The Conversation

 

The Conversation

“Stop! Wait, wait. Na wa. Which conversation are we having? This one or the one we had a few days ago?”

“This one!”

“Are you sure?”

“What do you mean are you sure? Am I a child? I hate it when you patronize me!”

“Sorry o . . . that was not my intention—”

“As I was saying, so what did you mean when you said what you said about Jimi’s—”

Ahn ahn, which conversation are we having now?”

“We’re having this one, the one we had a few days ago, and every single one we’ve ever had!”

Wahala dey—”

“What did you say?”

“I’m listening . . .”

“So what did you mean?”

“I . . . I meant what I said . . .”

“Meaning?”

“Ha, what I said na?”

“Please humour me, elaborate . . .”

Mehn, okay, I can’t remember what I said.”

“You said that what a woman brings to the table increases her value. That the assets Jimi’s wife brought to the table had diminished comparatively in the last several years. That for women, love and attractiveness were neither here nor there as they placed a higher premium on the combo—love and security but for men an inverse relationship holds—”

“Wow! I said all that?”

“Yes. I mean no . . . the magazine article put it that way, but yeah, in essence, it’s the same sentiment you shared, I guess . . .”

“Which magazine? I can’t remember saying—”

“How can you forget? That night we returned—”

“Okay, okay, if you say so.”

“So what did you mean?”

“Hmmm. Jimi loves his wife and he’s chosen to see other assets beyond what she first had to offer.”

“But she’s . . . she just . . . she doesn’t really take care. . .”

“She’s fat.”

“That’s not politically correct! She’s just on the big side!”

“Okay.”

“You were saying?”

“No, no. . . I’m done. Political correctness stifles conversation, don’t you think?”

“Just say what’s on your mind. It’s not as if you’re giving a TED Talk!”

“So, obviously, a man of his influence and means would be spoilt for options. Though people who’ve done business with him vouch for his integrity as well.”

“You didn’t say this part that day.”

“I’m not a parrot. These are just my thoughts—”

“But you said one of the things that put men off is unattractiveness. That after hooking the guy, some women just stop trying . . .”

“I did?”

“Yes! Remember? When we were dating?”

“That was like what? Years ago?”

“Three and two months to be precise.”

“Elephant mem— hey, where are you going? Why did you put on the light? Turn it off please!”

“I want you to see—”

“See what? Geez—”

“I knew it!”

“What?”

“You think my butt is too flabby!”

“But I didn’t say so!”

“You said geez!”

“Because of the light!”

“But when Patrick said that if he were married to Jimi’s wife, he would’ve taken off, you laughed.”

“Seriously? That’s just a guy thing. He didn’t mean it and we were joking.”

“A very mean joke about a woman who’s had kids. Do you know what having kids does to a woman’s body?”

“Em . . . em, which conversation are we having now?”

“What do you mean? We are just talking! Why do you keep saying, ‘which conversation are we having’?”

“Because—”

“Some women just manage to look great no matter what . . . like Angela. Four kids and she’s still tight. What do you think of Angela?”

“I haven’t thought of her. I have eyes for only you.”

“And Jimi’s wife obviously, since you noticed she’s fat! Are. . . are you listening?”

“Uhuh.”

“You’re sleeping?”

“No.”

“I think I’m pregnant.”

“That’s fantastic! We are pregnant! Come here!”

“Not sure . . . I’m late. I’ll buy a kit tomorrow . . .”

“We’ll do it together.”

“Okay, I’d like that.

“Good. Come to bed—”

“See? See? When I walk it just kinda wiggles all over the place!”

“Mmmm hmmm.”

“What?”

“Are you wearing anything under? Turn . . . walk again let me see . . .nice . . .very nice.”

“Gosh! Are you even looking?

“Oh yes! And even if your butt is as wide as Texas and lumpy like dough, I would still love you.”

“Lumpy like dough—”

“I didn’t mean it like that. Oya, please turn off the light and come back to bed.”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Portraits of Motherhood [5]

motherhood

 

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.

“Why?”

“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?”

“No.”

“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!”

“Mmmmm—”

“What?”

“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

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Portraits of Motherhood [1]

motherhood 1

Bye Bye Guilt

Working forty hours a week means I’m the mom who can’t always be there. Quite often, I miss school events and after-school activities. Sometimes I have to sacrifice evenings and weekends with my family.

I felt so guilty but I shouldn’t have because during the summer months with long, light evenings, I made an effort to get home early. However, my reward upon returning home was lots of kisses. Then off my kids went to play with other children on the street, coming back only to eat when darkness fell.

That they didn’t ‘have time’ for me was my wake-up call to make time for myself.

I went to Paris with a friend who was leaving Europe for India, her home. I did miss the little darlings, but upon my return home, I realised they had survived without me, and I without them.

My children make choices to be with their friends at certain times yet I often pass up opportunities to go out with mine because I worry about leaving them. And so guilt swarms and swamps, as though my having a life lessens my love for them. They, on the other hand, go away with friends but I never doubt their love for me.

So now, taking care of Number One is top of my list. Shortly after this dawned on me, I began writing a food blog, chronicling my kitchen escapades. Through it, I have found me in the leaves of green vegetables and the pages of cookbooks. For you it may be gardening, walking, or Zumba. Whatever it is, do it, because nothing liberates the spirit as much as finding personal purpose, over and above being everything else, even if it doesn’t pay the bills.

For if you aren’t full, how can you fountain? 

Read full article

Ozoz is passionate about food in its entirety – cooking, eating, dreaming, writing and photographing it @ Kitchenbutterfly

 

Milk Milk Milk

At the airport, shiny floors, blinking signs, and morning-rush people captivate my daughter, even though she hasn’t slept enough. She points at everything and says, “Wow! Pretty!” before letting go of my hand and breaking into a run. Her giggles drown in the orderly mayhem.

I grab her and we sit down to wait for our 10 a.m. flight to Italy.  Opposite us, a couple neck as if it is their last time together. When he gropes her breasts, I imagine they will soon pop out from her low-cut blouse.

“Mummy, what’s that?” my daughter taps me and points at them.

I look around. People calling, texting, and iPad-ding.

“It’s nothing.”

“No, mummy what’s that?” She is still pointing.

How do I explain? The man’s face has lowered; it is closer to the woman’s blouse now.

“Mummy look, milk! I want milk!” She tugs at my top.

“No, not now, later okay?”

“Milk! Milk! Milk!”

I look around. People still calling, texting, and iPad-ding. So I cradle her in my arms, undo my nursing bra strap, and pop my nipple in her mouth, no flesh exposed. As she suckles, I feel as though I’m being watched. I look up to meet cold stares from all directions.

I should be used to it, but this time I will not let them get away with it. I lock eyes with one woman and say, “This is my two-year-old daughter and yes I still breastfeed her! Do you have a problem with that?”

She looks away and so do the others.

Women are the ones most offended with people like me—mothers who breastfeed in public, mothers who breastfeed longer than six months, mothers who still breastfeed toddlers. They tell me, “You’re actually the one enjoying it and not the child. Oh your poor husband, how is he coping? Once the child can walk up to you and help themselves, you are abusing the child because God made your breasts for your husband.”

I’m giving my child milk for sustenance and that man is sucking the life out of his partner. Why am I the one getting the evil eye? Are a woman’s breasts for sexual pleasure or breastfeeding or both?

Afi Boboye is a wife and a mother who is passionate about breast-feeding.

 

The Aliens in Your Nest

We have five children, eleven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. Each child is incredibly different. And while nurture has some impact, they come into the world as varied as wildflowers. The key to the fine art of mothering is recognizing and valuing their differences.

Every personality trait has an upside and a downside. The stubborn child that drives you to anger management class by resisting any parental authority may well persevere to become your hero. In our family, that child and I had the most conflict, because he was the one most like me. It was a case of irresistible force meeting immovable object.

This beautiful child, who charmed the world, knew unconsciously how to push all my buttons. It took some years, but we can finally relate without being like two porcupines trying to dance. In fact, he is my hero. He currently teaches at an orphanage for children born HIV positive, in Cambodia. Got to love God’s sense of humor.

I am sure my mother thought I was an alien. Sadly, our dissimilarities were barriers to close connection.  Learning about personality differences opened my eyes and heart to her gifts. While caring for her during her years of struggle with Alzheimer’s, I recognized her language of love. We never got a chance to enjoy each other, but I learned how to love her unconditionally.

My only daughter and I are also opposite personality types and although we express our spirituality through different religious preferences, it is our deepest shared value. Because of this, we have a much better relationship than I had with my mother.

Our family is a sapling with variegated leaves spread around the world. Each Christmas, thirty-plus of us gather. Love, and our warped sense of humor—one trait we all share, make it a high point. At seventy-seven, I take delight in all the ‘aliens’ in my nest.

Eileen O’Leary Norman is a consultant on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. She blogs at Laughter: Carbonated Grace

 

 

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Beauty, A First-Class Ticket

beauty

I knew I was intelligent before I knew I was beautiful, for I won academic prizes throughout my primary school years from the time I was five up ‘til ten. This external validation, reinforced by the circle of people who shaped me, became my inner truth.

My mother was the first yardstick I used to measure beauty by. When people called me little Gina, alluding to our resemblance, I realized I was beautiful. But what did that mean?

At my girls-only boarding school, we giggled and bit our nails when boys from the nearby school attended our social events. Being beautiful meant that I was asked to dance and not forgotten on the bench. It meant my classmates said I looked like Yinka, a girl two years older, whom everyone called Black Beauty. Much later, it meant that I tweezed my eyebrows and applied mascara like the models in Vogue.

My mother told me hard work and a good education would secure success. She did not tell me beauty could be a first-class ticket. You see, once when I tried to register a business campaign, my efforts stalled under the weight of bureaucracy. Then a friend scolded me, “How can? A beautiful woman like you? Don’t you know what to do?” Appalled, I went back and talked my way through.

But her seed grew. I studied how people, men, responded to me; after all, they saw me before they heard me. I remember being singled out from a long line of tired and impatient passengers at an airport. As I crossed the gate having passed Security, the officer said, “You’re very pretty.”
I would be naïve to assume that any preferential treatment I receive is because of beauty alone. It would be naïve of you to assume that I don’t receive unwanted attention or worse still, endure suspicion or dismissal on account of my looks.

Recently, I watched a YouTube video about the changing face of beauty, with a friend. “I wish I were born in a different century,” she said touching her generous hips and rubbing her round belly. I just happen to live in an era where my features coincide with what some consider attractive. I’ve come to know that beauty is leverage and the temptation to abuse it, real.

To me, my looks are secondary. But here’s what I know. A beautiful woman on a man’s arm makes him feel taller. In a world of selfies, people soon forget how you look because they are consumed with how you make them look.

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. ~ Anais Nin

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

An Open Mind . . . Really?

open mind

This thing about having an open mind, sha . . .

 

So, my friend is twenty. When I visit her blog, I find only photos.

“Oh, I don’t really write stuff, I just post photos of people who inspire me.”

Lupita, Serena, Flo-Jo. I understand. She has a British passport, her parents are of African descent, and she grew up in The Netherlands. Her toned calves and arms speak of her devotion to track and field events.

She points, “I like this photo of Lupita, makes me feel that my arms aren’t too muscular.”

I understand. A long time ago, I used to clip photos of Naomi Campbell.

 

Many people I know surround themselves with images, words, and people who validate them and the choices they make. In a world of conflicting ideologies, without an anchor, one could find themselves on a raft in the middle of the ocean. It is harder to make progress while rowing in uncertainty.

I live with quotes, poems, photos, books, videos, and people who feed and reinforce what I believe. This invisible baggage, I carry with me wherever I go. Through this prism, I navigate my world and often it pits me against those who think differently, if I let it, if they let it.

 

In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.  – Ram Dass

 

It is natural to run towards information that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, so I can do a fist pump, “Yeah, I was right!” Certainly, it is difficult for me to shell twenty Euros on a book by an author who trashes what I hold sacred, but you’ll find me online reading his viewpoint free of charge, like someone with an “open mind”.

Reading opposing viewpoints gives me a broader view of the world. It challenges me to question what I believe and in that process, exposes what I really believe. It stretches my thinking so I can deconstruct the author’s argument one by one and thereby hold on to mine.

Is there such a thing as reading with an open mind? Perhaps for those on a raft in the middle of the ocean and not for those on a ship anchored in the harbour.

 

The human brain knows many tricks that allow it to consider evidence, weigh facts and still reach precisely the conclusion it favors1.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

  1. Gilbert, Daniel. “I’m O.K., You’re Biased” Published: April 16, 2006 www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/opinion/16gilbert.html?pagewanted=print

 

 

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Affirmation: My Journey

affirmation

When I was little, school was easy and prizes came easily. My prizes brought me little joy, especially after my mother asked why I didn’t win them all, which was her way of spurring me on to greater heights. I lined my prizes and waited for my father’s praise. When he finally gave it, my life assumed colour and the monochrome of my existence ceased to be.

I think about it now, and wonder if it wasn’t crippling to let my enjoyment of life hang on someone’s approval. I was a child, I didn’t know better. You would think I’ve been cured, after all these years, but I’m not. I am not yet a black belt at life; I have only learnt to do life better.

Am I the only one with this disease?

Years ago, I met a young man at the behest of a mutual friend. He had written a story they both thought was good enough to submit for a competition. I was to look it over, you know, give some pointers.

From the start, sloppy errors that MS Word could have fixed littered his story. I read every line of the first six pages, displeasure turning the corners of my mouth down. In my review, I mentioned that he had a strong story to tell, but I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

He responded with accusations that stung, as if my review had attacked his person, not his work.

I should have sensed his vulnerability in the conversation we had at our first and only meeting, underneath the Chicago Bulls baseball cap he wore and his bravado words. When he placed the manuscript in my hands, I should have seen his heart. I should not have dismissed the way his hand shook so that a few sheets went sailing in the wind, as superstition.

He was not unlike the men in my life; men, who like a 5,000-piece puzzle, take weeks to unravel. Men with broad shoulders that absorb the weight of my fears and the problems of our world, and yet . . .

Anyway, if he wanted validation as a writer, why did he say, “Be brutal in your feedback, I want to get better.” His girlfriend was supposed to hold his hand and whatever else needed holding not me!

Nevertheless, the need to prove my niceness to a stranger ate my sleep. I replied and gave him concrete examples of what he could have written better, including how and why. Although he baited me to read the entire manuscript, saying that, the errors were only in the pages I had read, I declined for I was not that hungry.

That experience cost me a friend and a potential one. Seldom have I received a request for feedback that was not encroached upon by the need for affirmation. I hear it often in the defence people give in response to feedback.

Wise men pause when a woman asks, “How do I look?” Bombarded by images of beauty in the media that thrive on the insecurity that the media put there in the first place, she is asking for validation, not the whole truth. Happy is the man who gives it. Even my son knows that his answer to this question can mean the difference between his favourite take-out pizza and frozen pizza popped in the oven.

I used to dream of meeting someone special who anticipated my needs so I would not need to be weak and speak them. I now know people do not spend all day gazing at crystal balls to decipher what you need. Growth means that I untangle my web of feelings and answer these questions honestly.

Timi what do you need?

Who can give it to you?

Where is it safe to get it from?

Last week, I had a shitty day and if I am honest, I had set myself up to fail. I went to the one with whom I feel safe and recounted the day. Then I said, “Just for tonight, tell me I’m beautiful, tell me I’m smart. In the morning, you can tell me I’m full of crap.”

I am further along on my journey than when I began.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Image: http://pixabay.com/en/people-boy-thinking-child-28792

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.