All over the world, mothers are considered to be the bond that holds the family together, and are expected to encompass strength of body, mind, and spirit.
A mother, in almost all cultures, is seen as the wellspring of wisdom that never runs dry, a pillar of love that never collapses and an engine of hope that never shuts down– her arms always wide open, ready to bring everyone together, feed the hungry, guide the lost and nurse the sick.
Naturally, because a mother gives life, her values are centered around the protection, comfort and happiness of those to whom she has given life, and the people that matter the most to her. This sacrificial selflessness, thought to be the default setting of all good mothers, is often taken for granted.
In the constant strive of a mother to be everything to everyone, it is rare for the focus to ever be upon the mother herself. When consoling broken hearts, rarely is she asked about her own heartbreaks. When fighting off the doubts and fears of others, rarely is she asked about her own doubts and fears. And most importantly, when nursing and healing the sick, rarely is she asked about her own health and wellbeing.
In many ways, mothers have perfected the art of keeping their innermost thoughts and feelings behind an unwavering façade of calm and grace, as they know that their families find stability in their serenity.
They have become masters in oscillating from one emotion to another, in order to manage and simultaneously take on a multitude of situations and tasks, rarely showing the heaviness of the loads upon their shoulders.
Heavy loads that we must all no longer allow them to carry on their own – we must meet them halfway in their journey of love, kindness, justice and strength at all times.
We must therefore, take a moment to honestly ask ourselves who is my mother’s keeper?
In doing this, we push ourselves to turn our attention to the very people whose guidance and influence has shaped our lives. Our efforts to strengthen our families and communities, as a whole, must stem from our deep desire to uplift mothers, as they are the foundation of our society.
Husbands and fathers, let your presence represent a true partnership, one that seeks to hear the unsaid words, understand the inexplicable, and see with your heart the ‘essential that is invisible to the eye’.
Sons and Daughters, let us all learn from the unconditional love and care we have received, and return it tenfold to our mothers.
Mothers and wives, with the same pride and satisfaction that we gain from our ability to do it all for our families, let us also find that space in our lives where we retreat to rest and recuperate, and let us learn that it is perfectly okay to let go and to rest on someone else’s shoulders, so we can all become each other’s keepers.
The writer is the First Lady of Rwanda.