Portraits of Motherhood [5]



Kinky and Coily

Twice a term my daughter and I go through the drill—at the start of the term and just before the half-term break ends. She sits on a stool and we unravel unwilling braids. They tangle at every turn resulting in tugs and pulls. She scrunches her brows and lets out a yelp.

“Mummmyyyy! Not so hard! It really really hurts.”

I sigh and relax my hands taking some pressure off. We finally loosen the braids and then wash, condition, oil, and plait her hair in fat clumps, ready for the new braids or cornrows she will sport.

She touches her hair and asks, “My hair is long enough, why can’t I leave it to just flow down . . . all the way down to my back?”

“You know why.” I respond gently.


“Your hair is kinky and coily. If you leave it to air-dry without a plait, it will coil and shrink into an afro-ey puff that will tangle and be difficult to comb.”

As her brown eyes look into mine, I continue, “This is your hair, it is my hair too. It’s the beautiful and versatile hair that God gave us, and we will rock it and love it and share it with the world.”

About four years ago, I decided to wear my hair in its natural state instead of straightening it with relaxers because I wanted my afro to reflect who I am. I made the decision for my seven-year-old daughter also.

As she grows older, I want her to be proud of her hair and to experiment with different styles, textures, and colours and discover what works for her. So, I tell her about my days of perms, red hair, and many hair extensions. She laughs.

“What about you? Would you like a perm . . . so your hair can fall to your back and it doesn’t hurt so much to comb?”


“Are you sure?”

She nods and I sigh in relief.

I like that she owns her hair and approves of my choice for her. When she is older, whatever she does with her hair is fine as far as she understands that externals do not define her.

Tamkara Adun@ naijaexpatinholland
Tamkara rocks her clogs expat style in the book, Dutched Up! with 27 other expats who share their perspectives on life in The Netherlands.


The Art of Pee

We were at the mall, and my daughter needed to pee. I took her to the public toilet, which was reasonably decent. I’d read that the risk of picking up germs from sitting on public toilet seats was low. I’d read that there are more bacteria on office keyboards than on public toilet seats. That dodgy information resides somewhere in my intellect, meanwhile, my heart moves me to act differently.

I lifted the toilet seat cover and tried to get her to squat. She pointed at the seat. I gave her a brief lecture on the dangers of actually sitting.

“Mummy, I can’t do it.”

“What do you mean you can’t?”

“I can’t.”

“Just bend . . .  like this . . .”

I squatted over the toilet to ensure a healthy distance between my thighs and the edge of the bowl, feeling and I suppose looking undignified, while my daughter watched and doubled over with laughter.

“Your turn!”



“I don’t want to pee anymore.”

“You what!”

“I can hold it.”

I took a deep breath. When I opened the door, I was relieved to find that no one had been eavesdropping on our mother-daughter rite of passage.

Just as we were about to leave the mall, my daughter had the burning urge to pee again. Immediately, two damp circles stained the armpits of my blouse. To my chagrin, our training session ended with an empty bladder, a wet mother and a wet daughter.

At home, I tried to teach her the art of peeing in public toilets with marginal success. My instruction to pee before an outing was laced with undercurrents of meaning that her father and brother could not understand. For insurance, I carried paper toilet seat covers and antibacterial wipes. I learnt to defuse world war four by letting her innocent suggestion, “Why don’t you just clean the seat?” prevail. 

When I was a child, I played house and fed my children okro soup made by crushing hibiscus leaves and petals in an empty derica tin. I wanted to be a mom. Judging from appearances, my daughter also wants to be a mom. She bathes and dresses her dolls with patience that she does not reserve for herself. She dishes plastic eggs, bacon, and bread made in her Fisher Price deluxe kitchen, for them. Oh, the joys of motherhood await her!

Timi @livelytwist
© Timi Yeseibo 2015


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26 thoughts on “Portraits of Motherhood [5]

  1. Such rites of passages in the every day. Love it. Your pee story made me laugh- esp. as someone who has straddled many a public toilet in her lifetime. Loved how Tamkara showing a daughter how to do her hair isn’t just about the look of it but so much more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks diahannreyes, indeed these are rites of passage. Fluid and extending from one generation to the next.
      And you are right, hair is not just about looks, it’s about so much more…identity, individuality, self image and the list goes on…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh the hair moments! I love my daughter’s kinky and coily hair, whose texture is thicker than mine, but it’s a mission to take good care of it. It was a bitter-sweet moment for me when she announced that she actually prefers short hair. The girl in me wanted to keep her hair long so ‘we’ could plait and play with it but the mom in me was proud of her for expressing what she prefers to do with her own hair. So, she had the big chop and she doesn’t seem to miss the long hair. But whichever way she’ll prefer to wear it when she’s older, I hope it won’t harm her externally and internally. I’m just glad that for now I don’t have to worry a lot about combing/brushing/styling.

    I can relate to the bathroom moments post as well. When my daughter was younger she would hold the pee until she got home and then she’d rush to relieve herself. I worried then about what that could possible do to her tiny bladder. Now that she’s older, she seems more comfortable going to public toilets, maybe too comfortable for my liking at times as I worry about germs, even if I’m told countless times “there are more bacteria on office keyboards than on public toilet seats”.

    Thanks to both ladies for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love your daughter. See seems to have such a strong sense of self.
      I also like that you encourage her to embrace her preferences even when they may not be the “popular” choice.
      If your daughter likes her hair short and sassy, she definitely should wear it so and it doesn’t hurt that it takes the burden of managing the “coils” off you! 🙂
      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These stories made me smile, Timi. 🙂 It reminded me of the time my best friends little brother sprayed me, while we tried to change his diaper. My friend forgot the golden rule when diapering a little boy…lay a diaper over his privates. 🙂


  4. Tamkara, I remember the art of taming unruly tresses with stretching combs… lol 🙂

    Your post reminds me how powerful images of beauty are & how they differ according to geographical location. I’m guessing your daughter is surrounded by peers who have hair that ‘flow down’ . . .

    You’ve given me something to chew . . . 💡

    ” I decided to wear my hair in its natural state instead of straightening it with relaxers because I wanted my afro to reflect who I am.”

    “When she is older, whatever she does with her hair is fine as far as she understands that externals do not define her.”

    At first I wondered if the 2 sentences weren’t contradictory. ❓
    My hair (something external), reflects who I am, but it doesn’t define me …. heavy stuff…

    Thanks Tamkara for sharing your story with us. What a wonderful time of bonding for you and your daughter.


    1. Indeed, my daughter is now surrounded by peers with flowing locks of different shades and colour. She is at that age where appearances matter a lot more than they used to and she now talks with ease about “blond, auburn and ginger” hair.
      My hair reflects me, my Afro roots, feelings and inclinations but it does not define nor limit me in any way. Even if i decided to sport a perm tomorrow, i would still be me and i would still be a true reflection and representation of my roots and values.
      While i want my daughter to appreciate, celebrate and love her hair in its natural state, if she decided at some point in the future to explore other options, I would support her.
      The key for me is for her to love herself and what is uniquely hers.
      I hope, i am not contradicting myself again 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t think you are contradicting yourself 🙂 I am thinking of issues beyond hair and trying to apply the ‘principle’ if you will. Still chewing …

        I totally get your explanation. I admire your confidence in your identity and how you are building same in your daughter.


  5. Timi, thanks for sharing…The art of pee-ing sans any contact is a fine skill that we “labor” to teach our daughters. I remember experiencing the same sweaty ‘pits at omagwa intl airport! Thankfully the outcome was not disastrous 🙂
    The battle of the coils is something, we have learnt to embrace and seek out more opportunities to bond and engage on a deeper level.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, I like how you use the word ‘labour’ for many times, it feels that way 🙂
      I’m glad your experience at the airport was drama-free.

      I also love your expression, ‘the battle of coils’ 🙂
      A luta continua! ⭐

      Liked by 1 person

  6. @Tamkara,

    In the eighties, it was rather hip to embrace the ease of hair relaxers. Understandably, my mother chose the easier route and relaxed my hair.

    But then again, in those days, there were no fancy moisturizers or buttery leave-in conditioners, the sort that melt even the most resistant of kinks.

    When I have my own daughter, I will persevere and battle through her coils. The choice to modify its natural texture or not will be hers when she’s older.


    Ah! The fine art of vertically-horizontal peeing, “Boarding School 101”.

    I suppose it’s a skill that comes from the reflex need to protect one’s ‘lady parts’ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nedoux, Thanks for your comment.Great choice for the future!
      I do agree with you that it is a lot easier now, to manage natural coily hair. With the plethora of fabulous hair custards and various products available one can do a much better job of dealing with the kinks and with less sweat too.
      My mother had a different approach to yours and did not approve of the use of relaxers for children. This meant that i didn’t get a perm. What i did get however was the “hot comb” treatment at Christmas and Easter. I couldn’t wait until i was old enough to get a proper “saloon provided” perm.
      Now, i am back to my natural hair state and looking out for a modern “hot comb” to supplement on those odd days when i want a different look.What goes around does come around 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This brought me to tears. Partly because I have a phobia of public restrooms myself. I plan my life around restroom breaks when going on outings…LOL. As for the hair…I’ve fallen in love with a new twist sponge that coils my hair into neat twists. Of course, I know for you ladies, it’s quite a different story with longer hair. I remember the struggle that always ensued betwen my mum and sister during that time. Cornrows meant a full day of labour. Nice reading Timi.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Brian, this made me laugh: “I plan my life around restroom breaks when going on outings.” I’m touched by your vulnerability. I had thought we only did this (i.e. plan outings), for our little girls.

      I guess for some of us, the toilet(s) in our homes are sanctuaries, for thinking, reading, writing, etc. Hence our aversion for public toilets… at least in part. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The struggle is real! Thankfully with the natural hair movement growing, we have access to more information and product options so it does make the “labour” a lot less intensive.
      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. ” I don’t want to pee anymore!” Hehehehe. I bet every mother has heard this at some point. The fear of germs, it happens to us all. I just try not to imagine what goes on in school when I’m not hovering over them. 😉
    Yep, you can’t blame me I’m a mother after all. Not that this will matter in a few years when they are teenagers! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Taye, this is one area where our girls can hold us “hostage”. 🙂

      I console myself that at least in school they’re washing their hands. I jumped to this conclusion after watching my daughter meticulously washing her hands (and wasting gallons of water), the way she had been taught in school. 🙂


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