Things my Mother Taught Me

1. There are more important things than chocolate:

My earliest Mother’s Day memory is those chocolates we ordered at school… I didn’t know they were supposed to be gifts! They were so pretty and since they got sent home with me, four-year-old Me thought it was mine. And Mom gracefully let me have them. I would have a hard time giving my chocolates to anybody…

2. Humility has rewards

I knew my dad’s story from a young age and I hero-worshipped him. I knew my mom kept them going while he was finishing his studies, but it took many years before it dawned on me that her selfless sacrifice was also worth hero-worship. Not once was she bitter about us not realising the immensity of her acts. She is a wonderful woman.

3. Do your work with passion

Mom is a social worker – a scarce skill in South Africa, and a thankless job anywhere. She has been chased by dogs and thrown down stairs, but she continues to do what is best for the families under her wing. Mom is a an excellent witness to have in court. She is an excellent supervisor if you are an intern with her. Despite exhaustion or pain, she does her job wonderfully.

Mom and I had difficult times when I was a teenager. I am stubborn and opinionated, and I know I have hurt her so much sometimes. But she continues to love me. When I was having a horrible day, she calmed me down enough so I could study for the next day’s OSCEs. All this over the phone, as we are 1000km away.

Mom convinced me to join debating and karate – two things that would change my teenage experience forever. I don’t know how she guessed that I would excel at them – she clearly knows me better than I know myself.

She has always supported me and my siblings, and lifted us as high as possible.

4. Be the Lioness

Mom appears a little timid and gentle, and she is a gentle soul. But touch her family and she becomes a lioness. My mom will weep and fight and rage for her loved ones.

If I become even half the woman my mom is, I will be more than I could ever dream of being.


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