I read the Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta (never knew she was a woman till today) back in secondary school and I loathed the author. I didn’t understand why there was so much sadness in her life and untruth. Why would you call a book of sadness, regret and remorse “The Joys of Motherhood”… then I read it and now I understand.
The book revolves around Nnu Ego a young wife at 16 who marries a bum of a husband and has to handle; the loss of a child, cater to the affairs of her household and more importantly provide for her four kids. She does all she can to provide her children with a better life with more opportunities she couldn’t have but can offer. Sends her sons abroad on scholarships with the little stipends she got from her mini trade, while her girls settled in marriages – their choice. As time goes on, Nnu Ego tries to reach out to her children especially her first son to come home and visit her in the village (she sacrificed her comfort to provide the best to her kids and relocated to the village to help them achieve success and share in their joy). She dies years later in a road side gutter in her village and her children who never seemed to have time all came home to give an extravagant “befitting” burial to a mother like no other.
When they could bear no fruits of the womb, they made an altar in her name to pray to her for children but Nnu Ego never answered… talk about a woman scorned.
When I read this book for my WAEC; I was mad at tradition, at the author who created such mythical ungrateful characters as children, who allowed a woman who had it bad (from the womb) all thanks to her useless chi die in the gutter - alone in the world when she could have had it better. With all her sacrifices and commitment, the world was supposed to be her oyster. They referred to the book as an irony when in reality, it’s actually a reality.
Now in my twenties with reality hitting like a wrecking ball; I see the kids … I see the mother… I see the sacrifices… I see the intentions. Most times my parents (especially when they travel), nag of me not calling or not calling back and why don’t I check up every now-and-then to ensure they are fine. And I have all these flimsy empty excuses because I want to call back but something always comes up. Something that would not matter when they are gone … something that would turn to nothing when I realize there were so many things I wanted to say but never got round to saying. Something indeed!
Chimamanda Adichie has a paragraph on page 243 in her book “The Americanah”, that says;
…One day they will be grown and leave home and you will be a source of embarrassment or exasperation for them and they won’t take your phone calls or won’t call you back for weeks…
The words are so hard hitting that it sounds like a curse. It makes you want to unread what has been read… makes you wish your eyes never met the words. But it did, and congratulations you are welcome to reality. Who said parenting was easy?!
The Joys of Motherhood is therefore; giving all you can give with, what you have with the resources you are limited with - in providing the best you can possibly offer to the welfare and upbringing of your children. That they are better than you were, that they are offered and are open to the opportunities you never had, that they are able to reach, exceed and excel in places you could only imagine. That they reach their full potential. And that if they do not call you when your breasts are dried up and fallen to their feet, and your back aches and the lines on your face become like that of a tree bark… You are fulfilled in yourself as a true parent.
What are your Joys of Motherhood? I'll like to hear your thoughts...