Ikibasumba Mutabonwa

“Come, I have something to show you.” I hand her an envelope.

“What’s this?”

“Open and see for yourself”

She then looks at me…

“You do really love me, now I know.” She says.

We both smile.

Later she tells me that it was not really necessary. That there are lots available for rentals, that I could have used my money for something else. For something more important. But what’s more important than my mom? Or who is more important than my mom? 

She’s got 3 kids, a husband, a house and bills to pay. On her to-do list and budget, there’s unsurprisingly no room for shopping for luxuries. She’s constantly coming up with excuses not to treat herself. Too busy, no time to go. Bills to pay. Priority issues to solve. Too worried about her kids to spend any money and time indulging herself. And she forgets herself. 

I wanted to spoil her with something she loves but would never buy. For me, it was umushanana/umukenyero. Umushanana is the Rwandan traditional attire. It wasn’t her birthday. It wasn’t the festive season. There was no major event coming up. I didn’t need a reason to spoil my mom. I just wanted to buy her something randomly, as a sign of appreciation. So, I saved up money to buy her one.

However, it was hard finding the perfect mushanana for her because she’s this type of woman that I have never fully understood.

The next Saturday she wore it to a wedding. 

As a kid, I hated my mom. Because she was the disciplinary, I thought she hated us. Whenever we stepped out of line, mom was the one who delivered the whippings. In my eyes, she was a very mean woman. Mom was super strict. I hated school, though I got excellent grades. In fact, I have always hated school. The only thing I’ve loved about school was having Father Christmas at school when the festive season was coming. When it came to Maths, I was an annoying lazy girl. I deliberately made mistakes because I would get bored while solving the problems. But mom wasn’t going to allow that. She would make me repeat, and beat me if need be. She never gave up, till I got the correct answers on my own. Never did the homework for us. I hated her for that. Then I got to high school (boarding) and I was on my own. No one to check my assignments. What if I got the answers wrong? I remember wondering how I was going to make it on my own. 

I did. We all did. Because she has set us on the right path. She has powerfully shaped our lives. I often find myself wondering what we would have been without her around.

The thing that mom dreads the most is hearing someone say “Uriya mwana yishwe na Nyina” or “Nyina yamureze nabi”. The statement is like nails across a chalkboard. It breaks her heart. The thing I also fail to understand is why, if kids don’t turn out right or are badly behaved, the mother takes the blame even when she is doing the best she knows. And the twist to this story is that most of the time, the fathers take the credit if the kids behave well or are successful in life. Wow! The upbringing of a child is affected by many factors such as parenting and environmental influences. And in parenting, it takes two to raise a child. Fathers are equally responsible for how the child turns out to be. So should anything go wrong the mother alone should never be blamed. 

Anyways, for that reason, my biggest fear is disappointing her. My worst nightmare is to make her (and/or my dad) cry. And being her only daughter, I never wish for her to feel like she hasn’t done enough for me. I have disappointed her once but I pray I never will again. I don’t want to put her through the excruciating heartbreak again. Not when I’m alive. So, help me God. 

My mom has been and still is the best life coach. Without her there were many occasions I would have missed, things I could not have achieved and I don’t think I would have grown into the person I am without her influence. I look up to her because she is strong, loving, caring and beautiful. In her other life, her name should be Grace. Grace, because she is graceful and kind. Generous and giving. Quiet but caring. Because she cares deeply about those around her. I always asks myself what kind of heart the Lord has given her?

Now that I’m an adult, I realize how blessed I truly am to have her as my mother and how fortunate I am to still have her around. There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing my mom smile. I take joy in seeing her happy. For I now know how unconditional a mother’s love is.

And we’ve now become friends. I am glad that she is still alive. The little girl who hated her years back has grown up to love her more and more with each day that passes, to see what a gem she truly is. I miss her when she’s not at home, that when she comes back I almost feel like jumping around shouting “Mama araje”(hehe). I now tell her jokes and we laugh. She tells me stories and I too tell her stories.

My one wish is that she lives long enough to see her grandchildren. The last time I was on my periods, I’d serious cramps (never been that painful before). She came to my room to check on me…

“Tete, uracyahumeka?”

Painful grunt.

“Icyazakunyereka warabyaye”

So, I hope she lives long enough to see me crawling to the toilet after giving birth. I hope she lives long enough to help bathe my babies after they’re born. I hope she lives long enough to carry my babies like she carries Ivan. I hope my babies get to feel the warmth of her love. I bet they’ll fight to be adopted by her! Haha

I could write a 10,000 words or more blogpost, but the truth is I don’t have enough words to express my love for my Mama. I could write about all the other things she (and Dad of course) does for us but you’d say, “they’re supposed to do that” *rolls eyes* But they’re awesome.

So, today I’m celebrating the phenomenal woman that God saw it fit and made my mom.

Happy Birthday Mom.

I love you beyond time and distance.


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