“Sweet mother, I no go forget you, for the suffer wey you suffer for me”
Each time I think abut the ever green Nigerian song “sweet mother”, I’m usually thankful that in a clime like Nigeria, we can boast of music that stands through time. However, the song has never quite resonated with me. It didn’t ten years ago when I knew absolutely nothing about motherhood and even now that I know a teeny bit, it still doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the intentions of the artiste and I am all for paying special tribute to mothers. In fact, I am one of those who think mother’s need more than one Sunday to be celebrated yearly, but in my over 1 year of being a mum, which I believe is the hardest year, I have never for once thought what I was doing for my child was suffering. I am not suffering for any child, and I don’t intend for any child to “suffer” me.
Pregnancy, I can specifically say till date was the single most tasking thing I ever put my body and mind through but it was not suffering. And whether you are expecting it or not it first deals with your mind, before making it’s appearance on your body as a bump.
Now those who know me well know that I am NOT a morning person. Never have been. I hated 7 am lectures in Uni. I hate 6am church services. YOU. WILL. NOT. FIND. ME. THERE. Same for work. I was so grateful that my last place of employment resumed at 9, but even then…sigh.
I mostly forfeit hotel breakfast because that means I have to be up early. For what? Why am I inside hotel if I have to wake early again, but ahh I digress.
So, adjusting to early baby clock is another challenging task that my body has had to endure recently. My sleep pattern is completely messed up these days because I’m constantly trying to keep up with the changing sleep pattern of my toddler but I have never considered it suffering and I will tell you why.
It’s simple. She asked for none of it. She didn’t peep from heaven, or wherever she was to ask that I provide nappies or SMA. So if she’s hungry, that I have to find her food no matter how many times is not suffering. That I have to put clothes on her back and watch in dismay as her body outgrows it in three months is not suffering. It is what has to be done.
It is this suffering idea that has woven itself into our consciousness such that parents, especially mothers can’t let go of their kids when for instance they decide to move on with someone they love. It is also this suffering that begat the idea that parents are owed some sort of pay back when the child becomes an adult. Look, Your child owes you nothing. NOTHING AT ALL.
To be honest, any well brought up child will support the parents when they need it, doesn’t even have to be financially only. But it is a big shame on us if the reason we have kids is for them to secure our future for us.
I hear how people use investment and children in the same sentence. It makes me wince.
My child is not the investment that will yield me a meal ticket or a one bedroom flat in my later years. I am “investing” in the said child because that is what must be done when you bring a child into this world. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to be that mom squatting in her child’s house in old age, and scaring my grand children off with my menthol smell and white powdered face, fighting them to change the TV channel to Africa Magic Yoruba. No. I want to be with my husband in our own home, still travelling, hand in hand, tasting sushi in Japan, and getting massages in Morocco. Of course do three weeks of omugwor when I have to, but after omugwor, I head to Bali on a two seater private jet. My husband will fly it, and I will put my feet up on the dash board.
Is there a dash board on aircrafts? Anyway, whatever. You get what I mean.
I remember being asked shortly after having my baby by people, especially older women if I now understood the reason why mother’s behaved the way they sometimes did. To the shock of many, I said I didn’t.
It is what it is. For a baby to come out you have to go through the pain.
You can’t then force “payback” for your 28 hour labour by being an impediment to your child’s progress.
I know a few people who have decided against having kids, not because they can’t have them, but because they understand that having children is not just a show of strength or fertility. You are not doing any child any favour by buying nappies. If you are bringing a child into the world, you better be ready to raise them and be there; to protect, to provide, to pay school fees, and watch their grades improve from a D to a B, with support and encouragement and prayers and omorogun smacks, sometimes o. #ChildNotSlappingBag.
All of these things are not investment as we call them. They are what you must do. It’s like asking for rain, then saying you suffered because you refused to use your umbrella. No, wetness comes with rain. You can’t separate both. Children come with responsibilities. No body sent you “work” like we say in Nigerian speak, so it’s not suffering.
I already dread school run; drop off and pick up, force feeding, hospital appointments, endless PTA meetings, sleepovers, midnight teenage talks and boyfriend gist, University School fees (ehhh Jehovah). It’s unending work. Having to travel with my toddler is already a pain in my neck. I nearly “dashed” her to a flight attendant the other day but in all of these things, all I’ve ever considered parenting as is sacrifice, a huge one in fact, but it is not suffering, and we must not take it out on them.