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Life stories - Nigeria

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Naomi Embaga

CWO, Nigeria


It is the dream of every married woman to become a mother – it is a dream I’ve always had. Even at present, I can still reminiscence the good nostalgic memories of my childhood: carrying and cuddling toy babies in my arms and bathing them, singing lullabies to them in the name of trying to make them sleep and what have you. That love shown as a mere object became real when my mother gave birth to my immediate younger sister – after seven years of loneliness. She became the companion I never had and so I had a desperate loving desire to protect her. And I did.

I had not expected that being a mother would come with so many challenges. In fact, I am beginning to imagine how mine seem to be twice what other women are facing. Lately, I have come to conclude that perhaps God had decided to give me twice the trouble I have given my mother.

My mother was a gorgeously built and beautiful woman, a devout Catholic and was responsible. She was the dream of every child because of her courage and determination to always give her children the best. Life was at first beautiful for us when we had our father’s support, but became dented with suffering and sweet resilience when the cold hands of death took him. I was just about to begin my secondary school education and my younger sister was in Class Three. Friends and fellow family members advised that since we never had enough to eat, dropping out of school was the most prudent thing to do, after all how many parents waste their resources in the name of training a girl- child in school? My mother never argued with them, but when they had all gone she would sit us down and tell us that it would be a double jeopardy for her to not go to school and not allow her children go to school.

I watched her fan with reddened eyes the embers of her fire to fry and sell akara; I watched her hawk bread under the scotching heat of the sun; I watched her do many menial jobs in order to raise money and meet her dream of sending us back to school. A woman who does this for her children does not deserve any trouble, but I caused her some.  I remember she complained with faint smile how I caused her insomnia because of my never wanting to sleep at night.

But I’m I really to blame for that? I was only a baby and did not know what I was doing. Yes, I’ve always had a desperate desire to become a mother, but now that I am, I’ve come to discover that motherhood comes with a whole lot of experience – experiences that were obscure to me, experiences that are not for the fainthearted. At first, I was confident going into motherhood. I had always thought that if I could feed the child, clothe the child, keep their life in a routine, teach them where the boundaries are located and enforce them that life would move smoothly. But no! There are a whole lot of other overwhelming experiences that I just wasn’t prepared for.

First, the saying, “What goes around, comes around” is true. When I had my first child, I could barely sleep at night; I remember keeping awake at most times to breastfeed him. I thought that that would end when he became older but no, it became worse. ‘Mummy, I need water”, “Mummy, I had a bad dream”, or “Mummy, I can’t sleep.”

Secondly, after having half a dozen children, I have come to discover a new centre of my universe; indeed, my children are. No wonder, it is the dream of every married woman to become a mother. As a mother, I have come to realize that even though the children are in their teen and adolescent years, I am still the main point of contact.

Also, my children have a way of taking over my life, leaving me little time to engage with my loving spouse. It is a bitter-sweet experience that marital satisfaction declines while raising children. The sweet romantic moments with my husband at exquisite restaurants and cinemas have reduced. To worsen it all, my husband no longer calls me ‘honey’, ‘darling’, or ‘sugar’ like he does but has exchanged that for ‘Mummy this, Mummy that.’ The truth of the matter is that I want to have children but still I want to be called those sweet names again. I am making intense efforts to look young and beautiful. At least, it is paying off because each time I appear ravishingly dressed and wears my sweet fragrant perfume he remembers to call me those sweet names I love.

Against all the odds of motherhood, the joys abound. In those hard times, I want to encourage all mothers to believe and have faith. Without the belief that there is a plan for your life – even in the season of caring for your children you will feel that motherhood pulls more out of you than it gives you in return. No doubt, the challenges of motherhood, no matter how far into your experience will wear you down. The beauty in the mess of being a mother is that you will rise stronger, impacting the lives of your family in ways that, when measured, are far greater in value than any number you can imagine. 

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