Monday, March 05, 2012

The Journey



“I’m Pregnant!” she announces triumphantly, and everyone rejoices. She goes to ante-natal classes to prepare for the birthing process... yet nothing and no one can prepare a woman for what will turn out to be a journey of a lifetime… the journey called parenting.
I remember when I had my first child, it was surreal. I couldn’t believe that the baby lying on my chest was mine, my baby, my son, my child! I was a mother and I although I was excited, I was also a bit confused, and to be honest a little scared. I wondered what kind of mother I would be to my child.
I had decided before my first baby’s arrival that I would breastfeed him, so I was quite frustrated when my baby wasn’t latching on. At a point, my younger sister who had come to help out took him from me and bottle-fed him. “This breastfeeding thing is too painful jare”, she complained. I didn’t care about the pain, and later on with lots of determination and the help of a lactation consultant, I was able to breastfeed successfully.
I think the first time I came to the full realization of my new status as a mum was when my cousin came calling. My son was barely a week old, and I left him with her while I went to take a bath. Almost as soon as I stepped into the bathtub, I heard his cries and then my cousin’s voice saying, “Mummy is coming, okay? Your Mummy will be back soon.” Listening to my cousin as she tried to soothe him, it occurred to me, “Wow, his Mummy… I’m his Mummy... I am responsible for his nurturing and care. God has given him to me to look after.” Wow… the revelation of that hit me like a thunderbolt! I knew it was a task I would never take lightly.
I soon realized that being a parent, though a natural occurrence, was also something that had to be learnt. I could decide to take each day as it came, or in addition be purposeful and mindful of the role I had to play in the life of my child. As I was enjoying the privilege of being a mum and getting to know my son, he was soon joined by another brother and a sister. I remember my husband’s despair at learning I was pregnant so soon after the birth of our first. “Oh no! I am so in love with my son; do we have any love in our hearts for another child?” The answer came as our second and third children arrived. We both soon realized that the answer to that question was a resounding “Yes!” Somehow, God gives you a heart large enough to love whatever number of children one is blessed to have.
Another thing I realized as I had more children was how uniquely different each child is, and how parenting isn’t just about schools, scolding and spending money on your child. A lot of parents equate love with spending a ton of money on their children, but this should not be so. While you can’t love without giving, you can give without loving. Ask any child and they will tell you that they would rather have their mum and dad than any gift in the world.
While you can’t afford to show bias towards any child, it’s important to know that while Tolu enjoys reading, Tayo may be more athletic. It’s important to learn each child’s personality traits and carefully use wisdom to handle each child’s peculiarities. In this way, it becomes easier for the parents to encourage and nurture each child in the path that God has drawn out for him or her.
Even though I’m a mum, I believe that a father’s role is just as important as that of a mum. Many fathers have erroneously handed over the parenting portfolio to their wives, believing that their role is only to be breadwinners. The absence or presence of a father may be the difference between becoming an inspirational figure like Oprah Winfrey, or ending up a nameless drug addict on the backstreets of nowhere. Oprah has often acknowledged her father’s strong role in getting her on the right path in life and preventing her from becoming another cautionary tale. In fact, statistics have shown that children who are raised without fathers are more likely to end up as criminals than children raised by both parents.
While a mum is often the one that cuddles and nurtures, a father is equally important to provide security and guidance to the child. In fact, nowadays mothers and father play interchangeable roles, in that although the father may be the primary breadwinner; Mummy may be involved in bringing home the bacon too. Likewise, it’s not uncommon to see many modern fathers changing diapers, in order to give mothers time to do other things. While mothers may spend more time with their children, it’s often fathers that have the time and energy to engage in the kind of boisterous play that young children love.
Nothing can be compared to the warm embrace of a father who loves you, and words of affirmation from an adoring mother. One thing that has helped me personally in my journey as a parent, has been looking back at my childhood, and reflecting on what I loved about it, as well as the things made me miserable. If your parents forced you to study medicine, which you absolutely loathe, why are you now forcing your son who loves music to join the karate club? Or forcing your daughter who prefers science to study law? Who knows, if her interests are nurtured and encouraged, she may end up being the first Nigerian astronaut, or she may even invent the cure for cancer. Let’s buckle up as we embark on this journey called parenthood... for there are no stops on this journey of a lifetime.

4 comments:

Elastic said...

Chioma,

I love this piece! Our generation is different from our parents generation that did not care to know our abilities, but forced their general expectation of us.

The blog also made me look forward to the day my child will call me "mummy". From your words, I could tell that was an awesome feeling for you.

Thanks for a great start this morning!

aloted said...

totally loved this post...right on point...
being a parent now helps me appreciate my parents even more...it is not an easy road! but we have God to guide us...

Bukky Apampa said...

Really enjoyed reading this post, it totally describes my own experience, the most memorable thing for me was when I was being taken from the labour ward to the mother's ward, I was put in a wheel chair and my baby all wrapped up was placed in my arms even though his father and another nurse were there, they gave him to me! I knew my life will never be the same again and I thanked God for my gift.

www.bukkyapampa.com

chioma said...

Thanks for ur comments !