My mother takes up room in the most beautiful way. She’s grand, wholesome, delightful, sacrificial, fanatical, crazy independent, completely free, misunderstood, and totally good-willed. And yes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I am daughter number five to Margaret (not her birth name, but the name she chose as a teenager) and I am very much my mother’s daughter. My mother’s actual birth name, Gbadero, means “carry the crown firmly…guard the throne.” It’s a leader's name, a name she only began to embrace in her 60s though she’s always embodied its meaning.
Hold firmly the throne…that’s what Lajide women do. We. Hold. Firmly. Guardedly. Our throne! I adopted this name, Gbadero, as a teenager and tacked it on to my other nine names to round it out perfectly to 10.
For three and a half decades, I grew up with my head held up, strong-willed and knowing that I am enough. I am capable, standing on the shoulders of the heroine women before me and leaning into the lessons of faith to persevere through life’s challenges. I knew strength and I knew God and knew that He who made me made me complete. I was made from fibers that do not tarnish with wear. My mother passed on this fabric and donning it included a secret called confidence.
My notion of this affirmative pride as a complete, tenacious and confident woman became challenged at 35 when the volume of my roar became a whisper of a meow. I started to look inward into identity and my identity. I started to question the fabric I’d worn with so much pride and asked myself, Who am I? Really, who am I first? A mom? A wife? A founder? An executive? Which mattered most?
In the depth of introspection, I became aghast with surprise, disappointment and embarrassment. Here I was, pregnant, in a marriage in a state of peril, and being a Mrs. was primary!? This title mattered because it came with a checkmark tantamount to those we see on ‘verified’ social media accounts. For me, the societal approval garnered by being verified shook my confidence. In asking myself, who I really am, I expected to identify primarily as a mother because It feels biologically organic; as natural as breathing…my lasting legacy. However, M O M were not the three letters of introduction I clung to—it was “M R S”—letters only to be acquired with the existence of a Mr. This epiphany challenged my notion of feminine power and pride. It presented a paradoxical dilemma—can I exist as a card-carrying I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T. woman and be an extension of a Mr.? Am I no different from the women of yesteryear?
I love being a mother. I love being a leader, business owner, strategist, writer, thinker, idea generator, patent owner, daughter, sister, friend, partner, singer, dancer, lover and Mrs. I love my Mr. I love the family that we nurture together.
Yes, the title I acquired over the last decade+ presents me with the most wavering confidence. Yet, it is the one with the checkmark that softens my roar.
Three years after introspection, I am embracing these 3 conferred letters, leaning-in to Gbadero. I no longer view them as diminutive of my feminine pride, but additive in the crown that I am firmly guarding.
I choose to verify myself. Checkmarks, be damned!
Community question: What checkmarks strengthen or soften your roar?
Poignantly expressed… appreciate the MANY facets of womanhood.
P/S: Your feminine royal lineage makes my heart smile with pride and honor.