Before I start I’d like to just say that I am conflicted about the “Mother’s Day” construct, all the same, this morning I woke up full of emotion and I find myself reflecting about you and what you mean to me.
I have decided to write to you an open letter because I believe that your story has a powerful message. And while you carry the burden of your many life choices so nonchalantly you are someone I think we could all stand to learn from.
Let me start off by saying,
I love you.
You put your children ahead of yourself everyday. I know that you would gives us the clothes right off your back if we told you we were cold.
Your teachings are the foundation of my morality.
You shared with us your life philosophy. Your ways of reasoning.
I remember as child you sitting in bed with me re-reading the chronicles of the lives of Mickey Mouse and his band of merry men over and over until I fell asleep.
I love you.
You taught me not to be ashamed to cry. To not be ashamed to feel. As a young man I have come to realize what a rare and powerful gift it was that you gave me.
You are my sounding board. You entertain my crazy ideas, silly thoughts and annoying questioning and respond in ways that let me know that you are listening to what I am saying, you always make me feel heard.
I talk a lot, I know. But, from you I learnt to listen. To respond with the intention of gaining a mutual understanding. To reach some kind synthesis.
Every story for you had to have some kind of lesson. This, I used to find a little annoying at times (Haha), but in many ways I appreciated it. It taught me to always think carefully about what I am seeing around me.
We often spoke about the meaning of things. About decisions made by the fictional characters in the countless films we watched together.
Many of these conversations have become the foundation of my ethics.
I was a naughty child, you and I both know this (Haha). I was convinced I could get away with anything if I needed to. Finding ways to beat the rules and test the boundaries but you always punished me in ways that made me appreciate the consequences of my actions.
I love you.
I have no hope of capturing all of the things about you that I am grateful to you for but I need you to know that I am always thinking of you. And that you are with me everyday in the lessons you taught me.
I’ve been doing some thinking though Mum,
About the things we rarely talk about.
About the fact that you left home when you where not much older than I am now. To a place that must have been dramatically unfamiliar from the community the you grew up in.
The fact that you lived through apartheid.
That your University classes where interrupted by frequent protests against the Government.
That you made it through that and are able to speak about it without a sense of bitterness.
That you chose to be in an interracial relationship in the context of those times. The more I think about it, the more I really wonder how difficult it must have been for you.
You are a remarkable woman.
You have sacrificed a lot, I have no doubt of that. You strive to live a principled life and have always had visions of your children as true Global Citizens. People of the world, and we will get there I promise you.
Whether it be race or creed they have no place under your roof. You vehemently advocate for an equal society, and you practice what you preach. I can honestly say that the concept of race and the baggage that it carries was something I had to learn outside of the protection of your embrace.
It is this fact that makes me so sure, that it is possible for us to create a world where race is no longer an issue. It must exist because, at least for a while, I lived in that world with you.
You are a feminist. You taught me so much about the patriarchal nature of society. Even as a young boy I remember many of your objections. You have always been very consistent, always pointing out whenever you felt something was not okay. I often made sexist jokes to tease you. It was entertaining but I promise you I was listening.
In fact, as soon as I left home I realized that many of the jokes that I used to jibe you where the closely held beliefs of many of my brethren. I was quite shocked. A switch flipped. I started to appreciate the difficulty woman must be experiencing in the “real world”. The persistent subjugation you must be experiencing. From strangers and loved ones all the same.
Thank you for opening my mind.
You taught me to value education. The walls of my room are a testament to this my room at home is home to many encyclopedia books. My cupboards filled with educational kids games that you used to give us every advantage you could afford.
You enforced a love for education and a respect of thought which have proven to be more powerful thoughts than any I have encountered in the books,blogs and journals I have encountered thus far.
Mummy I could go on forever, and..
In fact I will.
Today, tomorrow and forever,
I will continue to find a way to reconcile the world that you showed me must exist with the harshness of the unequal reality that we find ourselves in.
I will do this for many reasons. But most of all I will do this because Mummy, I love you.