Monday, 3 November 2014

Who is my hero? Celebrating my mother's bravery #WhyIStayed She didn't

Thank you to the lovely Joy L. Campbell for organising this little blog hop where we celebrate our heroes. My post is longer than 300 words. But I hope you don't mind.



So who is my hero? A hero is described as someone with exceptional courage and strength. There are a few people who fit this description but today I would like to focus on the one person that immediately comes to mind.

My mother.

She is a woman whom I consider quite courageous and has displayed exceptional resilience.
Let me give you some background. I grew up in Enugu, Nigeria at a time when being married was a very important status for women. Women stayed in unhappy or destructive marriages because leaving their marital homes was considered abhorrent, almost a taboo. Even abused women who left their husbands were persuaded by their own families to go back and 'grin and bear it.' Most churches had a 'zero tolerance' policy when it came to divorce.

Against this background, my mother defied the criticisms and walked away from her unhappy marriage.  My father wasn't an abusive man, at least not in a physical or verbal way. But he was a man set in his way. He had to be in charge and control everything. My mother was quite spirited and independent. My father believed that whatever was hers was his. So her income went to him and he decided what it would be spent on.

Can you imagine living such a restrictive life? I certainly couldn’t. If my husband tried that, I would tell him to piss off in no uncertain terms. But my mother lived with my father, at least long enough to bear 5 children before she had enough and walked out.
 
My mum is sitting, Me (standing in waistcoat/trousers), and my sis.
Of course, my father didn't make her leaving easy. She practically had to leave with just the clothes on her back without us the children. My youngest brother was just a baby. I remember that day very well.

But my mother fought to have the kids with her. I remember going to family court and standing in front of a magistrate who had to decide who the kids would stay with. In the end they decided to split the children. The two older children stayed with my father while the youngest three moved in with my mother.

Every step was a battle. Fighting to get my father to pay maintenance. He refused because he said my mother should be responsible for the children in her care. Despite everything, my mother worked really hard, long hours, double shifts, even starting a small business on the side to make sure we had what we needed. At one point, my mother even starting paying the school fees for my brother and I who were in my father's care at the time.

Now she is retired and enjoying the fruits of her labour. While some of her friends who stayed in unhappy marriages have long since passed on, some from heart break or abuse.

So join me in celebrating my mother as my wonderful hero.

What about you? Who is your hero? Leave me a comment. And visit Joy L Campbell's blog to find out who else is participating.