Choosing Motherhood [1] Learning to Dance


Learning to Dance

I got married at twenty-one. Our first son was born a year later when I was in my second year at the University of Nigeria, studying radiological science. My Parents tried to make me see reasons to wait before starting a family, but the day I stopped breastfeeding my son, I became pregnant with my second son. My husband, Ben, at twenty-nine had lost his job before our first son was born and was still unemployed by the time our second son was born.

My Parents harboured us, providing emotional and financial assistance. Ben was studying for an MBA, while I combined schooling with business, selling anything to support my growing family.

One day on campus, I cried in frustration from exhaustion. I practised exclusive breast-feeding so I breastfed all night while studying. Then I slept for less than five hours and drove to the university every morning. A lecturer tried to talk me into moving to campus and leaving my boys in the care of my parents and their nannies. I declined. I told him being a mother came first. Motherhood had chosen me because every family planning method I tried had failed.

I had few friends because I was the only married girl among my peers. They left me alone to work out my new challenges. I was not socially aware. I never partied and didn’t have fashion sense. Ben and I couldn’t afford to go out like other unmarried couples. I was devoted to my family and I wanted to prove to my parents and everyone else that I knew what I was doing.

By my final year, I was looking forward to moving out of my parent’s home. My dream came true when I landed a job in Lagos using my mum’s connections. Ben and the boys joined me shortly. After a while, I fell sick. To my dismay, I found out that I was pregnant for the third time. I was twenty-six.

I was depressed. We still faced financial pressures and I resented this intrusion to my dreams. I scheduled an abortion although it was against my values. On the day of my abortion, a doctor who is also a family friend disclosed my plan to my mum and she called to discourage me. I cancelled the procedure.

After my only daughter was born, my husband found his bearing. He got a job that enabled us move to our own house in Lagos. I also started a cleaning company that became very successful in no time. While we prospered in career and business, our marriage suffered.

From the beginning, Ben only wanted one child and he had not even wanted a child so early in our marriage. He came from a large family while my family was small and I had always looked forward to having many children. Four years after our daughter was born, we had another son. This put more pressure on our strained marriage. When we moved to South Africa, Ben eventually left me and the children.

It takes a village to raise a child. I could not have navigated my motherhood journey without support from family and friends. Looking back, I see that although I have always wanted to be a mother, I did not plan to be one. Children are precious gifts from God and deserve a home with parents who have lovingly considered the ramifications of their presence. Given another chance, I would choose motherhood in a heartbeat, but would wait until I finish school before starting a family.

My children are now 22, 20, 17, and 13. There is no time for regret only gratitude to God as I watch them mature into adulthood. I tell them that there is time for everything under the sun. We need to give ourselves time to grow and allow school to pass through us instead of just passing through school before settling down.

Motherhood cannot be distilled to a formula. It is a privilege to be embraced and it requires determination and wisdom. I grew up with my children, teaching them respect, compassion, responsibility, and love. They in turn gave me lessons in patience and hope. I am learning about fashion and music from them, practicing the latest dance steps and cool moves with them. We laugh together like siblings, when I go off beat.


Ada Obi-Okafor makes her home in South Africa. She’s a licensed radiographer who enjoys soccer, movies, a good book, and a clean house.


© Timi Yeseibo, 2016

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56 thoughts on “Choosing Motherhood [1] Learning to Dance

  1. Wow, Ada. What an amazing journey through motherhood and adulthood. How did you ever do it? Can we talk about how horrible Ben was to leave you with 4 children? I hope he helped out and is involved in your kids’ lives, but hopes and wishes sometimes run against pragmatism and reality. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To paraphrase John Lennon:

    Life is what happens while we’re busy making plans . . . or not making plans.

    Looking for the good in what happens is where happiness resides.

    On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined. ~ Lord Byron

    Liked by 3 people

    1. @Looking for the good in what happens is where happiness resides, so true.
      I say, take lemons, make life ….. and dance!

      Thanks for sharing a quote that brought a smile to my face and possibly made Ada continue dancing.


  3. Dancing offbeat can still be a thing of beauty, and definitely joy, like this piece shows. I’m grateful for Ada and this story, because her Livelytwist speaks to me, who has no chance of becoming a mother, but is grateful that many like her live to tell their stories

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Stories like Ada’s connect us where it matters, transcending gender, giving us another understanding of our world. She lived to tell. I suspect gratitude propels her offbeat moves.

      Thanks Ife.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really like this story for a number of reasons.
    There’s the resilience of the writer, but there’s also the honesty in admiring the difficulty she passed through raising her children and a desire that they will make better choices when older. That’s admirable.
    There is truly time for everything– to study and ‘enjoy’ school and time to settle down and start a family.

    Bless your heart, Ada 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She mentions determination and wisdom as requirements for motherhood. I can’t help nodding; they are ingredients for navigating life too.
      I hope Ada inspires all of us to make better choices or to not give up in the face of the consequences of not-so-good choices.

      Yes, bless Ada’s heart. Thanks Uju.


  5. Wow!!! @tonbareg Your mum truly is one in a million. Coming from Igboland, i can understand the no male child issue. Although my mother had both boys and girls, ihave friends and neighbours who grew up without male siblings and their stories sometimes are heartwrenching. Nowadays, other kids at school won’t take note of that fact. But its the mothers that suffer alot although i must say that these days people usually go the ‘adopt a male child’ route.
    Again, 👍to your mum

    Liked by 1 person

  6. About three to four centuries ago where I come from you were considered to be less than mother if you only had female children and no male child. You were blamed for not having a male child and subjected to all kinds of ridicule some times you were even thrown out of your matrimonial home because you didn’t have a male child to carry on the family name.

    My mom had three of us girls and never made us feel we were inferior to boys she always told us that the sky was our limit and we could achieve whatever we set our hearts to do. She went through some of disadvantages of having only girls but we didn’t know until we were much older because she shielded us from society’s ridicule. I remember when I was in school people would look at me in shock when I told them we were just girls and wonder how my mum coped. I usually felt awkward because I didn’t feel like it was supposed to be a surprise. Some of my friends were not so lucky as their fathers had to take on a second wife so they could have a male child (polygamy is not against the law in my country) and that affected their family life negatively.

    Looking back I see what my mother had to endure to make us happy and can’t help being grateful. Thanks mum you are the best.

    I guess am truly feeling inspired by today’s post that’s why am writing so much.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Your mum is a woman ahead of her time, swimming (alone) against the tide.
      That’s the kind of sacrifice that changes a generation. Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mum!

      I’m so glad Ada’s story inspired you and the rest of us to consider what our mothers and other mothers sacrifice to embrace motherhood.

      Thank you!


  7. Wow, some women are resilient.
    Honest, I think motherhood sort of broke my mother abit. She had 6 children and has lost 1 (my sister who died at 50). But yes, it’s the hardest job of all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, wow!
      At twenty-two, I guess Ada might not have fully appreciated the word, resilient. She probably does now.

      I’m sorry to read about your sister’s passing and that motherhood broke your mother a bit. I hope motherhood ‘mends’ her a bit too. Happy Mother’s Day to her.


  8. Profound and inspirational post. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is so insightful, particularly in our modern Western age when ‘village’ networks have been sacrificed to progress.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Relate to the didn’t plan being a mother even when trying to become one. I thought knowing how came with becoming a mother…..not so much! We enter the hardest most important career without training or planning…………..amazing that so many manage it so well. Kudos to those who manage under such challenging circumstances.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it is better to plan and learn… even then there aren’t neat formulas to follow; each child is unique. Thank God for wisdom. And yes kudos to mums for navigating the journey well.

      Happy Mother’s Day to you!


  10. I remember when I learned I was pregnant with my first child my husband had just quit his job and my salary was so small we didn’t know whether to be excited or sad at the news that I was pregnant. I went through the pregnancy and had a complicated delivery because I had pregnancy induced high blood pressure. Breastfeeding was close to impossible because I spent the first two weeks taking drugs for the BP and trying to recover. When I finally recovered and settled into the routine of mothering (going through many sleepless night that comes with having a baby who prefers to be awake more at night than during the day) I would never forget the first time I noticed my baby look at me with those beautiful eyes while sucking there was this connection and joy I felt that no words can describe. It made feel like the happiest woman on earth.
    Motherhood has its challenges but it’s a privilege am truly blessed to be a mother and to have one too. Inspite of it’s challenges I’ll still choose to be one if there’s anything like another life on earth.

    Happy Mothers Day to every woman who has mothered a child biological or not. You rock!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tonbareg, thanks for sharing. I’m happy that you and others can look back at the sacrifices and challenges you encountered and laugh; yes, laugh!

      I’m also glad we can talk openly about the ambivalence that might greet the news of a pregnancy when financial pressures exist. I hope someone reads your journey and Ada’s journey and draws strength from both stories.

      Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ada, your story is beautiful and inspiring! I was like you always wanted children. My mom warned me to get everything done first. I met my husband first day of college student and was able to hold off awhile on our romance, but got married at 22, taught less than a year, was pregnant with IUD, doctor suggested surgery due to possible disabilities, no. I was firm and in 5 th month miscarried. Only a few 6 months, I was pregnant and had used double contraceptive, tandem method. So, I chose to stay home and watch some fellow teacher’s children who valued my ability and education. Still, not countinuing in teaching was a liability on future prospects. I had two with college sweetheart husband. He was never home. We were special only at business socialbsettings. He chose to have vasectomy and had affairs. It broke my heart. I did have another husband and 3rd child. Finally, I did get to try professions, child advocacy, (2 years at battered women’s shelter), Activities Director nursing home 4 years and subbing at schools trying to get foot in door. I finished 9 years of loving special ed preschool. When I started the good old bachelor’s degree worked, the last 4 years I scrambled with 2 kids in college, working days as a teacher, 4 nights a week as waitress and taking classes! Life would have been easier following my Mom’s shoes: abstinence until 26 then marrying with her Master’s degree in hand my Dad who had his engineering degree. Dumb but blessed was I! 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I celebrate mothers like you for all the sacrifice you had to go through raising your kids! I don’t think you were dumb sometimes life happens the way we don’t expect it to what you do at such times is what truly matters. Happy Mothers Day! You rock awesome mom!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so very much for your kind and supportive comments. I wish you well and I think you have done an awesome job with your children. We all need to be caring and loving to those out there, some who seem like they have it all and are “together” still need to be supported.
        I am proud from a distance that you completed your education, work as a radiographer and are working on helping your children every day, I imagine. Sending you hugs!
        By the way, Timi, this is a great series you are beginning. I applaud your sharing other’s stories here! Hugs and Happy Mother’s Day to Timi, along with others who visit here. ❤

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It’s a privilege to share other people’s stories. Many times through their stories, I glean a better understanding of my journey. Even better, we realize how different but how similar we are, where it really matters.

          Ada completed her education, just as you did under challenging circumstances. Kudos to both of you.

          They say that the ‘rich’ also cry. Yes everyone needs a shoulder ….

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Robin, thanks for sharing your journey with us. Show me someone who hasn’t done dumb stuff at one point or the other, and I’ll show you an alien!

      Awesome mum, you rock! Happy Mother’s Day.


  12. What a story! Thank God for mothers like this who would never quit on their children no matter the storms of life they go through. We celebrate mothers like you Ada Obi-Okafor today and every other mother who have had to make extreme sacrifices for their kids.

    Liked by 2 people

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