“Didi” a Hindi word for – big sister.

Or a more commonly used form of respectful address to any older woman of the household.

Usually not a term used to refer to one’s own mother though.

However, this was what I was referred to as, by my son for the first two years of his life with us. DIDI.

My daughter called me ‘mama’ but he firmly referred to me as DIDI.

I tried ignoring him when he called me ‘didi’ on a couple of occasions, hoping he would be forced into calling me ‘mama’, but his confused and hurt eyes melted me into responding right away.

He called my husband ‘papa/daddy/pa’ all the various connotations and endearing terms for a Father with ease. But I remained firmly didi for a long time.

I joked about it when we met friends, stating my apparent youth has my newly adopted son completely confused. He thinks I’m his older sister! When we went out friends joked about it too.

All the while secretly, I feared that he hadn’t truly accepted me fully as his mother. He doesn’t love me as much as he loved his Dad, I felt. I haven’t connected with him quite as well as I should have, I blamed myself.

What if he never accepts me in the role of a mother? His Mother more specifically! I fretted many nights over this.

My beautiful baby boy, who came to us at the tender age of one, was only just learning to speak. He was adjusting with all the huge curves life had already thrown his way at such a fledgling stage. New surroundings, new family, new languages, new Country, new sibling, new parents. He coped admirably with it all! He continued to smile, play, and be what we now know to be his impish humorous self through it all. He took to all of us with ease and made loving him so easy and natural for all of us.

My beautiful girl born to us 8 years before, adjusted to her new brother, the unusual circumstances and all the life changes that go with a new baby in the house with such maturity and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt how big and kind her heart actually is.

So amidst all of this emotional palaver, when God had been kind enough to grant me a smooth transition on so many fronts with the new arrival I was left questioning the universe as to why is my boy not ‘accepting’ me as a Mother. Why does he still see me only as ‘didi’ I wondered.

After a while of such fretting I let it go. In more ways than one, my son had clearly depicted his affection and his attachment to me along with the rest of the family. I decided not to agonise pointlessly over a name tag as such.

Then one day I chanced upon a story of a foster mother who had felt compelled to adopt a little girl who on the very first meeting with her then foster mum referred to her as ‘mummy’.

A combination of various aspects of the story, fuelled by the fact that I had finally taken the time to step out of my self-indulgent thoughts to think beyond only my own need to be accepted, that I think I may have seen some sense at last.

My baby boy, in his limited time at the facilities before coming home to us, had grown in an environment of mainly women. There the primary caretaker, the head honcho of sorts who fed him and cared for a majority of the kids daily needs was referred to as ‘didi’ by all. The child knew not of any different term. She was the closest to a motherly figure for all the children there and they knew no different. So when my son came to me, despite the household having a nanny and visiting grandmothers, he had linked me as the ‘didi’ in his life. He had associated and singled me from all the women in his new home, in that role.

I had indeed, this means been accepted as a mother, it was only left to me to decipher it appropriately.

Recently one day he just very naturally switched to calling me ‘mama’ in the course of his garbled baby conversations. He simply switched to calling me mama and while we all clapped with glee behind his back, drew no attention to it in reality!

I am pleased to say that I am now firmly mama in his vocabulary. My love for him remains just as strong and deep for him as it did during my didi days. The new name tag bore no effect on the emotions, I realised. I felt like I was destined to be his ‘mama’ from the minute he entered our lives. I intend to remain his mama for the rest of my days. The fact that he has chosen without any duress of his own accord to call me so now, I hope is a reflection of the fact that he now understands a mother’s love.

And so it was that I graduated from ‘didi’ to ‘mama’.




And unto us a child is born…..

I had lost my literary voice for a while. My mojo as it were was in hiding. Hadn’t been able to put words to paper in over 4months. But now it seems to be coming back. The loss of one of my most avid readers had affected me in more ways than I had ever envisaged.

Although daily life progressed, the deep sense of loss and shock lingered beneath the surface constantly.

Meanwhile on the other hand, events we were working towards achieving, my husband and I, were also finally coming to bear fruit.

Life was hurtling towards a new chapter a new phase at such speed that we had no choice but to be carried along on the surf of its powerful waves.
Looking back I was pulled between wanting to continue to lament the loss so fresh in my mind and also feeling the urge to anticipate with excitement our possible upcoming gains.

Years ago the ice breaker in the conversation between my now hubby and I, the shared common ideal among many others for us that nudged our friendship into committed love was the mutual desire to adopt a child. We had always intended to do so and it was always part of the bigger picture in our minds.

Life progressed, landmark occasions were celebrated, a child was blessed upon us, we traveled, we relocated, we grew older. All this with us yet to achieve that initial dream we had shared.

We wondered if we had left it till too late, we were faced with several odds, the so called experts warned us not to get our hopes up too high. All the same we thought nothing to lose and everything to gain so let’s give it our best shot. And so we did.

I said to the Lord “if you take me down this path give me the strength to face whatever you have intended for me”.

Just like that then miracles occurred, the universe conspired to make things happen just so that we happened to be at the right place, at the right time. Unexpectedly we were offered a child, whom we accepted with glee.

Our families supported us with restrained caution but with positive support too. They feared for us, if we would be left disappointed, they feared of possible emotional repercussions. It all seemed too far-fetched and unbelievable. We went ahead anyway.

All that while I now realize, that I had only opened my mind to the entire process of adoption. My heart was yet to be opened. I had not yet anticipated the emotional roller coaster ride we were set to embark upon. No forum or website can prepare you for the onslaught of the entire range of emotions you shall go through.

In the sea of legal documentation and processes to be filed, rules to be adhered to we swam upstream simply following the instructions given to us and thought increasingly to ourselves ‘wow this may actually happen for us after all’.

All through this our baby kept growing kept achieving landmarks happy in his ignorant bliss of the mountain we were scaling to get to him.

Then the day dawned. Anticlimactic to say the least! Not sure what we expected, but our heads were so full of so many feelings that I think we were by then beyond comprehensible thought processes. In our minds we naively expected a cute baby to crawl into our arms and curl up feeling our love automatically. Realistically we were well warned by all concerned to be prepared for both the emotional and physical demands this child will be making upon us.

Cute he certainly was, curl into our arms he certainly did not. We had uprooted him from all that was safe and familiar to him. He wept for his familiarity. But our love he did feel and he clung to us inherently sensing it.

That day as we made the journey home, images of the children watching us leave with one of their own all of them round eyed and watching us wondrously flashed through my mind. Watching the little bundle sleep trustingly in my arms, a veritable stranger for all matters to him, my heart opened to the true profundity of it all only then.

My heart swelled with love, with pride, with a sheer admiration at all the forces for having made this day a reality. Something we had only dreamt of. I felt fiercely protective (infact I still do of both my kids) and hated on sight anyone who had anything but the best to say about my baby.

Now one month later I am calmer. We can now say he has settled effectively into his new life, new routine and new family. We have been successfully accepted by him. This was essential. He is happy, he is mischievous, he is loving, he is smart, he is active, he is the epicenter of our lives now.

Still relatively in the fledgling stages of my relationship with my son, I admit I am the insecure one between the two of us! Each smile from him each show of affection soars me high, every dismissal from him holds intense importance to me. I am immediately plunged into insecure worries if perhaps I am not doing the right thing, will he never love me as his true mother. Unfounded what ifs and what not scenarios.

This is what I meant by the roller coaster ride of emotions …from fierce protectiveness, to heart melting love to worry to fear to intense possessiveness. We are experiencing it all.

But predominantly among it all, the emotion that rises up often to the surface with the maximum force is that of absolute gratitude. Not just your ordinary run of the mill “thank you” gratitude, but instead the miraculous kind that brings you to your knees and forces you to acknowledge the marvels of a higher power.

I don’t know what we did to deserve this blessing, I don’t know how we were chosen to be the recipients of such a divine reward but we were and we did. It’s as simple as that.

Twice over at that too.

So as Julie Andrews famously sang I can only assume that ‘somewhere in my youth or childhood there must have been a moment of truth.’For there can be no other explanation for this child that although not our creation has been born unto us by His design.