This piece is written by one of dear friends whom I look up to and admire so much. I think her life is an example of strength, fate and grace. I hope you take away that there is nothing you cannot do. Do not become your circumstance. – With love, Nollie.
My mom is a domestic worker. So I grew up (and still am) in a small one room outside the employee’s main house. That small little room has become all I know and all I am used to. I never had the luxury of having my own room to storm into after a bad day or a fight with my mom. I had to face such emotions with my mom sitting right next to me. At most I could go to the bathroom or outside and chill there. But I wouldn’t change the way I grew up for anything. I am thankful for my mom’s struggles because without them, my mom and I would never have the strength, bond and happiness we have now.
The family my mom works for have done more for me during my school career than I can imagine. They treated me as if I was their own child. I even had a daughter and father type of relationship with the Husband. Their Daughter and I grew up together so we were very close. Only time we started to part was when she moved out and went to varsity.
My mom hustled and made sure I went to good schools, which I did. In high school I managed to receive a scholarship that covered all my school fees and textbook fees. This was a huge weight lifted off my mom’s shoulders because in primary school we didn’t have to buy textbooks. My mom almost wanted to cry the day I collected my matric certificate, one of her dreams for me had come true. Next step, varsity.
I never managed to go to varsity straight after matric because of lack of funding. But that gap year did more for my mom and I than I could imagine. I started working full time (2 jobs) to save up enough money to at least get me through one year of varsity. I was bearly home as I worked Monday to Sunday and always came home late. Until one day the perfect world I thought I lived in came tumbling down.
The Wife or “madam” my mom worked for came to me one Saturday and asked to have a word with me. That was a ‘word’ I will never forget. She told me that I was a manipulative child because her husband spent ‘her’ money (which was his) on me. Told me the only reason I was living there was because of my mother. Told me I should pay rent since I am working and I have lived there my whole life for free. Told me she didn’t like how secretive I was and the fact that I don’t tell her anything about my life anymore. That speech was one of pure dislike. My heart was broken. That’s when I realized that the line that separated me (as the maids daughter) and ‘them’ as the employee was a very thick one that I had been crossing over and over again.
I started feeling like a burden to my mother from that day. I started feeling like all the shit that she has gone through was because of me. I know my mother is a strong woman and that she loved me. I know she chose to have me and to raise me herself but I wanted her to let go and allow me to be strong for her now, to be her pillar. I honestly started hating that lady and I find it very difficult in my heart to not, even to this day. All I want to do is get my mom away from her
And so my life will forever be based around my mother. Everything I do is for my mother. Every big decision I make. All I want to do is take off as much weight off my mother as I can. That’s why I never ask my mom for money. I have asked maybe twice and the amount was never more than R100 and I always pay her back. First year of varsity I worked weekends to pay for me taxi fees to go to school. I would give my mom a portion for groceries. This year I stay in a commune and my mother has never had to buy me groceries. I refuse to put that on her. During holidays I work a full time job to pay for second semester text books.
My mother’s life has been all for me. To ensure that I have food in my stomach and a bed to sleep and so I go to a good school. Now it’s my turn to put food in her stomach by being less of a liability as I can.
I have one dream right now: that is to get to that day I can say to my mom “you don’t need to work anymore, go home and relax, for the rest of your life.” I want to graduate from university for my mother and only my mother. I am not a maids Daughter, I am my Mother daughter.
So every day I thank God for giving my mother the job of a maid, because being a Maids Daughter, my mother’s daughter is the biggest blessing ever!