The first tenet you have to embrace is that motherhood isn’t about your baby. It’s about you. Babies are just collateral damage. Never mind them. The second is that you don’t have to be married to be a mother. It would be nice, but it isn’t essential. Besides where are the men anyways? The eligible ones are still battling with their sexuality. Or live in their parents’ SQs. Or worship their angry trumpeting pampered Subarus. Or live under the ever-looming shadow of their mothers.
The rest are drunks. Or are quickly headed that way. Who needs that? So pick the devil with good genes (meaning he who works as a financial analyst and has great eyebrows), and get him to sire you a baby. Predictably he will flee after the deed, which is perfect because he isn’t part of your plan anyway. You have a great job, a Nissan X-trail and a nice prime ka-plot you are paying off for a home. Rock on!
So now you are pregnant. Perfect. Next important step? I hope you are on Facebook. You have to be on Facebook to make this motherhood project work. But even better, sign up on Instagram. Those two social sites are essential for impending motherhood. Signed up? Excellent. Now get ready to log on to those sites to post images of your 4-month bump. (Of course you have to wear the sexiest dress for this, because the whole point is to look all glowing and happy).
Now alongside those baby bump pictures, make a huge announcement on your wall that you are expecting a baby. Use four exclamation marks to show enthusiasm. Carefully take note of the ‘friends’ who ‘like’ the comments and those who don’t. Those who don’t will be singled out as the jealous ones and observed closely, because those are the ones who have never been happy for you from the word go. Those who express anything that isn’t in line with the necessary happy theme are un-friended for their negative energy. Those who comment asking who the baby-daddy is, are un-friended and immediately blocked.
Keep updating these social media sites with progress of your pregnancy, making sure not to ignore the mundane stuff, like the first kick, pictures of your scans and detailed tales of your harrowing morning sickness. At some point you must get studio photos taken of yourself, naked from the torso up, in moody, mysterious and artistic lighting. Make them black and white to give that reflective timelessness of the commencement of a new chapter. Start a blog if you can and have a massive countdown to the delivery date, making sure you interrupt as many people’s lives with it by spamming them with frequent updates.
When you discover the sex of the baby, consult widely on social media sites for name suggestions. Then ignore those suggestions. The name you settle on has to be an exotic name; please we don’t want a kawaida name like Paul or Jane or Rosalia. That’s so Nyayo era! If your mom is called Laudencia, then for sure none of your children will be named after her.
The name you chose should be Maasai, Xhosa or something exotic from a far-flung exotic locale. Make sure the name has no meaning or history. The whole point is for everybody to ask you what inspired the name. What is the point if your baby’s name can’t elicit a conversation? You would have failed as a mother. And a woman.
Delivery day. Of course it’s going to be a Cesarean section. Normal delivery is so mainstream. Normal delivery is devoid of colour, besides you are too posh to push. Then again, you want the delivery date to mean something. It has to be your favourite number, match your birthday, or be the day you got your first tattoo. Post pictures of yourself in a hospital gown ready to go into surgery. Make sure the logo of the hospital you are checking into is clearly visible. It’s even better if it’s the Princess Zahra Pavilion. You are giving birth to a messiah for crying out loud, that whole manger thing was overrated anyway. You want a private room, with a private doctor, but you want the whole world to know about this privacy.
When the baby is born, quickly post those pictures on Facebook. Many, many pictures of this baby, hair still matted against his skull, pink from embarrassment and eyes shut tight, as if afraid to see the charade he’s being launched into. Everybody will ‘like’ it. You have to be evil not to ‘like’ a picture of a newborn. Everybody will go, “Awwww, he is sooo cute!” while actually meaning, “Oh God, he looks Chinese!” Those who say anything to the contrary are blocked. Those who don’t say anything at all are jealous. Or unhappy in their lives. Or have negative energy.
Instagram pictures of this newborn. All the baskets of fruit you receive. Take selfies with visitors and your girls. Gloat. Damn it gloat. Write breathless updates at midnight about how fulfilling motherhood is. Express a loss of words to describe the feeling of holding your baby in your arms. Write short random updates like, “This morning I saw my baby sleep and I just cried. I just couldn’t help it.” Make everybody believe that this experience has shifted your axis. Quote the Bible, that is if you can remember any verses from Sunday school. Post as many images of the baby as you can. And of you, with lipstick and eyeliner, because even in the face of delivery, nary a hair of yours is out of place. You were born aristocratic.
Now change all your names on all social media platforms. You are now Mama Lemashon. (A Maasai name for a luo child). Or Standiwe’s Mother. (Xhosa name for a Kao child) Or Mamake Diallo. (Senegalese name for a Kale child). Change your profile updates to read something reflective like “The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~Honoré de Balzac” Or “Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.” ~Meryl Streep
After a while, the comments and ‘likes’ will dwindle because people will have moved on with their lives, which means traffic, annoying bosses, stagnant careers, nosy landlords, boyfriends on blue pills, inquisitive mothers, erratic menstrual cycles, fishy boyfriends, unapproved pending leave, annoying pedicurists, decisions to go natural, the search for new diets, plans to travel around Asia to find oneself……You won’t believe it but people actually have lives outside your cute baby. But don’t be deterred, keep posting. ‘Like’ your own updates if you can. This is your time, sister. Your happiness is in your own hands.
When the baby gets to four months, you will wake up one day and realize what it has done to your body. No worries. Post a picture of a gym bag with another announcement:
‘Getting me back!’ You will get lots of cheers on Facebook. Everybody cheers on Facebook. You go girl! Operation Reclaim Body is on. Starve yourself if you have to. Go vegan. Start yoga classes. And at some point introduce the baby to formula milk because all the suckling might make your boobs sag. And we can’t have sagging boobs so soon, can we? So wean the baby off breast-milk ASAP.
One day, out of the blue, post a picture of yourself at some swanky joint like Caramel, glass of merlot in hand, decked out in a little black dress with your waist-line showing, to show the haters and nay-sayers that you are back with a banging body! It doesn’t matter if you can’t breathe in that corset. Those are details. Look happy. Look reborn. Filter that picture because it’s now a filter of your life.
The first day at work, make sure you are looking terrific. Make sure you post a picture of your rich hair, shining like the Northern Star. It’s even better if you work for those companies that welcome folk back with a cake. Instagram the hell out of those moments. Show everyone just how not only are you happy at home with a new baby, you are also loved at work.
The baby will grow, as will your followers. Monitor the latter more keenly. The former is being handled by your very diligent nanny. On Fridays at 3pm, tweet or Facebook how you can’t wait to get home to see your dear angel. How time always seems to stand between you and your baby. At 5pm update how it’s time to go kiss your baby, then rush out, only to be derailed by some pals and end up at Mercury with a mojito in your hand. Don’t tweet this. You can’t expose such submission to peer pressure.
However the days you actually get home early (you are a career woman), make sure you milk that opportunity dry by spending quality time with your baby on social media. So post a picture with captions like: Quality time with my baby (6:21pm); Feeding time. My pumpkin loves pumpkins (7:07pm); Look at her sleeping gear, isn’t it cute? (7:23pm); Baby finally asleep, mummy is now so tired but so fulfilled. I’m truly blessed (7:56pm); Anyone got a contact for someone who does good Acrylic nails? (8:45pm).
Weekends present photo opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Picture of the baby in the car-seat at the back. Picture of you and baby at a patisserie, brooding over some fresh pastry. Picture of you with baby at Blankets and Wine with shades the size of a fruit grape. Picture of you shopping at Baby Shop. Picture of you and baby wearing matching outfits. Yin and Yang. Do this for one weekend; because the next you are out of town with your girls, sipping expensive bubbly, showing how balanced your life is, offering up the handbook on just how motherhood shouldn’t be a prison sentence.
The whole point of being a post-modern mother (married or not) is that you have to use the baby to build your social capital. You can never present motherhood as challenging. You can never show postnatal depression. You can never indicate in any way that you are even struggling with it, emotionally or financially. If you are married, you can’t express any face on social media other than that of a united front, even if he is removed from it all. And if things don’t work out between you and him, you can’t go on Deadbeat Kenya to moan. You will maintain a certain level of class and self-preservation. Motherhood shall at all times be approached with sanguinity.
You have to show cause for your existence in this age by leaving gushing parental footprints online. You have to fulfil your purpose on earth by showing how you participated in the procreation process and contributed to the longevity of mankind. So raising a child on social media is the closest you can come because raising a child on social media isn’t about how good you are at being a parent, but rather how good you can be at successfully selling this impression to a large gallery.