The Mother: The Sense of Self

He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.

J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

My mother is the art of storytelling. Estelle Tersia Truter was born in Durban on the 8th of May 1959. She studied English and Psychology at the University of Stellenbosch before moving to Johannesburg. She started her career as a journalist before working for the Edcon Group and later Sussens-Mann (now Meropa) as a publicist. She later started her own business in public relations with two major clients. Twenty years later she is still a phenomenal publicist with her own business, and continues to delve into new interest areas.

Always a powerful influence in my life, my mother has been integral in my development. To my mother, I owe my self-image. As a child I imitated and identified with my mother, more viscerally than I ever could have done with my father. I have memories of telling my Ouma about the pink meetings I had to rush off to, the children I would one day have and playing with my mother’s clothes wishing that one day I would be just like her.

My mother has been the one to teach me the importance of female power and agency. For a long time, I resented my mother’s role in my life. Her absence as a working mother was a bitter reality and it is only recently that I have understood the importance of her choice for me.

It has enabled me to consciously choose my future in a male-dominated reality.  She, like many of my female ancestors, have disregarded class and gender-based expectations of the role of a mother and woman, making it easier for me to go forth into the business world.

In myths, legends, and fairy tales, the role of the mother is complex but the storyline is often simplistic. In Greek mythology, something that my mother and I share a love of going back as far as I can remember, the tale of Persephone and Demeter deals with the complexity of the mother-daughter paradigm showing a range of maternal emotions. It presents the mother as powerful and effective and the ultimate capability for closeness between the two, distinct women despite the interference of a man.

For me, my mother was the first source of positive, female identity. She was the first to show me how essential it is for a woman to express her opinions, desires and have a sense of self in order to liberate a societally repressed voice. My mother has shown me that it is fundament to write and speak up for yourself and the issues you believe in. The importance of recognizing your own power.  But also to redefine the relations women have with other women, as well as men.

The first woman to show me the value of female strength; my mother, through her teachings, has shown me the importance of being unique and remaining faithful to, above all, myself. It is through my mother I inherited my language skills, philosophical ideology, love of literature and idealism. My mother’s reverence for spiritual thought and living things carries on through me in many of my values and ideals.

I believe, it is through women that we will be able to forge sustainable family and community ties. Because of my mother, however, I have been taught to question the typical, Western, patriarchal model, in favour of a more universal, holistic model which encourages diverse insight and involvement.

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