Armed with information.

“There’s no room for vacuum in life,

the minute it’s created, something regardless of how minute or ill fitting gravitates to occupy it.”

On the 15th of May 2018, the following question was discussed on the Wright Stuff; ‘Should breastfeeding be taught in schools’. According to the programme, the Royal college of Paediatrics has advocated for this line of action in response to the United Kingdoms low breastfeeding rates. My first reaction was to give this topic  a wide berth, however, certain events led to a rethink.

 One, I looked back at my first breastfeeding journey; to the reactions, advice and support I received from both family and friends. I remember my mother’s advice to feed  baby L1 some ‘pap’, a local pudding similar to custard. I recall her enthusiasm to support my desire to exclusively breastfeed for six months. I do not believe my mother breastfed any of her children for six months. However, she witnessed my sister and sister-in-law go through the process (EBF) and decided it was the best for babies. I also remember the text and Facebook  messages from BAMBIS in those first crucial six weeks post delivery. These varied inputs inoculated my senses against the need to abruptly switch to alternate baby foods. They formed the foundation for my second breastfeeding journey to thrive, which unlike my first has proved slightly challenging.


Secondly, I recall a chat with a friend who just had a baby, and as we talked I realised the growing possibility of breastfeeding rates slipping down the slope in Nigeria. Should this occur it would partly be attributed to these factors:

  1. An increase in the number of working mothers especially first time mothers.
  2. A poor/ non-existent maternity leave policy.
  3. An influence from African/Nigerian women living abroad.
  4. A changing climate from a previous existing community lifestyle, where mothers often had an overflow of relatives at hand to help, to isolated lifestyles, where every helping hand is paid for and often not very reliable.
  5. A lack of information to help the modern day woman understand her body and baby in the changing social and economic climate.

The final push came by way of comments made in response to the question: ‘should breastfeeding be taught in schools?’. Many people were of the opinion that teaching breastfeeding at school would/could lead to the following: 

  • Deeply embarrassing moments for students.
  • Information overload.
  • Oversexualization of the students.
  • Pressurising of students to choose one method of feeding over another.

Under certain circumstances these opinions might be valid, however, I find them lacking authenticity based on the following:

  • Children are said to learn through play; every child  including those living in third world countries plays with a doll and feeding bottle at some point during  their childhood. This is slowly assimilated. Most children grow up without seeing anyone breastfeed, if they’re fortunate they would only ever encounter the topic for 10- 15 minutes at an antenatal class. At this point, the idea of the breast as an asexual organ with biologic function seems antiquated, like dinosaurs, a reminder of past barbaric practices. 
  • According to the government children will be taught safe and healthy relationship from the age of four. At this point I imagine it would be safe to let children know that as higher mammals we are also equipped to feed our young ones just like whales, dolphins and other animals do. From the age of 11, students will be taught sex and relationship education; which covers sexuality, sexual health and reproduction. The breasts I believe would be mentioned in these classes, I see no reason why one of it’s functions should not be discussed. 
  • We live in the era of patient centred care. A major aspect of PCC is arming patients with adequate information. Thus, teaching students about breastfeeding, making it an open discussion, should be considered an advantage and not pressure.

The only pressure an informed individual faces, is the courage to standby their choice.

To acknowledge the possibility that their options might not be the next persons ideal.

In my opinion, the drive to increase breastfeeding rates across the world, isn’t a drive to shame certain mothers, neither is it a drive to run businesses to a halt. It’s a drive to sustain our planet. We hope to reduce waste production, energy depletion etc, as a popular slogan says, ‘every little helps’, breastfeeding is one of such ‘little’ that would help achieve those goals in the long run. Arm yourself with the right information long before baby comes, seek help and support, drown out the noise and keep your babies health at the centre of all your choices.


Woman where art thou?

I remember lying down flat on the red dusty gravel filled soil in front of my secondary school dormitory, I remember wondering what did I ever do to deserve this?

I remember the demands of a ‘senior girl’ that I fill her cup with beverages from my provision; I remember being sent to kneel down for an hour under the scorching sun for not obliging the request.

I remember feeling out of place for being a girl, sometimes enjoying its benefits, other times absolutely abhorring its natural calls.

I remember crying my eyes out as they teased me for having a boyfriend in junior secondary school. I remember smiling as an undergraduate after a date.

I remember smiling at my aunt’s kids, thinking how much fun it would be to have a baby. I remember looking at my four month old daughter, wishing I could ship her away to my mum for a while.

I remember sitting at home pregnant with my daughter, wishing the four walls of the room played out scenes from my favourite movies or served as portals to my favourite places. I remember catching a forty-five-minute bus each way to school and back, going to work when I could, while logging around my ever growing second pregnancy.

I remember feeling content with speaking to dear ones through social media thankful the drama of sharing personal space was cut out, I remember wishing I had my mom with me in the labour room.

I remember that through all these times I have always felt that I had no choice but to be strong. I remember feeling the need to make sure my burden hung squarely on my shoulder and on no other.

I remember wishing I could become a child again.

This is my personal journey and most of it has been my choice, while others have been thrust on me my circumstances. It’s interesting to see a come thread running through my journey, a myth that I had come to believe at an early age; the myth that every real woman is strong, able to shoulder every challenge. I absolutely scoffed at women/girls who cried so easily, women/girls who worked their wiles on others to get their way. I especially find it hard to cajole people, a trait that makes me a poor salesperson except when on a mission. And after many years of being me ‘the way I wanted’, motherhood has shaped me into someone who has had to embrace every facet of herself.


I have learned to cry simply to relieve my tension, to not feeling worried that others might see me as weak or manipulative, because if they feel that way perhaps they feel guilty for not doing enough.
I am learning how to make both impromptu and well thought out decision through checklists.
I am learning to refine my communication skills, realising that patience is very important to the process.
I am adapting to the possibility that living day by day does not make my life less impactful than having high powered dreams/goals. I am accepting that it might be slow but it is not meaningless.

As I read the three waves of the feminist movement, I can’t help wondering what was the overriding goal of each phase? I find myself coming back to the word choice. Without choices, life would probably be crippling, both mentally and physically. Everyone wants the right of way on the narrow streets of life. Sadly this is not possible, thus the need for rules and laws, but if the law gives right of way to Mercedes or Nissan brands only hasn’t it failed in being equitable? This is perhaps why road signs/instructions address car dimensions and potential and not brands.

Humans much like cars come in different dimensions, and varying horse powers regardless of similar dimensions. I don’t know much about cars but I assume it would be unrealistic to expect all cars with a 2.0 engine to perform exactly the same way. There are several factors which would impact on its performance including brand, model, driver, country of use, other components etc. All these factors determine the pricing of these cars. Women(men) are in the same way similar and it’s my belief that what most women want is to be treated in ways that respect their individuality, giving them room to accomplish their dreams.

Whether in their personal or professional lives, women want to have the right to progress in any direction. They don’t expect rules to favour Mercedes above Nissan, rather they want rules that keep everyone safe on the road. Choice …. choice. Sadly this idea offends many, for a choice in the corporate world might ultimately cement the place of choices in the community. It is as though the world prefers to confer rights on a maladjusted man rather than any woman. Sometimes a Childs’ choice seems more valued than a woman. We prefer that which might be seen as frivolous than one which requires thoughtful and considerate engagement.

Bringing the point closer to the home front, often in the family we find the womans choice clinching loosely at the bottom of the scale of preference. We have taught our sons the act of having the final say, of laying down the rules, of taking charge without knowing what they are actually in charge of. We have taught our daughters the perfect timing for the first word, the perfect sequence for following instructions, the act of supporting missions without teaching them how to spot impossible missions. 20180106_174851

We failed to teach both how to construct the middle bit of the conversation, how to get to build up to an amicable conclusion. We have taught them to imagine a beautiful end but equipped them for a bloody battle of wits, choices, manipulative skills and little about integrity in the confines of a small room with an audience of one. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Where are your choices taking you? What sort of woman are you becoming?

Your tears are not your shame
Your scars are no regrets
Your strength is not in words
Your weakness is not in silence
defined by a moment you are not
shaped by moments you will be
live those moments truly and wholly.

Choices come at a price but certainly not the price of being superhuman. Society has equated a woman who wants the same privilege for the same role/responsibility as a woman who wants to be a man. Should choices take away from our masculinity or femininity? If my husband asks for help lifting heavy items does that make him less masculine or me less feminine? Earning more or less, exploring my potential doesn’t change my gender or does it? Should it.? How I chose to display my feminine side is subjective to me. Some people will earn more income and undergo personality changes, others won’t, should this be the bases for rules?

In my opinion, the only feminine movement that counts is that which protects the individual woman, giving her room to grow and blossom. To explore her choices, curbing them only when they mitigate harmfully against another. They say we are our own worst enemies and it is true. When last did you complement, support or encourage another woman?

There is a universal truth: we can’t have it all. However, there is another truth: we always have something to add, to own.

What’s your choice worth?

(RIP) Here lies …. a bundle of reactions.

As the last child it’s often impossible to escape the shadows cast by your siblings. Your name becomes obscure as many refer to you as XYZ’s little sister. The chances of people remembering your name are not very high, this is not necessarily because they don’t know it or forget it, rather they have fallen into the habit of seeing your elder ones before they see you, thus their names (your elder ones) come to mind first. I found the spoken and sometimes unspoken expectation to have me mirror the ideals, behaviours and traits of my siblings the most frustrating aspect of this shadowing effect.

I really wanted to escape the canopy effect my siblings had on my life and the opportunity to do so came in the form of university choices. I chose a school many miles from home and although my elder brother had attended the same school he had graduated long enough to dispel all shadowing effects on my life. Physically distancing myself from this phenomenon refereed to as shadowing, to a certain extent did me a world of good. It helped me find myself, to test the strength and bases of my belief, but it also highlighted how intrinsic the values and personality traits I had tried to escape were a part of me.

Perhaps one of the many lessons of growing older is the gradual realization that we are a large picture comprising of different puzzle pieces. Puzzle pieces shaped by our varied life experiences, human and cosmic encounters. The best part of the puzzle lies in the fact that different pieces can be moved around to fit the edges of our life or form the core of who we are. Secondly we can afford through due diligence to eliminate and replace certain pieces as we please, however unlike a cardboard puzzle there will always be an imprint of that  piece in our memory. 

puzzle 2.png

Memory, emotions, the mind … I suppose that’s what makes us different from the people who have shaped our lives. This ideology is supported by Karl Rogers and Erickson’s ideologies on human growth and development. Yes we are a sum of everything that happens to and around us, this might be considered by some as our true self’s. However, perhaps our true self’s doesn’t stop at this level but goes further to how we interpret those events and what we do with that interpretation.

If the saying that “we have only 10 percent control over  what happens to us and 90 percent control over how we react” is true, would  it be  safe to assume that people who live in self denial haven’t embraced their true selves? How about those who live life trying to anticipate the moves of others, basing every action or thought on the anticipated moves of another? Are they cautious, manipulative or untrue to self? 

When we anticipate people’s moves and act accordingly aren’t we short changing ourselves from learning who they really are? More importantly aren’t we short changing ourselves, as only life experiences can truly expose the foundations our true ourselves. I am by no means advocating a careless lifestyle or a rude personality. I just find myself wondering if such a cautious life isn’t a limiting and unrealistic one. I question the validity and dependability of principles lived by being a bundle of reaction to for everyone around you.

Isn’t that what we become when everything we do is foreshadowed by our anticipated or pre- planned outcomes. We consistently respond not in the way we really want to but in the way that ensures we have absolute control of the 10 percent which really belongs to others. Sadly I think in doing that we give over control of the 90 percent without knowing.  We hedge ourselves into a corner which never spreads out into a large square, rather like a column we wrap ourselves round in people’s reaction until we become invisible. Often times when that environment becomes stifling we burst open like a house hit by a tornado.

Don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to be everything to all men, as each man desires sometime different from everyone each time. I rather be something to some people and accept that I might never be anything to some others. Would it be better to die a bundle of reactions or a bundle of actions?

Choosing choices, owning choices.

No one not even a child likes to have the right to choose taken from them. There is a certain privilege, a sense of ownership that comes with following one’s personal choice. This ranges from choices of simple matters like what to eat to complex issues of whom to trust, life will always present us with situations that appraise our sense of judgment in a moment. There are times in life when it seems like we have less of a choice to make, and more of an obligation to fulfill. For example, deciding whom to vote for in the ongoing American presidential contest is one of such obligation rather than choice situations or a choice between homelessness and a job that has nothing to do with your preferences but everything to do with keeping a roof over your head. When none of the options available come close to your personal ideals, life can feel very limiting, even claustrophobic.

Definitions of choice:

  • An act or the possibility of choosing:
  • The range of different things from which you can choose
  • Of high quality

Based on the above definitions individuals could be said to have a choice over a situation when presented with varied options to pick from with no limits or barriers except your personal preference. There are times when the best choice available isn’t necessarily your personal option. In such instances we might find ourselves in a quandary, often becoming defensive when our choices are questioned or appraised. Society, friends, relatives (both well-meaning and otherwise) often feel obligated to foist their personal choices on us. Sometimes it is done subtly with hints and suggestions e.g. an acquaintance; colleague or family member at a wedding might ask ‘when are we getting invites from you?’ or ‘Wow your little one is so grown up she must be itching for a playmate.’ Or ‘you know these bills won’t pay themselves, imagine what a proper career what do for you?’ And sometimes you get the blunt person who blurts out their choice for you ‘I think it’s time you got married and might I suggest you take Harry seriously.’

In all honesty, sometimes we need those ‘foisted suggestions’ to give us a wake-up call, and whilst the manner in which those suggestions/choices are presented is important, the more important issue is how you handle them and what you do with the choices. Do you become adapted to the choice? Or do you take ownership of the choice? Adapting to a choice is easier than taking ownership of a choice. You can positively adapt to a choice which is to do as you’ve been advised or something along those lines. Or you could negatively adapt, this involves ignoring all suggestions and taking a defiant stance. Whichever form of adaptation you choose, you subconsciously leave a leeway to place the blame for any misfortune as a result of that choice on another party other than yourself. ‘If you hadn’t told me’, ‘if they hadn’t been asking,’ lots of If’s and regrets.

Taking ownership however, means sitting back to internalize the choices or suggestions presented to you; to mull them over and decide whether or not to go for it in that moment or in the future or not ever. It also means to adapt the choice(s) available to your own personal taste and personality, without losing the main objective. This is a tough process as it means you refuse to blame anyone for the outcome of those choices except indeed they’re to blame. It often also requires personal changes and perhaps sacrifice, but these are all things we would naturally anticipate if we had thought of those choices by ourselves. Since no man is an island and sometimes we often miss what’s in front of us, we must be willing to accept that sometimes others are indeed just looking out for us. So go on and take ownership of those choices.

Faulty options

It was the first time, and it won’t be the last time someone advised a career change.

“Have you tried basketball, modelling, marketing? I honestly can’t see your future as a construction site worker.”

It was the first time, and it won’t be the last time she smiled, happy to follow a path set by her core, and not her shell.

photo by Rosan Harmens – click here for full res version
Copyright Rosan Harmens

Written for Sonya’s TLT (week twenty-two) and the discover weekly challenge.


Brick by brick.

Inspired by the daily prompt – brick.

It was a bitter-sweet moment for the three sisters; bitter because grandma was gone, sweet because they had each inherited substantial amounts of money. They would never have suspected their grandma of having such wealth. They had lived a very simple life in a modest cottage at the bottom of Hedgelane in Priory village. Grandma rarely had visitors or friends and she scrutinized theirs within an inch of their lives. She had been forced to live that way to keep them safe, after their parents died in a boating accident. They had gone on holiday with friends, alas said friends returned from the accident but not their parents.

They laid her body to rest in a quiet ceremony surrounded by a few neighbours who came to show respect. And in the lawyer’s office that evening they discovered the reasons behind grandma’s lifestyle. It made Agnes slightly sad as she wondered how happy grandma might have been if things had been different, but that was the past now and as grandma would say no point wondering If.

It had been a week since the funeral, time for them to head back to their different lives.

“Any ideas on what you’re going to spend your share on?”

Chuckling “Any ideas? Mine’s already spent. I’m going to buy a flat in London, Stockwell to be precise. Philip says it’s a new area and ideal for families.”

Ohhh, that’s a good one.” said Madison.

“Don’t you think that’s a bit expensive, you’ll probably still need to take out a mortgage.”

“So? People take out mortgages constantly. Philip and I have good credit ratings and the inheritance will cover a huge amount of the asking price.”

“I won’t say huge, more like one-third of it depending on the asking price.”

Rolling her eyes and rubbing her hands across her beautiful bump”I really don’t care, Philip says it’s fine, he’ll sort everything out in time for our little princess to be born in her castle.”

“You already told him about the money, I thought you guys were having …”

“Honestly, Agnes I can’t stand all this probing and seriousness, now what are you going to do with yours Maddy?”

“Well I did think of buying a house, but it did just remind me of how lonely I am now.” Pulling a puppy face she continued, “so I think I’ll keep renting personally, but I am going to quit my job and start my own business.”

They high-fived each other, while Agnes looked on “I think that’s brilliant, you finally get to tell Eddy the sleazy to stick his job down the drain.”

“Yes! No one is going to be the boss of me any more. Welcome to Fancy paws and coats, the grooming salon for pets with style.”

Oooooh, I love that name, sounds very …”

Laughing hysterically Agnes couldn’t help but marvel at her sister naivety.

“Madison that’s a terrible idea, running a business is very demanding and capital intense. Plus you’ve never groomed your own dog properly for a day, how would you know to groom other people’s pets.”

“Grooming prices are crazy expensive, there’s a lot of money to be made from it and I can employ people to do the grooming, can’t I?”

“OK Mrs smarty knickers what are you going to do with yours?” Alana asked slightly miffed by Agnes attitude.

“To be honest, I haven’t got  a clue yet.”

“And you’ve spent all your time grilling us, when you don’t even have an idea.” cried Madison.

Alana sniffed, as her eyes watered “You’re just rude and stuffed up. You always think your smarter, just because you finished …”

“Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you, I was only pointing out …”

“Pointing out what?”

“It’s OK Alana, I’ll make us some tea.”

Agnes felt terrible she hadn’t meant to upset her elder sisters, she just never seemed to get their fizzy personalities.

                                                      To be concluded tomorrow.


He walked ten paces forward and halted.

Making a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn he took two steps and halted again attempting to identify geographical landmarks. If the last directions he got were anything to go by, he would soon be out of the neighbourhood and on the motorway. Locating the train station after that would be impossible, the directions were currently jumbled in his brain.

He sighed in relief, someone was headed in his direction. He hoped to get better directions this time. The scorching sun did not help his growing discomfort, he half expected himself to burst into flames from the heat and mental overload.

“Excuse me sorry to bother you, do you know which way it is to the train station?”

Mmmm, yeah just head up that way, take the second right, keep going straight until you hit a factory complex, it’s just a bit further after that.”

“Thank you very much.”

“Actually I am heading the same way.”

I wasn’t very confident this was the right way to go, but it was too late now. I couldn’t possibly walk off in the other direction could I? That would be rude, this day was set to get tougher and longer.


ifti20aliceI pray our feets find the right path and should we stray from it may we find the strength to seek it out again and again.


Shades of love.

His crying woke me, this was the third time tonight. They said it would get easier, six months gone and it hadn’t happened. Oh the joys of motherhood!

“Hi Edward, where’s your kite?”

“Here it is. Mum can we go now?”

“Sure but stay where I can see you.” Giovanni had found a kindred spirit for a friend.

“I really like her, she’s amazing.”

“Amazing? I thought it was cute before? Watching Giovanni get all flustered and giggly as he talked about his first crush was heart-warming. Never thought he would find a bestfriend and a girlfiend at his new school.

It felt like a log of wood – my heart, heavy and unmoving. I wish I could turn back time, I wish I had never met her.  There was no way I would put myself through that again.

Again love knocked, thankfully he answered. They went everywhere together like twins co-joined at the hip. Sweet, but still irritating to watch, at least he was happy, reaching out to love.

“Isn’t Joanna coming?”

“Na, she’s in a meeting.”

“Am sorry honey.”

“Don’t be mum, she’s taking me somewhere special for a private celebration.”

“Ohhh!” mom replied with a wink.

She moved to New York. I wanted so desperately to stop her, but I couldn’t stand in the way of her success .I missed her, I missed us. I not sure she will ever return.

It wasn’t meant to work. The distance should have wrecked havoc on their budding relationship, somehow they made it work despite a rocky start. I prayed for them constantly, hoping for a happily ever after.

“I will always love you Giovanni, neither time nor distance will ever change that.”

“Today marks the beginning of my life, I love you Joanna. For better or worse. For richer or poorer, till death do us part.”

“Honey where are my brown socks?”

“In the top drawer.”

“It’s not there.”

Handing them to him “how come you never seem to find them?”

“Cos you’re the better half.”

“Yeah right.”

“Oh my God, I can’t do this anymore! Somebody please make the pain stop.”

“Honey, you are doing great. Just hang in there, one more push and baby will be here.”

Cute as a button, that was our daughter Esmé Tiffany. The delight of her grandmother; a gift we all loved, a new generation to tender. This was our box of love flavoured differently by each passing season.


Hi everyone the above is a collection of twelve seperate short stories written as one, much like the chocolate box above each story paints a different aspect of love. Do you think it worked? Written In response to the writing challenge a box of chocolate. 12 short separate stories.

Daily legends

Written in response to the daily prompt challenge – Morphing.

Language evolves. The meaning of a word can shift over time as we use it differently — think of “cool,” “heavy,” or even “literally.”

Today, give a word an evolutionary push: give a common word a new meaning, explain it to us, and use it in the title of your post.


Chosen word: Legends.

Legends: people living their daily lives; scaling life’s hurdles, fighting demons at night and rising at dawn to smile at a new day. Content in whom they are.

We often go searching for something exceptional, unique, different and without flaws to inspire us. I think this quest for perfection, for something without flaws has created individuals with multiple personality disorders, individuals with no personalities, narcissistic individuals e.t.c I also think that when people can’t manage or face up to these flaws they try to make them seem less disturbing, like a norm. Trust me been there and in some areas I am still there. But I am starting to think our flaws make us human, learning to discipline them is what turns us into legends.

“Legends blossomed whilst we lived

treading the unfolding path with determination and fairness.”



Thirst for freedom.

This picture inspired the story/article below. Like this pram sometimes we need the people around us to help move us forward.

“Most people do not really want freedom because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” Sigmund Freud

In our thirst for freedom, we must learn to differentiate what strings to severe and those we must keep. We must also learn when the time is right to cut them and when we must hold them closer. Freedom is the right to be you and to accord the same right to another human being. Accepting that they might not like what you stand for and you might not like what they stand for, but it doesn’t make either of you less human. Less intelligent, less accommodating, less loving maybe, but never less deserving of life.

Now my short story.

May 2014:

Celebration time come on! Can I get a whoop whoop? I cheer with a song.

After five months of confinement in this four walled room called an office, I am finally free: free to test my skills on the road, to explore the world. Don’t get me wrong the office is a beautiful place: everyone treats you with respect counting off your best asserts even in your absence. Honestly, if there was a business/ office heaven ours would be the golden standard, but after a while it becomes boring, stifling to the imaginative mind. As much as I’m going to miss my office buddies, I am more excited to say goodbye.

Here’s to new adventures, a new found freedom to explore the world!

May 2015:

It’s been a year now since I became a member of staff out in the field. I don’t know what I miss the most, the comfort of office buddies who might not always understand you, but will always have your back or the safety of knowing where I was and what was expected of me at every given time. Life on the road has been tough. So many terrains to navigate, so much to take in, it’s all so confusing. What I hate the most is the part of reporting to a sub-team leader constantly horrid, simply horrid!!. All I wanted was to be free of the red tape, to test my expertise on the field. And, now my expertise has been horned, my quest for adventure satiated, but I haven’t found freedom.

Freedom to speak, act and  to live as I please. I don’t want anyone telling me where to go, when to go, how to behave, what choices are the best. I want to be my own man, my own boss.

June 2015:

I did it. I finally did it, I’m free. I don’t report to the office, I don’t report to a sub team leader. I am my own boss! Yes you is! Hoots my alter ego. And, suddenly reality returns, I have been free for a week and all I have done is sit here in the open. No adventures, no terrains to conquer, no routines, no one to challenge me or motivate me: free, but restricted by my own limitations. I wish for the days gone, I pray someone takes an interest in me, my dreams, pursuits just for a single minute. I miss the hands that pushed me, the voices that lovingly criticized me.

Freedom isn’t all I thought it would be.

Copyright –  Chioma Nwafor.