Mother’s Day, though not an official holiday in Ghana has become an entrenched celebration. It is marked on different days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March and May; the celebration with time has become an accepted practice.
Countries that celebrate Mothers’ Day in March include Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Lebanon and the like, while examples of those who commemorate in May include Australia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and Belgium.
On this special occasion, which is usually commemorated on the second Sunday of every year in the country, the exploits, activities and dealings of mothers are replayed and espoused on the mass media, social media, in church, organisations and even social gatherings specially organised for the occasion.
This occasion usually records tens of thousands, if not millions of mothers in the country showered with gifts, praises, and all kinds of appreciations or labels in remembrance of their contributions or the impact of their activities on the lives of their children, homes or other individuals; whether good or bad.
What about stepmothers?
Most often, stepmothers and foster mothers are not mentioned, praised or appreciated during this august occasion.
True life stories
Florentina, a 34-year-old specialist nurse stationed at the Mary Lucy Hospital, a private medical facility in Awoshie Accra, three years ago, fell in love with Hubert, a Chartered Accountant in his late forties.
Hubert was then divorced with two kids from his previous wife of seven years when Florentina met him one day at a Bus stop at Ashaley-Botwe, a suburb of Accra when he stopped by her in his Mercedes Benz saloon car.
The pair dated for two years after which they married. Though Hubert had formally introduced his children, two young daughters all under six to her during their dating years, it was hard for her to accept at first.
“To be honest, I didn’t like it when he introduced two young girls to me as his daughters he had from his previous failed marriage. I asked him to give me ample time to think through it. Later, I decided to accept and raise them as my own because I loved the personality of Hubert”.
Today, Florentina who is also a mother to a 19-month-old son with Hubert feels happy to raise these two girls who both call her ‘Mama.’
“They see me as their mum brings me so much happiness. I feel loved and encouraged to know that I can also be a mother to a child without necessarily bringing them to the world. This is a wonderful experience, and I won’t let it slide”. They mean a lot more to me now.” She told the GNA as she wiped her joyful tears.
One would find it hard to believe Kwasi Adu–Addo when he tells a person that 67-year-old Akua Mensah Adu-Addo is not his biological mother. They are very close, like two new lovers who are all over each other.
Kwasi, a successful businessman in Accra, has built a three-bedroom for his adopted mother, bought a car and even hired a driver on salary to be driving her around. He felt proud introducing her as his mother though they were not related in anyway.
He narrated how Madam Akua Mensah, then a young school teacher took the responsibility to care for him when he was abandoned at 11 years by his own family at Tatale, a town in the Northern Region at the advice of a spiritualist because he looked sickly and was branded a ‘bad omen’ that won’t bring good fortunes to his family.
To express more love and appreciation to his adopted mother, he changed his northern day birth name of Alahari to Kwasi and added her surname to it. He now uses this name officially.
“On Mothers’ Day that falls on Sunday, I have more beautiful surprises for her. This woman is my life, my all,” he said.
However, this has not being the case with Linda, a 30-year-old lady who lost her biological mother in 1999. Linda got her left hand scalded with hot water 20 years ago by her stepmother for allegedly stealing her daughter’s pencil.
Now undergone a corrective surgery on the affected hand, happily married and based in Canada, during a phone call, narrated the kind of treatment and harsh conditions she had to endure including denial of food, beatings, myriad of insults laced with curses, Jeering and teasing from step siblings among many other unpleasant scenarios some of which she said, she never wanted to narrate.
Though she says she has forgiven her stepmom, who is no longer living with her father, she cannot forget the memories of her painful childhood.
For Linda, mothers’ day is a bitter-sweet experience; one for the fact that she is a mother herself and the other one being the pain of remembering her suffering under the hands of her former stepmother growing up in Ghana.
What will Mother’s Day mean to you?
All step mums cannot be portrayed as evil just like in the Cinderella or Snow-White stories, and neither are they all angels.
There is therefore the need to include foster mothers to be intentionally celebrated on this occasion.
In as much as there are some Stepmothers who maltreat with some going as far as murdering or maiming their step children, there are some wonderful ones which according to Naa Wellington in her 2009 article: “The Challenges of Being a Step-Parent!” who for the love of the children they have inherited in marriage, do not want to be identified under any circumstance as “stepmothers but simply as mothers to those children”.
On Mothers’ Day, all step mums and foster mothers should plan to emulate the characters of Florentina and Madam Mensah-Addo by being the “Mums beyond birth” to children either inherited or placed under their care.
To all who have been affected by any form of wickedness by any step mum, you should willingly forgive.