Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.– Molière
The alarm goes off. Activating my fight-flight mode. I automatically lunge for my device vibrating violently on the bedroom floor. Eyes still closed, I hit the stop button and fall back into bed hiding under the duvet. Aaahgh!!! I hate alarms. Why do they actually have to follow your instructions and wake you up at exactly the wrong time? I wish my alarm would actually take a break. For once. A chill pill. And let me sleep a little longer. And I’ll just deal with the consequences of that for one day. Please alarm, I’m begging you. Do it. I dare you. In fact I double dare you. Find that courage within yourself to rebel against me. Lol, if only!
Anyways after about a minute, I opened my eyes and checked the time again. 06:18. Damn it!!! Where did the time go??? How did an hour just fly past like that??? Now I had just about 42 mins to prepare for the day. I know. 42 mins sounds like plenty of time for one to shower, dress, make up and pack a lunch for work, right? Yes, I’d agree with you there. In fact, I could probably do it all in under 40 actually but the reality of my life is 42 mins is not nearly enough time when you have to get yourself ready as well as a 3 year old who refuses to get out of bed even after 9 hours of sleep! Jheezz! 9 hrs you know. The luxury! While some of us barely get 5hrs and still have no choice but to function under extreme sleep deprivation. But dear gawd, I wondered what sort of child labour the nursery was engaging my daughter in. Cos she was clearly exhausted every single day and struggled to wake the next.
I scrambled out of bed. ‘Mayana! It’s time to get up!’ She didn’t budge. I rushed about trying to get myself ready. Putting on the first thing that popped out to me from the wardrobe. Tossing whatever was edible and pre-packaged into my bag for lunch. This is where I thank God for my locs cos I can literally just wake up and not have to worry about my hair. Saving me plenty of time and cutting my stress levels in half.
When I was done with myself, I made a final attempt to get Maya out of bed. I had already tried everything to rouse this child out of sleep. From calling her name over and over, singing her current favourite, This Little Light Of Mine, pulling back the blinds and turning on the bedroom lights for extra brightness. She casually ignored all. Then my last option was – tickling! And it worked. Eyes closed she smiled and attempted to get away from me. ‘Where do you think you’re going?’ I asked, as I grabbed her by the legs and playfuly pulled her across the bed towards me. Screaming with laughter she tried to scramble away. Holding on to the side of the bed with all the might in her little fingers but my tug was much stronger and I soon won the battle and managed to secure her in my arms with a firm hug. ‘Good morning mummy’ came her little voice of surrender as she snuggled up to me. I kissed her on the forehead and responded, ‘Good morning, Maya.’ Success. My little dragon was awake.
I check the time again. We had just about 20 mins left to get out the door. I moved like thunder. Shower. Brush. Dress. Shoes. And now it was time for hair.
‘Mama, I want two.’ Maya said as I positioned her in front of the mirror and threw a towel over her shoulders.
‘I know you do.’ I replied and grabbed my spray bottle. Speedily spritzing her hair with water.
She didn’t need to explain. I knew exactly what that sentence meant. She wanted two puffs. Nothing more, nothing less. To be fair, knowing exactly what to do in the morning with her hair saves me so much headache so I really don’t have anything to complain about. It meant that even though we were always in a rush in the mornings that we would both be sure to step out of the house not looking like chaos. My locs didn’t need doing and her hair was done in no time. Like Tim Ferriss, we were winning.
Sometimes to save time, I’d suggest an updo. Just one puff in the centre of her head but she would always refuse. If I had a bit more time and was feeling fancy I would try to do four puffs but she would reject the idea. The only thing to do was to stick to the original plan. Two puffs. Nothing more. Nothing less. Lol. This was her signature do. She wore it everywhere and at all times. To the beach, the shops, nursery, you name it, two puffs were in it.
I admired her assertiveness at such a young age. She knew exactly what she wanted. How she wanted to present herself to the world. She possessed a great level of confidence that I certainly did not have at that age. I smiled to myself knowing that with her assured sense of self, she would do just fine in this world.
I cast my mind back to the time when I was pregnant with her. Like any mother would do, I prayed she would be born strong and healthy. But I also prayed one very important prayer that she would be born with a full head of hair and not take on her father’s V-shaped hair line. This was something he and I used to laugh about. But I stopped laughing when I actually saw her hair line. As God would have it, Maya arrived on earth full throttle like she was overdue her appointed time. And of course the first inspection was the hair. To my dismay she did take on her father’s V-shaped hairline. I can’t even say I never esperrerit! But fortunately there were some light swirls of hair stuck to her teeny weeny scalp. So all was not completely lost.
Maya’s hair growth was so slow and scanty that I also could never style it. She had a small patch on the front of her head with a few strands on it. Bald spots around the sides of her head and a little bit of hair at the back. When we would go out people would say to me, ‘Oh your son is so gorgeous! What is his name?’ and I’m like hello people! She’s a girl. How can you not tell?? But they really couldn’t. It didn’t matter if she wore a pink dress with earrings on both ears, she was often mistaken for a boy.
I honestly couldn’t wait to witness her transformation. I imagined her hair would grow in no time. But 3 months in and I couldn’t see much progress. 6 months. 9 months. Hmm not much. I started getting worried and people started telling me all children’s hair grow at different paces and that I should just be patient. Her father thought it would be better to chop it all off and start from zero. I thought that was too risky. If we chopped it all off, maybe her hair might refuse to grow all together. No one was laying a finger on her head. Not on my watch!
In fact, one incident I remember so clearly happened when I first attended mom’s Church with Maya. We sat at the back where the ushers stick all the people who have children so we won’t distract others during the service. On the side, two boys were playing. About 5 to 6 years of age. Maya kept going up to them to play and I kept dragging her back. She was only 2 years old at the time and very stubborn. She kept finding her way back to them. So I decided to just keep my eye on her instead.
It was first Sunday of the month- Thanksgiving Sunday and time to give an offering. I watched the Ushers as they guided people out of their seats in a very organised fashion, directing them towards the alter to drop their offering envelope in the basket as they danced their way back to their seats. One man dancing his way back to his seat came past where me and mom sat. He noticed Maya with the two boys and went straight up to her, carried her and started walking away with her. Startled, my mom instincts kicked in and I rushed towards him and was about to fly kick this man in the middle of church but by the time I got to him he had put her down.
‘Oh, is this your child?’ he said as he looked from me to Maya, then back to me. I responded yes. To which he replied with a nervous laugh, ‘So sorry I thought he was Pastor’ s grandson. He looks so much like him.’
Breath in. Breathe out.
I had to ask God to give me strength! I told him it was ok, smiled, walked back to our seats keeping a firm grip on Maya. I didn’t even bother to correct him that Maya was female. I squeezed her in between me and mom and gave her some food to keep her mind temporarily occupied and her little Explorer feet from wondering. I looked at her. She was wearing pink and definitely had her earrings on. But she was still mistaken for a boy!
It was now 07:04. As we raced to the door to get out of the house in time for Nursery, I looked at Maya’s full head of hair. The softest afro God could crown a girl with. Brown in colour, reflecting hints of gold under the morning rays of sun. She will never remember all the cases of mistaken identity or that there was ever a time she was more or less bald. But don’t you worry sunshine. One day, you will be old enough for me to share these stories with you. And we can both have a laugh about your hair journey too.