I missed my mum a lot when I moved to the UK from Ghana. I talked to her on the phone, I would ask her if she was ok and I wished I were there to comfort her, if she’d not been well or lost one of her family members. But I’d still manage to go back every two years.
My mum died last year; I went to visit her in Ghana three years ago, and she had dementia by then. Everyone was saying how she’d lost her memory, so one of my sister-in-laws asked “do you know who this is?”, pointing to me. My mum replied: of course I know, that’s Elizabeth.” Everyone was so shocked! She really had fun with my son; I really appreciate that moment that she got with her grandson.
My mum’s dad was a church pastor; she really went by the word of God, every Sunday we had to go to church. You have to hold on to something, if you don’t have faith you don’t have anything. That’s really impacted how I bring up my son. I try to teach him that, no matter what you go through, you always have to look to God for strength.
My mum was very strict. Every evening she sat us on the mat. She read to us, and when she finished reading she asked us questions; if we didn’t know the answer, she would be really angry! Back home they say you don’t spare the rod and spoil the child. You got your punishment. Obviously we got scared, so we didn’t get ourselves into trouble. You cant say whether it was right or wrong – that’s what made us what we are.
I don’t beat my son; I thought it was better not to. It’s better to talk to him than do it physically. However, looking at society these days, back then you dare not do anything wrong because you know the consequences; today, there’s no fear. There’s no punishment, and you get away with it. But my son still knows his limits. Instead of using the rod, I just send him up to his room, or take away his mobile phone or computer.
Motherhood isn’t just about giving birth. Your actions, the way you do things, they way you bring up your child, that’s what makes you a mother. People can look at your child, and then they know who you are.
What does motherhood mean to you? These tales and portraits were collected by two Faith Fellows working with Proshanti, a charity set up in response to the need for health facilities for mothers and families in Bangladesh.
Originally exhibited at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London as a pop-up 'Museum of Motherhood' (no link to the wonderful M.O.M. in New York) we're delighted to be sharing these diverse stories as part of our travelling exhibition: Story of Mum: mums making an exhibition of ourselves.
To find out more about Proshanti's work or donate, visit www.Proshanti.org.