I once read an article in Essence magazine about Hollywood’s golden African-American couple, Will and Jada. Jada said something which remained with me; she likened a marriage or long term relationship between two loving partners to a mirror, that person reflecting yourself back to you, all the issues we bury or ignore.
I never forgot that analogy, and see it so clearly with the birth of our daughter; each moment she teaches, gently pushing me to face myself in a more authentic way.
While I adored children, those ebullient faces filled with endless promise, I ran from motherhood for years, convinced it would signal the end of freedom; “I will have them when I am successful, wealthy, satisfied in my career…” I repeated over and over to myself.
My husband often jokes that I am the queen of preconditions. Several years ago in what felt like a crossroads within our relationship, he looked defeated, sitting across from me at a pizzeria in Brooklyn, and said dryly “just admit it, you do not want kids.” I smiled, “No,” I assured him, “I do, just wait until I get through graduate school.” “There you go,” he said, nodding his head, “with the preconditions.”
He dropped the subject of kids; we carried on with the fullness of our lives, balancing work and friends, business projects and educational pursuits, until one cold night towards the end of November; we sat in the doctor’s office together waiting for results. Congratulations, the nurse said, her voice imbued with the kind of universal joy reserved for bearing good news, “You all are having a baby.”
Outwardly I smiled, but felt fear bubbling with the enormous weight of those words. Baby? I repeated the word over and over. I am still figuring out who I am. How will I raise a child wrestling with this nebulous sense of self?
Well, Naima Deja De Coteau arrived at 11:11 a.m. on August 14, two weeks after the due date. Her first lesson for me? Value each moment and maximize it. Just before our daughter entered the world, I pushed for 3 hours; at the time no one realized the umbilical cord was wrapped around her tiny neck twice. Within those moments God was gently preparing her and me for the moment of birth. The time of 11:11 a.m. will remain in my consciousness, a reminder of endurance, beauty and the miraculous power of the divine.
Small pockets of time fill my days, and I maximize them in a way I did not before; when you no longer control nearly 24 hours of the day, flexibility and discipline become essential. There is no time to waste. Ironically I am more determined to blog, write, and push towards other projects than ever.
Of course all of this requires an inordinate amount of patience. Oh how I struggle with this in certain instances, but Naima teaches me that so much is beyond my control, like changing a diaper at 4 a.m., or her outfit after an accident. When the frustration builds, and it does, “patience, patience, Mommy,” her little eyes seem to say.
I now realize I am enough for Naima, with all of my flaws and insecurities, I am enough. This is the most profound lesson God is teaching me through motherhood. Love her with all of yourself; she needs it more than anything you could achieve or buy. Love fully.
Live In Color – E
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