Happy Mother’s Day to all, especially to all those who are still counting. I know you may be wondering what I mean but I will explain.
I was in a meeting and as we were checking in on each other and an ‘English lady’ needed to explain how she was feeling in detail because it was a different kind of feeling on that day. She blurted out ‘I just discovered that I am pregnant’. This was followed by an awkward silence by the men while the women ooohed and ahhed. We congratulated her and went as far as is it your first? (trying to gauge how exiting this bit of news was), we chatted for a bit and then moved on to work (much to the relief of the men).
African sisters know better than this. Don’t even breathe ‘I am pregnant’ to yourself in public much less announce it when it is still early stages. In short, if not for the fact that it is something you cannot hide for too long, people around you should not even know till you deliver. Sometimes we just say ‘I have only put on weight’ etc to discourage questions about physical changes. We feel like the little part we have to play in protecting the life God put inside of us as the journey of motherhood begins we will play to the max. Wo (‘look’ in Yoruba), you wee (‘will’ in Yorubanese J) be gisting with your friend who is abroad for the whole 9 months of pregnancy and not even mention ‘I am expecting’ (the typical African woman) till one day you casually interject ‘I don born’ sometimes you even wait for months after you have had it to announce it. Say what you will, the instinct to protect is so strong that it takes real conviction and necessity to be open about pregnancy and the challenges you face whilst pregnant. Okay, okay not all of us are like that.
So this my lady did not look happy, I noted and wondered, was it a mistake or was it planned? I asked, is it your first one? And she said no. ‘How many do you have?’ I asked again. She said ‘Two’ with an incredibly sad look that I let the matter rest not daring to pry any further. She was off for a few days after that and I wondered if she was ok.
Cut to about a week later, I go ‘how are you?’ and we carry on with the usual pregnancy small talk about smells and food and etc. We talked about Covid-19 and the government suggestions for pregnant women to self-isolate for 3 months etc. Then she asked me about my two and I obliged after which I asked her about her two and the sad look reappeared. She said she had only one son and that the second was a miscarriage she quickly added that she always counts all of them when she is asked because they are both her children. The sad look made perfect sense. She had had a miscarriage some years earlier and was a little afraid this time and hoping for the best but her baby is her baby dead or alive.
It reminded me of a thanksgiving speech by a woman I heard a few years earlier. I think I was told about it then I heard her repeat the same thing (how I heard this is now a bit of a blur, to be honest). She had grown children and was giving a speech thanking God for everything He had done for her family. Then she counted her children and it appeared one was missing but she clarified. She reminded everyone about the one who was missing but who was still a part of her family. ‘All’ her children mean ‘all’ her children.
Many leave it unsaid. Many correct the numbers but remind themselves mentally about the ‘one’ or more. They remind themselves what the true numbers are. At whatever stage it happened. It doesn’t really go away. Does it? Not if you wanted it I suppose but then even if you did not, I wonder, does the memory really go away?
So to all those mothers who are counting and to all those who look at their children wistfully wishing A or B was here too. I would like to share a verse to explain that you are not the only person who knows and remembers;
Psalm 139 13 – 17
13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17How precious are your thoughts about me,b O God.
They cannot be numbered!
To all those staring at empty nests and refusing to forget. I send you special wishes this season. Your little ones are known by God; precious to Him and fit to be remembered.
Happy Mother’s day sisters.