By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA correspondent
Until recently I had always applied that word to other people, never myself.
Even now it seems surreal to think of myself as a mother — someone who has a child, and not only that, but also a responsibility to take care of that child for the next few decades and beyond!
Somehow I had thought the process would be instantaneous and that I would know I was a mom the instant my child entered the world.
But the realization has instead crept up on me in countless ways: a longing glance at the baby while she sleeps; cradling her cheek against my own; and making faces at her for hours on end, just to see her smile.
Likewise, I now share a bond with other mothers that I never knew existed.
We smile sympathetically at each other whenever our baby wails in public (or during one of those hush-hush moments when everyone should be quiet).
We hover over our kids with bibs, baby wipes and blankets, especially if they’re wearing newly washed clothes (which seem to attract spills by some mysterious, magnetic force).
We know there’s nothing too small or big for us to do on our children’s behalf.
And now I understand even more why CFCA chose to focus on the wisdom of mothers when implementing its child sponsorship program.
Not to say that we moms are perfect or have it all together, but that we would do anything – yes, anything – to give our children a better future.
Likewise, the mothers of sponsored children are some of the greatest heroes of the CFCA community.
They’ll work hours in the fields, at home or in the cities to earn pennies a day, so long as it means feeding their children just one more meal.
They’ll walk miles on end to remote CFCA offices to enroll their children in the sponsorship program, or to meet in a CFCA community support group.
They know there’s nothing too small or big for them to do on their children’s behalf.
In that context, the best way to help children living in poverty is to empower their mothers. It’s a holistic development model that takes into account the whole family, not just the child.
So now when I think of my sponsored child, Victor, I also think of his mother, Eva. She has said she considers me as part of her family.
“I would like to thank you for taking my child as your sponsored child,” she wrote to me in her first letter.
Victor’s father passed away in 2005, leaving Eva a widow struggling to provide for her then 2-year-old son.
Through it all, her first thought has been for Victor — how to provide for him, give him an education, and raise him with everything he needs for a better life. It’s just the way I feel about my child.
Yes, mothers can be very odd people.
They’ll jump at anything that even resembles a baby’s cry, work around the clock while holding a toddler in one arm, forgo hours of sleep just to rock a wailing infant.
And they’ll do it all because they know their child’s worth every moment of it, and more.
And yes, I’m now a mommy.