I have only been pregnant once in my life, but I remember the time, several decades ago, when I first found out I was pregnant. No matter how many books I read, or how many classes I attended, nothing really prepared me for motherhood. It is something that I had to learn on my own, through personal experiences. I don’t know about you, but I was pretty scared when I first learnt I was pregnant. It was a time of uncertainty for me. My fear stemmed from the fact that I thought I was not quite ready to have a child, and this made me extremely nervous.
I remember calling my friend Shirley, who was like a mother figure to me, and confiding in her. Shirley gave me this advice: “I know you are scared and nervous, but ready or not this baby is coming. So get yourself sorted out, and prepare to receive this bundle of joy.” I hung up the phone, said a silent prayer, and just tried to be in the moment. I am going to be a mother. Please God give me strength and courage as I bring another life into this world.
As I tried to deal with this reality, I reflected back to the several stories my mother had told me about the time she was pregnant with me. She had eight children and I was the sixth child. Her second born was a girl and then another three boys. She told me that, when she was expecting me, her secret wish and longing was for a girl. She always reminded me how special I was to her because I came to her in the form of a gift, a desire that was fulfilled, and a wish that was granted. This story has always resonated with me with a lot of intensity and has added a certain warmth to my heart.
There is a very strong desire in the culture I come from, to have a boy. It is a known fact that in most Eastern cultures, boys are celebrated more because of the belief that they are better, stronger, more trusted, and suited to carry the family name. A girl on the other hand, is the “weaker sex,” thought of as someone who will one day leave the family home to grace another home. For this reason, she is considered fragile and a foreign entity right from the moment she is born.
To learn of my mother’s secret desire to have a girl in a male-dominated culture in the fifties, and to celebrate her birth with such enthusiasm, always gave me empowerment as a woman and a sense of gratitude that is hard to explain. It took a lot of guts, courage, and dedication on her part to even have this dream.
I began to prepare myself mentally, emotionally, and physically for the coming of my child. My heart also desired a girl but I told myself that I would be okay with whoever graced my world in nine months. I started to experience joy, a form of excitement that I never experienced before. It was hard to believe that I was about to bring another life into this world.
As my child grew inside of me, so did my excitement to hold her in my arms, to honour and celebrate her, just as my mother had celebrated me when I was born. Every time I felt a kick inside me, l felt alive and vibrant with emotions. The fear of the unknown was no longer an issue and every uncertainty was now replaced with anticipation of what was to come and how my world was about to change.
The day finally arrived and I still have a very vivid memory of how I brought a life into this world. It was Thursday, March 12, a beautiful spring evening at 9:00 p.m., my bundle of joy; a precious little girl was born. I was overwhelmed with emotions, tears of joy rolling down my cheeks. There are no words to describe this moment. It was priceless, something to be felt from the heart. As the nurse placed my beautiful daughter in my arms, I felt an instant connection. It was pure bliss. I held her very close to me and whispered in her ear a promise of always protecting her, loving her, and giving her the best life possible. I felt complete as a woman.
The next day, the nurse came to me and asked me if I had named my baby. It suddenly dawned on me that I was so busy preparing for this day, that I had forgotten to choose a name for my child. I did not want to rush into anything so I began to think of names that would suit her. Still in a pensive mood, I took a glance out the hospital window, admiring the beautiful spring morning. The air outside was crisp and exhilarating. Beautiful flowers were in bloom and I could hear the birds chirping. Yes, I have a name for my daughter. Jasmine…I will name her Jasmine, after a beautiful flower with such a lovely fragrance.
Post-delivery, the challenges of motherhood were enormous, growing everyday. Learning the best practices by trial and error were often the most difficult. A mother has to wear many different hats at different stages of the child’s growth, and I was no exception. I experienced important developmental phases of my child’s life. Some I celebrated with joy, and some with tears as they were painful. Her first steps, her first words and her first day of school were all very defining moments for me. As difficult and as painful as they were, the turbulent teens, the quest for identity and the struggle for individuation, were all moments of growth and learning for me as a mother. I learnt very quickly that there was no such thing as a “perfect mother.” Motherhood has many gratifying moments but it is mostly about finding the right balance and making some personal sacrifices.
Today, all the trials and tribulations of motherhood, in the traditional sense, for me are over. Once a confused teenager, my daughter is now a very strong, independent woman on her own merit, and for this I am very proud.
In retrospect as I reflect upon all the memories both beautiful, and those that were challenging moments of motherhood, I am reminded of the words of Dr. Wayne Dyer: “A sense of purpose isn’t something that you find. It is something that will find you, when you are ready.” Giving birth to my daughter, parenting her, nurturing her with love, care, and trust, making sure she grew up to be a strong, empowered woman, often reinforces my belief that being a mother was indeed a very strong purpose that had found me. I am extremely greatful for this realization.
As I conclude this article, I am very excited to experience the joy of another life about to be born. Soon to be a mother herself, Jasmine will be giving birth to a beautiful little girl, Dahlia and I am extremely delighted for her.
Now, it is her turn to experience the joys of being a mother. As a grandmother, I am now excited to sit back, relax, and enjoy watching my daughter raise her child with the same enthusiasm as I did her. The beautiful memories, along with the challenging moments that will bring both joy and some tears to her, as a mother, will be her very own legacy that she will carry forward.
Observing, admiring, and enjoying this bliss is a very peaceful place for me to be as a mother, and as a grandmother. I feel extremely blessed. Knowing that my baby is going to have a baby, allows me to look forward to the future with much love in my heart. You were right Shirley; it has been a wonderful, heartfelt journey.
I would like to dedicate this article to all the strong women who have graced my life over the years: my mother, my sister Sharifa, Shirley, Kully, Renuka, and last, but not least, my daughter Jasmine whose strength and courage has always inspired me.