To all the mothers how do we ever thank you?
By Diane Phillips
Wikipedia tells us there are two billion mothers in the world, 84.5 million of them in the United States. We don’t know exactly how many mothers there are in The Bahamas but one thing we do know – an awful lot of them are holding down the fort on their own. In 2016, The Tribune ran the story of a single parent society, reporting the findings of a survey that showed fully 75% of Bahamian households are single parent entities. True, some of those are headed by dads or a grandparent, but most are headed by women and only a higher power knows how they do it.
Hallmark may have created the holiday we call Mother’s Day because if any of those tens of thousands of mothers, especially the single parent household mother, had their way, they’d know it should be celebrated every day of the year. The thing about motherhood is it is a job you can never lose. You can’t get furloughed or fired, laid off or suspended. They don’t keep personnel records on you. From the prenatal stage of watching every intake of calcium to the hours of labour during delivery, from the first diaper you change and messy behind you wipe to the last load of clothes you pull in from the line as the sun is fading, motherhood is a full-time job even if you have another part-time job that keeps you away from home all day. From struggling with science projects to helping them understand that life will go on after their first crush dumped them for someone obviously far inferior, you are the keeper of the Kleenex and the shoulder they lean on.
You, Moms of The Bahamas, are the rocks on which this beautiful country is built. When your children ask you – and it doesn’t matter how old they are, they are still your children – when they ask you “What can I give you this year, Momma, when John Bull is closed?” tell them you want them to give you what you always want and need from them – respect. When they ask you, “Where can I take you for brunch this year, Momma, when Marketplace, Café Madeleine, Compass Point, Aquafire and Island House are closed?” tell them they can take you out to the back porch and serve you a brunch they made themselves. And tell them to please sit down and talk to you while you eat what they have prepared, really talk to you like they did when they were younger and wanted your advice and reassurance. Remind them to leave their earbuds inside along with their cellphones.
Mother’s Day won’t be easy for any of us this year and yet, for those whose are still fortunate beyond words to still have a living mother, it may be one of the most memorable in your lives. I wish I could have said our lives, but my mother died more than 50 years ago and there has not been a day since that I have not thought of her. The last words I ever said to her were “I love you” as visiting hours ended at the hospital. If you are among the fortunate, make those the first words you say this Mother’s Day. “I love you, Momma.” For us moms, there is no greater gift than knowing the child we birthed and raised and never stopped loving loves us back.
Let’s celebrate Dads
There was a tear-jerking story on a local TV station Wednesday night, a single father of six being evicted from a rundown concrete block structure he called home so the landlord could make repairs. The reporter, Sancheska Brown, asked the right questions including what happened to your wife. She died in childbirth, he said. And now he was trying to raise all the children, the restaurant where he worked was closed and now they were about to lose the roof over their heads. He showed Sanny Brown the buckets where they washed their clothes and the camera did the rest, the holes in the ceiling, the smears and peeling paint on the walls outside, the dirt where grass should have been for children to play safely on without fear of ringworm. There’s enough to worry about in a COVID-19 world.
So while we take this weekend to celebrate moms, let’s remember those special dads who are raising their children alone because Mommy died and went to heaven. Let’s take a moment to appreciate that it is harder in some ways for them to be Mommy and Daddy than it would have been for Mom to play both roles, not because of genetics necessarily, but because women, despite all the talk of glass ceilings, are still raised to be the caregivers.
Let’s also celebrate the Grammys and Grampys who are integral to many a child’s upbringing in The Bahamas, and the aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces who helped raise someone in the family and on this special day have been forced to social distance, deprived of the opportunity to fuss over whose mac ‘n cheese is the best in the family.
It may be Mother’s Day on Sunday but for most of us moms, it’s a day to say no matter what, family is the most important thing in our lives.
Happy Family Day to all Bahamians and Residents of The Bahamas. We will be able to hug one another very soon.
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