The Bite of Surrender

I started to get worried 10 months after my younger son was born because he still wouldn’t eat anything I fed him, except for milk. He had started to teethe, but he wouldn’t eat. Of course, he didn’t look like he lacked any nutrients. He was growing well, he played well, and did all the normal stuff babies would. But I am sure mothers will understand my kind of worry.

I tried everything; different types of baby food, different methods of feeding, different songs for soothing, … nothing worked. I wondered all the time if there was something blocking his throat. I complained to his Pediatrician repeatedly, and he assured me he would eat when he wanted to, and that there was nothing wrong with him.

I waited, and kept trying. Nothing happened. One day, I became tired and frustrated. My son must eat. Something must go down his throat today. And so, I let my frustration drive my determination to force-feed him that day. For those of you that come from my original side of the world, I’m sure you can easily relate with force-feeding.

I got home that day, and I was ready to change the situation. I made some noodles, mashed together with some chicken breast. I held him to my thighs, one hand gently squeezing his cheeks to force his mouth open, and the other hand working the food to his mouth. And yes, it was a desperate time so I was going to use my hands to feed him.

He fought, and cried. But I was determined. This food must go down his throat. After a few attempts trying to get the food in his mouth, and him spitting it out, I had to step up my game.

I squeezed harder. This time, his mouth opened wide. The morsel of noodles went in, along with 2 fingers of mine. Just as I was about to give a sound of victory, the few tiny teeth in his mouth squeezed my fingers together.IMG_3600[1]

I felt a pain in my brain that only gibberish could describe. It was internal. I felt blood gushing out from every part of my body. In that instant, all of my determination flew out of me. I felt drained. I felt helpless, and hopeless.

I maneuvered my fingers out of his mouth, got up, wiped his mouth, wiped the few tears that streamed through my eyes, and surrendered. He was wailing profusely now. I was weeping inside.

There was no point. I handed my son over to my Mother-in-law, who sat there the whole time watching, and hoping too that this would work. I washed my hands, and surrendered. I had just been bitten. Bitten hard. Bitten by my own son. I was only trying to make sure he ate. Not only was my power drained, but what was left of it was taken out from me.

He was 10 months old then. Now he’s 4 years old. He can eat a whole house now. There is, and was nothing in his throat. I just had to be bitten to learn my lesson.IMG_1450[1]

Sometimes we struggle with our problems our own way. We analyze the situation, and believe that a calculated strategy, and strong determination will see us through. We are crazy enough to do crazy things like using ‘force’, and going against all odds.

But God wants us to surrender. He wants us to release every force, every determination, every strategy, and every frustration to him.

When we don’t, we usually get bitten. He allows the bite to happen so that we can surrender. And in that instant, we realize we have to be broken to acknowledge His greater power.

Could it be that the pain you felt from the bite in your job, your home, your marriage, your ministry was to make you surrender? Could it be that the sting that made blood gush through you had to happen so that you could surrender to Him? Could it be that you needed to be broken to release what is left of you to the One who is greater? Could it be that you had to be bitten to realize that your strategy is limited?

When you get bitten, don’t throw a pity party. Let the pain of the bite cause you to surrender to the One who can handle the pain, and make things fall into place naturally.

In due time, you will eat and eat well.

IMG_3601[1]

 

A tribute to Kathy

This is not what I planned to pen down today, but I hope doing this will help show my appreciation and gratitude to Kathy.

I shared before now the challenges I faced when I was pregnant with my now 4-year old son. Coupled with fatigue, and the fears and anxieties of a pre-term delivery, was a difficult 6 weeks after he was born. He was in NICU for almost a month. I had to shuttle to the hospital every three hours or so to feed. I was still in pains from the C-section, and I was weary and tired. The chair by the side of his bed was my bed most days, and some nights.

I say ‘some’ nights because whenever Kathy – the nurse – was on duty, I didn’t have to stay. I trusted her enough to give necessary attention and love to my son. Not that the other nurses were not trust-worthy, but Kathy was different.

Kathy gave lots of attention and love to this pre-matured baby of mine; just like she did with the other preemies in the NICU. She would sing and talk to these kids, and would always tell us how well our son behaved 🙂 We all loved Kathy. She would take time to engage me in conversations about just everything. She talked about her family, as much as she listened to me talk about my family. She knew every member of my immediate family. She was always pleasant.

img_26311

One of Kathy’s many drawings on my son’s chart board in the NICU

 

The first night I went home, it was supposed to be difficult, but Kathy assured me I needed the quality rest, and that she would ensure my son is fine. She told me I could call anytime in the middle of the night to check on him, and it wouldn’t be a disturbance to her. I was happy. I called Kathy twice before dawn. Each time, she giggled in between our conversation as she told me how he’s been eating and sleeping and doing well. My mind was at rest.

The next morning, I hurried to the NICU to see my son. He was sleeping, just as Kathy had described over the phone in the wee hours of the morning.

My son was born a week before my husband’s birthday. Of course there was no plan for any kind of party for my husband’s birthday since we both were in the hospital spending time with our son. Kathy was on duty that day. Her husband had brought her lunch. And so for some few minutes, Kathy was off-duty. An hour later, she came back with a cake and a hand-made decorated card for my husband. We felt really loved by this woman. She had spent her lunch-break getting the cake and making the card. At last, there was some birthday fun for my husband in the NICU…thanks to Kathy.

My son was discharged 4 weeks later. We exchanged phone numbers and we stayed in touch for a while. It’s been at least 3 years I heard from Kathy but I knew she would retire as a nurse in that NICU because she was that good with the kids.

I was excited when my sister-in-law told me couple of weeks ago that she talked to Kathy over the phone that morning. My sister-in-law recounted how Kathy talked about the loss of her mom just a few weeks prior, and how she had been dealing with that loss. She no longer worked at the NICU because there was new management that didn’t think she should be doting on all those little babies. Her very traditional way of caring probably didn’t fit in anymore. My sister-in-law told me she sounded really sad about the loss of her mom. I can’t imagine the hurt and pain.

I was happy though at the possibilities that I would get to talk (or at least see) her.

But in the days that passed, I would think about her and all she did for my son, and us while he was in the hospital. She was a great nurse.

Earlier on in the week, my sister-in-law called me to tell me Kathy passed. She passed unexpectedly on the morning of January 30th.

I screamed. I was in shock. “What?” I was looking forward to talking to her (at least).

Kathy is gone; the very loving and caring nurse in the NICU.

I don’t know a lot about her life outside of the NICU, but all I know about Kathy is that she was very loving and caring. The many preemie babies she doted on (and their parents) will miss her. I haven’t seen her in about 3 years, but I will sure miss her.

Thank you Kathy for making those challenging days easier to bear. Thank you for being an excellent nurse to our son. Thank you for the many smiles that gave us hope. Thank you for all you did, and the love you showed to us in the short time we knew you. You will be truly missed!

May your beautiful soul Rest in Peace!

Politics, Love, and the Whale (from the eyes of a CibM)

In the wake of November 9, Donald Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential elections in the United States of America.

I received and read many tweets, Facebook posts, emails, and text messages that had some element of great fear, hurt, pain, and insecurity. My friends from Africa, especially in Nigeria, called to ask when I’d be coming back ‘home‘. There were jokes flying around social media about the elections, the candidates, and the president-elect. Some were funny, others were just not meaningful.

People were planning to flee the country. Canada’s immigration website crashed.

capture

All of these got me confused at first, then shocked, then scared, then I moved on.

I voted. It was an early voting. I felt really accomplished.

Election result aftermath …

The one concern that I read, saw, and perceived from all the messages I got centered on the same issue; “What should I tell my kids, and how do I explain ‘this’ to my kids?”

Children and Politics …

I’ve heard my eleven-year-old daughter’s manifesto before; the first time was when she  became a big sister. She made declarations about how she would be in charge and take care of her little brother. After all, she had waited 7 years to have him. In fact, I’ve heard it many times when she tries to justify why she needs a new pair of shoes, or any other kind of favor from me.

I’ve even heard my three, and four-year olds make promises about what they would do if I take them to Chuck E Cheese; how they will not fight each other, and how they will share their toys and play nice. 🙂

As a mother, I see children play politics all the time. Whether they understand what they’re doing or not, it all boils down to some kind of politics.

At the end of the day, they all live and play together, loving each other under the same roof!!!. Most times, they don’t keep their promises, but somehow, the kids still live together in peace … and politics continue as usual the next day….

As adults, and as hurt or as happy as we may feel about the just concluded elections, we must be very careful not to complicate the messages we pass on to our children. Children will always be children, and we must not try to make them jump their ages and talk to them in deep adult-world talks. In my opinion, we should be able to communicate the basics of the election process, and the outcome of the 2016 election. Period.

2016 elections from the eyes of a CibM to ‘a child’…

p011

Four candidates – Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson – contested (or campaigned) for the office of the President of the United States of America.

Donald J. Trump won the election, and is therefore the president-elect until he is officially sworn into office.

All four candidates visited different cities in the country for almost two years, giving manifestos of why people should take them to ‘Chuck E. Cheese’, and one was able to convince more people”. (Of course we know as adults that the political state of our country is nothing compared to Chuck E. Cheese, but we’re talking to children, remember?)

Lessons to teach …

Life is full of competitions. We must be ready to play strong, and fair regardless of what you see or hear (from this election).

Some people are not happy with the outcome of the elections because their candidate lost.

If you are one of those not happy about the results of the election, let your children know that you are not happy. However, tell them that there will be many more elections to come. So, we should always be thankful for opportunities that await us.

In life, a heart of thankfulness is a heart that wins.

Some people are happy with the outcome of the elections because their candidate won.

If you are happy with the outcome of this election, let them know that you’re happy with the outcome, however, let them also know that you hope your candidate meets your expectations. No matter how much facts we have before we take a decision, we can only hope for the best.

In the meantime, and before the next election, it is important to act, talk and think with dignity and integrity.

Depending on how you saw each of these presidential candidates, let the children know that sometimes ‘bad’ people prosper or win, but that doesn’t mean they have to be bad or mean.

There is good in being good.

Tell them that sometimes, the good people do not prosper or win, but that doesn’t mean they have to stop being good.

Tell them that sometimes we make decisions based on good and concrete facts, but they still go wrong (because of other factors beyond our control). But at other times, we just make plain bad decisions that will definitely go wrong.

We must always look before we leap.

If you voted, it means that you used the power you have (as a citizen of this country) to make the country better by making your voice heard. Let the children know that in life, the power we have as humans must be used, and not misused, to make the world a better place to live.img_23961

In summary, life is designed to move on as long as we have breath in us. Let the children know that they need to seize the day (carpe diem), and maximize their potentials.

The Whale part …

And, if you’re like me, korea-openly-admits-to-having-plans-to-kill-endangered-whales-2when your three and four-year olds ask you about the 2016 presidential election, and when you try to explain to them, you can tell them the story of Jonah and the whale from the Bible. If they ask you how it relates to the elections, tell the story all over again 🙂

By the way, the story of Jonah speaks to the great grace we have in God.

Finally, tell them we must learn to stand stronger together to make America greater than it was yesterday. This starts from the home, and it starts by quelling all the fear, tension, pain and insecurity surrounding us now.

As adults, we have a greater responsibility than the president to make sure we fix our homes and our children.

When we build strong families in America, America becomes greater and stronger together!!

May our land be peaceful and filled with love that can never be swallowed by a whale, or anything bigger or smaller than a whale.

God bless America!!

Deal With Your Pee!

Today, I was reminded, based on an incident a couple of years ago that involved my then nine-year old daughter, my two-year old son, and myself, that I am ultimately responsible for the way I treat others, and how others treat me. I am being reminded to deal with my ‘pee’.

Two years ago …

This particular Saturday, I woke up tired, and I was a lot more tired at the end of the day, of course, due to the fact that I had to run my one thousand and one errands within the short time frame. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with my nine-year old’s speed-talk. So, I decided to gather momentum, and use that energy to get my two-year old ready for bed. But first, bath time.

Normally, the last thing I take off him is his diaper. As soon the diaper goes off, I throw him quickly in the bath tub because I never want to get pee’ed on. It smells; bad. But I wasn’t thinking tonight. I was badly tired. I took the diaper off, and held him in front of the mirror, just so I could catch my breath and gather more strength. I was standing right in front of him too.

Before I could lift him, I felt something really warm flowing down my stomach. In the split second I had to think, I looked around to find out what in the world was going on with my body. If I was in Church, I would have probably thought I was being anointed with warm oil. But then, on my stomach? I looked again. Lo and behold, it was pee. I gave a long hiss to show my disgust. “Oh no”, I thought to myself, “this is not what I bargained for tonight”. This hiss wasn’t doing it, so I advanced to a loud groan, “Ooooooooooooooh no”

shockedgirl.jpg

My noise got my nine-year old sprinting through the hallway to the bathroom. “What happened mom?”

The conversation …

Me: *hiss* “Your brother just pee’ed on me”

My nine-year old daughter: (turning to her brother) “What? Why? Why did you do that? Is that what you’ve been learning from your Bible? The Bible did not say to pee on your mother. In fact, it says the opposite”.

At this point, I was immediately trying to figure out what Bible she was reading, and what that Bible said about ‘pee’. I wanted to laugh at the way she scolded her brother, but I had to let her finish. So I stood there, pretending like she was making very valid points.

kjv-bible-pic4

She continued …

“The bible did not say to pee on your mother, it says you have to face the toilet, or you deal with your pee”.

81068c6b3b286e2072b820a2e9795c21

Okay, I was so tired, but I had to let the laughter out so I didn’t burst. Firstly, what Bible was she referring to? Definitely not the one I read to her. Secondly, where exactly did anyone say anything about facing the toilet in any bible version?

As I laid in bed that night, I reflected on the whole incident. I replayed the whole scene in my head again, and I got the message.

Lesson learned …

Don’t we all? Don’t we all try to ‘pee on others’? Don’t we all try to throw our trash on someone else, only because we can’t face our toilet, or deal with our pee?

I learned that night that regardless of how much trash (or pee) we carry, or how pressed we are, we need to learn to ‘deal with our pee’, and stop throwing our trash elsewhere.

But I think a greater lesson I learned is this; “DO NOT STAND OR SIT WHERE YOU WILL BE PEE’ED ON”. Don’t let anyone dump their trash (or pee) on you. It might feel warm at first, but it really does smell.

Now the question is; “how exactly do you intend to deal with your trash?”

Lord help me!!

Don’t be a dumping ground for someone else; do not keep company with those who are willing to dump their trash on you.

The Perfect Miscommunication

I love teaching and being around my Sunday school children in Church. It is one of the very few places where I can always be myself – nothing to worry about, I don’t have to care how I talk, how I laugh, or how I walk – because it’s fun from start to finish. I know, I know, I know, they sometimes wear me out, and make my voice disappear from having to repeat the same word or phrase twenty times. But in all these, it is always FUN. Believe the Bible when it says there is fullness of joy in God’s presence.

I love these kids and they are absolutely fun to be with. When they talk, I can almost complete their sentences, even the baby talks; until this happened …

Genesis is a sweet lovely 3 (or 4) year old girl. I don’t get to see her regularly since her parents usually go to a different Church. But when she’s around, her smile is one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen.

Caycee is another 4-year old princess. She looks quiet, but when you get to know her well, you will find out that she’s not close to being quiet at all. She has the smile of a caring mother, it always brings warmth to the heart.

On this fateful day, our Sunday school class started with so much energy. My kids were getting into the vibes of the day. Shortly into class, Genesis came up to me, and whispered into my ears, “Kaka”, her smile now upside-down. I automatically assumed she wanted her dad. That was my interpretation of KAKA. My first resolution was to calm her down, and make her get back in her seat. I turned to her, wrapping my arms around her, and said “it’s okay Gen-Gen (as she’s usually called), you can sit next to me today and be my assistant. You will see your daddy after Church”.

That did it! She brightened up again as she sat next to me on the floor.

Class continued in full swing now without distractions … until Caycee walked up to me. With her motherly smile, she said “Susu”. Not understanding exactly what she wanted, I immediately assumed this was a tactic to get my attention. I also assumed ‘Susu’ was her slang for ‘sleep’.

I discourage sleeping in Sunday school class, so I brought out my trick card again and had her sit next to me. I had two great assistants!

Few minutes later, I turned to my side to take a glimpse at my first assistant. I was surprised to see tears rolling down Genesis’ eyes. “What’s wrong Gen-Gen, did someone make you cry?”

Again she whispered amid her tears, “Kaka”. I tried to play another card. “Okay, everybody let’s sing for Genesis”. The whole class sang “I’ll give my heart to Jesus” – one of our favorites in Sunday school class. Genesis calmed down while the song was being sung and again, I was happy my trick card worked.

On the other hand was Caycee. She was now pulling and tugging on my dress and saying “SUSU” repeatedly, her motherly smile slowly diminishing with each SUSU that came out of her mouth. I played the same card as I did for Genesis earlier.

Fast forward 15 minutes later, both girls were now seriously and visibly crying. I was a little upset that it caused distractions for the class but I still had ONE more card to play. “OKAY, Genesis and Caycee, let’s go get some juice”. Each one of the girls got a pouch of caprisun.

That was the solution, because they girls calmed down for the rest of the class. They held back their smiles, but at least they were not crying.

Usually at the end of class, I make the children clean up after snack-time. We always sang “Clean up, clean up, everybody do your part, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share“, and the kids always loved that. On this day, everyone got up to do their share except for Genesis and Caycee. I didn’t want to trigger the ‘daddy’ and ‘sleep’ words again, so I left them alone and interestingly, they both sat there on the same spot for the rest of the class. At the end of class, just before the parents walked in to pick up their kids, I had to make the girls get up for closing prayers. What I saw and found was so shocking and surprising. I felt bad for the girls. I pulled both of them up, and behold, they were both wet – yes, pee, wee, peepee … call it what you may – the girls were wet. I felt so bad. I shouldn’t have given them that drink, I should have been able to read their body languages to know they wanted to use the bathroom, I should have …

“Genesis, why didn’t you tell me you wanted to use the bathroom? Caycee, you too?”

Genesis’ mom walked into class at this point. I tried to put words together to explain. “I don’t know what happened to Genesis today, she cried a lot and she kept asking for her dad. I didn’t want to disturb you so I didn’t bother to come get you. She even had a bathroom accident”.

Her mom was as shocked as I was when I found out. “But she’s potty trained!”, she exclaimed.

“I don’t know what happenend”, I continued, “she must have really missed her dad because she kept saying KAKA”.

Genesis’ mom looked at me and laughed out …”Oooooh, KAKA means bathroom” she said, “it means she wants to use the bathroom”.

What? Where I come from, words like that usually mean ‘father’ (baba, dada – for daddy, papa, etc.). I felt even sorrier for Gen-gen. I had even made her drink caprisun when all she wanted was to ‘kaka’. By the way, kaka means poop in Haitian Creole.

I felt ashamed of myself as a teacher that I made assumptions about this word; assumptions that were not true.

Just when I started to apologize to Genesis’ mom, Caycee’s big brother walked in and I had to explain to him what had happened to Caycee too. “I don’t know why Caycee pee-ed in her pants,” I said, “but she kept saying SUSU. Did she not get enough sleep at home?”

You would not believe it but SUSU means bathroom in Swahili.

Where I come from (southern part of Nigeria), SUSU sounds like “sun (pronounced soohn)” which means ‘to sleep’. Caycee’s Susu was not sleep as I assumed, it was Swahili for pee.

I felt bad that I assumed and interpreted what these girls wanted based on my own language background. I should have taken more time to listen, ask questions, and find solutions to their respective issues.

Each time I remember this episode, I always find myself laughing. But the big lesson was learned. Never base interpretations on assumptions.

Listen attentively, ask carefully, and answer wisely. For the fun of abbreviations, this can be shortened to LAACAW 🙂

img_21681

It is always fun and humbling when I learn life lessons from these little ones.

And so, today especially, as I reminisce on this story, I would like to appreciate everyone who has stood by me in my KAKA and SUSU moments, – those who listened to me, asked me questions carefully, and answered me wisely – I pray that you will always find someone who is ready to listen to you and help you through your difficult times.

If you are reading this too, you’re always in my thoughts and prayers. God bless!!

 

Reflect on those who have helped you through very difficult moments. Take a minute to make a call, send an email, or even visit them personally to say “thank you”. ‘Kaka’ and ‘susu’ periods are real, and could be very difficult when you go through it alone.

(CibM, October 2016)

Learning to Speak ‘Love’

My boys were having fun counting each morsel of ‘eba’ as I fed them the other night. After a while, I thought it would be more fun to have them count in ‘Yoruba’ language. They had learned to count from one through 10 when they were much younger. It’d been a while they had counted, but I was sure they still remembered very well. They could skip a number or two in between, but they usually do pretty well.

So I turned to my 4-year-old, and said “Oya (common now), count in Yoruba”.

He looked into my eyes and stared for a while. I wondered what he was looking at. I was sure he knew how to count in Yoruba, so I waited. After what seemed like 60 seconds, I repeated myself in case he didn’t hear me the first time.
He smiled, and then suddenly roared, squeezing his face, and throwing his hands up in the air.
I thought to myself, “What in the world?”

And then, almost immediately, I laughed out loudly.

Here’s the reason why I laughed; although they knew how to count (in Yoruba), I don’t think they ever knew that the language they counted in was Yoruba. I had always started out by saying “let’s count ‘ookan’ (one)”. When they hear this, they know to start counting in Yoruba. And so my guess was that he didn’t think he knew how to speak/say the numbers in Yoruba. So, telling them to count in Yoruba was strange, and they had no clue.

But what in the world? I thought to myself. He must have been thinking to himself why I wanted him to count in Yoruba when he didn’t know how to. What I should have said was, “Oya, count ookan.” As far as he was concerned, he had never spoken Yoruba before, but he’d heard myself and my husband communicate in a different language – Yoruba. That language was what he tried to speak when he gave the loud groan, throwing his hands up in the air.

That made me think; Is this what my husband and I look like when we speak this language? Is this how we sound when speak – with groans, and facial impressions that look like we are in child labor? Is this what people look like to us when they speak their own ‘Yoruba’? All he wanted to do was speak the language….

And then I got the message. There are thousands of languages all over the world, and it is hard to pass a message across especially when you don’t speak the language. There are languages that sound like melodious tunes in your ears when in fact the words could be insulting. And there are languages that sound like a bull-dozer coming out from your mouth, or languages that are usually complemented with hand gestures that make it look like you’re about to start a war (Yoruba to be precise), and even some that sound like someone just stole your cookie, even though the words said are prayers for you.

Anyway, the lesson I learned is that different languages sound differently to different people. There is only one language though that cuts across the globe – that sounds and means the same thing – LOVE

When we speak and act Love, even my friends from Kabba, IleOluji, Timbuktu, Indianapolis, and Lokoja understand.
Speak Love, and let your message be heard all over the world!

Yoruba is one of the many tribal languages spoken in the southern part of Nigeria. There are 25 letters in the Yoruba alphabets, with the similar ones characterized by accents or hyphens above or beneath the letters. Some other tribal languages spoken in Nigeria include Hausa, and Ibo)

My Genesis!

I was born and raised in the vibrant and busy city of Lagos, Nigeria in West Africa where I had most (if not all) of my ‘home-training’. At the age of 26, I became a mom to an American-born Nigerian-American. She’s a girl with drama; loads of drama. I have since had two more – boys – full of life and energy. My life hasn’t been the same since.

So here I am, a born-and-bred Lagos-city Nigerian lady, raising three American-born Nigerian-Americans in Indiana, USA.

I often times feel caught in-between cultures and languages as I raise these kids. How can I combine the best of both worlds to make sure these kids are raised right? When should I pull a Nigerian-mother card on the kids, or pull the American one? When and how can I make sure we (myself and the kids) are on the same page when I talk to them in my Nigerian Pidgin English or my native Yoruba dialect?

Not only do I feel caught in-betwen cultures and languages, I also feel caught in between house chores, tasks, my ministry, husband, and even the kids themselves. (phew!)

“What life lessons can come from a bunch of kids’ everyday life, and their CibM”, you may ask?

Wait! I have an answer. God uses the simple and basic things of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV).

Join me on this journey of the many lessons I learn from being a Caught-In-between-Mom (CibM). Get ready to be blown out of your minds as I share with you the lessons I learn every day from being a CibM. You can thank me later  :).

Welcome to my blog; CibM – Lessons from Motherhood