Quality time matters. Think about Sharon Toetu on this Mother's Day

Maybe we’ve got it all wrong. Just when some of us were beginning to think that Mother’s Day was becoming another overly commercialised public holiday on the calendar, when we take the time to actually talk to mothers and find out their thoughts, they can teach us a lot.

Which is precisely what would have happened if you had read the opinions of the mothers who featured in the Street Talk of yesterday’s Weekend Observer edition. With Mother’s Day today, Reporter Adel Fruean and Photographer Vaitogi Asuisui Matafeo took to the streets to find out what the day means and what mothers actually want.

“I am a mother of eight and the gifts I want for Mother's Day are not worldly things, all I want is to give back the glory and thanksgiving to the Lord for blessing us with another day added to our lives,” said 66-year-old Faleolo Tauamasalo. “I pray all the mothers of Samoa enjoy their special day, and to be acknowledged for their role and hard work in caring for their families.”

Similar thoughts were expressed by 56-year-old mother of six, Toaiva Faiutupele, who said: “I am forever grateful to God for His numerous blessings upon me and my family. The plans for commemorating Mother's Day is just like every year, I will have the pleasure of not doing any chores but wake up and prepare for church and come home to a family feast.”

A few years younger at age 35, Taele Eletise, of Vailoa, said: “A gift that I want for this upcoming Mother's Day is God blessing me with the strength and good health to live and take care of my family. As a mother of six I will be spending Sunday with my kids…”

But perhaps 57-year-old Logoasa Teo, of Leulumoega, summed up the mothers’ wishes the best.

“The only gift I would like to have on Mother's Day is to be blessed by God with long life so I can spend as much time with my loving family,” she said. “There is no use for gifts like brand new clothes and expensive jewelry when we don't spend time with our families. It is true what they say, time is very precious and it goes by so fast, we only need to make the most of it.”

Well isn’t that true? We live in a time where there are so many things competing for our time and attention we literally don’t have energy and time for what matters the most – which is our families. And why does this matter?

Let’s consider the story of an 11-year-old girl from Nofoali’i who won the hearts of the nation last week, Sharon Toetu, who was the youngest weaver during the annual Samoan fine mats and siapo showcase.

The second child of Toetu and Rosa Toetu took nine months to weave a fine mat. What’s the big deal, some people might say. Well it is a big deal. Firstly, this 2019 where so many kids her age wouldn’t even think about doing such a thing. Many young children  have become so preoccupied with phones and gadgets that their parents give them to get them out of their faces.

And here is this young girl, not weaving just any other fine mat, but a very expensive ie Samoa number one. And how did all that start?

Well it started with her grandmother, Telesia Televave, having the time to teach and inspire her.

“At a very young age I used to watch my grandmother weave,” she said. “I would come home from school around three or four and then if I did not have any homework I would start weaving from 4-7pm because we had to do evening prayer around seven.”

What an inspirational story. It’s this kind of story that we as Samoans are seeing lesser and lesser of. It is the passing down of traditional knowledge from generation to generation. For mothers, the art of weaving is one of those skills that is slowly being ignored. With the availability of modern mats, tiles and other flooring materials, fewer women today are paying attention the weaving mats and fine mats.

On Mother’s Day today, let’s think about the importance of grandmothers and mothers spending quality time with their children and grandchildren. Let them pass down the knowledge, skills and impart the wisdom they carry before they move on.

That said, it is probably fair to say that the role of motherhood is not acknowledged often enough. When we talk about the development of women, we often talk about jobs, positions, education and other issues. It’s okay but none of these would be possible if it wasn’t for the role of motherhood.

We often pay lip service to its importance and we rarely really sit down to acknowledge what it takes. Do we know the cost? Do we know what it requires? Do we want to know? That’s why days like today are important.

On these pages, we’ve heard this question a few times. How do we measure the success of a mother? It’s a tough one, to be honest. And the answer would vary between people.

Personally, I think the measure of a mother is not the number of university degrees she has. It’s not the powerful positions she holds. It’s not the flash house, new car and the expensive clothes she wears. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying mothers shouldn’t have any of these. If would be great if they do.

But not all mothers are the same and we cannot measure them with the same measuring tape. In my humble opinion, the measure of a successful mother is found in the quality of life of the people she raised.

It’s found in whether her husband and children are happy. It’s found in whether she has provided a platform – whatever level that is – for her family to grow physically and spiritually.

It’s found in how she has contributed to the development of her family, extended family, church, village and country. And around all of us today are such mothers. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of Samoa, God bless!

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