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Conversations with Mama

The pain didn’t have a location and it was not physical. But it hurt so badly I sighed awake for three straight nights. I was also embarrassed. I remembered mother. Then I prayed weeping silently in remorse. Could I talk with mother now? But then, I still felt pain about the whole episode. Forty three years was a long time to hold pain and Mama had been dead for twenty years of that time. We had not talked for the first fifteen years after mama passed, the pain was too raw all that time. I had simply ignored all the silent promptings that explained it was in my best interest to hold mama in love.

The horror of one day in Time, being brought to face the chasm of lovelessness had forced me to get a firm grip of myself and I made the first tentative approach to talking. I had no idea where mother was now in the beyond, I had not even prepared her seat so she could sit with the ancients. So I had to call her with my thoughts and use my love to search for her through moonlit nights amongst the stars.
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It took a while, but finally mother responded one morning while I was in the bathroom. She simply stood in her thoughts watching me critically and then said simply, she had received the messages. I asked Mama how she was faring and gave her a critical look.
Mama looked …well….Mama had shed the toga of a ghost and looked young, in fact younger than how she was before she passed.
“So, you didn’t send me such messages just to wonder at my age do you?” Mama asked
“No, Why didn’t you give me any inkling of what you thought of Alex when I came to tell you about him” I blurted
“I did” Mama said and I could imagine she had raised her eyebrows as she always did when she thought I was asking a stupid question
“Mama, you never said what you thought was wrong with Alex, just asked that I should not get pregnant and said it was okay to agree to marry him and he promptly made me pregnant. Why didn’t you tell me about love Mama? About waiting and preparing for the Mr. Right and not living with a man out of wedlock”
“How could I tell you what I only sensed, your father wasted no time getting another woman when I did not birth a son for him, what did I understand about love too?”
“My daughter is sleeping with her boyfriend now and I don’t know what to tell her, I wish she would wait for him to come and ask for her hand properly, Alex never did for me. Three children later, I left him and live alone now. The moral standard is much lower than when I met Alex Mama and as a parent, I have tried letting my daughter know about decency, but she says she is getting on and must marry quickly or be left on the shelf”
“I see, so you want me to spook your daughter by appearing by her bed and tell her she is committing sin?”
I laughed outright, alone in the bathroom with the misty image of my mother. She still retained her sense of sarcasm and fun.

I wanted to ask her what I am not doing right about parenting, and why all I said to my daughter always sometimes ended in painful arguments and silent days of mutual hurt feelings.
I wanted to be a perfect parent, show out all I had missed why growing up and fill in the gaps.
“In short Olayemisi, you want to live your life all over again through your daughter. Interferring as usual with the threads of fate of your gift”
What?

I was alone in the bathroom and Mama had returned to history and left behind the lessons of love, prayer and patience.
Parents were never created perfect, that is why procreation was allowed, so we learn through each other and with each other.
Talk soon..

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ARE PARENTS PERFECT?

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She was late again, and I rehearsed to myself all the stories she was going to tell me . Not the truth though and that was the source of pain. There was pain in her eyes as she talked and I sighed, for some of the things she said echoed within me.

“Why don’t we have perfect answers and reactions? She asked me plaintively.
I sighed, Can parents be perfect? Is there really a manual that tells us that we can do this or that at any given time?
You don’t become perfect as a human being and we all work towards that perfection when you will not be here on terra firma.

I wish I had perfect answers all the time. My granny would always smile and shake her head.
As a parent, do we have really and truly the best way to bring up a child. Some of us take refuge in our religion and use that as a yardstick. Then I read the commandment that said Tough shalt honour father and Mother.
Can a child honour a drunken father, dishonest and dissolute? Or a mother who indulges in coquetry, flirts and cheats? Where does the honour begin? and the distaste sets in?. How can I honour a father that sends his son to give his girlfriend notes and messages, or a mother that has kept the secrets of her extra houses away from the father until the daughter stumbles on it one innocent afternoon.
Joke came to see me, her eyes saucer like in shock. Her mother is a trader and she had three daughters. Joke is the last of the three girls. A marketing executive with of the major brewery in the city. Her father retired as an accountant and Joke was always regarded as daddy’s little ‘present’ because she came after 12year from the last girl.

Iyabo her mother had a very bad pregnancy. I mean she hardly had one pain free day. We all attributed it to the length of years between the pregnancies. She never seemed interested in her children though always leaving the emotional nourishment to Dapo her husband, so we were not surprised when they seemed closer to their dad and we were touched because you know men always wanted sons . Dapo was different though. He cared for his daughters. As they got older, they would share confidences with their father and not the mother.

Joke said, it was strange as she would visit her friends and knew the daughters could share with their mothers girly secrets, however,Iyabo rarely seemed to want her daughter’s company.
I was always puzzled but since she always seemed concern about them I shrugged it off as maybe she was inwardly shy of letting her inner thoughts to shine forth.

However this afternoon, there was anger, disgust and disbelief in Joke’s eyes. She had escorted her friend to a new flat he was paying for and the landlady turned out to be her own mother!
“We both stared at each other in total shock I can tell you, she suddenly paid money into my account. This woman has been complaining to my dad that she has no money from her trading and asks for money to buy toiletries and she owns a luxurious flat at a swanky part of town. How do I honour such a two faced devil?” Joke asked me
What should I tell her?

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The mouse roared

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Are you jealous?
“I was surprised at the question. Jealous of my own daughter? I wondered if I was jealous. A tiny imp of mischief whispered that I probably am. It was a depressing thought and I felt funny. My spirit lifted however when I remembered Dad and I. The severe pain I had felt when he passed and how I resisted any hint that he could have been human after all.”

I sighed as I listened to Tope. We have been friends for more than forty years and so I accepted all she wanted to tell me as a friend. I wondered though if she would be willing to take a few words from me. I had listened to her eldest daughter talk to me one day.

“Aunty, Mum is the male in this house. She never once visited me in school, has never ever looked at my reports from school. There is a loneliness that I will never wish on my child when I have one. Each time I bring my reports home, she simply asks Dad casually if there are any reds in my report then yawns and goes straight to bed. She never waits for Dad to answer” There was bewilderment in her voice, then she continues ”you see she is of the school of thought that parents should not be attached to their children, but she is not attached to me, I think she said having me, spoilt her shape, she keeps telling me that she was a real heartbreaker when she met dad”

Wow, I said to myself as I wondered how to be helpful. The question of jealousy had come out because Tola has a very beautiful figure, clear faced ebony beauty a pride to any parent. She had finished school and was working in the hospital. As a medical doctor, she barely had a social life until she met Tade a fellow doctor. On the very rare outing, her mother had come out and complained about dress, make up and eventually the fact that Tola was throwing herself at a man who was poor did not have a rich genealogy and was…. The complaints were endless. Tola had in anger taunted her mother and asked her mother if her mother was jealous.

You could say the mouse finally roared.
I have said it often on this blog. Let’s take a step back once in a while and put the spotlight on ourselves. We know that we are not always right. My cousin says you can’t keep forever second guessing yourself. There is no such person as a perfect mum or dad. We are humans after all too. So how do we help ourselves to grow?
Tola drew naturally close to her dad, being an only child, Tope became so immersed in her job that she forgot all about the guest she had invited into her life. Children are guests and gifts from the Father Almighty. We are not just expected to feed, clothe and educate them, we have other basic responsibilities too.

What are the priorities we show our children with our activities? I asked my friend if she wanted a rich husband for her daughter and would be willing to shop for one. I asked what made her to be close to her father?
She looked at me in surprise and said her father was the one person she could relate to in a polygamous setting with her mother out of the picture

“Well, you seem to be repeating the same pattern you know, Your father took care of you because your mum was not there physically for you and you never became close because the bond of love was not made. You are not in the picture right now for your daughter, not because your husband has another wife or wives, he loves you but you have made him both mother and father to your only child. When do you want to be in the picture?”
I saw a strange look come into her eyes as realization started to dawn. It was going to be a long road to find a daughter and it was time I left.

What do you think?

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When is it time to do it?

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You don’t expect your child to ask you that type of question do you?
It was a strange question to ask her, and she stood there staring. Then she gulped and went back to the seat staring straight ahead. I knew then she was seeing the ghosts of her dreams. She sighed slowly and twisted her hands on her thighs.

“I guess I never thought of that” she muttered at last
Quite and interesting question all parents never expected to be asked and frankly speaking, if you were asked how were you going to answer? Do you trust your daughter with her male friends?
Kofo had always assumed she knew everything about her daughter, had insisted that she was very close with her daughter Solape. She would have been happy knowing about Solape as a model child until she was shown a sex tape by accident.

She almost had a heart attack and there had been one very violent fight at home. According to her, she had hit her daughter for the first time right across her face. The shock she had problem recovering from was that her daughter had hit her right back.

Kofo collapsed, not from the beating but from the shock of her daughter raising her hand back at her. It was a tough thing to happen. Segun had come to me in desperation asking me how to resolve the issue between wife and daughter. Solape had left the house in tears and Kofo vowed never to talk with her daughter ever again.
Never is a long word in relationships and definitely in a filial relationship. I had to ask my friend to swallow her pain enough to check what was the genesis of the fight, then asked her to be sure Solape was safe wherever she ran to for refuge. Segun had made some discreet calls and knew that his daughter was safe. He was also wondering what to do about his wife. Who was he expected to be loyal to in the first place?

What was the story about sex tape? Solape said her boyfriend had bought and they were going to watch it in his room. Kofo hit the roof asking if Solape already had been having sex with her boyfriend. Wait for it, Solape is twenty six had even concluded her service year but was waiting to get a job.
“That question was way out of her terms of responsibility” was Solape’s argument, when I finally met with the daughter. She wanted to resolve the fight with her mum but she was still angry herself.
“For goodness sake, she is not thinking I am a virgin am I?” Solape had continued pacing the sitting room of her friend Remi where she had taken impromptu shelter.

How do you negotiate a relationship that should have changed focus years ago? when Solape had attained the age of discernment?
The questions kept coming. What was wrong here? Both parties needed counseling?
Will you suggest solutions please?

While we are thinking about this problem, I have one of my own.
Parents ought to evolve from being parents with the responsibility to bring up their children to a point of maturity. All through the lives of their children until they have to pass on to the greater beyond, they should maintain a relationship. When should parents see their children as friends? What type of friends are you with your child? We would like at the stages of friendship in its different definitions , and like Solape demanded, what would be the terms of responsibility?
Looking forward to your responses.

Being a parent is easy, but parenting is for all your life

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Thank you, Grandma

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I read the book SURVIVED THE JOURNEY by Memuna Barnes. It is a story of survival. A story that can inspire our young persons today. Captured and held by rebels, this remarkable young woman walked through the emotional mines of her teenage emotions of infatuation, confusion and was able to hold close to her heart and head lessons she had learned from a grandparent which helped her retain a sense of herself. When we started this blog, I wanted to have her share with us. She is African and comes from the value systems we hold dear, how mush of these values was impacted to her became evident when she was captured as a teenager. I feel that we could learn as parents the benefit of her impressions and how the relationship she enjoyed with her grandma became a source of inspiration during those terrifying times with the rebels.

Please meet Memuna Barnes Author of SURVIVED: The Journey.
Growing up, I lived with my paternal grandmother for a period of my childhood and whenever anyone of her grandchildren were treated unfairly and went running to her in tears or if she found one of us in a corner in tears she would sit beside that child and say, ‘Nothing lasts forever…..if life which is created by God inevitably ends, then there is nothing that can be inflicted on you that will last forever.’
This is one of my favourite of my paternal grandmother’s sayings. She used these sayings in raising her us with unbreakable emotional strength.
This saying of hers along with a prayer – Psalm 23, taught to me by my parents were instrumental in keeping me sane when myself, one of my younger sisters and two female cousins were taken from our family by the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone and held captive for almost two years.
I have always been an outspoken individual, although in my teens this aspect of my personality was not always encouraged from my family – as in most African settings.
I was born in Liberia and so my parents along with one of my younger sisters and I lived in Liberia. We lived there till the civil war broke out in 1989, where I witnessed the atrocities humans are capable of inflicting on others humans on the more vulnerable side of life in the absence of law and order. A year later we were able to leave on the Sierra Leone army ship to my father’s side of the family, as he is Sierra Leonean and Sierra Leone was at peace at the time.
For some unexplained reason I would not curb this, I spoke my mind almost always during the my time in captivity. I was brave enough to tell the rebel commanding officers who showed sexual interest in me that I wasn’t old enough. As this was some of the advice my grandma gave me. That a girl must be past her teens before she can be sexually active or it would affect her fertility.
Most importantly, however, I always remembered where I was taken from (my upbringing) in order to keep my mind on where I want to go in life.
Another one of my granny’s advice.
So what do you think?
Let’s have your comments please.

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Privacy lessons for your child

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I have the pleasure today, to include the post of parent to our growing list of guest bloggers. Mr. Adegoke Opeyemi has shared a list with parents.
Please read and I hope you will share.

HERE IS A LIST OF THINGS YOU NEED TO TEACH YOUR CHILD(REN) AT EARLY AGE :
1. Warn your Girl Child Never to sit on anyone’s laps no matter the situation including uncles.
2. Avoid Getting dressed/undress in front of your child, once he/she is 2 years old. Learn to excuse them or yourself.
3. Never allow any adult refer to your child as ‘my wife’ or ‘my husband’, reprove it immediately.
4. Whenever your child goes out to play with friends make sure you look for a way to find out what kind of play they do, because young people now sexually abuse themselves.
5. Never force your child to visit any adult he or she is not comfortable with and also be observant if your child becomes too fond of a particular adult.
6. Once a very lively child suddenly becomes withdrawn you may need to patiently ask lots of questions from your child.
7. Carefully educate your grown ups about the right values regarding SEX. If you don’t, the society will teach them the wrong values.
8. It is always advisable you go through any new material like cartoons you just bought for them before they start seeing it themselves.
9. Ensure you activate parental controls on your cable networks and advice your friends especially those your child(ren) visit(s) often.
10. Teach your 3 year olds how to wash their private parts properly and warn them never to allow anyone touch those areas and that includes you (remember, charity begins from home and with you).
11. Blacklist some materials/associates you think could threaten the sanity of your child (this includes music, movies and even friends and families).
12. Let your child(ren) understand the value of standing out of the crowd.
13. Once your child complains about a particular person, don’t keep quiet about it. Take up the case and show them you can defend them. Remember, we are either parents or parents-to-be. and remember “THE PAIN LASTS A LIFETIME” And please share to all friends who have children.

Why don\y you go over this again, share with your friends and invite them to subscribe.

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The New generation or what?

A Concerned parent shares
The following is a contribution I felt we should all share in. Parenting does not have exclusivity and some of us may have answers and suggestions. Our blog is meant to raise questions within us, create dialogue and we learn together. A Yoruba adage says we can’t all sleep with our heads pointing to the same direction. In sharing, we learn and grow
Why don’t you come over to our blog, read, share and grow too. You could also like us on Facebook and post on our page .
Dear Parents,
There are things that parents do that makes me wonder if they know the implications. In my teaching career, I’ve come to realize that children who are well brought up produce better results.
What I see these days is training the “butty”(aje butter) way which gets me scared of what will happen in the next 10-15years.
I see eight year olds who don’t bother to lay their beds.
I see 10year olds served by the maid or “caring mum” on the table and they either don’t pack the table or they just dump the plates in the kitchen for the maid or “caring mum”.
Drivers carry the bags of children above 5years and the children call them “my driver”.
Manual cloth washing is gradually been replaced by washing machines yet the maid or “caring mum” will be the one to do the laundry.
Children wake up and go straight to the TV and sleep late watching TV with mum & dad but mum & dad don’t allow them read late. They’ll say “go and sleep”.
I see parents play game for hours on their phones yet wonder why their children don’t read and why their results are poor despite investment in expensive schools.
I see tweenagers and teenagers who can’t cook common white rice because there’s maid, nanny, cook, “caring mum” etc.
I see children who are addicted to cheating in exams, assignments, class work and the parents aren’t taking conscious steps to correct it instead some will bribe teachers to make their children first or teach them during external exams.
I see children who talk to their parents and other adults disrespectfully and all parents say is “children of now a days are outspoken”.
Your children’s wardrobe is full of clothes but they don’t have a single book.
You buy them lots of toys but you didn’t buy them books.
I can go on and on.
See, when next you tell your child not to do house chores, study hard etc have it at the back of your mind that what you’re saying is “don’t take responsibility for your life”.
I guess parents don’t know that chores and morals are almost directly proportional to academic performance.
Haven’t you thought of it that when our forefathers went to farm, fetched water etc before or after school, the world was a better place?
Haven’t you thought of it that our local proverbs which have remained relevant were coined by illiterate men and women?
A yoruba proverb says, “eni a nwo ki wooran”….”those who make news don’t watch news”.
So when you’re mentoring your children to be T.V. addicts you should understand what you’re grooming them to be.
There are TWO PAINS in life and everyone must suffer one; PAIN OF DISCIPLINE or PAIN OF REGRET.
When you’re preventing your children from going through pain of discipline, just understand that you’re automatically preparing them for pain of regret.
Some parents feel that their children’s careers are secured because of their financial stand.
Now, let’s do this analysis;
1. You get your children a job
2. You make them take over your company
3. You set up a business for them
1. If you get them a job and they have the wrong attitude at work like been late, talking rudely to clients etc which made the company lose a big contract,will they keep them there?
2. They take over your company and your company lost within three months an amount that you didn’t make in your first five years in business due to their lack of discipline, will you pat them on the head and say I’m proud of you child?
3. They run the business shabbily and there’s nothing to show for it within few years.
The earlier we stop these pampering the better. You will give an account to God about them.
Train your child in the way he should go and when he is old, he won’t depart from it.
Regards,
A concerned Parent.
so what do you think?

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Are you the talk or just a talk?

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Be the Talk
“Our environments are so replete with institutions that extol such values that could pervert the growing adolescent. Among them::
– becoming University graduates as teenagers
-along with this, exam malpractices funded by parents.
– immorality by sugar Daddy/sugar Mommy on Campuses
– sermons in places of worship that preach only breakthroughs without much knowledge of the scriptures
– uncensored home video movies
– lack of “hands on” education that places undue importance on paper qualifications.
– unending rat race among parents leaving no time for responsible parenting, that parental responsibilities to ill prepared boarding houses
– above all, between material and spiritual education that produce brain cripples that rule the world.
All these leave bitter tastes”

Dear parent, I thought I should start off with the comment of a parent over our last topic, Remember I asked how much your child was really worth?
Will you encourage your child to cheat? What is the value you have given your child?
We live in the information change and some of us have defined it as the age of knowledge.
It does not matter if our child becomes a professor at age 21, what else have we impacted in the child?
A sense of the right values of the child being able to see his place in the world as a viable human being able to navigate through the pressures of wanting to be like his peers, setting goals for himself and taking responsibility for his actions.

I came across a conversation by some young ladies and at issue was the sexuality of girls in comparison with that of the boys. In our culture across the country, the girl child is expected to play the role of the restrained miss. She is expected to finish school, and get married in that order. Most girls are beginning to resist that role allocation, and wish to live on their own terms but there is always the sneaking feeling of being left on the shelf.

We say the biological clock of the female ticks regardless of whatever she does and so girls feel the pressure and want to rush into marriage even when they are not emotionally prepared.
What do we mean really? What is our responsibility to preparing our children for marriage, and what optics of our own marriage will they see to decide if we can be that talk?
I seemto be full of questions today. Let us really talk and be the talk of what we tell our children from when they take that first breath in our arms and we look into their eyes and love flows from us to the infant and gratitude from our hearts to the Creator for the opportunity to be the talk.
Chat soon

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How much is your child worth?

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How much for your child?

Sounds like a daft question? But seriously, what type of parent are you? Remember when we talked about our tendency to rate everything in the commercial returns we are likely to have over our children?
Has modernity, civilization and our infernal craze for wealth pushed us over the rim to such a level as for us to see our children as merchandise?

Our esteemed author ,Lola Babalola made this comment and her comment brought about this post.
CHILDREN AND MATERIALISM
“Children acquire a materialistic attitude usually from one or both parents who have a worldview that says “Money makes the world go round” (it doesn’t!) or due to a deprived childhood. Money is a tool with which we can acquire some comforts on our life’s journey but it is hardly a life pursuit as many ‘poor’ rich folk will tell you. If we get the relationship with money right, so will our children”.

Hmmm, food for thought for our parents. Is money our ultimate value system?Why are young men and woman in the fore front of being scammers.They have names, mugu, maga etc? Is it grinding poverty materially or grinding moral poverty?
Maybe, it might guide us into understanding ourselves and ask maybe we have placed the signposts wrongly
Read in the news recently about some higher institution undergraduates were picked up for defrauding some people from their hard earned cash. The amount ran into millions according to reports. These young men were still in the university and had jeeps, expensive flats, and money to burn.

One particular case struck me as infinitely cruel on the part of the young man. He went to his parents moaning he needed money, the father went borrowing and the mother had to appeal to her church to help. They stood in shock when they learned what the young man had in his bank account as the parents stared bemused at the jeep
Where did the parents go wrong? That will be tempting to sweep your hands at the sky and say, the parents were blameless. I would hesitate to blame anyone following the injunction that we were never given the mandate to judge a fellow human being.

However the question is urgent in our souls, when Christ asked us “Seek ye first His Kingdom……..”
As parents, we dream, that our child should do better than us. We pray that he should buy better cars, bigger houses and mansions, we beam with pride that the child can travel round the world. These are legitimate dreams I agree, but why are we not insistent that above all material achievement, we pray to see a decent child as well. A child that has inherited our values.

This is my question: What is the real value of the child to you? As you close your eyes one day in earthly death, what value of your child have you bestowed on the world?
I really hope I will have answers. Meanwhile ,on behalf of the blog, I send my sincere thanks to Lola Balalola for allowing us to share her thoughts. From one parent to another, thank you.

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Can we talk about sexuality?

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There have been arguments for and against starting early to talk about sexuality to your child. In the wake of the rising abuse against young children, I have always believed that no time is too early.
We all know that as first educators it will be a bit much to expect your child to get educated about sexuality from outside your home. You are horrified at the very idea of that. It is therefore imperative and urgent that you ask yourself the questions and have answers ready.

Let’s look at this way, when your child was on the way, you took steps to get all the proper information that would be necessary, you went to ante-natal classes and the expectant father followed you the occasional time right?
So why would you not prepare your child for that phase in her/his life that might become bewildering if your child does not get proper briefing?

HOW DO WE START?

Sexuality is not simply about sex, so we don’t need to be embarrassed.
Tell your child that the expression of his/her sexuality is a normal component of living. The reproductive organs have their physical as well as emotional uses and a proper understanding is necessary. Children need tobe taught how to take responsibility for their body. As you teach the child how to bathe , clean, and brush you also start in age –appropriate language to show to the child that it has to take responsibility for his/her sexuality. It is not good enough to tell a child who asks you innocently what is the bump you are carrying, with the curt embarrassed words “ wait till you are married”

My daughter when she was little will watch me breastfeed her younger sister, one day unable to contain her curiosity she asked me why her sister was always eating my chest!. I stared in total surprise then I realized that the act of her sister puzzled her. I told her I was giving her younger sister milk. She piped in that there was milk at home why would I hide her sister’s milk in my chest? I explained as much as I assumed she could grasp that it was not just a chest but that I was given her sister the natural milk that nature had prepared for her through me. I let her know that I had done the same thing for her when she was her sister’s age. I explained being very small, her sister might not be able to chew as she does and Nature had planned things in such way, that what her sister needed was food that contained everything. I took the opportunity to tell her that as she gets older, being a girl, she would develop breasts too and she could give her own baby food that way. Of course like a child, she would not leave it at that, every parent knows about the endless questions of children! What I do when I am stuck with a barrage of questions like that, I offer to find out the answers. Sometimes you get respite that way. However, saying you are going to help look for the answers does two things, you get the respite, and you also show to the child, that no one has all the answers all the time. You build trust that way.

THE PARENT IS FIRST EDUCATOR
Parents are naturally the first socializing agents for your child. Your child will ask you the questions first. It is your chance to establish core family values. Your opportunity to bond and establish a relationship. You will find that as time goes on this relationship becomes fluid and changes form and substance but then that is life, and you flow and are fluid with it. You have the chance to transmit love and understanding. You thus need to develop communicating skills when it comes to issues of sexuality. You seize every opportunity looking for the right moments. Definitely, you are not going to be discussing with your six year old, what is best discussed when the child is entering puberty.
Parents must learn age- appropriate answers to give.