09 May

Allow me to Reintroduce Myself

meetI had a bit of a tussle as to where this post should go. It fits in more with my Let’s Brunch blog, yet sometimes I feel there isn’t much to take away from Pawpaw & Mango, since all that happens is I press play and you sit down and watch what’s behind the scenes in my household.

I love to garner lessons from experiences, it’s probably the one constant in my everyday life. Each night as I lie down to sleep I replay the day’s events. Throughout the day I would have come across lessons, selected some and tossed them into a basket to attend to later. Occasionally though I pick up a lesson that slows me to a stop, I bring out my phone or journal- depending on my proximity to either- and quickly make a note of the profound lesson. My family and friends are then left bear the brunt of that pause, for I don’t stop talking about it. I press it into them the way you’d press flower petals into your skin to transfer its colour- organic tattoos people? Last year, however, I reached an understanding of the Tao saying; when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. We are constantly at different stages of readiness for various lessons. It is pointless teaching a 16-year-old on the cusp of her youth about the challenges of motherhood. She isn’t quite there yet. Hopefully.

I’ll pause to share what I’m listening to as I type this- Anita Baker is my favourite singer and that is another thing about me that is yet to change- My favourite song is Priceless. It has been from the days when my music collection was all of three albums on  tape. The album, Giving you the Best that I got has seen me through the best and worst times. Rapture, is another favourite.  Rapture is the one song that convinces me I’m a great singer, all others- not so much lol!!

Back to my thoughts.  A lesson I learned recently is this: People Change.

I got confirmation of this when I spoke to my precious dad about the Nigerian elections, he said Buhari had been a dictator and all, but people change. He happened to say those words at the exact time I was coming to the realisation that people indeed change., plus of course with his wisdom, when my dad speaks, you listen! 

When I was about to get married, my mechanic gave me a piece of advice. He said don’t discuss your marital problems with people because when you’ve moved on from the problem, other people don’t move on from where they last saw you. Of course, I froze at the word ‘problems’. I hadn’t said ‘I do’ yet and considered backing off, I don’t like problems. His words ring true in every facet of life. Have you defined yourself with words that are no longer the case, but people still see you in that light- not because they stubbornly refuse to move on, but because they believed you the first time you said it? Now I’m learning that perhaps it is better to be defined by your actions than your words because words carry on ringing true even when the actions are silenced.

Then again, I may be wrong. I have a friend who has displayed some unsavoury behaviour in the past. I had the opportunity to have some one on one time with her recently and dare I say, she has changed. I think. I did, however, approach her with that ominous feeling, barricading my emotions and going ahead to ensure any acidic words will not hit their target. You know how the CIA sweep an area for weeks prior to the President arriving? Yes, I sweep my immediate space before I meet with certain people and set up bomb deterrents just in case.

That said, I am enjoying the new me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m now in my forties or not but this decade is already proving to be my best one yet- so if you’re not there yet, never fear it’ll be awesome!

My friend suggested to me a while back to combine all my blogs- I have three- and write from one platform. I snickered as I thought about how clueless she was. I was dogmatic about keeping my multiple personalities away from each other, just in case they didn’t get along. To my surprise, it is already happening. As you know (like I have regular readers) last year was all about authenticity. Now I have swallowed the pill marked with the words, ‘not everyone will dig you’. And that’s fine.  I find myself moving slowly towards a new season where I’m getting more comfortable with merging the three blogs. For starters, I won’t have that confused stare when I meet people who say; ‘Toks, great to meet you, I love your blog!’ My response is always, ‘Nice!!! Thank you so much for reading, err, which blog?’

On that note, please visit my other blog,  LetsBrunch.co.uk. It’s an inspirational space that leans more towards Christian values but you don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy it. Blog number 3, well that’s a different matter entirely. I’ll share that in due course.

Perhaps I should have titled this post Never say Never, but I don’t think those words ever made the cut of best opening lines of a rap song.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read,  go away and come back to read again. I cherish every comment- offline and online and literally get goosebumps when I get a thumbs up for my posts. And that isn’t just my ego speaking.

Enjoy Ms Baker’s ‘Priceless‘ with me and have a fantastic weekend!





02 May

Own Clothes’ Day and other Developments

I don’t think it’s fair that I share how my day went with you, but you don’t tell me about yours. Tell me what you’ve been up to in the comments box at the end of the post 😉

It’s ok Toks, breathe. You look like you’ve got it all together, you run a business and have a husband and four sons all adorable in every sense of the word. Your boys look well looked after, no one can tell that you scream at them like a mad woman indoors, you can handle this.

This was my pep talk as I made my way to #4’s school for the second time this morning. Now I know why when we first arrived, the headteacher looked at him until he disappeared into the school gates, but never looked back at me to smile as she usually does. Every child was in yellow. Every. Except mine. Yes, it was yellow own clothes day for Alzheimer’s or whooping cough- or some disease. I started to mentally go through his drawer as I drove back home for a yellow top. Nada. Then I went through each of his brothers wardrobes and recalled #3 used to have a yellow T-shirt which I hated. Did I toss it? Did hubby? That man! Always tossing stuff!!!

I arrive home and find a black shirt with orange stripes. I look at it from every angle each time convincing myself it would pass for yellow, it simply depends on how much of a fault-finder you are. I find a black cap with a bit of yellow threading. I contemplate rushing to Primark for a yellow t-shirt, but I don’t see the time logic in that.

Back in the car, I slowly déjàvu myself down Elm road to his school. I draw comfort from the fact that at least the school hasn’t called me, I noticed first. It could have been worse. I could have remained oblivious to the glaring yellow dresses and shirts, but I didn’t. Surely observation and swift action must score me some points?  A quick glance at my phone reveals 2 missed calls. One is from my tradesman who keeps calling me Tosk, and the other is from the school. The voice message denies me any sense of pride as it tells me #4 is crying, he told his teacher it was because he bumped his head on Chloe’s, but the teacher just knows it’s because he’s not wearing yellow. And can I please bring him something if I’m not far? That last ‘please’ concocts 2 emotions in me.

1) Renewed love for the school he attends. They care so much for the kids and play the role of mummy very well.

2) I’m the mummy here, why does this voicemail make me feel like they’re doing a better job at being mum than I am?

I walk into the school dragging behind me the carcass of my dignity and rehearse my nonchalant speech as to why for the second time in as many weeks I forgot own clothes day. I survive the knowing smiles they offer me.

The mother in law has had minor surgery on her foot and is at my home, she would like to go back to her house today, she announced yesterday and again this morning. As I make my way back home I contemplate my options. I have a busy day ahead and driving through the overcrowded streets of South London is absent from my list. Each morning when I arrive at work I do the most dreaded task first. It’s called eating the frog. The drive to my mother-in-law’s house is my frog. Should I give the juiciest part of my day to frog eating & get it out of the way or keep the pulsating creature in full view to address it at the end of the day? I decide I don’t want it breathing heavily over my mind all day so off we go.

In the car, she informs me that ‘the corpse’ of her club secretary is being flown back to Nigeria. She says ‘corpse’ at the exact moment I shove a sausage roll into my mouth. I manage to swallow the unbroken bits hurriedly. Why do Nigerians talk like that? Couldn’t she simply have simply said he was flown home? Or even the body was taken home? As if that isn’t enough she goes on to explain how the corpse was ‘butchered’, read has stab wounds, and the viewing won’t be done during the wake keeping since it is unsightly. This part of the conversation happens while I’m swallowing a mouthful of pineapple juice. My mind, insistent as it is, conjures up neat, even cuts like you see on grilled tilapia- with yellow liquid oozing out. I swallow my juice, which tastes like blood and make a mental note not to eat and drive with her in the car again.

The Nigerian elections got me super excited, I was on a roll and I apologise to the friends I kept texting even in the middle of the night. The highlight for me was when the Rivers state election results were being read by the guy who introduced himself with several titles. Add to that the sign language interpreter whose actions bore a striking resemblance to that of the Mandela funeral interpreter’s. Then there were the memes that followed:

jegaThis one was in reference to the cool and calm manner displayed by the INEC chairman following another bit of drama.

#4 has advanced in many ways but sadly has regressed in others. The last 4 nights have had him creeping into our bed in the middle of the night. If he curled up on a spot and remained quiet through the night I wouldn’t say a word. I’ll simply cuddle him and enjoy the last few years of having a pre-tween. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. He fights and argues in his sleep. Snatching toys or whatever it is from his brothers. He holds full conversations. I hope it isn’t the watching of too much TV that’s got his mind wide awake at 2am while his body sleeps. I have reduced his TV time sha and he isn’t happy. But I don’t care, I just want to sleep. And raise a sane and successful child. And remember when it’s yellow, red or green t-shirt day.

How about you, what have you been up to?