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Makena Barasa: How I lost My ‘Identity’ after I Became a Mom


Did you lose your identity once you became a mom? Do you find that people (including your husband) have since stopped calling you by your name and now call you Mama so and so? And if you are mother to more than one child, does your name keep changing to mama this and mama that? Let’s read about one mother of three daughters –Makena Barasa and her interesting name evolution.

“How many children do you have? If you have none, then your identity is still intact. If like me you have three kids, then you lost it long time ago. You see, I go by different names, depending on who I am interacting with.

I started out by the names my mum gave me. I was Makena for a cool 25 years. Then motherhood happened and one fine Tuesday morning my aunt came to see me in hospital…

“Hello Mama Michelle!” she excitedly exclaimed.

But I did not respond.

Never mind that a few hours before a pretty little princess had been placed in my arms. Before this awesome day, I had already known the gender of my unborn child and I had told all and sundry that my baby would be called Michelle (a name the dad had chosen while we were dating with no idea we would one day be parents to a real Michelle). So after my aunt’s expression, that is when it occurred to me that I was actually a mum and it was me she was calling! It was also the beginning of a sure diminishing of my pretty maiden identity. I instantly changed from Makena to Mama Michelle.

So for the next five years I was Mama Michelle, especially in the neighbourhood. I am yet to understand why we are identified by our children’s names but I am damn proud to be called so.

Then in came my second born Amanda (a name also chosen when my husband and I were dating) and when she became of age, could talk and play, her play mates quickly gave me a name: Mama Amanda. So to some in the neighborhood, I was Mama Amanda. And I was still Mama Michelle.

Then, their other sister Maya came in close enough after Amanda and she also got her own troop who call me Mama Maya.

Now figure this out: My three girls are out playing with their friends and their sweet little voices are screaming from every corner, Hi Mama Michelle, in other corner, Hi Mama Amanda and from another and Hi Mama Maya from the other corner!! You’d quickly think that those are three different mothers. But no. It is just me. One mother with three different identities. The same scencario is replicated in school and in church.

And then, to my husband, I quickly stopped being ‘Babe’ (unless when his children are not around) and I became ‘mum’. I don’t know why he thinks I can be his mother, because I will never be (she has her place), but I guess he is also as confused as I am when it comes to referring to each other. You see, long time ago he was my babe, honey and all those terms. Now he is mostly dad! It is hard to send my gal ati ‘go tell my babe a.b.c.’ It is always:  ‘go tell dad this and this’. So, just as he participated in making me lose my identity, he lost his too.

Though the other day my daughter who was playing with my phone brought it and she said ‘Mum, your hubby is calling’. Then she proceeded, ‘please tell dad to bring us Oreo!’ I changed how I had saved him (He was babe) to hubby when my girls started asking who that baby who kept calling me every so often was! That is their curious nature!

Make no mistake, I love my brand identities… I cannot trade being Mama one over the other. I love being Mama to all three of them. They present different joys and challenges. They are my constant reminders that God chose me to be His co-creator. They constantly remind me to pray for that woman who longs to be called Mama. That He will fill her arms with these little bundles.

My curiosity though is about that mother of ten kids, like my grandma. I kept asking her how she remembered to serve all her children. She once told me something I hold so dearly till today. ‘A mother can never forget her children, even when they are in their tens. She will know them by their names.’ So ladies…enjoy motherhood and its ability to totally give you more than one identity, and at times, varied personalities!”

And what about you? What do people call you? Do you relate with Makena’s experiences?



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


  1. This article has made my day…… Interestingly most of my peers call me Shiru Karuga ( Karuga my hubby’s name). I find it strange refering to my friends with kids like mama so and so or baba so and so. Hubby and I still call one another our names. At school and home am mama Adriel or mama Nduta.
    With mama Adriel clicking a bell faster than mama Nduta. To my parents and other relatives in shagz am mama Macharia. I equally find it strange when people call me mrs Karuga or introducing myself as mrs karuga. What I dislike most and the Kikuyus have that habit ( no hurt intended) it’s shortening the names to wa Karuga, wa Macharia, wa Nduta etc etc. I will use the name daddy when sending our son to the father. For the helper I use baba Adriel. I guess even men go through the loss of indentity. Would I exchange the motherhood experiences with something else? No! No!

  2. Before babies came, many called me Sue, or Njoki, or Kinjo…..and I felt like a very young girl for a long time…….now home my parents in law call me ‘nyina wa wanjiku” , my relas mama Ciku, most of my friends mama Abi, not many know me with my son’s name…. only my paed dr calls mama Jeremy. both ways am very happy n proud. my daughter who is quick to ask, why I have so many names (actually she says 6 and she counts…. my first name, middle name , father’s name, husband name, mama Abi, mama Jeremy,) and and her she has 3 names….why……..lol

  3. Since I don’t have kids yet, my neighbour’s ‘smart’ kids call me aunty Lourdes but now the younger ones make me laugh myself silly because they call me ‘Mama Freddy’ Freddy here is my husband so imagine me…mama my husband!!!!!!

  4. I so resonate with Makena’s Story. To my friends especially my former school mates am Carol. To my relatives am Heta wa Michael (Dads name) to my Inlaws (Parents) am Nyina wa Lyn. Then to my neighbours am either mama Lyn or Mama Trevor depending on who their children call me according to their age. And to some friends am Mrs. Kanyingi. That’s how my identity has changed since becoming a mom and am damn so proud of Mama So and so…. I too pray to God to remember those ladies who yearn to be called mama with their bundles of Joy

  5. Makena Barasa thanks for sharing your story. I totally relate with your story. I am no longer known by my name(s).. I am now Mama Ngui,lol!! Like you said it is well as these bundles of joy bring so much joy and blessings.

  6. I can also relate to this. I will call you Makena, cause that’s the you I knew first!
    Now, strange thing is…my cousins, sisters and brothers still use my name(Irene) and nicknames I used when I was young( Kadogo). My own mum still calls me Elini (kamba version of Irene)…only at school and in the estate do they use ‘ mama Reg’…. amazing! And I’m neither a Mrs….so my work.mates and colleagues still call me Irene.
    My identity is still there 50%but I wouldn’t trade anything for motherhood.


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