This piece is republished here with the permission of the author.
This is for my nephew Ire Oyetade who is going to read this in a couple of years and smile (hopefully).
The Ancient Book of Jeremiah records ‘before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee’.
Before Ire, I was a non- domesticated young woman. I had prided myself on the strength to focus on the things that matter in life: my job, my writings, the need to change my car and the urgency to get with the program and the need to get a mortgage. Babies and everything in that department were on number 10 on every life list made.
As a rule, I don’t do babies, children, diapers, milk, kitchen etc. I cook, but I won’t describe myself as a gourmet goddess. I enjoy good food and I have every respect for those who have mastered the skills of doing magic with vegetables, beans, turkey or rice. My strength, I think, lies away from the domestics. I have friends who have the softer things in their lives planned. I am simply not that type. I take it you now know what I mean!
Till I met Iretomide.
Ire is my sister Dupe’s baby. He was born December 3 and he is arguably the most beautiful baby I have ever seen
After I had washed my hands, I held him in my arms. He was sleeping. I am not sure he was aware I carried him. That experience for me was surreal. I had not felt that the warmth of love for humanity in a long time. I carried him softly, cuddled him, and started to do what any woman would do intuitively, I took a walk around the house with him. The mother in me had woken up and I couldn’t help it.
I would spend the next days just hovering around when he was being breastfed, sleeping, playing and being washed. I just wanted to carry him all the time.
Ire is my first experience with babies and he made it worth my while. He wasn’t accusing or questioning. He was simply trusting. He loved me just the way I was. I needed no qualifications to love, hold, comfort or care for him. Ire didn’t care I have spots on the right side of my face or that I am ambidextrous.
I started to observe his hand movements when he sucked his mother’s breasts, when he wanted to sleep, when he was satisfied, angry, impatient, soiled, distressed etc. I found that if you really look and observe, babies do communicate with us in a very special way. Ire did!
I now know why my mum loves me unconditionally. I know why God does not mess around when I am involved. I know why when I call out to God he answers. I am like Ire to him. I know why Jesus wanted all the little children to come to him.
The desire to protect one’s family, to stand with a child in any circumstances is unexplainable. I simply became resolved to make Ire happy. Ire won’t need to ask for anything. I will always be there for him. I noticed when he started to turn his head, his preference for his mum and the way he takes to sleep when his father carries him. I noticed his partiality for soul music. His father would often play him Christian tunes: music from his phone and Ire would gently begin to sleep. I noticed with his grandmother, he enjoyed the ‘Ekusa song’.
Ire has come into our lives to show us all that God is in the details. God made men perfect without blemish. Ire has come to remind us that the hand of God is in all we do. Ire entered into his 4th week on Thursday, he still doesn’t know he has touched a place in my heart I never even knew existed. If I am this inspired by Ire I wonder how elated his parents must be each time they look at him or hold him in their arms.
I am not sure when it happened. Ire and I made a bond. He let me carry him and he didn’t cry. When he smiled, it was like the heavens opened. It was beautiful. I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful it feels to hold Ire. He opens his fingers in an analytical way when he is being carried, about to cry, eating. We can begin to tell what he wants (almost) by following the opening of his hands. When he cries, it hurts.
Holding Ire in my arms showed me that being a mother has simply got to be one of the most special and amazing l experiences in life. If you have a child, you are blessed. If you don’t have children yet, open your heart to some of the things we can learn from little babies. Before Ire I was just there, Ire opened me up to this world of opportunities and possibilities.
Ire gave me hope. I cannot put my hands on. Hope in the sense that this is what matters. Life is on many levels. The level with Ire would seem to be the highest there is. Now I know why my friends with children say their children remain the best thing in life to them. There is something exquisite about Ire: a purity, an innocence.
God uses the stupid things of the world to teach us wisdom. God used Ire to show me life was not in the glamour and sophistication of London, Lagos and New York. Ire is life. Perfect. Ideal. I know I will always be there for Ire. He won’t need to call. I will always come running.
I am back on the beat. I miss Ire, his mum and dad terribly. They made Ire possible. I felt their love and devotion to each other and Ire. I think I bonded even more with my sister than I have ever done in my entire life. Ire brought us closer.
I left Ire with deeply convinced that life without children was not an option for me. It’s a journey I must make. Soon.