Hey there beautiful!

My friend Janet has a beautiful 2 year old daughter, Ari, who is quite the diva! You know those little girls who are already aware from a tender age that they are pretty and act thus? Ari is the president of that association! Janet also has an older son and recently we were discussing motherhood (don’t ask me what i contributed to the discussion seeing I have zero experience yet). She told me she would like to have one more child, hopefully another boy. I asked why and she responded simply; “What if I have another girl and she isn’t as pretty as Ari? I wouldn’t like people comparing my daughters”

I forgot all about my conversation with Janet till this afternoon. I read a post on someone’s social media handle, was it FB or my preferred stalkers’ hub IG? I don’t remember. Anyway, it was an SOS cry from an artificially light-skinned lady (a.k.a skin-bleacher) asking a dermatologist for a remedy for her exposed green veins. I would usually skip such a post after the first two lines, but for some reason I took out some time to read her plea. The lady’s story is sad. She was the dark-skinned one amidst three sisters, and began bleaching her skin at a tender age to look like her sisters’ because she was always referred to as the ‘ugly one’.

Hers is the story of many Nigerian ladies. My friend Funmi visited for a few days, and everywhere we went to she would turn to me and say “IG it looks like we are the only dark-skinned ladies in this town.” On one of our outings during her visit, we ran into a school-mate we haven’t seen in several years. Amidst the hugs and exchange of pleasantries, Funmi blurts out “you grew fairer too”. I almost fainted in embarrassment. My friend’s mouth has zero-filter!

This compelling need to alter one’s God-given looks is an issue I think of often. It goes without saying that at the crux of this matter lies deep-seated insecurities, a quest for some sort of acceptance and the need to meet up with society’s definition of beautiful. In Secondary School we had a slang for these insecurities, IC, short for inferiority complex. There were the cool kids and then there were those with IC. I guess there was a third category of students like me, who were on neither side of the divide, simply refusing to conform. I certainly wasn’t a cool kid neither did I aspire to be one, but heaven forbid that I be found acting like one of those weirdos with IC that we always teased, even on the days when I had my fair share of insecurities. I remember how my fellow nonconformists and I would laugh whenever there was some silly display of IC- the occasional suicide attempts (I don’t know how anyone would think an overdose of paracetamol was potent enough to kill you. Try Valium), someone refusing to eat because she was told she’s not pretty or someone sobbing away in the bathroom because she wasn’t allowed to hang with the ‘it’ group. Maybe our laughter was a part of the problem, but I refuse to feel guilty.

It’s been several years after Secondary School, and I have continued to see displays of IC in several forms. It’s in the bottles of bleaching cream sitting on Amaka’s dressing table because she is surrounded by light-skinned friends who seem to get more attention from the men than she does. It’s in the millions of naira Yemi borrows yearly to travel, because her Instagram posts have to reflect her ‘Lagos big girl’ status. Heaven forbid that her social media page shows ‘checked into Ikorodu’ when her mates are checking into (insert exotic location). It’s in the abusive relationships Amina continues to endure because her sense of worth comes from being with a man. It is in the lies Cynthia told her dad about the alcoholic of a suitor she brought home because the much-coveted Mrs title will finally fill that inexplicable void in her heart. It’s in the edited photos Jackie continues to post on Instagram where her waist appears perfectly cinched, despite her flabby belly, because she has to keep up with the hashtags #momofthree and #slaying. It’s in the layers and layers of Bobrisky-ish makeup Adeola continues to slather on because she has to stay pretty.

Like I always ask, who defines beautiful? Is there an S.I unit for pretty? Is it in a particular skin tone, or a particular hairstyle? Is it in a cinched waist and a certain shape of nose? Why do we keep comparing ourselves with each other when truly God made each of us one of a kind. There was no mass-production at creation, Heaven isn’t China. What defines a woman’s sense of worth, who defines beautiful? Truly I think you’re as beautiful as you think you are!

 

What’s the size of your poop?

This morning I helped a friend mind her 3 year old daughter for a few hours. Let’s call the 3 year old Kay. She’s as cute as a button but as restless as they come. “I want this, I want that. Aunty this, Aunty that.”

“Aunty I want to poo”

I was drained from attending to her incessant demands, and I grudgingly carried her to the loo. I helped her get on the toilet seat and waited at the door.

“Let me know when you are done, Kay”

30 seconds later.

“Aunty I’m done, clean me up”

“Kay did you really poo?”

“Yes. I’m done, clean me up.”

I was certain she was just out to waste my time. We hadn’t been there long enough for any human to do the big one.

I was wrong.

The stench that welcomed me couldn’t have emanated from a 3 year old! I helped Kay get off the toilet seat and cleaned her up.

Wow! I did a double-take when i saw the size of her poop! The stench was bad, but nothing prepared me for the size. My eyes went from the loo to Kay, back to the loo and then to Kay again in sheer disbelief. Small madam skipped away happily humming ‘Old McDonald had a farm…’ oblivious of the damage she had done, while i watched her with new-found respect.

Church girl that i am, I walked away thinking of the scripture 1st John 4:4 “… greater is He who’s in you..” Who would’ve thought little Kay had something so ‘great’ in her? 🙂 Moments later i had forgotten about the incidence with Kay, but the scripture remained in my thoughts.

If you’re a Nigerian living in Nigeria, events in recent times are enough to leave you feeling anything but great. While you’re still recovering from the madness that has been the exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar, you’re slapped in the face with the hike in petrol prices and the accompanying hike in the value of everything else, except your paycheck of course. I went with the bestie to get his car tyre fixed, and the cost of inflating a tyre had gone up from N50 to N150. Yes, in Nigeria the cost of petrol somehow affects the cost of air.

Times like this have a way of making you second-guess yourself and ask questions, oftentimes rhetorical. Should i have remained on that job that was paying more even though i was being sexually harassed?  Should i have married serial-cheat, Mr X, who is wealthy and would’ve given me some much needed financial security? Would i ever build the financial muscle to start and grow that business? Would i ever give my kids that standard of living that i desire?

If you’re of God, then remember that “Greater is He who is in you!”  Don’t assess yourself merely by your physical ability. Don’t get caught up making plans in your own strength. Yes, you may get some results that way, but why not rely on the ability of the Greater One who lives in you? Why not rely on the size of your God? Don’t get caught up in worry, don’t despair. Events of the day may seem overwhelming but you’d be fine. You’re a thousand times bigger on the inside than you think. Greater is He who is in you!

 

 

 

When life takes a twist.

To be addicted to control is to be endlessly out of control

I woke up to this quote and it got me thinking.

I love to be in control of my actions and what goes on around me. It may not be as strong as an addiction, but I’ve often found myself going berserk simply because my day wasn’t going as planned, however slight the deviation. I can’t explain why it’s so important to me that things are done a certain way.

I cut my palm with a knife yesterday morning. It was a deep disgusting wound, I was bleeding heavily, but nothing was gonna stop me from finishing up the meal I had started preparing. My day had to go as planned, it had to be plan A and nothing else. After several minutes and several futile attempts to stop the bleeding, i decided to ‘borrow myself brain’ and go to a hospital to get the wound dressed.  The guy who attended to me instructed me to keep the palm away from water, and return in a few days for another dressing. It was like he just passed a jail sentence on me. What would happen to all the chores i had carefully planned out for the week? What would happen to my laundry? How would i cook?

The Bestie came to check on me after the incidence and offered to help out with laundry and finish up the cooking I had started. All I needed to do was sit back, relax and enjoy his kind gesture, but no, yours truly was upandan doling out instructions. I kept peeping over his shoulder to be sure he was doing things my way the right way, much to his annoyance of course.

I’m far from being a perfectionist, but i love having everything in place, and in a certain way. I’m learning daily though that things won’t always go “my way”. Some days all will go as planned, some days life will take a twist. Some days all will go as planned, some days a knife cut will truncate my plans and force me to explore other options .

My uncle tells a story of a married couple he used to live with. They are probably the most carefree people to walk this planet. Nothing was ever planned in their home. Chores weren’t a part of their vocabulary, the day’s events were usually left to happenstance. Nothing left them perturbed, their nonchalant approach to life was epic. On one occasion, my uncle went with the couple on a trip outside the country. On their return flight, there was some turbulence. It was nothing to worry about initially, but it grew worse with time, and after about 30 minutes all the passengers were thrown into full panic mode. All the passengers except this couple. The Mrs was fast asleep, and the Mr was happily munching away at his meal. My uncle was surprised at how calm the man was and turned to ask why he wasn’t scared. The Mr answered with a shrug, “Well, I don’t wanna die hungry” and went right back to his food. Don’t ask me if my uncle’s story is true. The validity of his stories have always been questionable. I think the couple took the word carefree to the extreme, but there’s something about their attitude that i admire. It will be refreshing to remain undisturbed when things are out of place.

I’m learning daily to adapt, keep a positive attitude and move on when life takes a twist. I’m learning daily that sometimes holding on too tightly to the reins will cause me to eventually lose the control i so desire. I’m learning daily that the only thing i can control all the time is my attitude.