My dear son
I will probably name you Michel or Nicholas because I’m one of those people inclined to name their children after their favorite character in a book or Movie. You might grow to be embarrassed by the name I give you but don’t hold it against me. You can take it up with your father who will have failed to come up with a better name or will have failed to talk me out of giving you a French name. Speaking of your father, you might despise him a bit because I’ll let him discipline you, I will only spoil you with my love. We don’t want you to grow up like the neighbor’s son or your cousin who was caught stealing from a supermarket, yes it all started with taking coins from his mother’s purse.
By God will I love you, I would say to the moon and back but even that can’t measure up to my love for you. The bond of a mother and son will always be sacred. I will love you enough to heap books on you, all to empower you. I will have you educated to be best I can and will support you, engineer or artist, doctor or blogger. Your father and I will be your backbone. You will learn different languages because I want you to identify with other different cultures and nations. You’ll grow to be well traveled.
I will love you even when you start noticing other women other than your mother, who you run to with all your problems. It will start in 4th grade when you start walking home with her tightly holding your hand and back to school the same day, a routine till you get to higher grades and teenage girls, Oh they are quite something, these ones. At this point I will have my eye on you and so will your father for this will not be an era of getting other people’s children pregnant.
You will be a gentleman to all women. Not one of these atrocious men in our generation who pester women just to get in their pants. Neither will you be a racketeer who only knows to self-proclaim himself to women. No, you will be raised to respect women just like you respect your mother for everyone deserves respect. No, my son will be respectful, he will spark conversations with women when he sees them reading good books because a woman who whips out a book is not a shallow minded woman.
You will get to that age where women have become so interesting yet unfathomable. They ensnare you with their short dresses and hips that could sway the earth with how they walk. I will often catch you staring at women’s backsides as we drive to the grocery store when you come of age but I will have raised you to think with your head and not the testosterone pumping in your veins.
You will look for women, to court, to sow your oats. I’ll not hold it against you, for these are the ways of a man. Women of your era will be difficult (I say this tongue- in- cheek). Yes, even more, difficult than your father says I was. Women of your era will be empowered. Radical and informed feminism will have been drilled into their heads, Chimamanda’s books will be their gospel. Oh, women of your era will be intelligent, they will run your companies, your stock exchanges, and even your countries. They will seem too empowered for men. Men of your generation shall speak against them, how they are the weaker gender and what not. But not you son, you shall respect them for you will have known what struggles led them there from FGM to lack of education to arranged marriages to rape and even murder. You will understand their struggle and uplift them for it just as I taught you to.
I imagine you will grow a beard, black and luscious, you will stroke it when you’re deep in thought because that’s what your father does. Women will be at your beck and call but as I told you about your father and me, you will know when you feel your heart dip down to your stomach. At this point you will be under pressure from me: I will tell you that I need grandkids that you need to find her and fire some shots because I’m not getting any younger. Do not listen to me then take your time for till your heart dips into your stomach she is not the one. She will have a drawn, scratchy and infectious throaty laugh. A laugh that eases the tension at Christmas dinners with your father and your aunt. A laugh that is rich with life and a smile that lights up a room. You will have candid conversations about good books with your wife and I, our own little book club. No, I will not despise her like other mothers in laws, I will love her like my own for she is my own. For she will be the one to take care of you when I’m gone.
Above all, my son you will be a man of honor and integrity in whatever religion you identify as. You will know that society is turbulent and harsh, but family comes first. That you will not let pain destroy you but let love build you. That you will cry it out for that’s the best way to heal. I know your father secretly whispers to you that men don’t cry, well they do. I’ve seen him cry.
My dear son I’m a bit cathartic as I write this because I do not yet know if I’m even going to meet you. I want you to celebrate life and women.
Much love, Maman.
This post was supposed to go up on Thursday the international day of the girl child but it’s a bit late. I hope you enjoyed this 1000 words letter to my son.