Most moms trying to conceive are all too aware of the stares and certain expectations of people from them, ranging from what their ‘ideal’ attitude should be, to whom they should be relating to, the kind of food they eat and generally every aspect of their lives; whether known or not would come under scrutiny as people expect them to conform, because in their mind, that would hasten the arrival of their own baby.
There is even a Yoruba phrase that is commonly bandied around trying to conceive moms, it goes thus, “ori omo ni p’omo waye” literally meaning, it’s one child’s head that calls forth another child. Its usage range from comforting a trying to conceive mom whose husband had just impregnated another woman to admonishing a mom, who did not feel inclined to be touchy-feely with other people’s children. She is seen as putting on airs and that way, she just gets a longer sentence on the TTC treadmill, at least in the minds of the people.
It was in an attempt to conform to expectations that a trying to conceive woman, whom, I will call Charity became the pseudo-official baby carrier in her church. Should there be a child dedication in church or even a naming ceremony, you can bet she would be in the fore front. If not actually carrying the baby; she is not too far from where the baby is. She would dance her out heart and rejoice with the new parents as they danced to the front of the church.
She didn’t start out that way though. Charity had indeed being insulted by her neighbor whose child she had drawn close to. The woman had told her in plain English to go get her own, and since then, she reduced the way she related with babies. In the block of apartment where lived with her husband, there were children who sometimes went downstairs to play and whom, she also babysat at times, when their mothers were not around. In the course of playing on one occassion, one of Charity’s car tires got deflated by a nail that the kids had been playing it. To forestall a re-occurrence, her husband had alarm installed in the car, so that, before the kids could do damage to the car, the alarm would go off and that would set them right.
And that was where they went wrong, every time the kids went near the car, the alarm went off and in retaliation, one of the neighbours refused to greet or be greeted again by the couple, as though that was not enough, she pointedly told her kids, who were saying hi to them as they were getting in their car, not to touch the car, as “their ‘baby’ was going to cry” referring to their car as their baby. That was a low blow. It hurt her where it mattered most.
Her mood was completely spoilt, if not for the fact that she did not want to give that neighbour the satisfaction of knowing she had spoilt her day, she would have gotten down from the car and went back indoors for some pity party and ranting at God for refusing to give her a child.
After that incident, she withdrew from children. It took a while before she began to allow herself enjoy their company again. But she took it to another extreme, as she became the baby carrier at child dedications.
Another TTC mom in the same church, Margaret says, she has no time for such ‘eye service’, which was what she termed what Charity was doing. “If God will give me a child, it will not because I have treated other people’s children well or the number of babies I have helped other moms carry.” So it does not matter to her, whatever the expectations are, she goes ahead and does what she likes. Sometimes, Margaret comes across as enjoying the shock on people’s face as she enjoys her life happily without giving consideration to their expectations of her.
Her mantra was, ‘living life on my own terms’ Just because she could not have a child yet, she was not going to let them ruin her life or make her turn into a shadow of herself.
Yetunde practically toed the same line as Margaret but hers was slightly different. She got married in her mid 30s, but she had a flourishing business in the events industry and was basically a self made woman and that did not seat well with some people that knew her. They felt she was wasting time when she should be actively seeking for a husband.
Whenever, it was her birthday, she usually had small chops made and had her friends and family come around, just to celebrate. Her neigbours were not left out of the fun either but I distinctively heard one of these same neighbours, who had had their fair share of the snacks complain that, she had not made adequate provision for the kids, “didn’t she know, she needed the prayers of the children?” To this neighbour, feeding the children would have fast-tracked her getting married. And importantly, having a baby afterwards, which was even more important in that neighbour’s head than getting married.
Ironically, before her next birthday, Yetunde had her introduction, got married and was pregnant with her first child and she was 36 years old. All those statistics released by researchers about it being harder to get pregnant after 35 years old were thrown out of the window in her case. She has had her second child and it does not look like she is stopping anytime soon and there does not seem to be anything stopping her, if the space between her kids are anything to go by.
The society expects a TTC mom to be very meek, (make that beaten) at least in appearance and to have endless patience when it comes to children. But unfortunately, not everyone is like that, moms are different and rear their children differently. There are those who are all for the hugs and cuddles and there are those, who don’t feel comfortable with the touchy-feely part of parenting but that does not make them any less a good parent.
I have one as a mother and I could not have asked for a better mom. Now, her grandchildren are the ones teaching her how to feel comfortable with touches and cuddles, because no matter how they knee or prostate in greeting to her, they still go in for a hug and that completes it.
But I digress, the truth is our society expects any mom trying to conceive to have infinite patience and be open to all and every suggestions made to her. Most moms are at first open to trying a lot of things but the longer they stay on the fertility treadmill, the more jaded they become, or worse; some become a mess, pandering to every one’s whims and suggestion.
In the end though, society’s expectations or not, the woman on the journey is all that matters and how she connects with that journey and finds the strength not to lose the essence of her being, while on the journey to Mommaland.
Mom, you are stronger than you think!
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