I was raised by my father and I grew up know his wives. I never knew my mother until later in my life. I was 16 when I began to know her and having a relationship with her was hard. She said no good things to me.
My father was both my mother and father to me. He cared for me and taught me things that my mother should have. I had to ask my father for things, even when I started to menstruate I told my father. He brought cotton wool and pads and also taught me how to use them. He told me how to manage my body and warned me to avoid having sex because of diseases and pregnancy. When I had my first boyfriend the first person I told was my father but he did not approve of it.
My mother was divorced from my father and she loved my sister more. I could see from the things she brought for my sister. She brought a lot of things from South Africa where she was; she worked as a domestic worker and visited us in Zimbabwe.
One day I was married to the man I loved and that time my mother surprise me. She would buy me things for our new home. But she started getting in my family affairs, especially my husband’s. Tony, my husband, was not happy about this. He would say, “Your mother is very bad. Why is it if we fight she comes to interfere in our marriage?” I wouldn’t answer him because I was never close to her and I got to know her late, when I was already grown up. She did not know me either. Things became messy in my relationship with my husband. My mother had said something to him and Tony didn’t want me anymore.
When I was divorced I had to struggle looking after my kids. I had a boy and a girl. I knew I never wanted to be like my mother; that I would show my children more love than she gave me. After a few years I had to return home; I was back in my father’s home.
I got sick. I didn’t know what was wrong until a lady at church noticed me. “Come to my clinic, I might help you. You and your kids,” Mrs Dero said.
I didn’t want to go but forced myself since I didn’t know about Aids and HIV. My son and I tested positive. She said she would help me get medication. She was a good and lovely person and very generous. I was not afraid to disclose my status then my mother noticed. “Do you have to tell the whole world about your status?” she said. I did not reply. I wondered why she was always like that to me.
She would accuse me of stealing money when it was my sister who used all of the money kept in the house. She would say to my sister that I am a thief. Rejection made me sicker because I did not understand her at all. Was she really my mother?
She complained a lot that she supported me financially. Realising a big problem I decided to follow her and help her at work. I had my passport fixed and came to South Africa. We stayed together with no hassles until one day when I returned home to be accused of stealing R20. But what would I do with it?
I later met a man who worked in Joburg. He would meet me in Polokwane, give me money and I would buy clothes for myself and my children. My mother spoke harshly to me about this. The stress was too much that my liver started bleeding. I thought I was going to die. The pain was unbearable.
My friends came to visit me and she came too. She would cry then say, “My daughter, if I hurt you in any way, forgive me.” She sobbed. I was weak and the doctors had lost hope for me. I wasn’t taking my medication well.
She surprised me and paid all my bills at the hospital and the specialist I had to see. He helped me. At home she would cook for me and take me to specialists till I was well. Then sadly after a year she was back to her old self. She asked me to pass her water which was closer to her than it was to me. I was about to go to the shop .
“But the water is right next to you,” I complained, “you’re facing it.”
I knew she was looking for trouble so I just gave her the water. She didn’t say anything and I went to shop. When I returned I cooked pap and ate. Then she said, “You irritate me. I ask for water and you don’t want to give it to me. You are a witch and you don’t like me; you always speak nonsense. You steal from me and even buy clothes for yourself. That’s why you’ve got HIV.”
I was not HIV positive because I was a witch; it was my ex-husband who gave it to me and my son. Now we were both sick.
I only looked at her, took my earphones and played music. All the time I was not sick. I would not take my medication because of stress she would add on me. I would sit and cry for long. She always spoke without thinking and say hurtful words to me. A mother would not even behave the way she did. I was angry all the time. Even now I try to ignore her. I want to live for my children and never be like her.
She wants to be a saint when she taunts me with hurtful words but I decided to ignore her. After all, I was told she is my mother and my father taught me not to speak to her harshly but to just ignore her. Wasn’t I born in same womb as my sister? Then why did she hate me a lot like that?
I learnt that she will never change. She is a gossiper and a torturer but I say I’m blessed to have her because some people are left by their mothers who they never know. I had to accept her even though she is harsh and likes to shout at me. I will love her.
One time she gave my sister money to abort a pregnancy. Then one day a woman said, “Your child is a killer,” and she was hurt. She started saying my sister was a thief and uses money for alcohol. She and my sister were failing apart; they were no more as close as they used to be.
“She doesn’t love me anymore,” she said. I could see she was hurting, that loving someone more when they were pushing you away hurts. I have been strong, whatever she says I will keep my lips shut after all she is my mother.
In my Shona culture, if you speak harmful words or hurt your mother you become crazy. I will always forgive her and hope one day she changes. Even when she calls me names I will love her and learn to forgive her. As God says in his word: respect your elders. After all it’s in her; that’s her character. I always pray she would change one day. And be a good mother.
Tell us: Why do you think some parents act this way towards their children?