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Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Lessons from Mum, The Women in my Life | 2 comments

My Mean Mum

My Mean Mum

Everyone who knows me will attest to the fact that my Mum is an ever constant presence in my life and in all my conversation. Sometimes, I worry that I bore people, but then I think, it doesn’t really matter, because I know that I can never ever, stop talking about her.
After I met my mum, on the day of her funeral, I not only realised that she was a lot more than just my mother, I became determined to be “her daughter” in every sense of the word. I have always loved and openly adored my Mum, just because she was my Mum, the woman that gave me life, but after seeing her through the eyes of others, it has become a love and adoration that is totally informed.
These days, I find myself remembering conversations I had with her. I remember her dispositions in the face of diverse circumstances; I remember how she reacted when angry, upset, or worried about something, I remember the look on her face when she finds herself at a loss, I see her expressions of happiness, excitement, glee, or satisfaction. And as I envision all these, I learn and I love her even more.

 

Mum. The Woman who raised the woman.

Mum. The Woman who raised the woman.


However, growing up was tough! She was one tough cookie. The meanest disciplinarian I have ever met. And several months ago, after reading something similar, I wrote this:

The woman I call mother was the meanest mother in the whole world. She was a lot of things; kind, loving, caring, attentive, affectionate, generous, patient, and a lot more.

But she was mean. Very mean. As a kid I was denied a lot of things most kids had. I also had a lot of things forced on me that I didn’t want at all. Not of my own free will.

The truth is that Mum was so mean that she assumed that she always knew what was good for me. And, on most days, my opinion was clearly considered irrelevant.
Take food for example; Healthy eating was big for Mum. The kind of food that had lots of greens and colours and lots of protein. While most kids got away with whatever they wanted for breakfast, my siblings and I had to have some of those yucky things some parents gave their kids for breakfast, including baked beans, not just any beans, the baked ones, the miserable-looking ones, the homemade ones. When some children in school got away with cokes and candies in their lunch packs, we had to eat a proper meal. Mum learnt how to prepare soy milk and we suffered the consequences. As you can guess, dinner was different, as we had to eat meat and fish, as well as fruits and vegetables and such horrible things.

I mean which kid wants to eat all that?

But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings. My 4 sisters and two brothers had the same mean mother as I did.

My mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. The guys that built the GPS could probably learn a thing or two from my Mum. You’d think we were on a chain gang. Actually, sometimes, it did feel like that. She had to know who our friends were and where we were going. She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that we be gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute. Her timer was as accurate as they come and she made sure we remembered that time is to be respected.

 We had to be in bed by eight each night and up at half past six the next morning, for the compulsory ” early morning family prayer time”, yes, we actually prayed, all of us together, for half an hour every school day and a full one hour weekend days. On weekend days we were not allowed to sleep till noon like our friends.
If you think that was hard, there’s more – my mother actually had the nerve to break the child-labor law. She made us work. I still don’t understand why we had live-in helps, because we had to tidy up,  wash dishes, make beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.
Through the years, things didn’t improve a bit. We could not lie in bed, “sick” like some of our friends did, and miss school. If our friends had a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay home from school. Our mean Mom will give an us injection, paracetamol or whatever she deemed fit as a nurse and send us on our way to school.
Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends’ report cards had beautiful colours on them, black for passing, red for failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for nothing less than ugly black marks and not merely passing, anything less than distinction was unacceptable. If you had a 8, Mum would ask you what happened to the other two. And God help you if there was someone who actually had a 10, because then the conversation would be;
Mum: The person who had a 10, how many heads does he have?
Me: One.
Mum: How many heads do you have?
Me: One.
Mum: So, use it! You can always do better, Jane. You can always do better!
The woman was always pushing us.
She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and sometimes, it felt like it did.
We did not get everything we asked for. She had a long list of things that we were not even allowed to ask for. Actually, if you wanted something(and it met her approval), she made you work for it. And then, she would make you share it. With my other siblings, with friends, with anyone… It didn’t matter to Mum. You had to share and that was the end of the story.
I am not ashamed to admit it, but she actually spanked us. Not once, but most times we did as we pleased, especially if it didn’t agree with what she deemed proper behaviour. She took the Bible verse about “sparing the rod and spoiling the child” very seriously, and so, that poor cane was used more on us than it was to hold up anything. 

By the time we were teenagers, she was much wiser, and our life became even more unbearable.  She embarrassed us to no end by making sure she knew our friends and their mothers. If I spent the night with a friend, (which hardly ever happened) can you imagine she checked on me to see if I were really there. I never had the chance to even daydream about eloping to Mexico. That is if I’d had a boyfriend to elope with. I forgot to mention, while my friends were dating at the mature ages of 12 and 13, my old fashioned mother refused to let us date until you’re old enough to talk “engaged to be married”.
Actually, you were not allowed to mention the word “boyfriend” not to think of having any.
Our mean mom had eyes everywhere. She knew what you were doing before you even started. She read our thoughts before we even had them.

 
 She kept, pushing and pushing. And to be fair to her, we always got praises, “pats on the back, on the head, on the cheeks, or wherever she deems fit”.  And even though she pushed us hard, words like, “thank you”, “that was a good job” were never far from her lips. She had her fun moments, and the biggest smile and laugh I’ve ever heard, but still, she was mean. but she was still mean.

As the years rolled by,  and with our Mum behind us, talking, hitting and teaching respect, none of us was allowed the pleasure of being a drop-out. We went further to get into different universities. In her books, you have to go on learning. You can never have too much of knowledge, she said.

My mother could be considered by many as a complete failure as a mother. Out of seven children, all of us attained some higher education, with a good head on the shoulder. We all have the respect and admiration of our peers. And whom do we have to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You’re right, our mean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to do or try any of those things most people are ashamed of . We missed out on a million and one other things that our friends did. We didn’t end up in prison. We never got hooked on drugs, or alcohol. We are still now respectable members of the society, and with a strong sense of our individual identities.

 And, I’m not in the least saying that the people who have done these things are less than us, but somehow we were spared the fun of getting into avoidable trouble.

She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, hard-working and honest adults. Using this as a background, my mind is made up, I am going to be just as mean as my mum, and I will stand a little taller and filled with pride when my children call me mean, because, you see, I know they will…

And, I thank God, for He gave me the meanest mother in the whole world.

 

Kindly share with us how mean your mum is or how mean you are to your kids.

2 Comments

  1. Oh wow! I’m just reading this and it brought tears to my eyes, I feel so bad right now that I’m never going to set eyes on this woman. But I’m so proud of her and God help me, I’ll be just as mean as her.

    • Thanks Blessing. You didn’t meet her but you’re seeing her in all of us. And I’m sure she approves of our choice. She loves you from where she is. And I hope we can all be as mean as she was.

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