The meaning of my name is “good mother” and that would be the cutest thing ever if I said that while holding my cute lookalike daughter — whose name makes no references to her potential life choices.
Looking back — I never thought that much about being a mother because I assumed it would happen as naturally as it did for my mother and the woman who gave birth to her and eight others.
I enjoyed being a child and paid attention to the individual choices my parents made while raise their offspring. My mother was more involved in disciplining and being acutely aware of our needs in ways that my father didn’t replicate. He was the silent observer who got all the gist about his kids from his wife and was more than happy to jump in when needed.
My mother was also a lot of fun and exposed us to the arts with glorious enthusiasm while my dad reservedly participated by sharing his love for movies and music through the libraries stocked with VHS tapes — and colorful albums that he would bring out on Sunday mornings — filling the house with Mozart.
Once adulthood struck — I dated guys that I just wanted to fuck and also dated guys I wanted to fuck while married to them. My twenties were just as turbulent as the next girl — as I plummeted into dangerous territories and recovered with the ammunition of knowledge about just how much more complicated it is to find “The One.”
My mother never discussed sex and love with me and so I decided that when I have a daughter — I would make it a point to be the first one to give her the raw deal about boys and how waiting to lose your virginity to a worthy suitor is a load of crap.
By my early thirties — panic began to set in as there was no indication that I would be wed anytime soon and that meant that if I waited a couple more years — the chances of easily conceiving a child would be that much more difficult.
There was also the stigma that attaches to Nigerian women who are unmarried after the age of thirty. Our culture allows the men to stay single without shame because the law of nature permits them to be able to procreate at any age — so no matter what — the lineage remains secure. For women — the chances of marrying into a family of good standing decreases considerably when you get past the age of thirty-three.
Nigerian mothers are extremely protective of their sons especially if they’re the first-born or the only male. They want them to end up with women who are beautiful, educated, experts in the kitchen and most importantly healthy enough to bear children without the threat of infertility.
I knew that it was highly unlikely that I would meet a Nigerian man — fall in love — marry and have three kids with names that start with “Chi.” But then I was also wondering if I would meet and fall in love with any man that would give me the urge to settle down and create the family that I was starting to fear would never appear.
All that worrying was definitely not for nothing — because a decade later I’m still harboring the same level of anticipation — but the difference is that aging has armed me with the license to ignore the gossipers— who search my face after they’ve expressed their admiration for how I’m able to attend public functions — without withering in pain at the sight of the beautifully dressed families of four that I will never have.
Yes — there was a period when I hid my sorrow well and kept it under wraps until I returned to my studio apartment — and unleashed the pent up emotions in more glasses of wine and fresh episodes of The Real Housewives.
But — I have graduated to the phase where you accept the life you were chosen to live and make the fucking best of it. It also helps that a lot of my close friends also ended up single and motherless — and their status never ceases to shock me — because they’re some of most selfless and lovable women on the planet who should’ve married decent men and produced the cutest kids ever.
I know that’s exactly what my mother’s friends tell her every time they ask about me and she’s forced to confirm that my status hasn’t changed.
Now — I’m just lucky to be alive — battling erratic hormones and counting the days when my bleeding phase will be curbed for good. And in the midst of all that I have to masturbate as often as possible to prove to that my libido is still at the level I need it to be — since the piling years can wreck havoc on women who are facing the dreaded M-word.
So — now that it’s pretty clear that I won’t have any children of my own — the question is how do I live up to my name by not abandoning the organic tendency I have to attract the attention of kids who seem to gravitate to me — as if they know how much I need them.
Now that I have my nieces — thanks to my younger brother and his adoring wife — the time I spend with them is meaningful enough to inspire my need to re-define motherhood — as a woman who isn’t technically a mother.
The excitement in the bond I share with those two girls is endearing and gratifying — and it flows with sweet hugs and kissed and the many dresses that fill up their closets. It’s the care and concern that extends to the future and how my heart leaps with joy with every birthday — and then almost skips a beat when national emergencies hit too close to home.
And it’s not just the girls — it’s the others by friends who invite me into the process of expectancy and then the main event happens — and suddenly the name she picked out is a bundle of joy with big eyes and long legs. The shopping begins and the FaceTime captures the face that is beginning to recognize this person that loves him so much.
I have to utilize my motherly instincts somehow — and the blessed women in my life and in the lives of the ones I love dearly — have no issue allowing me the pleasure and privilege of “playing mommy” to their little ones — who will grow up and hopefully still give me the opportunity to save them — when “mommy just doesn’t get it.”
I would’ve loved to experience the aches and pains of a pregnancy — and the miracle of pushing my baby out — as we both cry in unison. But it wasn’t meant to be and that’s okay.
I’m re-defining my way out of that loss — and the gain is what any mother would want.