Leaving church on Sunday, a lady walked up to me to say Hi. I knew her from sitting in the nursing mother’s section for 5 years. (Gosh I’ve been a mum for that long?) Isn’t it unfair the way they park us of to a corner in church like we are some kind of nuisance and then when the kids cry they all turn around indignantly as if no, kids are not supposed to cry. *Kissing my teeth.
I digress. So, Lady-that-I-knew-from-the-mother’s-corner waylaid me in the parking grounds and I quickly put on my best Sunday smile, ready to exchange phatic communion.
Lady: Hello, long time. (no see)
Me: Hello. Yeeeaahh! You know your kids are grown so I still have to sit in the corner.
Lady: Yes, it’s true.
Me: How are they-? Oh look at this one, all grown up…
Lady: Yes o, we thank God. Ehen, so I just thought to let you know o, I make dresses. Just in case you need one.
Me: Oh that’s good. I’ve been looking for someone. Let me get your number then.
Lady calls out a number for me and then it gets a little awkward because in all the years we’d smiled and nodded greetings at each other across the aisle, we had never taken each other’s names before. Maybe we had but I forget.
Me: Um sorry, please your name?
Lady: Em, just say Bim Dresses, or Mrs Alabi or Mummy Enitan.
Me: (shaking my head and a little confused I’ll confess) What is your own name?
Lady: Er, Ruth.
I could still hear her uncertainty even as she said her name. I wasn’t sure if I was the one who had a problem of not understanding someone’s need to identify themselves in relation to another human being. So I told Hubs about my encounter and before I got to the part about her saying her name, he also said in exasperation, “What is your name?!” Thank God he saw it too.
I know people voluntarily lose their identity to their means of livelihood (for example, Bibi Photography, Seun Mechanic etc) but should you lose your identity once you get married and have kids? I know men don’t. I am not one to describe myself as Mrs Somebody. Don’t get me wrong. I like being Mrs Somebody, I simply don’t need anyone only identifying me as Somebody’s Mrs. I love being D and J’s mum but surely there is still more to me than just being their mum. I don’t know about you but when someone tells me they are e.g. John’s mum, I am only curious to meet John. And if you introduce yourself as Mrs X, you’ve lost me completely because that is so boring. There is no mystery to you anymore, especially if his name is well known.
Don’t throw your name away. Your mother/father spent a long time pondering over your moniker, your first identifier. I understand some women will only ever describe themselves in relation to someone else and that’s okay. But there has got to be more to you than that. There has to be something more that you are about. Dig deep and find it. So that when a semi-stranger asks you, “What is your name?” You are a lot more confident saying “My name is ______”, without missing a beat. Because, you, all by yourself madam, are enough.