She Always Will Be

Tomi Olugbemi on Loss

Dying does not hurt the dead but I fear it is different for Mummy. I often worry that she may be grieving too, floating about in some existential plane and mourning the absence of her husband and children. I chew on the meaning of rest in peace. Is it mere banality or is death a form of rest? Perhaps it affirms the belief that eternal bliss follows dying.

I was angry that barely two weeks after the funeral; a guest minister at church preached on God’s healing power. I was angry that many people believed her death to be God’s will: that He knew best, and Mummy’s time had come. I scolded myself for not coming home months before she passed and for believing that she was on a path to recovery. When Faith Evans voice came on the radio, three days after Mummy died, singing: every single day, every time I pray, I’ll be missing you; I closed my eyes, tightened my jaw, and wept on the inside, instead of telling the taxi driver to change the channel.

In Mummy’s death, I lost the only person whose personality traits perfectly mirrored mine. I took after her in the way she swallowed her pain to soothe others and in how she folded into herself and feigned wellness even when sickness or depression ate from her vitality. We loved alike, silently but on full throttle, often walking the lines between worrying about a person and loving them intensely. We remained quiet in the midst of strangers but could be extremely goofy around familiar faces.

Grief is not as persistent as it used to be; my life continues and I have to concentrate on things besides carrying the weight of sadness. These days, grief visits in spurts, like a houseguest rather than a tenant, revealing itself as sudden re-realisations of loss when I place my mother before things: Mummy’s key. Mummy’s car. Mummy’s dresser. Mummy’s cancer foundation or while watching a mother die in a film and remembering that mine died too. Grief is the sadness in Daddy’s eyes masked with a smile when he abruptly interjects her name, Funke, while telling an anecdote about her. It showed on my brother, Dami’s, distraught countenance as we shot his graduation photos sans Mummy. And my other brother, Tofa’s wishful thinking on Twitter that heaven had visiting hours.

Like all the tragedies that have befallen me, I do not know that full recovery is sure. I do believe however, that in time, we adapt to regain normalcy by holding on to the love of, and for the departed; and conjuring their pith by drawing from past events. Thus, memories become more profound, more precious, like little vials of moonlight set aside for the days when the dark feels too present. Because even though they are dead, they breathe in reminiscence.

In losing Mummy, I am reminded of love’s eternal pursuit, its limitlessness, and how it travels beyond the boundaries of physical contact. That not even death can quell its power.  I have learned to still love what is no more. I have learned that loving another person is a life-long endeavour and that loss is not the end.

I hope that like Mary Elizabeth Frye, in her poem, Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, Mummy is wearing a glinting smile, saying: do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die. Although she no longer is, she always will be. Rest in peace, Mummy.

© Tomi Olugbemi 2017

Tomi Olugbemi is a poet. He spends his free time fretting about words and recovering from pessimism. He blogs at tomiolugbemi.com.

 

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/tea-rose-corolla-caf%C3%A9-book-teapot-1871837/

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2017

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Named For Love

name

1.
Dad idolised his grandfather, Olutade. He was going to name me after him but his mother thought against it. Dad then opted for the longest rendition of the name: Oluwatomilade. He also named me after himself: Adebayo. Grandmother did not object. And thus, I was called Junior till I turned seven and began to—in retrospect—cringe-worthily inform the adults in my life that I was a senior.

 

2.
Oluwatomilade translates to, God is my crown, or God is enough for me as a crown. As far as spiritual connotations go, it is a compelling name. To wear God or his identity on one’s head should be a marvellous thing and I suppose it is. But I am more enthralled that Dad named me Oluwatomilade because he loved his grandfather, that perhaps he saw him in me.

 

3.
The answer to the question, what does your name mean to you, is it means more to my father than it does to me. That my name means more to him is what my name means to me. That I was named in and for the sake of love.

 

4.
I inherited my great-grandfather and father’s names, mum’s temperament, and grandfather’s head. In my younger years, I was also called Ori as a not-so-subtle ode to the size of my head. My uncle, Sammy, used to sing a song, Ori nla, nla nla, Ori. Big head, big big, big head. At home, at school, at church, three names accompanied me—Tomi, Junior, Ori.

 

5.
My friend, Arike, is obsessed with names. We have spent many minutes of many conversations pondering about the beauty of names, their language forms, meanings, how they roll off the tongue, and so on. She has a substantial list of names locked in memory, to be withdrawn when she brings forth children to this mad world. I think about names too. I like long names. Studying in a foreign land, long names like mine tend to punish the tongues of lecturers. I usually interject with, “Tomi!” to put them out of their misery. They always apologise. I am never offended. In fact, I secretly look forward to it.

 

6.
My brothers call me Tomi but sometimes, Lade. The story of Lade is this. In my senior year at boarding school, one of my roommates farted (I swear it wasn’t me), and as usual, accusations diffused around the room with the rancid sulphur. Ever the introvert, I remained silent, causing a friend to say, “It was Lade.” Lade has stuck since. I like Lade. It reminds me of boarding school, of the times I loathed school and how I grew to love it in the end.

 

7.
When she was still here, mum called me Tomi. But when she wanted to hail me, like Yoruba mothers tend to do, she called me by one of my other names: Bolu, from Moboluwaji. It means I wake up with God. To wake up with God means that God is there in my sleep, shielding me from the terror of night. It means that God is always there when I open my eyes—bad breath, crusty eyes, and all. This is magnificent but Bolu carries the weight of mum’s love. And it is heavy. And yet, ever so light.

© Tomi Olugbemi 2016

Tomi Olugbemi is a poet and student of International Politics. He spends his free time fretting about words and recovering from pessimism. He blogs at tomiolugbemi.com.

 

Photo credit: condesign/ https://pixabay.com/en/board-slate-blackboard-chalk-1614646/

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

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.

 

Choosing Motherhood [1] Learning to Dance

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

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 [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

 

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Portraits of Motherhood [4]

Motherhood4

A Question From My Daughter

After a day that threatened to break my distress-tolerance scale, I could not refrain from disintegrating in front of my five-year-old daughter. We were sitting in our kitchen and I was looking at her through eyes red and swollen, from crying.

“Mama who is your mommy?” she asked while typing gibberish comprising emoticons, punctuation marks, and jumbled-up letters on my phone. “I want to tell her you are sad.”

I giggled as though she had just pounced on me with one of her random tickles. I was pleased that she was brave enough to ask things I never dared to ask when I was a child.

“Your grandmother . . .  the one we visited recently . . .  where we slept over, is my mother,” I stuttered.

“Oh,” she replied.

I expected more questions but she seemed satisfied with my answer.  I, however, felt discontented. My answer contained only one half of the truth. How could I explain that I have two mothers or that it was possible to have two mothers?

Would she understand if I told her that I had been brought up as my grandmother’s sister’s child because my grandmother’s daughter, my mother, had given birth to me at a young age? And that the woman she called grandmother was really my mother’s maternal aunt?

In 1981, if you were twenty, schooling, and living with your parents or grandparents, as was the case in many black homes in South Africa, you were a child. Children did not raise children. They went to school. How could I tell her the truth—that sometimes mommies gave their babies away through a process called adoption? Would she not think that perhaps I too might give her to another mommy forever?

I decided to keep the answers in my things-to-tell-my-daughter-in-future file. I remembered that I was once a child who needed answers about the people who made up my family.

Unathi Kapa shares her thoughts on identity, culture, belonging, and purpose on unathikay

 

An Extra Mouth to Feed

In the shower, steam shrouds me but does not insulate me. I am thinking about money. I worry about my lack of it.

Once, when I manufactured a few minutes to play with him in the park, he threw the ball to me, an easy pass that I should not have missed.

“Mom you’re not looking!”

He was right, again. I am rarely present; I am in our future worrying.

“I’m sorry. Let’s play again.”

I threw the ball so it spun in an arc that began its descent farther away from where he stood. He was already moving back, calculating the trajectory of the ball. Before delight widened his eyes, weariness had narrowed them. How easily children forgive and forget.

Kalanne said that ever since she got a nanny, she was a better mother. By way of illustration, she said when Sowari spilled his milk, instead of screaming, “What’s wrong with you! Why are you so clumsy?” she now said, “Aw, darling be careful. Don’t worry Tari will clean up.”

I think that if I had money, I would be a better mother. I would not shout as I had done over the loss of his monthly bus pass, berating him with words from a tornado inside me.

I sigh and adjust the shower settings so hot water stings me like needles. When I leave my frugal pleasure-penance behind and open the door, he is there.

Steam rushes to embrace him, but it does not insulate him either.

“Mom, I’m sorry. Don’t send me to my dad. When I grow up I will buy you a car.”

Dangerous thoughts had been circling my mind. How wonderful to be free again. How much easier life without an extra mouth to feed.

I pull him close and wrap him in a fierce hug. My tears mingle with water droplets and disappear into his hair.

If the love of money is the main root of all evil, the lack of it is the secondary root.

Timi@ Livelytwist
© Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

The Empty Crib

We do not interrupt the drive home from the hospital with small talk. When we pull up in front of our house, the neighbours spring out from theirs. Their merriment uncoils in laughing smiles, waving arms, and dancing legs.

The confusion begins the moment I step out of the car. Their eyes travel from my empty arms to my ‘flat’ stomach and from my flat stomach to my empty arms, until someone blurts, “Where is the baby?”

We had not discussed how we would answer their questions. I go inside, while he stays behind to explain.

Death is a thief. It also stole my sleep. The sedatives they force me to drink, freeze in my digestive tract. I walk from room to room weeping for a daughter I never held. It is a long time before my legs give way and I lie on the carpet in the room with yellow walls and the empty white crib.

In the days following, they tell me I am lucky to be alive. I do not feel lucky; I feel empty. They tell me I am young; I can have other children. But, I wanted this one. Oh God, how I wanted this one.

In the beginning, I held a vigil for her every year, so she would know that even if everyone else forgot, I would not. Then one year I looked at the calendar and realized that while I was driving my son to football practice and watching my daughter pirouette in ballet class, her birthday had passed. I had not known that pain could fade into oblivion.

Now I understand what they told me many years ago: I will go to her, but she will not return to me.

Timi@ Livelytwist
© Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Can a woman forget her baby?
Can she forget the child who came from her body?
Even if she can forget her children, I cannot forget you.
I drew a picture of you on my hand. You are always before my eyes.
Isaiah 49:15-16

 

 

 

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Portraits of Motherhood [3]

Motherhood3

Caramel Kids

My husband John is white and I am black. Our first daughter was conceived after a lot of body heat measurements, lovemaking, and consultant fees. As a newborn, she looked nothing like me but everything like John—dark blue eyes under straight black hair, set in pale skin dusted with freckles. Twenty-two months later, her sister was born.

My beautiful girls have always seen and described themselves as caramel. They say caramel is the mixture of white and black. I also see them as caramel. However, I refuse to raise them as caramel. I am raising them as strong black African women to give them a sense of belonging.

When my seven-year old (who had played all day), wanted to play with her friends some more instead of studying, I said no despite her tears. Her friends in question are white, middle-class, and privately educated. She is mixed race, middle-class, and in a state school. In May, my daughter writes her SATs, her first exams.

Because I worry about my daughters’ academic potential, I constantly emphasize the importance of working hard at school. Only this time, her naïvety irritated me. I told her, “You will have to work twice as hard as your white friends to get where you deserve to be.”

In England, caramel is closer to black, and society regards them as mixed black Africans and not mixed white British. People see their sex and race first. They are not immune to this reality. As a warrior mum, I want them to know who they are and I want to give them every advantage they need to succeed.

Still, my main parenting ethos is to ground them in the kind of love I never experienced. Love, which is professed. Love, which cuddles. Love, which kisses. Love, which makes us spend time together. Because knowing you are loved and accepted unconditionally is a bulwark against ‘colour’ coding and separation.

Yvonne is crazy about retro and vintage fashion. She writes passionately about things that get to her at RealYvonneBlog

 

#Electiongate

E1 ran for house prefect last term. Three girls and a boy competed for the two positions. She wrote a speech and campaigned round school. After the elections, E1 came second. The highest vote was nine. She scored eight, the boy scored three, and the other girl one. E2 excitedly told her sister, “Well done, you got it.”

Imagine my shock a couple of days later when E1 reported that the other spot had gone to the boy.

I let off steam at the school office and emailed the secretary expressing my displeasure. A meeting was scheduled with the head teacher where she confirmed that because a boy and a girl traditionally filled the positions, the second post had gone to the boy.

I contended that since the candidates were not informed upfront, the entire process was a mockery. I decided to pursue the matter further as I felt E1 was robbed. Outlining my grievances in a letter, I pointed out that by denying my daughter equal opportunity the school was teaching her that gender is a deterrent to success in a society where gender discrimination is illegal.

It was a lonely and long fight. Well-meaning people asked, “What’s the big deal?” In the meantime, E1 was offered other positions. I told her it was okay to accept another position, as long as she made it clear she was still holding out for her elected post.

Countless emails and acknowledgements wearied me to the end of my tether. Then one Friday, at the close of school, the secretary handed me a letter. I ripped it open once we got to the car. E1 had been awarded the prefectship!

I turned to her, “You see why it’s important to stick to your guns and fight for your rights?” She nodded, joy brimming from her eyes.

I am trying to raise my daughters to believe that there are no limits to what they can achieve or how far they can go. They know that sometimes, they will have to fight. And I want them to know I will always have their backs as God gives me strength.

Joxy, wife, mother, bookworm, bookaholic, ardent Scrabble player, tennis fan, and foodie, writes at Justjoxy’s blog.

 

A Heart of Gold

My thirteen-year-old son is not special needs. He has special needs and barely qualifies to have some of them met in school. If you met him, you would not imagine that my well-spoken boy struggles in school. This challenge began in pre-school and has now progressed to annual team meetings with teachers.

The meetings always start with, “What are your concerns about Damon?” I exhale before I rattle off the same yearly list, lack of focus and mathematical comprehension, poor grades, etc. His teachers smile sadly and nod because they see it every day. In that moment, I don’t feel alone even though they are witnesses for only nine months.

What happens next is my favorite part and it happens every time. Sure, their faces drop when they describe how Damon hunches over his paper, so they won’t know he hasn’t written anything. But they then mention how his hand shoots up above his brown curly hair to volunteer to read; and my mind travels to the years he cried because he hated reading but persevered until he loved it. They smile as they recount his eager participation in class discussions, which elevates the conversation. We all laugh at the way he smiles and assures us that he’s, “Got this!”

And yes, Damon’s got this, this being the heart of life. He carefully scoops up infants in the church nursery where he volunteers each week. He emanates warmth as he greets homeless people whenever we hit the streets to hand out supplies. You see, I mother a child who on his best day puts in twice the effort to receive half the grade and has done so for nine years. Yet his perspective of the world and himself is untainted. Once when I checked his phone for inappropriate content, I saw a text from a friend who stated he wants to be incredible like Damon.

So yeah, parenting an out-of-the-box kid isn’t easy when it comes to schooling, but witnessing his spirit shine in the face of obstacles is better than perfect marks.

Brina Harwood, recent returning full-time student, aspiring writer, and working mother of four, blogs on occasion at My Life in Crowd Control.

 

 

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Portraits of Motherhood [2]

Motherhood 2

An Undulating Journey 

I had no burning desire to be a mother. It was one more thing to tick off my life’s to-do list.

Medical School – check.
Become a doctor – check.
Get married – check.
Have children – check.

But my journey was to be an undulating one.

It was two years into my marriage before I realized ‘have children’ wasn’t just going to happen. There was a problem. The day I sat across a colleague, as a patient, and was told our hopes of having children naturally would never materialize, I died a little.

I understood the diagnosis and the limitations of medical science from a doctor’s stance. I would need to go through series of infertility treatments. Nevertheless, our faith in God held us steady.

As the years turned like the pages of a book, my longing to have a child became stronger. Each day seemed like a year, every menstrual cycle, a thousand years. I established myself as a general practitioner in that time. I examined mothers and their babies while aching for mine. Everywhere I looked someone had a baby in her arms except me.

Almost ten years later, during which time I had three failed IVF treatments and we leaned towards adoption, I held my son on my birthday. We had received a miracle. I cannot put the emotions I felt on paper. At my son’s Dedication Service, I rolled on the floor at the altar—all my yearning, hoping, waiting, crying congealed into worship.

My journey into motherhood began when the magnitude of the responsibility to guide this little person from childhood to adulthood hit me. Two precious daughters have joined the fold. It’s an honour and a privilege to be called mum.

Taye Umole enjoys sharing uplifting stories about how medical science and faith can complement each other. Running is a passion she and her husband share.

 

A Mother to Those Who Matter

From a young age, I mothered my siblings. My dad was present but absent while my mom was absent, not by choice, but present by proxy. From her phone calls, I learned to parent, nurture, discipline, and correct on the go.

So, by my mid-twenties I was certain I didn’t want kids of my own; biological, adopted, borrowed, or otherwise. However, when my siblings and best friends started to pop out little humans, cute and fair, my heart trembled and betrayed me.

Last Christmas, I met my nieces Tara, Didi, and Edikan for the first time. They hugged and kissed me as if they have known me all their lives. My nephew, Jedd, and I are yet to embrace, and I can’t wait to hold him.

I never went back to not wanting kids. Well, when the ones in my life start acting out, for a minute, I’m thankful they aren’t mine. Although I am older, I haven’t given up on having kids. I’m not paralyzed by fear of my biological clock falling apart from ticking for so long. Nor do I care about societal expectations. In the serene peripherals of my mind, I yearn for mine. But, I will not let this desire so consume me that I forget to enjoy living in my now.

My friends are gracious and let me share their kids. Like Elim, who is five going on seventeen. He still calls me Sunshine even though he says I’m not as bright as the sun. Did I already say he is five?

Sometimes, I lose myself in the lives of ‘my kids’ until their mums walk in and reality gives me a big slap. For me, contentment is knowing that I am loved as much as I love.

Every Mother’s Day I get phone calls and kisses from kids who add vibrant color to my life. Because in wiping tears and snot, kissing boo boos, clipping nails, giving baths, braiding hair, doing laundry, and in every other sense of the word; I am a mother.

I just didn’t get to push. Not yet.

Elaine Otuije loves media production, TV, movies, and film. She shares her opinion about most things on her blog.

 

The Bikini Cut

My eyes were glued to the monitor in the private hospital room. Why would my body not go into labour? What had the doctor said? Your contractions are too weak. The excitement that followed my water breaking sixteen hours ago was giving way to worry.

Waiting. Whispers. Deliberations. Phone Calls. Then: we’re going to deliver your baby by caesarean section. The ‘sentence’ sounded awful. I began to cry.

“Can we wait a little?” I had been praying, faithing, confessing, I am like the Hebrew women . . .

“We can’t take any chances Timi; it’s been over twenty-four hours already.”

“But I want to have my baby like normal women . . .”

I sobbed all the way to the OR. I sobbed while the nurse wiped the nail polish from my toes—bye bye pretty red toes. I sobbed until they held the gas mask over my nose.

When I came to, they brought him to me. Long, fair, a riotous mass of black curly hair. “Pretty like a girl,” the nurse said. He latched onto my breast and I latched onto his heart.

I was happy but ashamed that I had been less than a woman. I lied and painted sketches of a vaginal delivery whenever I found myself trading birth stories with other women.

This shame, where did it come from?

For my next pregnancy, I elected for a CS. I could not, would not, go through the trauma of trying for a vaginal delivery and be denied last-minute. Time had not healed my disappointment.

My friend shares a similar story. She would gaze at her preterm baby, a minuscule wonder lying in a glass spaceship, and feel gratitude and guilt and shame.

This shame, where does it come from?

Watching kids play in the park, I cannot tell which one was preterm or which one came by CS or birth canal. Does it matter? They are healthy. The doctor said my scar healed beautifully. He is right. After all these years, I hardly see it. I cannot feel it. I must look for it.

Bikini cut without choice. Bikini cut by choice. My scar of love, my bikini cut.

Timi@ Livelytwist
© Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

 

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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

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Mommie Dearest

mommie dearest

Her eyes opened. Six o’ clock. Panic clouded her brain. She should have already started her round on Ajeleke Street where the drone of generators and echo of the muezzin’s call, did not compete with her megaphone. Into that serene place, Mommie’s voice had boomed nearly every morning for the past two years. She was not careful as she bounded from bed.

In the sitting room, Ejiro, Ufuoma, and Yoma sat with arms crossed over their chests. Their stare reminded Mommie that her head-tie sat on her head at a lop-sided angle threatening to fall. In the corner, Lucky stood like a wallflower not daring to meet her eyes. She smelt sabotage. No one offered her a chair to ease her discomfort. She steadied her head-tie with both hands.

Miguo Daddy,” she addressed Ejiro, her husband.

 

Miguo Mommie,” they all chorused.

 

“This has got to stop. It must stop today!” Ejiro spoke first.

 

“Mommie, we are tired of you embarrassing us with your microphone!” Ufuoma spoke second. She did not observe protocol; Yoma was older than she was.

 

“We are not saying you cannot preach,” Yoma relaxed his hands as he spoke, “but surely there must be a better way.”

 

“Hmmm, I see.” She folded her arms over her chest, spreading her legs.

 

The men knew when to retreat, but Ufuoma continued.

 

“Mommie, you are the wife of the honorable chief judge. We live in Effurun GRA. You drive a V-boot. You are supposed to be a society lady. Carrying a loudspeaker and preaching on the streets makes you a common, common—”

 

“Common what? Say it, I am waiting.”

 

Yoma looked at his mum who was now standing at akimbo and then at Ufuoma whose chest was rising and falling rapidly, “What she means is—”

 

“I know what she means! My ungrateful family! Ejiroghene when you wanted a promotion, you asked me to pray to the God that you are now ashamed of. Now that you have arrived, my serving God is an embarrassment enh?”

 

Ejiro pushed his glasses higher up on his nose. He regretted allowing the children persuade him to confront their mother.

 

Turning to face her only son, she spat out her venom. “Ogheneyoma who prayed and got you out of trouble time and time again? Who prayed until you finally got that Shell job?”

 

“You did.” Yoma sighed and stretched, he’d never liked waking early. He wished he had not come home for the holidays.

 

“Mommie, stop it. Stop it!” Ufuoma had had enough. “This isn’t about us!”

 

“Ufuoma, you, you? You of all people. Where do I even begin? Should I start with that useless boy Richard your—”

 

“Look, look, this is all getting out of hand. Mommie what we want to say is that we admire your fine Christian character, you are truly a virtuous woman; none would dare disagree. Your aggressive proselytizing with that thing,” Daddy gestured at the megaphone lying at Lucky’s feet, “only serves as a noise pollutant at a time when people are stealing the last vestiges of sleep. This militant evangelistic style coupled with your emotion-laden sales pitch is rather old. We are just saying that it’s time for new tactics.”

 

He stood and placed his hand on her shoulder, “Mommie, bikó.” Taking her right hand in his, he softened his voice, “You cannot browbeat people into accepting our faith since it is a work of grace, and grace is never more clearly demonstrated than in our actions. As Francis of Assisi said, ‘Preach the gospel all the time, and if necessary, use words.’”

 

“Ssssss! I thought you were going to say something constructive!” Mommie pulled her hand away and glared at him, “Ejiro, I don’t know which Bible you read that it has become our faith. The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent taketh it by force. The day that Muslims stop calling for prayer, Hare Krishnas stop dancing on the street, Jehovah’s Witnesses stop knocking on doors, and Cele start wearing shoes to church, that is the day I will stop preaching!”

 

She marched over to Lucky.

Miguo Mommie,” he curtsied.

Vre-ndo Lucky. Doh my pickin. Is everything set?”

“Yes Mommie.”

Let’s go!”

 

Lucky handed her the megaphone and followed behind.

 

“Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!” Mommie’s voice rang out startling Lucky as he turned the lock and lifted the latch to open the gate. She looked at him with a half-smile, “Charity must always begin at home.”

 

Once outside the gate, Mommie began to lecture Lucky. “We must forgive our critics. The Bible says that a man’s enemies will come from his own household . . .”

 

Lucky turned and followed her eyes. Surprise registered in his. Richard was escorting a girl to the junction that led to the bus stop.

 

“Ufuoma! Ufu-oma o! Come see your boyfriend dey carry gonorrhea!” Aiming her megaphone in Richard’s direction, Mommie cried even louder, “Repent! If you die today, will you make heaven? Turn from your wicked ways!”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

p.s. Happy Mother’s Day to you. After many false starts, I wrote this caricature, which isn’t about us, because the places I had to go to write the post I wanted seemed too far; the emotions, too raw, bleeding as they did only yesterday.

***

 

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design: ©Timi Yeseibo 2014

Who Will Tell Me Sorry?

who will tell me sorry

Time stood still.

After she said, “Mummy I bumped my head against the window.”

Then moved slowly like a ticking bomb, tick-tock, tick-tock.

One irritated child, another crying child, an unhappy mother, and a grim-faced driver rode from Ikeja to Victoria Island. I wielded the power to change the sombre atmosphere in the car—one sentence, “Sorry, let me take a look at it,” was the magic wand that could banish sorrow to a faraway land.

Instead, I sat tight-lipped like a woman whose husband had asked, “What is the matter now?” after forgetting her birthday. The word sorry had become as precious to me as Silas Marner’s gold was to him. I did not have any more sorry to spare.

Our day had started innocently enough. The children wanted to visit The Fun Place, and I acquiesced. Undaunted by traffic, their incessant chatter filled the car before they succumbed to the go-slow and dozed off. They woke up just as we approached Opebi and bounced gently in their seats to the rhythm of their melodious voices.

So what went wrong? Nothing. Nothing really, except that from the moment they woke up, they had been running in my direction in ardent search for those precious words.

“Mummy, I stubbed my toe as I was coming down the stairs,” one complained and looked at me as if I conspired with the builder to build steep steps.

“Oh sorry dear, come closer, let me take a look.”

Then I gave the toe a gentle rub to soothe the pain. The pacified child retrieved his toe, announced that he felt better, and disappeared. As the day wore on, both kids took turns to seek this cure-all for life’s little mishaps.

“Mummy, I fell down.”

“Sorry, ….”

“Mummy, I bit my tongue.”

“Sorry, ….”

“Mummy, I cut my arm.”

“Sorry, ….”

“Mummy, my sister won’t play with me, the sun won’t shine, the dog won’t bark, the flowers won’t grow, there’s no light, there’s no water,” and on and on, and on and on.

To these and their array of mounting complaints, I have learnt to either feign concern or inject a sufficient amount of compassion in my voice, as I give an appropriate response by rote while multi-tasking!

It was the same story at The Fun Place. I opened my novel, read one paragraph and then said sorry. A little sorry here, a little sorry there. I read another paragraph before tales of being pushed and hit, tales of being unfairly treated, and tales of falling down, assaulted my ears. A big sorry here, a big sorry there, and in all, I had read four paragraphs of my novel by the time we determined to leave.

I eased into the car, looking forward to closing my eyes and dreaming of my bed. I wiped apple juice from my hands, mildly irritated by my sticky fingers, and dusted popcorn off my jeans. The gaping pothole that rocked the car from side to side, had caused everyone and everything to shift position, including my mood.

It was at this precarious time that my daughter pouted, “Mummy I bumped my head against the window.”

I folded my arms and pursed my lips.

It was time to count to fifty, but I would not.

I sighed.

Who will tell me sorry? Did I not also bump my head against the car window? Had I not also stubbed my toe last night in the NEPA-induced darkness? I had muttered, “ow,” rubbed my toe myself, and continued with life.

Who will tell me sorry for the fact that I could not stretch my monthly chop money to cover the whole month due to inflation?

Who will tell me sorry for my car shaft, which needed replacement because the road to my house had become a river?

I sighed.

No, I did not think I had any free sorry to dole out. Let her tell herself sorry for a change!

Her cries slowed to a whimper. A quick glance confirmed my suspicion—her eyelids were drooping in preparation for sleep. Something stirred within me. I reached out and caressed her head, “Sorry darling, does it feel better?”

She sagged against her seat belt, a contended smile barely breaking through tired lips, as everyone else visibly relaxed.

So, who will tell me sorry?

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

 

image design: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013

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.

 

My Mum the Superhero

Awesome mum

My mum is a woman ahead of her time. Living in a society and a day when having male children was the ultimate sign of fertility and the highest compliment a wife could pay her husband, she did not wring her hands and weep in the maternity ward year after year in quest for a boy child. No, after three girls, she dulled her ears to the murmurs. She dedicated her life to being the best thing that came out of Sapele and poured herself into her daughters so we could be all and more than any male child could ever be.

three daughters

My mum is big-hearted. She stretched the meaning of nuclear family until it extended to include people with whom we shared no blood connection. As a result, we grew up with more cousins, aunts, and uncles than most. Her seeds of kindness have matured and we are recognised and rewarded for being the children of Aunty Gina.

My mum is beautiful. From her I learnt that I too am beautiful. Whenever people called me little Gina, my heart welled with pride. I wore her oversize clothes and shoes, and opened her trinket box to deck myself with her jewellery. Then I sat on her dressing table and put on her make-up. When I looked at the mirror, I no longer saw a gawky child. I saw my mum, my beautiful mum.

mom is beautiful

My mum is a planner. If we had to travel, she would sneak into our rooms at 4 a.m., six hours before we needed to leave, and drag our luggage to the veranda where the sleepy-eyed chauffeur would be waiting to put them in the trunk of the car. She would wake us up at 5 a.m. and cajole us to get ready, hollering our names, pulling the bed covers, and yanking our pillows. How we idled away the five hours until departure time is an unsolved mystery. Today, I pack like a pro and my luggage is at the door five hours before I need to leave my house.

wake up now

My mum is a believer. She told me the sky is the limit; to reach for my dreams, to never give up, to believe in myself, and to believe I could do anything. Yes, I could be anything; as long as I was a doctor or lawyer first, fulfilling her cherished dream. I watched her walk in uncharted territory and bounce back from setbacks. Ever the optimist, even now, she asks, “Timi, do you know what is beyond the sky?”

reach for sky

My mom is an entrepreneur. She has a heap of white play sand in front of her home to tempt the grandchildren into getting dirty and saturating their hair with sand. While we grimace she claps with glee the whiter their hair gets. She encourages them to play in her white sand and repay her when they are older by buying her Land Cruisers and Range Rovers. Although I have tried to explain to the grandkids that they are mortgaging their future by accumulating car debts, they cannot resist the heap of play sand in front of grandma’s house.

playing in sand

My mom is a prayer warrior. She called me recently.

Mom: I hear you started writing on the internet.

Me: Yes.

Mom: Why?

Me (thinking): Well, I’ve always loved writing… it’s a global platform to display my writing and not only reach, but also engage wider audiences. I hope to inspire, entertain, and inform. I want to—

Mom (interrupting): After all that grammar, how much are they paying you?

Me (pausing): Em, nothing.

Mom (after a while): Did you quit your job?

Me: No.

Mom: Good. I will pray for you.

My mum is a supporter, my avid fan. She asked my sister to print my blog posts for her to read. Will she read them? I don’t know, but I know she will make at least four hundred copies. She will paste a few copies on the gate that leads to her home and on her front door. She will litter her living room with several copies and carry the rest in her big bag, evangelising everywhere she goes, “Google Timi, she’s on the internet!” Finally at night she’ll bring one of the copies from her bag and look, and look, and look.

It’s mother’s day in The Netherlands. Happy Mother’s Day mums! Look at you; appreciate how far you’ve come. Honour a woman who has nurtured you. Tell her, she’s your superhero!

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

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Awesome Mom by Shad Fox: www.creationswap.com

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Design: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013

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