By Perpetua Egesimba
faith Ibeakanma is an associate pastor at Royal Choice Ministries (RCM), Alapere, Lagos. She is also an author and counselor. In this chat with Sunday Sun, she spoke about her relationship with her mum and how a single advice changed her life.
What is your mother’s name?
Her name is Schola Balong Okoye
What does she do?
She is a businesswoman now. She was formerly a civil servant; she worked with Federal Government College, Ikom, Cross River State.
How would you describe your relationship with her?
We have a very cordial relationship. My mother is a wonderful woman; a woman of God. We share a very intimate relationship.
What is the reason for such intimate relationship?
Generally speaking, mothers have profound bond with their children and I think it has to do with the general makeup of women. God gave women the privilege of carrying babies in their womb for nine months. So, the bonding is natural. Second, I have noticed that that girls or women are closer to their mother. There are things you can’t just discuss with your father. Because both of you are females, you flow with each other and discuss women things. She understands most things about your make up as a woman.
Did you ever think that she hated you?
As a kid, I used to think that way but because of maturity and experience, I now find out that those things were actually means of making us better persons in the future. I remember vividly that whenever our father was punishing us or flogging us, she would just stand by without assisting us. Sometimes when you do something wrong and run to her to evade punishment, she would send you back to our father. As a little girl, I couldn’t understand why the woman wouldn’t want to help us or save us but I know better now. I now know that even if you are not happy with the way your husband punishes the children, you cannot confront him in the presence of the children. So, she was always standing by her husband in any disciplinary measure he took and we later realized that they were showing us love.
As a teenager, what did she tell you about boys?
It is easy when you have a born again mother. She was not really strict but she taught us the right thing. Some parents would tell their daughters not to associate with males, don’t play with them, don’t go close to them because if you do you will get pregnant. She taught us the basics. She taught us that it is very important to create a boundary in any relationship you are into. You will definitely meet boys in your class. As you grow, you cannot avoid them. You cannot get to any stage where it is just you. She taught us how to handle them, how to relate with them and the limit you should not cross. Because we were brought up in a Christian home, she always taught us that there are things called sin. You have to let them know who you are. You have to stand out in a crowd. Such teachings really helped us. It was the foundation that made the difference.
What is your mother’s favourite meal?
Her favourite soup is afang and she can eat it with garri or whatever. She is from Cross River State, where the people are known for their culinary expertise. She is not actually selective about food, but I think afang soup is her favourite.
Which of her dishes appeals to you most?
My mother is a wonderful cook and she taught me how to do it. Before I left home for school in Enugu, I had mastered the art. I love her jollof rice very well as well as her afang soup. She taught me how to make soups very well; I don’t think there is any soup I can’t make, by God’s grace. I was always with her in the kitchen and I learnt a lot. When I made afang soup when I got married after many years I had left her, I found out that it is still in me. So, afang soup is my best soup from her but rice is my favourite food.
What are her hobbies?
As she is getting old, she is more of a Bible person. Most times, you see her reading Christian books and the Bible. My mum is not the social type. She is not into watching movies and things like that.
What would you consider as the greatest advice she gave to you?
There was an advice she gave me a long time ago and it has helped me even in marriage. Growing up, there were many ladies living with us. One day, I came back from school and I met her discussing with them. Indeed, it was in her character in those days to bring the ladies together to advise them and pray with them. So, that day, I came into the room and met her talking to them about their future. As I was about going out after greeting them, she asked me to sit down. I was in primary school then. She told us that marriage can be wonderful but it can also be bad depending on the choices you make. She said that you don’t go into any relationship thinking solely of what you can get out of it, that you should also think about what contributions to make to make the relationship successful. That really changed everything about my life. So, whenever I come in contact with people, I am not out for what I can get but in what area can I do something little to be a blessing to the relationship. That was a major advice she gave me and it has helped me even in my marriage.
What would you consider the greatest sacrifice she made for you?
She did so many menial things to keep the home going. There was a time she sold ice cream. There was a time she planted egusi and taught us how to break or peel it after school. She was always praying for us no matter the challenges. So, whatever I am today, I’m so indebted to her. After God, she is the next in my life.
What makes your mum happy?
What makes her happy is seeing us happy. She is happy to know that we doing well and in robust health. No mother is happy when her children are not doing well in any area of endeavour.
As a mother, what advice would you give to others?
Motherhood is a rare privilege. It is also an assignment. You can be a wife and you are not a mother. You can be a woman and you are not a mother. You can even have children and God will not see you as a mother. Being a mother is a big task. It is an assignment because the children that God has given you are supposed to come out as shining light. They are supposed to be a blessing to the society. They are supposed to make God and the family they represent proud. And when God is in the picture, being a mother and going through life and doing what you are expected to do as a mother becomes easy. You begin to operate on the wings of grace.
Second, you must make sure your children know the place of your husband in the home. I think this has been misplaced in so many homes. Even if you are the one bringing the money or you are favoured above your husband, the place of the man should not be questioned. If your children do not have value for their father, it is your responsibility to do the needful. You also need wisdom to be a good mother. Having children is not where it ends. You need prayers so that when certain issues arise you can handle them with wisdom or when your children ask certain questions you provide the appropriate answers. We all know that children are close to their mother, so they need to be guided accordingly.
In a nutshell, I think motherhood has to do with living an exemplary life. No matter what you say, if you are not a woman living by example, you may not succeed much. What the children see you do is what they will replicate.