Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mama Joris

When we visited Kenya for a few weeks two years ago, we stayed with two different families in a town close to Nairobi. Martin and Janet and their six year old son Munene welcomed us into their small, third story apartment for most of that time. Family, friends and acquaintances alike called Janet "Mama Munene". I only remember James' wife as "Mama Mercy".

With the birth of her first child, a woman's world is forever changed. She no longer is just Kate, Elizabeth or Anne-Marie, daughter, sister or wife - she is mother, a mom, mommy and mama. A title earned, quite literally, through blood, sweat and tears.

It seems appropriate then, that after such a life changing event a woman should be called something different, to signify her new status - a badge of courage, if you will. Mama Mercy, whose children were grown up and had moved out, and Mama Munene both beamed when we used their titles instead of their names. (It probably wouldn't be a very popular suggestion to, say, the feminist movement - a mother is so much more than "just" a mother after all - but I find the idea charming, endearing and honoring of the job that is being a mother.)

A little over nine months after our Kenya trip, I gave birth to our son Joris.

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