I spent the latter part of my teenage years pretending to be a mother to my baby boy. The word ‘pretend’ may seem a bit harsh, but when you’re 19, being a mother is kinda the last thing on your list of things to do. I so clearly remember the day I gave birth. Seconds after the delivery, I laid there, in shock, thinking “I have a baby now”. I, Luchae, am someones mother! How did that happen?! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was always aware that being pregnant usually resulted in a baby. But my young, impressionable mind did not realize the enormity of what that meant, until the moment I laid eyes on my son.
My very first experience, as the recipient of a Mother’s Day greeting, left me feeling awkward and unworthy. The friendly greeter was a much older family friend and (even though he had the best intentions in mind) I was horrified that he was making such a public statement about my previous failure! How could I celebrate such an amazing day?! I mean, I was a teenage mom, for crying out loud! Where is the celebration in that?! How could I be celebrating something that had brought shame to my family and anguish to my parents?
Years went by and I treated each Mother’s Day with the same disregard – it was something that OTHER mothers celebrated. And hey, I’ll help them do it! Out came the fancy card decorating and the pretty present wrapping. I would help my son give his aunties and grandmother’s cute Mother’s Day gifts. But for me? Nothing. No thanks. I don’t want it. Deep down I believed that my admission into this wonderful world of ‘motherhood’ was forced, unnatural and before its time. My role in the grander scheme of all things “mom” was to play the background – be as inconspicuous as possible – and NOT brag about it!
It was only later on – after I had learnt to embrace my position as my sons mother – that I recognised the importance of my role in his life. Sure, the situation had not been ideal and I lacked the wisdom and experience needed to take on this big job. But the love and support showed to me by family members and friends made up for that a gazillion times over. At the end of the day, I had to GET OVER myself and my own inadequacies. This kid needed a strong, resilient mother figure in his life. I was being totally selfish by not allowing him to celebrate me on Mother’s Day.
These days I am mom to more than just one and I LOVE being celebrated as their mother. I cherish what that means to them and to me.
It is for this very reason that I love and fully support the Embrace #MothersDayConnect initiative. To think that there are hundreds of teenage girls, around the country, who like me joined our motherhood tribe feeling overwhelmed, ill-equipt and unworthy of celebration! I know how that feels.
It is with this in mind that I would like to encourage you to share Mother’s Day, this year. No, we don’t need you to make a grand gesture, or give a lecture, or collect money. We’re simply asking you to help us let as many new moms, around the country, know that: “I see you. I see your baby. Thank you for your sacrifice, Mama, and Happy Mother’s Day!”
Mothers based in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Joburg and Durban, please consider giving one hour of your day, on Mother’s Day, to simply sit with a new mom – one woman to another – and make her feel less alone. If you’re NOT in one of these cities, you’re still welcome to gather a few Mama friends and visit a public hospital to offer up respectful celebration and gentle affirmation. Your smile and kind words are more powerful than you think!
Visit the Mother’s Day Connect website and complete a form for your area. Someone will get back to you, to give you more information on how YOU can be a light to a mama in need of love, this Mother’s Day. For more information join the movement on Facebook.