What She Said: I Don’t Know How To Forgive My Mother

May 6, 2020

Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.

Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their takes on everything from sex to politics right here.

For many young Nigerian women, this week’s interview may mirror the relationship you have with your mother. Strained connections with mothers who barely got to know you as you grew up and are suddenly trying to foster a deeper relationship with you now that you are in your 20s. 

Describe your mum in one word? 

Hmm, this is a tough one. Narcissistic, that will be the word. I’m not allowed to say that abi? How dare I insult my mother? But it’s not an insult it’s who she is.

How would you describe your relationship? 

Tumultuous. We just never got along. Like apart from the fact that Nigerian parents think they have no business trying to be your friend, my mother and I clashed on every level. It’s hard for me to think up any memory where we were alone together, just chilling. It’s always fighting and abuse. It’s almost like we had some kind of deep dislike for each other. 

Dislike is a heavy word

I know, but I literally can’t think of a better-suited word. From as early as I can remember I’ve felt nothing but animosity towards her. When I was 13 I suddenly sprouted breasts like most of my mates, my mother’s reaction to that was to go into my room one day, seize all the clothes she determined to be too ‘revealing’ of my shape and replace them with clothes two sizes too big. I was thirteen for fuck’s sake. No conversation nothing. Of course, when I started crying and raging she slapped me till I shut up about it.

Do you have any fond memories?

See ehn even things that should be fond memories are tainted. Like birthdays for example. On my birthday the standard was to get a cake, a dress and take pictures. No party o, nothing else. I used to dread the hell out of it because she’d somehow make it all about her. Imagine someone screaming at you on your birthday about everything and anything. She’d start shouting in the morning about how she already knew I was going to make the day stressful for her and I shouldn’t stress her. Like “can’t you see all I’m doing for you?”.

On my tenth birthday, for some reason, she invited a couple of my friends from school. She didn’t even consult me, she just went straight to their mothers and they showed up on the day. We hadn’t even started playing games or anything when someone spilt Fanta. She asked everyone to come and be going and told me to go to my room. That was it, birthday over. And trust that she was screaming throughout. By my twelfth birthday, I realised I didn’t want any of it. Like if I’m going to get screamed at and even smacked a couple of times on top birthday cake and pictures, keep it. Just leave me in my room to be reading my books. 

What’s the most difficult part of your relationship?

The way she manages to make everything about her. It’s like magic, there is no major life event that has happened to me that didn’t somehow become about her. I remember stumbling on a Reddit thread where people were complaining about their mums who had Narcissistic Personality Disorders and a light bulb went off in my head like that’s my mum. I didn’t even know there was a name for it.

On the day of my secondary school graduation, she made us leave right after the ceremony because she didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic that would build up when everyone else was leaving. I told her that I understood and she should let me go home with someone else. She said no that I must follow her to take pictures with her and the family at home so she could go and sleep. Pictures that we could have taken in the school. 

When I graduated from Uni I didn’t want to go for my graduation mostly because of her. She threw a whole fit, called all of our extended family that the reason I wasn’t going was just to spite her after all her years of support. I still didn’t go that was the first time I put my foot down about anything.

And how has your relationship evolved since then? 

I now have my peace. See, no is such a magical word I’ve never known such peace since I discovered that if I tell my mother no, she won’t die and I won’t die. It helps that I’ve been financially free since my fourth year of Uni. I always had side hustles. If I wasn’t making hair, I was making food, then I opened my Instagram store and that has been a big blessing in my life since. Because money was a tool in her hands. The way money worked in my house was that it went from my dad to my mum before it reached me. Once it touched her hand she was a god. I’d be jumping through hoops of fire just to collect money for something as simple as a handout from her. 

How did your dad fit into the dynamic of your relationship?

How much time do you have? Because that one is a story for another day. He was just very absent. When I think up childhood memories he was like a foggy shadow in the corner. He was there but he wasn’t really there. Long hours at work and even longer businesses trips. I think a lot of my mother’s frustration with him she took out on me. So I guess that’s one way in which he affected our relationship.

How would you describe your feelings towards her? 

There’s a lot of hurt. There always has and there always will be. There are just so many painful memories of her being both physically and emotionally abusive I could never get past. I’ve never been able to even bring myself to talk about the worst of it.

One time she was driving into our estate and saw me talking to a boy she jumped out of her car with the engine still running slapped me to the ground and dragged me by my braids into the car. She was using one hand to beat me and the other hand to drive till we got home. When we got home she just kept on screaming that I was a useless girl and it wasn’t in her house that I’ll get pregnant and disgrace her. She got a pair of scissors and cut half of the braids on my head along with my hair. I had to shave the whole thing. I was 16 and I didn’t even know the boy I was talking to he was asking for my number and I was telling him to leave me alone when she saw us. I have dozens of stories worse than this.

Have you ever tried to talk to her about it?

There’s no point it’ll only be a waste of my time. As far as she’s concerned I was a wayward child who needed discipline and the only reason I’m where I am today is because of how she raised me. The truth is I’m where I am today despite how she raised me. Thank God.

Have you ever tried to salvage the relationship in any other way? 

No, I haven’t. You can only salvage something that existed before and was damaged abi. You can’t salvage something that doesn’t exist. 

Do you think she feels the same way? 

I don’t know how she feels exactly. I know that she has been friendlier since I moved out last year. Hasn’t even screamed at me once. She now has an odd way of talking to me as if we are guys. Like on WhatsApp she can send ‘how far now, how you dey?’ She never used to ask how I was. Like literally, before I moved out, I had never heard this woman say the words ‘how are you now’ to me. If you look through our messages you’ll only find instructions. Things like ‘Make sure to make era and boil rice by 7 pm’.  

So she’s reaching out? How do you feel about it?

My initial reaction was and still is ‘leave me, I don’t want’. Just leave me alone abeg, I’ve moved out we are no longer at each other’s throats, I’m not trying to be friends with her. I’ll do what is expected of me as a daughter. The usual obligations, send money, visit occasionally, show up when she’s sick and dying. But I’m not about to form padi padi with her, especially when she has refused to acknowledge the years of hurt and emotional damage she caused. I don’t know how to forgive her and I don’t think I want to.

Toketemu Ohwovoriole

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

July 21, 2020

Preparing for motherhood is a whirl of nerves, hopes, and high expectations. However, there are a lot of things books, documentaries, and other resources do not quite prepare mothers for. 5 mothers share with us what 9 months of pregnancy did not prepare them for. Fati I experienced uterine contraction backache, sore nipples, lack of […]

October 19, 2020

Women have been said to be at the forefront of this protest. Although some people say women should not join the protest, they did anyway. We asked six Nigerian women why they joined the #EndSARS protests. Linda, 21 Every day I spend on the road, is for the women and the queers. Police brutality affects […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

April 11, 2021

Today’s Man Like is Andy Obuoforibo, a 40-year-old politician and product manager. He tells us about how his father’s warmth and work ethic taught him the real meaning of masculinity, how his mother’s foray into politics influenced him to participate in politics and why he supports the LGBTQ+ movement as a Nigerian politician. When did […]

April 11, 2021

See ehn, nobody is a hundred percent “normal” and being weird can be cool or creepy depending on how you look at it. Let’s not argue sha. Take this quiz for a little moment of truth. QUIZ: How Rude Are You? Are you polite abi everybody should getawt? Take the quiz and we’ll tell you.

April 10, 2021

With almost two years of being in existence, Sex Life has grown while staying true to its goal of exploring the sex lives of Nigerians. In the last one year and five months since Sex Life was created, we’ve spoken to about eighty Nigerians who are at different places in their lives, with different orintentations, […]

prayer house
April 10, 2021

As told to Mariam I travelled to Ilorin for an exam last week and on the bus, I rode in, I met Yoma*. Somehow the conversation of faith came up, and she told me she didn’t subscribe to the Christianity practised in churches. When I asked why, this is what she told me: I grew […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

December 5, 2019

We already tried to guess how much you have in your account and your current net worth, and we think we did a pretty great job (keep any complaints to yourself). Now, we’re going to try and guess your monthly salary based on your relationship with money. Oya, take the quiz: 11 Timed Quizzes For […]

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

More from Her

prayer house
April 10, 2021

As told to Mariam I travelled to Ilorin for an exam last week and on the bus, I rode in, I met Yoma*. Somehow the conversation of faith came up, and she told me she didn’t subscribe to the Christianity practised in churches. When I asked why, this is what she told me: I grew […]

workplace horror stories
April 9, 2021

Working in Nigeria is the ghetto. No shade to my boss. Last week, I asked Nigerian women to tell me the worst things they have experienced working in Nigeria. Here’s what eight of them had to say.  Jumoke, 25  My former boss used to gaslight me, to the extent that I began to doubt my […]

April 8, 2021

You want to know why the Nigerian women in your life do not iron clothes? Well, here are six very simple reasons. 1) Clothes Have you seen the clothes of an average Nigerian woman? Where do you expect them to start the ironing from? With all the ruffles, puffs and pleats. The clothes look like […]

April 6, 2021

The HER newsletter is a weekly Zikoko newsletter that comes out every Saturday by 2 p.m. Since we just got to 2k subscribers, we decided to explain the six types of HER Newsletter readers. 1) The early bird They read at exactly 2 p.m. every Saturday. They have no time to waste. The only thing […]

April 5, 2021

The series was initially to run through just the month of March, but we decided to extend it to April, and maybe even May. So, here’s what happened in March incase you missed it. 1) The Elevator: From Four Degrees in Finance To Multimedia Journalist In this story, Aisha Salaudeen talks about how she was […]

Alopecia loss of hair
April 1, 2021

As told to Mariam Last week, I asked Nigerian women to share their biggest insecurities with me for an article. Sandra* was one of the women that reached out to me. After she responded, I asked more questions and this is what she told me:  I was born with dreadlocks. When I was two years […]

Marriage married woman
March 31, 2021

As told to Mariam In my first month at Zikoko, I put a call out for Nigerian women to tell me about their proposals. Cynthia* was one of the women that reached out to me. I thought it was interesting that she was a bisexual married woman, and I wanted to know how that worked […]

March 31, 2021

The subject of today’s What She Said is a Nigerian woman in her 50s. She talks about her difficult experience living with extended family, her relationship with her father and managing her mother’s mental health until she died.

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X