the time so I was happy. We were outside chatting, giggling and all those puppy love shenanigans, then all of a sudden, I heard her car horn. My heart skipped a beat. This was the moment of truth; whether he was going to be thrown out or welcomed. She came in, sized him up and down, asked for his full name, said ok and just went inside the house. Shocketh I, was an understatement. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Was this the same woman I knew? However, because I was still not sure of her reaction, I ‘borrowed myself brain’ and ended our extended date and asked him to go home. And here we are today 💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽.
I truly started appreciating my mother when I became a mother myself. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I called her one day and said to her, “pregnancy is not easy oh, and you did this four times?” 1,2,3,4! When I had my daughter, my mother was phenomenal to say the least. She took about four months off work to assist me. As soon as my daughter woke up and was fed, she would take her outside for the morning sun and dew to shine on her, pray over her and bring her in to bath her. She would first of all lay a towel on the floor and put the bath tub on it. Then get her two buckets, one for hot water and the other for cold water, a pail and a milk tin, with a hole punched in the middle to wash her lady parts. Whose mum also had this? She would start by massaging her with warm water, from the crown of her head to the sole of her feet. She would then proceed to sponge her down, then finally rub her with baby oil to stretch out her limbs. You should have seen her combing her hair and dressing her up; as if everyday was a photo shoot session. All this lasted for a whole hour, I kid you not. In that one hour, my daughter would poop, pee, nap and I would get the chance to bath, pump, eat and rest a bit. After that soothing bath, my daughter could sleep for 2-3 hours straight. When I got pregnant with the boys, I told her she can’t be doing this one-hour bathing because it would mess up my routine, but did she listen? Small.
Along came the boys and once again, she rose up to the task. Seeing that this was my second CS, she was extra careful with me. She even spent one night with me at the hospital, in their hard and uncomfortable chair, so I could rest well for my BP to go down. Oh mummy, what manner of love is this? At home, she wouldn’t let me do anything. Mine was to breastfeed, eat and sleep. The first few weeks, she would wake up with me for their night feeds and still wake up early in the morning to bath them, so I could catch up on sleep in the morning. The times where she had to go out for meetings or run errands, she would feel so guilty for leaving me and ask me constantly if I was going to be alright alone with the boys. I wanted to prove hard, so I would answer like, “oh yes I’ll be fine.” If she spent more than two hours, I’d now be wondering when she would be coming home. Being hardcore isn’t good. The few times she would stay out for a longer period, she would come back bearing gifts, like food and clothes. This woman knows the way to my heart 🥰.
Did anyone’s mother become ‘soft’ when they became grandmothers? 🙋🏽♀️🙋🏽♀️🙋🏽♀️ the once notoriously strict woman mellowed all of a sudden. I was shocked. When we were much younger, one day on our drive home from school, one of us farted in the car and no one owned up. Since Mr. Nobody did it, we all got the beating of our lives. No one taught us how to hold farts in anymore. You go talk true! Another time, we were beaten because a ghost drank the watermelon juice we had labored to squeeze. We all swore on our lives that we weren’t the culprits but NYPD didn’t buy it. I strongly believe it was our then house helps, Sister Fawzia and Sister Fauzia, who drank it. Now, when my husband and I discipline our daughter, she would jump right in and say, “ she’s only 3; she doesn’t understand what she’s doing; she’s too young to be spanked; she’s only a child, she’ll grow out of it.” Did you remember all that when you used to beat us when we were younger? Who was there to jump to our defense? Up till today, no one knows who drank that juice.
Why do grandmothers think that their grandchildren are never well fed? Anytime my daughter came over, the first question she would ask my husband was, “ has she eaten?” If she was starting to get restless, my mum would say in Twi, “ it’s because she’s hungry.” When my daughter was about two years old, one day we left her at my mums to go for a wedding. When we came back to pick her up, my daughter was looking round and full, with an oily mouth and her stomach protruding. She had had Milo, Cerelac, fufu and light soup, fried fish and chicken. Baby girl was stuffed like a thanksgiving turkey. With the boys, anytime I had to go out for hospital check ups or run errands as well, I’d leave either pumped milk or formula and give her the instructions as to how much to give them. Usually I’d try to be out for a short time so I only miss one feeding session. I would come back home and this woman would have fed them like twice! She would say, “ they were still hungry and wanted a top up. Top up. I hate, in fact, I abhor that phrase. She would see me breastfeeding the boys and if they were to make the slightest noise afterwards, she would say, “ I’m sure they’re still hungry.” “No mummy, I just fed them”, was my response.
Moving back home after spending four months with her, I realized how much I had missed her support. Having to now do it all by myself, with the support of my husband, of course, is quite challenging. I lost weight the first two weeks. Serious. I was really missing her but I had to face my reality. This woman is a pillar, my prayer warrior and her strength is an understatement. I can’t thank God enough for how blessed I am to have her as my mother. I can never repay her for everything she as done for my siblings and I.
All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. – Abraham Lincoln (but Mugabe said it first)