Monica and Norman Cloete. Picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA

NORMAN CLOETE

My mom, Monica Kathleen Cloete, will always be special. She is one of the few women I have met who has raised seven sons. Yes, seven sons.
I cannot recall the number of times I have mentioned this fact to strangers and been asked, “no girls?”

We were green- and blue-eyed little monsters growing up, and to this day, some of my siblings have not shaken off their monster-like behaviour.

But mom was and continues to be there for all her boys. However, she may get the names confused and will rattle off five names, while she is looking at you, before she actually gets to your name, and of course by the time she gets to your name, she has forgotten what she was going to say.

Growing up, I often asked my mother when she was going to reveal the identity of my biological parents to me. I was convinced that I had been adopted, and that there was no way my “real” parents could have had five more children after I was born.

My mom, with the help of my dad, planned it well. All my brothers and I are two years apart. I suspect this was the time they decided each new baby would have with them alone, before the next and the next and the next came along.

To this day, I have not found any adoption papers.

In the immortal words of another mom of mine, “Jou ma is jou ma” (Your mom is your mom).

SOYISO MALITI

Soyiso and Nokwandisa Maliti. Picture: Supplied

One seldom hears mothers complain of raising families while juggling careers, and we should pay homage to them frequently, and not just on Mother’s Day.

However, Mother's Day presents an opportunity to pay tribute to mothers, and we should use it accordingly.

My mother, Nokwandisa Maliti, raised my sister and me in a big family that included other children, whom she and my father had brought in from external family members and, believe it or not, friends.

My mother occupies a very special place in my heart and has been an important influence on my character.

I’ve looked to her for inspiration - from the way she juggled an extended family, a business and a career to be able to afford opportunities for her children, to her returning to school to complete her matric after a 10-year break.

She is the first person in the family to complete matric and go on to attain a diploma and B-Tech qualifications.

After marrying my father, she helped run his businesses but later decided she wanted to further her studies, returning to complete her Grade 11 at the age of 33. At 35, she enrolled at CPUT and is now 54 and in the final year of her second degree.

When she recalls those years, you cannot ignore that a loving household can take a family through any circumstances.

She is not one to dwell on what she has done for others, and when I thank her for how she raised us, she always dismissively reminds us “it’s just what a mother does”.

Superwoman Nokwandisa believes no child should be without a loving family or at the least a providing parent or guardian.

As a result, my parents raised more than a dozen children, who were not their own and who came and went at different points of their lives.

My mother also took in children from the area and raised them as though they were hers, putting them through school and even financing their umaluko (Xhosa rite of passage to manhood).

Later she sort of adopted my late brother, who was conceived from a previous relationship by my father. My brother was in his late 20s, in the mid-2000s, when my mom met him for the first time and took him in and taught him how to run a business.

By that time, my father had been dead for about six years and had never much discussed his other child.

When my father died during my formative years, my mother saw no reason to stop taking in children.

She believed that even though she was the sole parent looking after so many children, nothing trumped love.

Growing up in a single-parent home is often described as a dreadful or lonely experience, but this was not the case. I can’t say I lacked a father figure because she was always there. I have seen her struggles and today I salute her and all mothers.

ASANDA SOKANYILE

Nompendulo Nkondlo and Asanda Sokanyile. Picture: Supplied

I have known no greater love than that of my mother. She has always been a friend, sister, father and mother to me.

As a young girl, I was the apple of my father’s eye, and as my mom would often tell me, he took me everywhere. But things changed when my parents’ marriage fell apart. It was heartbreaking but somehow my mother managed to fill the space. She played a father-figure role in my life. My mother, Nompendulo Nkondlo, was raised by her parents, a domestic worker and driver who had seven children. Although things were tough she knew that she had to get an education.

She was the only one to complete matric and trained to become a teacher. Years later, she decided to take up her studies again and completed a degree in political science at the University of the Western Cape. Her passion and drive to constantly reinvent herself has inspired me to always be the best that I can be, and if I fail, rise and remember that there is always more to me that I can offer the world.

My mother has always been passionate about teaching and children, but because of the many challenges in her teaching job, she quit after having taught for 20 years. She let go of her dream so she could raise my brother and me and watch us realise our dreams.

Mother’s Day in our household always begins with my brother hijacking whatever gift I may have bought for my mom, followed by breakfast in bed and whatever else the day may have in store for us.

When I was preparing for this article, I asked my mother about me, and this is what she had to say:“I appreciate her work every day because it teaches and keeps her abreast of what is going on around her. It has also helped her to be empathetic towards people who have less than her. She has a whole new outlook on life and she is always talking about her passion for people and their stories. That makes me very keen and interested in her writing because it also gives me an opportunity to assess her ability and capabilities as a young journalist.”

LATASHIA NAIDOO

Devi and Latashia Naidoo. Picture: Supplied

The narrative of my childhood is filled with anecdotes and memories of my mom, Devi Naidoo, being a warrior of a woman who today remains my best friend and my North Star.

When I was three my dad became severely ill, going from being an athletic man at his physical prime to bedridden and crippled almost overnight.

At the time, mom, a young mother and wife pregnant with her second child, was forced to shoulder the responsibility of raising her children, running a household, working a demanding, full-time job, and taking care of a sick husband and his parents, all at the age of 23 - and by herself.

For years I watched as she approached these burdens with strength, dignity and kindness; and these worldly responsibilities, which would overwhelm many others, became the foundation for her indomitable spirit.

Earlier this year, my dad became ill again, and mom, now 52 and at the peak of her career, made the decision to leave her job to physically take care of him full-time.

It’s a testament to the woman she is - selfless and kind - and of her unbridled love and devotion to her family.

Through every tribulation she’s raised three daughters to be independent, ambitious and confident young women, and taught us resilience and grace in adversity, while leading by a beautiful example.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Thank you for being you.

NOLOYISO MTEMBU

Thami and Noloyiso Mtembu. Picture: Supplied

When I came into the world 38 years ago, my parents already had a son and two daughters. They were hoping for another son before shutting the doors.

Blue jumpers and booties were bought in anticipation of a bouncing boy.

I hear this story every year on my birthday, as my mother relays how she prepared to go to hospital that Monday afternoon, her blue morning gown and slippers neatly packed.

We always laugh about her reaction when the nurses at Holy Cross Hospital told her she had, in fact, given birth to a girl.

My younger brother eventually came two years later.

There were no ultrasound scanners in Transkei hospitals, so there was no way of knowing if a baby was male or female. Mothers, like mine, were surprised every time they visited hospitals to deliver.

It is not for the fact that she facilitated my birth that I love MaSosibo so much, but the sterling example she displayed as she raised all her children.

An educationist and a hard-working homemaker, my mother would wake us up with love and help us get ready for school every weekday. This, while preparing breakfast and getting herself ready for work.

I still wonder how she managed to be the first person to wake up in the house and the last to go to bed, and still held a demanding job for decades.

Now a retired English and agricultural science teacher, my mother has not deviated from her daily schedule.

During a recent visit home, I arrived to a warm plate of mngqusho (samp and beans), pork stew and vegetables in the evening. Next day, she prepared oats for breakfast before gently waking me up, just like she did all those years ago.

We joked about how she had kept her daily programme for years. “It’s Sunday, I want to leave lunch ready so that we have something to eat when we come back from church,” she said.

Sunday lunch involves several mouth-watering dishes, including a welcome-home, free-range chicken and various treats. It is served no later than 2pm without fail.

Unlike her, I find it difficult to get things done in the morning, and I unfortunately did not inherit any of her gardening and cooking skills. I stand in awe when she creates magic in the kitchen, and make sure I clean up afterwards. It’s the least I can do.

My mother is my mentor and role model in many respects. She introduced me to literature and a love for reading and writing. She would read us books like Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift and George Orwell’s Animal Farm as children.

Although she raised us in a Xhosa-speaking environment, having married a man from the Transkei, her Zulu roots live on in her choice of poetry. I doubt there is any Xhosa-speaking person who can recite King Shaka’s praises like I can, thanks to reading and reciting Izibongo zamaKhosi akwaZulu, Inqolobane and Amawisa.

Mothers are precious, we must treasure them while we have them.

Happy Mother’s Day, mama.

Weekend Argus