Why Do Men Praise The Suffering Of Their Mothers?

One of my least favourite days to be on social media and particularly on Twitter is any of the days allocated for Mothers’ Day. 

Don’t get me wrong I love the fact that mothers get to be celebrated for the hard work they put in to raise children. I particularly love that it is a day where single mothers are praised for their efforts in doing the work that is even tiring for two people to do.

What I don’t love however are the responses of men to the day. I especially hate the responses of African men to Mother’s Day. 

If they aren’t complaining that there are several Mother’s Day in a year, the few who think they are praising their mothers end up pushing gender roles and norms to the younger generation.

For example, most men would post a picture of a woman with multiple hands like an octopus. One part of her would be cleaning, another part cooking, one more dusting, another answering the phone and yet one more on a laptop.

The worst of them will post a variation of this picture and actually draw her husband sleeping peacefully through it all. 

They would then go on to caption it: “I love my mother for taking care of us even when she was sick. I love my mother for being a strong woman who never complained about my dad earning less than her but instead gave him her salary. I love my mother for happily abandoning her dreams to take care of us as children”.

When I see statements like the above I can’t help but wonder if the men were blind as boys to the suffering of their mothers. Or is it a case of looking forward to having a wife who abandons her dreams to build theirs just like they saw their mother do?

In Nigeria and other African countries, it is not uncommon for women who are in bad marriages to say: “I’m staying for my children”. This is even when these women are breadwinners and are financially okay to leave. Their reasoning is that they don’t want their kids to face the stigma of coming from a “broken home”, the same way they would face the stigma of being a divorcee or woman with a “failed marriage”.

However, one observes that most mothers do not paint the full picture of a bad marriage to their sons the way they do to their daughters. It is one thing to say that male children have eyes and can therefore see the suffering their mothers are enduring. It is another thing however to ask why more mothers feel more comfortable using their daughters as emotional dump buckets such that their daughters become unpaid therapists. Furthermore, as these mothers do not paint the full cruel picture of their marriage to both the boys and girls, these boys grow into men who, though they know their mothers suffered, feel comfortable enough to praise that suffering as something all women should aspire to.

To further understand why men praise the suffering of their mothers, I spoke to two women. 

For Temidayo, a content creator and singer, she agrees with me and says that this glorification of suffering is because they too look forward to being the lords of their home the way they saw their fathers do. 

In her words: [Men] want to portray the ability to suffer as a part of women’s nature and make it look like women who reject suffering are bad people and unnatural. They passively admit that their fathers are bad people and they are bad children, never stood up for their mother or cared about her. Suffering is second nature for women so it’s normal.”

She went on to say: “They attempt to push this glorification of suffering so that they can benefit what their fathers benefited by shaming women who refuse to take up that cross. I think another problem is gender roles. Most of these talks on the suffering of mothers happen in the kitchen or spaces that’s believed to belong to women. Hence, they can’t be a part of the discussion.

For the solution: women need to stop marrying these men, giving up their joy, and trying to please the society or men. Women must become selfish because nobody will put them first. We can only preach, those men will see/say only what they want or benefit them.”

Speaking with Sindara, a podcaster, she tells me that men romanticise the suffering of their mothers because of how society measures who a good woman is. 

To quote her: “I think some men romanticise their mothers’ experience because they interpret a good woman as a woman who can take anything and it’s their way of honouring their mothers. I also think when it comes to sons who witnessed their mothers suffering at the hands of their fathers, it validates the kingdom they too want to have when they get married where they rule as Lord and Master over their wives and kids.”

It is evident that more needs to be done regarding the state of motherhood in Nigeria and other African countries. 

Motherhood should not be a state of one sided sacrifice such that a mother’s children feel comfortable enough to ridicule her pain.

We must also improve on the state of women in general as the treatment of mothers is an offshoot of the idea that to be woman is to labour endlessly at your expense.

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