International Women’s Day
Adoti was born in May, 2014. In the US, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. In the UK, it’s celebrated in March, on the fourth Sunday of Lent. In KE (Kenya), we have the benefit of choice, but most people tend towards a May celebration. And so it was that I became a Mum in the month of mothers.
It was surreal. Becoming a mother is an experience that cannot quite be explained. Words cannot describe the instant transformation that occurs as soon as you lay eyes on your child. It’s like that biblical ‘suddenly’…you know the one I’m talking about. The one that happens after marching all night, or going around a mountain for 40 years. Biblical ‘suddenlys’ are always years in the making and it’s the same way for motherhood.
It’s as if, suddenly, you find your reason for living. In an instant, the reason for your own birth becomes clear to you. Everything you have done in the past fades into the background as you focus on a future that now includes a human being that you co-created. The sense of responsibility is immense. Every single thing you do from that point on is purposeful.
Having Adoti was such an eye-opener. I started to see how I had taken my own mother for granted. Right from the moment of my birth, she gave and gave and gave, just as I am now doing for my own child. I wished she was still here so I could say thank you. I wished Adoti could have met her grandmother. That my Mama could have seen her baby have a baby.
But none of that was meant to be. The best I can do now is raise my daughter in a manner that would make my Mama proud.
Even though she came across quiet and reserved, my mother had a wicked sense of humour. She would drop cracking, one-liners when you were least expecting it. Just in the normal course of conversation. And it was always so deadpan that you would take a moment to get it.
When she laughed, tears would roll down her cheeks. It was the cutest thing. The fastest way to make my Mama laugh was to tickle her because yeah, she was the queen of the intellectual joke, and going that route would have been like flying a spaceship. But at the slightest threat of a tickle, she would be on her feet trying to get away. By the time I caught up with her, she would be laughing so hard, that tickling wasn’t necessary. The whole time, she would be trying to convince me to stop.
My mother was the embodiment of the phrase, ‘still waters run deep’. She came across very simple and unassuming but she was super intelligent. Like many parents who came up immediately after the colonial era, education was very important to her. But she was big on extra-curricular activities too. She always said to me that a child should be well-rounded.
When Adoti was born, one of the first things I Googled was ‘kindergartens Nairobi’. She was weeks old and I was already thinking about her education. If my Mama was still here, I would have asked her advice. I would have asked her about schools, about colic, about sore nipples. I would have complained about getting up on the hour every two hours, having to drink uji by the flask-load and being preoccupied with my baby’s poop. I would have celebrated every new moment and reflected on every challenge. Most of all, I would slept easier at night knowing that such a strong woman had my back.
My Mama had a deep reservoir of love. It was a well that never run dry. She wasn’t perfect, but she was mine and I wouldn’t have changed even one thing about her.
Now for the second time since my sassy lil’ miss was born, I find myself thinking of Mama. On this International Women’s Day, when we look back on our accomplishments as women, and look ahead to the strides we still need to make for the betterment of humanity, I am reminded of what a formidable woman my mother was. Today of all days, I draw deeply on the precious deposits she made into my life. I’m so thankful that she lived. That her legacy now extends to Adoti. I know my little girl will follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, take all the great things she achieved and make them even greater.