March 14 is Mothering Sunday across many countries around the world. Even though the US Mother’s Day isn’t till May, this year, the Perfete team is celebrating Mother’s Day by demystifying and owning the idea of two Mother’s Days each year because mothers deserve two days.
In the past, we have celebrated the beautiful parts of motherhood, the pregnancy shoots and the newborn photo shoots however this year, we want the focus to be on the mothers. How they have grown, changed, what they have sacrificed and how that too is worthy of celebrating.
Motherhood isn’t all about the beautiful and is far from simple so let’s embrace the quirks and the not so glamorous things that unite all mothers.
In celebration of this truth, we asked mothers around the world to share whatever story that came to mind about their motherhood journey and why they believe mothers deserve two days. Enjoy!
1. Adaku Ufere-Awoonor (Ghana)
When the doctors pulled my daughter out of me, my first feeling was relief. Relief that I was no longer bogged down by her enormous weight, relief that I survived childbirth and relief that my life would probably start going back to normal, or so I thought. I’d always heard how women cried when they first saw their babies, how in love they felt, how powerful they were for bringing life into the world. I was just happy to be alive.
She’s 14 weeks old now and in these past 14 weeks I’ve felt many emotions. Exhaustion, from having an infant welded to my side. Disgust when she throws up on me, or one memorable day when she projectile shat on me while I was changing her. I had poop on my clothes, on my face, in my mouth (yup!).
I’ve felt annoyance that I can’t just lay in bed and watch Netflix, I will never ever be able to lay in bed and do nothing ever again. Regret, that I didn’t sleep as much as I should have, because I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since December 6. Pain from cracked and bleeding nipples while breastfeeding, from a healing c-section scar. Pain from multiple post-partum complications that have taken me in and out of the hospital since she was born.
Sadness at my new body, this body that no longer fits my famed crop tops, this body with the soft stomach, the love handles, the non-existent waistline, the swollen ankles, the lumpy arms.
But above all, I have felt love. Indescribable, tear-inducing, heartbreaking love. Love, the first time she latched on to my nipple after weeks of painful breastfeeding. Love, the first time she looked at me and really saw me. Love, the first time she laughed at me and with me. Love, the first time she took a proper bath and splashed her legs in the water. Deep, deep love every time I look at her.
I have never loved anything or anyone like I love my daughter.
For all I have endured and for all I will endure while raising my little Winner, my baby Conqueror, my Wealth…my Dzidula Akum, I deserve two Mothers Days. They should carry Father’s Day and add to it even, we deserve all the days.
Happy first Mother’s Day Adaku, you deserve it.
2. Doyinsola Bailey (USA)
My motherhood journey began with nausea, vomiting, food aversions, heartburn, constipation, fainting, enemas, heart palpitations, breathlessness, carpal tunnel, hyperpigmentation, skin tags, cholestasis, induced labor, forty hours later, a C-section, blood transfusion, pelvic pain, stretch marks, swollen feet, swollen ankles, swollen hands, back pain, night sweats, tendonitis, breastfeeding, saggy breasts, hair loss, flatal incontinence, anxiety, exhaustion. Yet every moment has been so preciously special. If that wasn’t convincing enough, mothers deserve two days because science proves that you are mostly your mothers child. Yes, our genes are half from mom and half from dad, but our mother’s genes have a greater effect on who we become. Epigenetically speaking, mothers primarily shape how many of our genes are first expressed and ultimately, who we are.
3. Tomilayo Akanni-Aluko (Nigeria)
Two Mothers’ Days?
Heck yeah! We deserve a million days dedicated to us.
It’s not easy what our bodies, our minds, our entire beings go through once children come into our lives.
I remember one day shortly after I had the twins, my then 2-year old daughter had made me promise to pick her up from school instead of Grandma. She had been feeling left out because all the attention, especially Mummy’s, seemed to be going to the twins. The twins were a few weeks old, I had given birth to them via C-Section and I was breast feeding exclusively. I was tired, sleep deprived, sore and generally irritable. Yet this little girl, who didn’t send me to have them, needed me to do this for her so I had to step up.
I remember driving to school at 12.30pm, only to be told “ma’am it’s Wednesday, we have them till 1.30pm.” I felt my boobs filling up by 1pm. I was extremely grateful for a price of advice I had read in a book on multiples “ALWAYS HAVE YOUR PUMP and a bottle of water WITH YOU!” Yes even if it’s a quick trip to the grocery store. You may get stuck in traffic on the way back or have car issues and need to get the milk out! I just jejely reclined my seat, took a few sips of water and plugged my pump in as I listened to old school R&B.
This was almost 7 years ago but I still remember the glee in my daughter’s eyes when school was done and she saw that I had come “alone” to pick her up. We had the most exciting 20-min drive home because we stopped for ice cream at the drive thru.
This is just a example of how far we stretch ourselves as mothers to accommodate these precious gifts we have been given. We instinctively put their emotions and feelings above ourselves over and over and over again. We deserve to be celebrated over and over again! The two we have now doesn’t begin to do justice to what we deserve.
4. Mabel Onyekwum (Netherlands)
It’s Mother’s Day today…. Well, one of many! There’s another one coming up in May and maybe one other, I don’t know but… My strategy is to celebrate every single one I hear about.
Today, I reflect on my bond with my mum, beyond the regular calls and gossip sessions, the connection that has set me up for success in life, the security in knowing that I am unconditionally loved, the fact that we went from mother and child to friends in adulthood, the high baseline she set which became my starting point. I reflect on the fact that time is flying and these boys are growing, they are slowly moving away from seeing me through the lens of perfection to seeing me as a flawed evolving fellow human. And I reflect on the fact that a day will come when we will have a conversation; one where I should be able to say to them with clear eyes and an open heart that with what I had, I did my best to set them up with an even higher baseline than the pedestal from which I was launched by my own mother. I want to be able to show them, with my full chest, that I consciously and wholeheartedly, with what I had available, provided the ecosystem that they NEEDED, to give them the starting point for the life they have to build.
Like most family, we don’t get to choose who births us or what we reproduce.. And while all of this sounds so cliché, one thread which I refuse to ignore is that none of the expected perfectionism of motherhood means anything without holding tight with authenticity the mother she was, the daughter I am, the mother I’m being, the children I’m raising within the hard context of the individuals we are. I didn’t get the most liberal mother. My mum didn’t get the most agreeable model daughter. These beautiful boys are not getting the perfectly organised mum. And there’s no shame in that. I am exactly my own kind of person, daughter, mum and friend. And we’re just gonna have to make sense of that!
So this first Mother’s Day, in this crazy unpredictable year 2021, let’s celebrate us! Not as role-bearers or in context of the “job”, but as people. Individuals who may or may not have been set up for success in this regard, but are making sense of our individuality; and creating an ecosystem where bars are raised, wounds are mended, hearts are healed, bonds are formed and life is just….. life. Not despite, but because of who we are as individuals!
And I think this – this superhero business on top of a flawed humanity thing we’re trying to do – needs to be celebrated. And definitely more than once a year! So if you know of any other place where they celebrate Mother’s Day beyond March and May, bring it on! We deserve all the love all year round!
5. Tolagbe Martins (Nigeria)
You have to be…twice as good as them to get half of what they have.” Eli Pope, Scandal Season 3, Episode 1
I’m a mother of two dark skinned, unequivocally black boys who will one day be black men. I’m pulling a double shift; simultaneously showing them that a strong black woman deserves ease and softness and teaching them to be kind in a world that all too often doesn’t see their humanity.
I’ve recently had to have the talk about modulating your tone, taking a deep breath, trying to be non-confrontational with my number one. I think it broke both our hearts. As for the little one, how do I tell him that his irrepressible wit and charm won’t always be enough?
As I’m feted tomorrow for the first (Anglican, British/Nigerian Mother’s Day), I am all too aware of my responsibility and as we feast on Yum Cha for lunch along with MY mother, I’ll square my shoulders afterwards for the journey that never ends and yet is never long enough.
You never want to live in a world without your children. From the day you meet them, their lives matter; more than your breath, more than your existence. Yet you must exist, thrive even, so they learn excellence and diligence.
I need to work twice as hard so they can be twice as protected so I can damn well be celebrated twice a year.
And that’s on that.
6. Gianna Asaam (Canada)
“I’ve done this before, how hard can the second time be?”. This was the thought I had as I waited for the birth of my second daughter. Then she came out and pretty much said “hold my beer”.It’s been a wild 3 months and a roller-coaster of emotions with a newborn. My closet and I have become much closer as it is the ideal place to have my multiple cry sessions.Some days are hard and other days are harder but somehow in between the tears of exhaustion or hiding in the bathroom just to have some alone time from my 4yo, my heart still recognizes Motherhood as gift, a gift I’m forever grateful for.”
7. Seun Solanke (Nigeria)
When I think of my fledgling motherhood experience what jumps out is the extremes of emotions. I mean, I wasn’t the chillest person to start with but now, with motherhood?Foremost is the extreme love. Obsessive bordering on unhealthy. Nothing prepares you for it. I feel like a hypocrite when I tell other people I love them because really, nothing compares.Watching my daughter grow is so bitter sweet. A poignant reminder that I too am moving closer to my inevitable conclusion. I’ve dwelt more on my mortality since becoming a mom. Will be here for the first bra? First period? First kiss?It has definitely strengthened my faith. I remember the first time it occurred to me… the selflessness and patience of the Almighty in sending His son die for the mankind on the cross. I feel rabidly murderous just thinking of anyone hurting my child.So yeah… basically, motherhood has turned me into a psycho.
8. Lizzy O (California)
Mothers deserve to be celebrated daily and that’s on Mary had a little lamb! Ok, in all seriousness, being a mom has proved to me that I’m stronger than I allowed myself to believe. I possess the kind of strength that forces me to trust my gut instinct when my child isn’t playing as she typically does. The kind of strength that makes me my child’s #1 ADVOCATE regardless of what the professionals say. Daily, I tap into this beautiful strength because it has made me an all round better person – this is a journey I am proud to be on.This quote sums it up: “Motherhood is amazing. And then it is really hard. And then it is incredible. And then it is everything in between. So, hold onto the good, breathe through the bad, and welcome the wildest and most wonderful ride of your life”.
9. Temi Soleye (USA)
Motherhood is the privilege of nurturing a gift. I’ve always known motherhood was going to be a tremendous amount of work. It’s something I knew in my bones. I paid attention to the parents in my world growing up. I saw who woke up early, who always had a to-do list a mile long, who always had all these obligations to fulfill to both family and friends. I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t the fathers in my world. There was this world of women I knew – mothers and mother figures – and almost all of their energy was expended outward! It seemed extraordinary to me and also quite overwhelming. I simply couldn’t imagine doing the same and was afraid of losing the fierce independence that I felt was a huge part of my identity.
The sensible thing to do then would be to not have children. Just avoid the whole mess and be independent and free. Because the mothers I knew were mothers first, then sometimes wives and daughters and sisters and then finally people in their own right and I had no desire to give up my personhood in that way.And so that was my plan as I grew up. I spent a lot of time avoiding children. And avoiding a state where they would be logical additions to my life. It was a running joke with my friends that I’d do pretty much anything to avoid kids! I didn’t see then that the rejection was a pattern of fear and not growth. I couldn’t see past the perceived imposition and stress of motherhood to any potential upside.Then I met my first kid, my sister’s son darling B and it all started to make a little bit of sense. Especially the phrase “children are gifts” because they are gifts but not in the sense of presents. They are tiny humans filled with brilliance and artistry. They endow your life with that light and life and you get to enjoy that glow. That glow feeds you and pushes you to grow. They are an endowment but they aren’t presents because they don’t belong to you. They are gifts you house and cherish but they belong to themselves. And since that realisation came over a decade ago when darling B wrapped his chubby fist around my fingers, I’ve had more beloved “gifts” from my family and friends. And I myself have carried two of gifts beneath my heart. Carried them while travelling 4 continents, while working a full time job, while hitting my reading goals and while managing a range of pregnancy related medical conditions that cropped up at an alarming rate.These exhausting, confounding, amusing and independent human beings have taught me that motherhood is a state of being and working on doing it well is never-ending. You’re never going to “be done” either which is overwhelming. The things you won’t be able to plan for or predict are the majority and that’s another kick in the teeth if you’re a systems and process driven person like me.Motherhood forces me to confront my inadequacies and bad habits in a very real and uncompromising way because I know everything I do is being observed and absorbed by my two daughters. I will either be a reflection of who they want to be or a reflection of who they will strive to not be. I (selfishly) want the former so I work on myself in the hope they will have less to unlearn in their own journey.I’ve been frustrated, angry and disappointed in myself and in the experience of motherhood and parenting. I’ve questioned if I made the right decision and I’ve also yearned for space and quiet and just an 8hr stretch of uninterrupted sleep. I’ve also been awestruck daily by the brilliant biomechanics of how my daughters grow everyday. I’ve been astounded at their capacity to love so freely and genuinely. I’ve taken more walks and deep breaths since they’ve been born than I ever imagined. I’ve refocused my commitment to the planet and our shared resources because stewardship means so much more to me now. I’ve laughed much much more than I’ve cried. I’ve learnt what partnership means in a very real way too. I’ve become a person who’s precious personhood is enriched by othersMy journey continues on with much more than motherhood at it’s core. I still strive for personhood above all but the wisdom I was granted from having these glorious children, these glorious gifts, in my life is that fear is the mindkiller and that the path to living a fully realised life means being truly open to all experiences even if the experience means a whole lot of work!
10. Temi Akinsanya ( Nigeria)
Motherhood is the most beautiful, frustrating, unexpected and demanding journey I’ve ever embarked on. The minute they placed my first tiny girl in my arms, everything I thought to be true was splintered and rearranged in a way I never expected, every aspect of my existence had to stretch to accommodate the love for this tiny human. When I held my second girl I was in awe of my ability to do it twice. My heart essentially doubled in size.
I’ve dealt with crushing lows and soaring highs, several losses and a tsunami of tears, but my girls are the glue that hold me together. There are days when I want to escape and that’s ok, I’m only human and motherhood is a test of patience and resilience.
My only goal is to raise children who are confident, self-assured, kind, Intelligent and curious. For them to leave their mark on the world and Impact lives in a better way. That’s what keeps me going.
So yes, mothers in every form, deserve to be celebrated ‘officially’, certainly more than once, but also constantly in the tiny insignificant moments and wins that we don’t ever really congratulate ourselves on 💪🏾
11. Salewa Akin-Taylor (Nigeria)
I’ve never understood why people have an issue with two mother’s days in a year, mothers are so deserving of this and more. I had the most loving mother who set the bar so high for me, and only really got to appreciate her even more when I had my own children, I totally get it now. My motherhood journey has been quite a ride, it has taught me to be more compassionate, it has taught me patience (lots and lots of it), and it has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice (I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t do to make sure my children are okay). One of my daily struggles is learning to do the necessary day to day work on this journey, because I’ve quickly realised that raising children is a lot of work. It gets really exhausting and you’ve got to be intentional, because while you can get help and outsource some things while raising children, there are just so many other things you simply cannot afford to outsource and I have learnt to make peace with this. Mothers truly deserve the best things, including two mother’s days in a year, its the least the world could do. Happy mother’s day to all mothers out there, you are doing amazing
12. Zaneta Forson-Dare (Connecticut)
Returning to work as a Pediatric resident after having my first baby was anything but glamorous. I remember the first day things were so busy I didn’t get to pump for 6 hours after starting work. My boobs were so full and painful I couldn’t concentrate. My body was at work but my mind was with my baby, I was worried about my milk supply, not having enough milk for my baby, not having enough time to pump. I could feel myself getting upset, my pump plan hadn’t really worked out. I picked up my pump bag and left the workroom feeling defeated, only to hear the sounds of a crying baby. Much like a “spidey sense” the tingling began and the milk started to flow. Then I started to think about my own baby and the flow increased. I was thankful for my breast pads but there’s only so much they could hold. I picked up the pace, waving away colleagues as they tried to engage in conversation welcoming me back. Once I’d made it to the nursing room, I desperately pumped as much as I could – trying to keep it together so I could go back to work and do the very best for my patients. I’ve come a long way since then. But reflecting on that memory, I think mothers deserve to be celebrated on two days because I’ve learnt to always be in two places at once. No matter where I am physically my mind and my heart are always with my babies.
13. Kikelola Ojewale (Lagos)
Do I deserve two days to celebrate Mother’s Day? Without a doubt.
I never deluded myself into thinking that motherhood would be a walk in the park but I certainly did not think I would need to take breaks as often as possible to preserve my mental health.
When I was days away from having my second son, ‘Nifemi, my first, Noah, fell ill. He suddenly had a fever and next thing I knew, we were being rushed to the hospital and he was being admitted. I had never felt so many emotions in one day – i blamed myself for things I didn’t understand and I couldn’t believe I was lying in a hospital bed with my son while pregnant with his brother (who was very heavy might I add!)
Then my second comes along and decides to go into shock from his temperature spiking! He didn’t feel warm so we had no idea he was feeling poorly. He suddenly went limp and his eyes went a strange shade of blue. Again, we were being rushed in an ambulance to the hospital and minutes later he was reaching for snacks like nothing happened!
They are constantly running, climbing, sliding, cartwheeling and I feel like I am constantly stopping them from hurting themselves but they seem to love danger.
My kids make me sick with worry; I am constantly panicking about them but I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. They have taught me about the power of prayer and faith; PATIENCE and most of all, love, pure, unadulterated, unconditional love.
Even when I have to hide in the bathroom to cry from exhaustion and take a little break, I still miss them.
I love you boys, but I deserve at least 5 days.
Thank you to all the amazing Mamas that contributed to this post. Want to read more from our mamas (and papas)? Check out: Dear Black Child: A Love Letter from your Parents.