On this North America’s Mothers’ Day weekend, I found myself reflecting on my journey raising a son as an international humanitarian worker and a single parent. I stayed up almost all night due to a bad back, but the pain was dulled by the joy of the memories from my reflection.
After a decade and a half on this path, I know this for sure: we do not know we are scaling most hurdles we scale until we have scaled them: quite a mouthful LOL, but I am thinking out loud.
I am preparing my son for University with gratitude for the gift of parenting such an amazing kid, (biased like all mums LOL), I am grateful for the gift of motherhood.
Amid my night of grateful reflection, I laughed often: there were so many funny moments. I recalled me riding in an ambulance with him when he was 18 months old while he chuckled away. I had called the ambulance because I thought he had coughed too much and could be choking.
The 911 operator asked if his tongue was blue and I said yes but recalled immediately that he had some blueberry juice before bed. By the time the ambulance arrived my son stopped coughing and was chuckling contentedly. When the very efficient medical team arrived, they found a chubby happy baby but insisted we must do the ride to the emergency ward. We did and sat ignored at the emergency room with the occasional angry looks thrown at us by the medical staff for wasting valuable medical resources. We caught a cab back at the early hours of the morning and I was billed for the ambulance ride a month later. What was hilarious was that they billed it to my 18 months old son.
I also recall with laughter when he was 6 months old and his pediatrician recommended over the counter pain killers and told me they were chill pills for me because I had to calm down. I was dropping by his clinic almost daily,, sometimes to express my worries that he had not had a bowel movement for a day.
Then there was this time 12 years ago when I was really scared. It was in January 2008 and I had just been posted to Kenya, stationed in its capital; Nairobi. This was during the post-election violence that left over 1,200 people dead and tens of thousands displaced.
Due to the violence, UN staff were advised to work from home on this day. But I sent my 6-year old son off to school, based on the assurance from the school that they have put security measures in place. We were barely one month in the country. While waiting to pick him up from the school bus, I received a call from the head teacher telling me not to worry that due to some skirmishes around the school, the bus-drop off schedule would be delayed.
I grabbed my stash of dollars dashing out of the house wailing like the typical dramatic Nigerian mum. On my way I called my mum in Nigeria who I inherited my drama from so she was, of course, echoing my wailing while I echoed hers: “Ewho, and Weeeke” were repeated on and on and on. I dashed out, stopped a taxi cab, waved the dollars at him and begged him to take me to the school. We made it amidst riots and screaming crowds.
I walked into school displaying my parent ID like a police officer investigating a crime scene, and there was a bus with kids who could not leave due to the riot outside. I grabbed my son, took in a breadth of his familiar scent, and was relieved to hear his usual bubbly chuckle until I realized he was laughing and pointing at my feet, as he asked: ‘’Mum why are you not wearing shoes’’. I looked down and realized I had dashed out of the house on my bare feet. We got home safe.
As we stepped into the house I started getting concerned dramatic calls from my village in Nigeria, half of whom have gathered in my mother’s compound. I am From the Niger Delta and we love our drama.
Happy Mother’s Day