My mother and I have a relationship filled with many complexities and she is more valuable to me than words can express. Many things she taught me over the years, advice and the many hard lessons I had to learn under her tutelage, are among my most treasured possessions. It is a blessing that I can still call her on the phone and hear her voice. My mother’s mother passed away many years ago. We had the type of loving relationship that many granddaughters have with their grandmothers; she loved me unconditionally.
The other day I had an occasion to call my uncle, who lives in my grandmother’s house, and although it has been many decades since I dialed that number, I had no problem recalling it without hesitation. It reminded me of how close we were and how many times I dialed her number in years past. More than the momentary sorrow that memory caused, it made me think of my own mother’s loss; Tthe years gone by where she may have wanted to dial that number to hear her mother’s voice and could not. Her only recourse was to pause and call up my grandmother’s memory through wishful thinking and fond remembrances.
The incredible thing about motherhood is that the human heart was designed to live within the human body, protected by our skeletal structure, bones, and sinew. Yet, when we become mothers, our hearts walk around in the person of our children completely unprotected by anything but our hopes, dreams, and prayers for their well-being and happiness. It is an incredible journey fraught with life’s challenges, disappointments and triumphs. It is the hardest job in the world with immeasurable rewards at times and unspeakable pain at other times.
This week, we celebrate Mother’s Day. As a daughter, mother, and grandmother, my heart aches for the daughters, mothers, and grandmothers of the 276 girls kidnapped from their school several weeks ago in Lagos, Nigeria. There are 276 hearts walking around out there somewhere…where we do not know. Are they hurt or hungry? Are they in pain or in the dark? Unspeakable is the heaviness that engulfs and consumes those mothers and grandmothers. Each one has their own story to tell that is inextricably bound to so many other stories. The girls cannot call and hear the voices of their mothers and grandmothers nor can the mothers and grandmothers call back. They can only wish, hope, envision and call upon the world to “Find Our Daughters.” They cannot rest until their calls are heard and answered.
I know there will come a day when I will not be able to call my mother on the phone but in that day, I will, hopefully, know exactly where she is or she will know where I am. My heart will ache when that day comes and yet it is the natural course of life. What is happening in Nigeria right now is unnatural and cannot be forgotten. Let us remember how important it is to treasure our mothers and value the Heart of the Mother… reflected in the precious ones she has birthed. The many children she has borne, walking around as if her heart is outside her body, engaging her love unconditionally…. from birth to death and beyond. #findourdaughters
Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Ph.D.
Founder and Artistic Director
The Conciliation Project and
Virginia Commonwealth University
Up Next Week: Post Racial..WHAT!