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Things My Mother Never Taught Me

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Bamsen Daze shares her story with BN Assistant Editor Wana Udobang

I will never forget the day she left. I was about five years old. My two brothers and I were outside playing with the other kids on the Estate. She came downstairs, she looked like she had been crying and simply said, “I have to go, your dad has asked me to leave, but I will see you again soon”. Not really understanding what she meant I replied said, “Ok” and went back to playing. The days and months went by but she never returned. The years and seasons changed still she never returned.

You see prior to this, my dad had been away for almost a year undergoing surgery abroad, so I quickly assumed it was the norm for parents to be absent all the time. Shortly after, my dad was posted to work in London. He packed our bags and got us ready to leave. We said good bye to everyone but it seemed weird not to say good bye to our mum. We asked him where she was, and if she was going to come, he said she would join us once we got there. It never really hit me until we got to London that she might never come back. I remember always bugging our dad about her. Where is she? I asked. What is she doing? When is she going to come home? He tried his best to give us answers but the answers were always the same, “She’s in Nigeria, she’s getting some work done and she will be here soon”. After a while he would get upset when we’d ask about her and slowly, we put an end to the inquisitions. But every time the phone rang we would secretly hope it was her. Every time we heard the door bell ring, we wished it was her.

My dad tried his best to take on the role of both parents. He did the basics, the cooking, the cleaning, the discipline, the shopping and everything else that came with it. He tried his best spending quality time with us, but he was never really good at that. We were free with our dad but somewhere deep down we knew there were many questions we couldn’t ask. His work schedule also meant we didn’t really get to see him often.
When we moved back to Nigeria we were sent to a boarding primary school in Kaduna. My brothers were all I had, we had become very close. Our dad tried to come as often as he could from Abuja but the visits were never frequent. We grew to not expect anyone on visiting days. After almost five years of not seeing our mum we became disenchanted and somewhere along the line, we stopped caring. Once in a while one of my brothers would say “I wonder where she is and what she is doing”, but it never really led to much conversation. At this point I had lost hope of ever seeing her again. I became angry, cold and numb. I felt no emotion towards her, and pretty soon toward anything else.

Time passed and we moved to Gabon. After a couple of years my twin brother and I went off to High School in America. My father remarried and had three more children. My step mum was great and tried to fill in the maternal void in our lives but it was never the same; and after she had children of her own nothing was the same.
In 2003 I turned eighteen years old. I had just graduated High School and had moved back to Nigeria. I remember sitting in my uncle’s house and my aunt announcing to me “Your mum is here”. I never really knew what to expect or how to react. I just stood there looking at her, I always imagined I would feel a flood of emotion but I never did. I felt nothing.

She later told me that after they got divorced my father did everything he could to keep her away. And when we were in London, Gabon and America she would write letters through my dad’s office but he would keep them from us. Knowing my dad all this could be true, but it still doesn’t change the way I feel.

Their divorce will always be inconsequential to me. All I know is that I will never know who I would have been if my parents had stayed together, or if my mother was in my life. I have never really been able to love anyone truly. The only true love of my life has been my dad and my brothers. My mother’s absence has affected everything about me. My insecurities, my fears, and my ability to trust anyone. I feel like I am incapable of having a normal relationship because my ‘issues’ won’t let me love or trust anyone. I am afraid to let myself love anyone for fear that they won’t love me back or worst still, they do love me but will one day leave me.

It’s been almost six years since the reunion; we are still working on rebuilding our relationship. I don’t hate her, but I can’t say that I love her either. I am still numb. It will take sometime for me to be able to fully accept her back in my life. I am trying and I pray each day that God will soften my heart and allow me to be able to love her again. I never got the chance to have my mother buy me my first training bra, or tell me what to do during my first menstrual cycle or maybe take me to the salon to braid my hair. There are so many things I wish my mother was around to teach me but the greatest one of all is being able to love. I am still trying to let is all go but sometimes, it doesn’t feel so easy.

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35 Comments

  1. kelendra

    January 7, 2009 at 8:11 am

    this is where one parents selfishness makes absolutely zero sense. Deprived the children of a mother.

  2. Dooshima

    January 7, 2009 at 11:20 am

    i feel your pain..in my case my dad has let me down alot..but babygirl u have to let go of the pain & move on…trust me the feeling is amazing & if you think about it though it sucks..only you is paying the price, only you is deneying yourself feeling love & loving someone fully…so why dont you free yourself! 🙂 u can do it..one [email protected] time…and [email protected] this way..hopefully you’ll have a daughter that you can re-live all these experiences with….

  3. mary

    January 7, 2009 at 11:38 am

    this touches a raw nerve of mine

  4. mary

    January 7, 2009 at 11:41 am

    This completely brought tears to my eyes! These are things I also faced but I decided though in my late twenties I would open up my heart to love its not easy, growing up with one parent and years later meeting the other how do you love them-its difficult almost impossible,when some dont love the ones they grow up with. I learnt a while ago that no matter where you were born,who you are we all have issues we are dealing with its how you react that matters. thanks for sharing

  5. mamanino~

    January 7, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    i pray this never happens to any one else.
    u cant really advice here except you really are involved.
    its traumatic and i can imagine the pain of not having one’s mum around.
    pls Bamsen, find a place in your heart to forgive both of them(parent).
    one thing is sure,a mother can never forget her kids no matter the distance.she has also been thru the same trauma or more.
    so learn to forgive her and stop the dumb feeling now,stop hating pls. so u dont extend such to the innocent ones unknowingly.
    And pray to God about it.he kept u thru it all remember and according to the holy book(bible) your heart is in his hands and he can turn it wherever it pleases.tell him to turn ur heart to love again.

  6. tatafo!

    January 7, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    my sentiments exactly.

  7. yinka

    January 7, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    …very touching.I grew up with very caring parents.Just as i was going to be a teen,my father left.I wish he left the little town we lived in.He was there but never cared despite visits from my siblings & i.It was really tough growing with little resources but the four of us and my mum pulled through.
    I have my life to live.I made up my mind at 18 after a broken heart that i’d find love and love with all my heart.I owe me.No man is the same.
    A step at a time,a clean clear open mind and a plea to God for help was all that worked for me.
    i need to give my children a happy home.That i owe them.

  8. Qed

    January 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I remeber my parents having an agument all night, the next morning I could see from there experession my dad had asked her to leave….I was either six or seven but I knew what it would mean. my mum didnt work if we stayed with her we’ll suffer if we stayed with dad we’ll still suffer (some woman maybe). my mum came back told me nothing was going to happen to us cos she wasnt going anywhere, she went to see her aunt then to church, came back and acted like nothing happened… guess they didnt speak for a while but its been over 16yrs and they are still together. my dad once told us my mum was/is his best friend and i admire their marriage though it hasnt always been easy especially being in the know as a child and my younger ones have no clue.

    thinking of it now actually that event formed me in some many ways… that there have been instances where i became a kind of head to the family.

    personally am scared of getting married cos i think what if I decide to leave? i cant leave my kids and i cant let them suffer the absence of a parent,

  9. Mo

    January 7, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Hey Judith. I never ever knew the pain you went through even though we lived in the same estate. This really brought tears to my eyes. I love your courage and your strenght to share your story with others. You have grown into a lovely woman, strong, beautiful and proud, regardless of whatever happened in the past. Thank You so much!

  10. Tope

    January 8, 2009 at 12:40 am

    i know exactly how you must have felt cause i lost my mum to the cold hands of death at a very young age. every one needs their mum!

  11. Tope

    January 8, 2009 at 12:43 am

    i know exactly how u feel

  12. Blessing

    January 8, 2009 at 3:37 am

    I really couldn’t help the tears coming down my face when i read this piece.i want you to know inspite of everything your childhood was like,you have grown up to be a very intelligent, strong,girl.
    I believe in TIME it would help you heal all wounds .your mom i know loves you from the story above it wasnt as if she had much of a choice.Thank God for the kind of dad you had,Thank God too for the kind of step-mom you had and i know deep within your heart you would find a place that would love your mom.i know it would be hard .but until you do it would be hard to grow past it .
    your story could have been worse ,but lets just thank God for the way it all turned out (look at you today).

  13. Blessing

    January 8, 2009 at 3:46 am

    just trust in the Lord and he would see you through.there is this saying by TD Jakes i always love quoting whenever things seem tough LET GO AND LET GOD.Please try and love.LOVE and TIME have a way of healing all wounds and sweetheart believe me its easier to LOVE than to hate so i would advise you pick LOVE.

  14. Kpakpando

    January 8, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Perhaps you’re more affected by your “times and days gone past” than you would care to admit, because if I were the psycho-analyzing type, I might say that the (unwarranted) aggresiveness in your response is proof positive.

    We’re all shaped by our childhoods, in

  15. Eva

    January 8, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I understand where you are coming from. In your case it was your mom who left, in mine, my dad. But we cannot continue to prevent ourselves from living life to the fullest.

    The situation in Nigeria where everyone thinks the man is the household has led many homes broken where the woman has to pack her bags and live. If we have and could sustain the belief that marriage is a partnership not one where an individual is the commander and the other individual is simply a tool to carry the commandedr’s goals and ambitions. We, women, choose to be made a fool of and we also have to bear the consequences. Choosing to be a housewife or a househusband is a choice, but it should not be when there is a possibility that there might be a fallout in a relationship.

    It is the mentality that we have that I have decided not to get married. Not because I cannot find love or I am afriad to, but I do not want to be made a lesser being for the sake of a union.

    My dear it is not your mother’s fault and not your dad’s either. They were brought into an environment that praises and uplifts chauvinism and as a result, they simply play their gender roles that has been laid out to them. Give your mother a chance, just as I have given my mother has. And also give yourself a chance. Because like the first commenter claimed, you only have one life to live.

  16. mary

    January 8, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Oh my its so obvoius you are affected by your childhood just with this little write up my own advice to you is too see a shrink who wuould help you with all these your inbuilt aggression which I can tell stems from your childhood!

  17. Kpakpando

    January 8, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    My laptop contracted ogbanje spirits apparently… continuing on.

    We are all shaped by our childhoods, it’s unfortunate that some parents cannot see past themselves to think of what their decisions today will mean for the next generation. Many of us have grown up in less than ideal situations and somehow manage to adjust ourselves to “normalcy”, but certain insecurities, decisions, fears and issues we have are rooted in the foundation that our families provided.

    The good thing is that healing is an option, so we’re not bound by our past circumstances, whatever they may be.

  18. Yemi

    January 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I know exactly where youre coming from as my dad took me from my mum when i was about 5, i live with my mum now but hings arent the same cos sometimes i hate her for not coming to get me…I know its not her fault but because of them my childhood was messed up…just try to love her as best as you can but dont rush things as it could have adverse effects..

  19. nony

    January 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    well said

  20. nony

    January 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    u hit d nail on d head

  21. nony

    January 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    true dat

  22. nony

    January 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    my bad….waz meant to write it under kpakpando’s comment

  23. Tolu

    January 9, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    That’s a sad story, and it makes me think, “that did not inspire me at all!” Stories like these are better suited and should be addressed in a different section. I would love to be inspired when I come to this section, not dismayed.

    Awesome website by the way.

  24. CONSCIOUSNESS

    January 10, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Lola, how blissful the solitary island of ignorance must be aye…?

  25. myalteregoisayanna

    January 10, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Indeed I was moved by your story. My mum never left, she was there and still is but she could very well not have been there cos even though she and my dad never separated, I never knew her. She never taught me anything and I wondered a million times if she was truly my mother. Having said that, the choice was mine to let her affect me so or to move on. Sadly I don’t have lovely stories about my mum like most people do but I am SO determined to NOT be like her because usually, we become that which we fear the most…..

    Determine to start living!

    Best wishes..

  26. mimz

    January 13, 2009 at 12:21 am

    i am so feelin lola…we are in naija, not jand or the UK or some european nation, i dont mean to belittle the piece but i think we do not have to rationalise our behaviours or our problems, the onus is on us to choose how to live our lives and not allow the sour grapes of our parents to set our teeth on edge. u can choose to love ur momma, ma folks r separated and believe me it was terrrible with a lot of mudslinging between them but i jus tried not to take sides and love them despite their faults as God commanded and i think im better of for it

  27. Titi Jane

    January 18, 2009 at 11:28 am

    You are too AFRAID to stand up to your father.

    You better get over it now before it’s too late. Did you ask your dad why he kept her letters from you? I bet not! You know Nigerian men are good at that horse dudu. Your dad sent her packing and kept her away from you. If you have to blame someone it’s your dad……better yet, just move on…..believe me I have been in your shoes.

  28. tarisai kanyama

    January 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    i’m really sorry to hear about what happened to you but believe u me people have been through the worst of situations. i can relate to you cos i grew up without both my parents, i didnt konw my father until high school. my mother and i never really bonded because i spent my childhood with my grandparents. but what i can say to you is that “what determines our strength as people is how well we rise after a fall.’ you may play the blame game all you want but u’ll hurt yourself more, the first step to happiness is forgiveness and by doing that you free yourself from emotional bondage.. i see myself in you girl!!! i was once mad at my mother, my father, at the world until i realised that i had to keep my head above the sand.. be strong.. we were born to strive and endure, open your heart to love and everything is going to be ok.

  29. Gbollymac

    February 7, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    People! is it wrong that Lola chose to rise up to the occassion rather than wallow in the tragedy…its like black people blaiming under-achieving on slavery, lets give her a chance

  30. oma

    February 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    If it is neither her mother’s fault nor her father’s, is it her fault that she was borne? Its time we stopped being evasive when it comes to apportioning blames.There are people who live in the same society and have managed to keep their family together. Why could her parents not have done the same?
    I also believe you should think about getting married if all is well. You don’t want to regret things in future. It is not all marriages that assume the picture painted in her story. There are good men out there who can love you more than your parents do…yeah more than your parents! Such men know you are a better half and not a lesser being.

  31. Abdul

    May 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    i wish i could write somethin meaningful to advice u, but i guess my story could ease ur pain a bit. My mother, my world, my heartbeat, my soulmate……my everything. My world seemed meaningless without her love yet sometimes i think i didn’t do enough to reciprocate her love for me. I wish i could turn back d hands of time to say mum i really do love n appreciate all ur effort to make me who i am today. Babe ur case is quite hard to swallow but a listening ear to her could mark d begining of ur joy. There is nothing compared to mothers love wen u r furtunate to have her around u.

  32. Jade82

    October 9, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    My dear your story is very touching, and sad. But what I must say is find a place in your heart to forgive and try to learn things about her. It’s easy to write but I know it’s hard to do.
    When you sit down and think about it; except your brothers she is the only parent you have now. Your Dad is remarried; so basically he waited till all of you became teenagers to get his life back on track again. So don’t drown in anger because guess what he is happy again, and could careless if you will find love or not.
    The time he used to cater you and your brothers was his way of healing and getting over your mother. He became NUMB too, pushed her away, and never answering questions about her should give you a reason to talk to her and make her your best friend.
    Prayer is key, go to church and seek advice, stay around positive people. Because, if your father kept her away from contacting you and your brothers what exactly would you want her to do? Talk to your mother you will find out the truth about everything.
    Trust me if your mother didn’t care she would never show up. My sister when you forgive it is easier to love her, exclude blaming anyone now it’s too late for that, make do with what you have it will only make you a much better person now and later. You have one life to live; live it being happy and never sad….
    Stay blessed!!!!!!

  33. koko brown

    December 30, 2009 at 11:58 am

    hi lola
    i think you just have to forgive and forget cause the truth of the matter is that when you do that you are not only doing your mum a favour but also yourself.
    life is too short……..learn to move on fast

  34. someone

    December 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    ‘All I know is that I will never know who I would have been if my parents had stayed together, or if my mother was in my life. I have never really been able to love anyone truly. The only true love of my life has been my dad and my brothers. My mother’s absence has affected everything about me. My insecurities, my fears, and my ability to trust anyone. I feel like I am incapable of having a normal relationship because my ‘issues’ won’t let me love or trust anyone. I am afraid to let myself love anyone for fear that they won’t love me back or worst still, they do love me but will one day leave me’.

    know exactly how you must have felt cause i lost my mum at a very young age. And also haven’t truly let anyone in

  35. mary

    May 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

    this was wonderfully written! i couldn’t hold back my tears when you said that you had never had the chance to have a mother learning you to love. you said it in a beautiful way. i really hope you will be able to love and trust someone, and i am sure that you will

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