"Mommy I cannot find my biro", I said, dressed in my pinafore, blouse and white stockings for school, my face glistening from the baby oil my mother always applied generously. I was barely eight years old, but I knew something was wrong. She didn't say anything and so it confirmed it; something was wrong. I knew because amongst other things my elder brother and I now had to share a four-slice pack of biscuits during break at school, just like we were sharing everything else.
And she had tears in her eyes now; I could swear I saw a couple run down her face but she brushed them away so quickly I wasn't sure and besides I had a more pressing need : I needed a biro for school.
It was 1994, without the internet (at least to us), without mobile phones, and without our daddy who was 'far away' on a training course. Mom had stretched what little food, money, and comforts we had without us noticing till that morning when she shed tears because she couldn't afford three naira for a biro for me.
Now I don't remember where she 'produced' one from that day, and it doesn't really matter. Daddy came back soon after, and things have been better ever since. That morning has been etched in my mind forever however, and was my first real life definition of what being a mother is all about.
Everyday I watched her put us first, cleaning scraped knees, packing lunches, washing my hair, putting me to sleep after any of the numerous nightmares I had as a child, picking up after us, and the beautiful stories she told. As we grew up, she turned counselor/friend, enemy when we didn't agree on issues, and friends again when we came back to cry on her shoulders. She's held our family together, and I've watched her severally deny herself so the family can get the best of what we need.
I look forward to having my own family soon, and I can only pray I am half of what she is to us to my family. She's my unending miracle, she is my mother.
*Biro = pen
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