“What do you do, when you find yourself amongst mothers, whose moms the same age as you, but whose children attend the same kindergarten school with yours? You blend in.”
“Especially when, you are at the school’s inter-house sports competition. They call for the mothers’ race, and you show up at the starting line, even when you know that your joints could give out on you and embarrass the heck out of your son. You run all the same, reassuring yourself that it is just 100 meters…piece of cake, especially when you had done 500 meters on the treadmill that morning, when you have most likely done more than that running around the house after your son, in an attempt to catch him and shorten, the preparation time. No such luck that day…but there will be another time. Of course, you can run 100 meters.”
Indeed, Teniola ran, but it was not for the reasons she stated in her narrative above. She had never thought she could still be prone to peer pressure, but having a baby later than most women brought out the vulnerable side in her. This was a self assured woman, who ran her own business, married the man of her dreams, albeit late, but she was married and happily so. She was really happy that she waited for the right man for her.
But one thing did not come as planned. A baby! Not six months after, not one year after, not even two years after. It was not until five years later that Teniola got her big fat positive. Over the moon was an understatement to describe how she and her husband felt. It was the best news ever! And Teniola especially thanked her husband for his patience and love after; especially as she almost went crazy while they were trying to conceive.
She also chose to thank her husband because he did not have to stay with her, but he did. After several years of being pressured by his family to get married, they were surprised that he had chosen someone older than the ladies they would have preferred for him. However, it was a case of accepting her, or forever remaining silent about his bachelor status. They accepted her, but when a baby was not becoming a part of the equation as fast as they would have liked, tongues started to wag about Teniola and her ‘risqué‘ past life. They insinuated that she had lived a very rough life while she was younger, which might have been why she had not gotten married early, and that might also have affected her womb.
In the end, her husband had to step into the situation. He practically took the bullets for her. He was quick to silence his family’s wagging tongues. Even when that meant he became a pariah to them, he stood his ground and demanded that no one made any baby innuendos near his wife, or him for that matter. It worked.
When Teniola gave birth, and they called her husband’s immediate family to intimate them of the new addition to their family, their reaction was priceless. After asking again, who gave birth, as if to clarify and be double sure, and when her husband repeated that it was, indeed, Teniola, they marveled! “So, she can still have children? Don’t waste too much time before you have another.” was what his mother told him.
Right from the labour ward, it was obvious that she was the oldest mom there. While the labour of the other women progressed according to plan, hers was a long one, and in the end, the doctors decided on an emergency C- Section.
At their six week appointment, while some of the new moms looked radiant and had lost some of the baby fat, Teniola still looked pregnant. If not for the baby in her arms, you would have thought she was there for the antenatal clinic. This was enough to raise her anger, and set her in competition with other moms of kids within her child’s age group. The pressure was starting to mount again.
It was not unconsciously but hence, she drove herself, and soon whipped her body into shape, and an enviable physique. She practically altered the trajectory of her lifestyle to fit in with the crowd of women dropping off kids at her baby’s school. She exerted herself. But the results were worth it. If you were to see her, you would think she was in her early 30s, rather than 40s. She looked that good.
She looked so good that even her husband, who was not given to complimenting her, did…and often! He noted that she really looked good, but wondered if she was not over doing it, as he honestly could care less if she looked hot or not. He just wanted to know that she was okay, and doing all the exercise for herself, and not to please or compete with anyone.
True, she had started doing this because she was feeling insecure, because she wanted to fit in, but she enjoyed the ride to that great place of being a mother with a banging body. Not only was her energy level higher, her body was ready for a new baby. And she wanted one, now that her son was in kindergarten and she was no longer his sole care giver. There were now more people in his world.
Getting to that great place, she realized she need not compete anymore, although the urge still comes in once in a while, like at the sporting competition. It comes, but she has no doubt about herself and place in motherhood.