Failure is always an option. That’s my mantra these days. I have failed in so many aspects of my life. The one that I keep doing these past days is motherhood. No, mothering is not easy. It has never been. It takes effort and patience and moving in some direction even if it seems like you are making no movements at all.

A great friend of our family visited over the weekend and together we made a local native soup made out of water leaves and kale called Edikaikong. While trying to figure out how to make the soup, I shared with her that back in my dissertation days I kept a blog focused on mastering the art of African cuisine. Not just Nigerian cuisine, but all things African. It taught me a lot about spices for example and I will always be grateful for the addition of cumin in my life thanks to that blog. But it failed. Or rather I failed. I never really mastered the art like I intended and well before you know it, the love for cooking fizzled away.

From there on, life got in the way. I finished my dissertation, met my husband, graduated and moved our family to Paris. I spent 2.5 years working in Paris and just as I was leaving, I started a fashion blog to curate all things I loved about African fashion. It was the bane of my existence then. It taught me so much about African fashion. I even dreamt it would become like an African Vogue one day. I also discovered Ify and her Ladymaker brand. That blog, like the one on cooking, changed my life and I still see African fashion from this lens, though the dreams of fashion have long since fizzled out.

As we discussed, I realize that starting and stopping, or even failing with my initial ideas were commonplace. There was once a love for beading jewelry. I still love to make jewelry though for myself but there is a story on failure there as well. There are the never ending desire to become a childrens story book author. I have enough manuscripts to last me a lifetime, some published but for my family’s eyes only and some dating back to when my daughter was still in my womb and yes 10 years later, I am still far from achieving that dream in all the ways I had once hoped.

So why reflect on failure now and why does it matter. As I prep for my grant writing course, I am truly humbled by the mantra that keeps coming in my mind and it is simply that ‘failure is an option.’ Nothing personifies my life more these days than all the numerous grants that taught me how to fail successfully. I know it seems hard to imagine and yes, with motherhood, you will fail. I keep failing and I am learning from my mistakes every day. The latest is with my five year old and lord knows it seems like no matter how hard I try, I keep failing with him. Take for example an incidence the other day at school where his teacher queried the motives of his classroom drawing. Yes my son had depicted himself laying in a pool of blood and I stood by him crying. On probing further with him one on one, it turns out that the blood was actually strawberry juice and that I was not crying because of him, just upset with some blue marks on my shirt.

My son’s love mom drawing depicted with crosses.

In the course of reprimanding him about his drawing, I found myself telling him to curtail his public drawing as people may take it out of context. He listened and now my five year is very sensitive about what he draws for fear that people do not take it out of context. As a mother, I really failed here as the last thing I want is for my son is to never feel like he can draw anything he wants. I am slowly working with him to regain his love for drawing and even if it entails gory scene, these days I am like fine. At least, I know what’s in your head and we can talk it out. Will I fail again with him or any of my children. Yes. Failure is always an option. But after failure, comes lessons, experiences, and anything else that personifies learning. These days, I submit to whatever failure sends my ways. It is always an option.

Ooh and the soup turned out right.

Thank you Chidinma for reminding me once more that failure is an option. By the way, watching the sunset over a lake with our families is a thing and I think I will be adding more of this our lives.

When you have so very far to go, like miles to go, do not be afraid to fail.

No one who has ever dreamed, has ever set aside the possibilities of failure.

Like a third eye, failure is always lurking around, always inclined to teach a lesson.

Be firm still and know it’s going to happen.

Your dreams may fail.

Like a candle, all the flames burning within, will flicker one last time.

Against all your courage and perseverance. Against all your hopes and dreams.

To fail is inevitable, just as sure as air we breathe.

Yet it is brave to try, fail, then try again.

With or without fear.

When nothing seems to make sense and failure is all you see.

Know that seeing is better. At least you walked a mile. You can do another.

Writing grants has taught me how to fail 30 times. I look forward to the 31st time. Counting failures is something I do now. Something I embrace too. The hurdles or the joy. The writing. The waiting. The bearing witness to, how things we believe in crumble, for lack of funding. And I have believed in so many things that failed. Poured my blood into missions that ended before they even started. I am learning to love all the pain they entail, all the sadness too, or the weight of each failure. Not because success isn’t better. But more so for the lessons every failure teaches. The doors and unexpected journeys along the way they open too.

I wrote a grant on ways to arise, on ways to let minds often ignored thrive. Failing with that grant broke me down that I became the opposite of what we sought to do. My mind failed me too for awhile. Until I started to see the beauty in failing. See that grant would have changed my life but failing it too has opened new and unexpected doors for me. I expected to scream that we got funding to do great research but now I scream we have no funding, but impactful work continues. In fact the most important work you will do, is the work you do for free. The work you wake up everyday to simply do because you have too. The work you use to connect with each other as humans. The work you do to provide light to dark spaces. My grants are often for the eyes of few people to see. But the most impactful work I have done are free, open and accessible for all to see. It cost me nothing to use words, my words to change people’s life. I may have failed to secure funding for my grants, but every day and through my words, I secure hope that connects us to each other. This is the beauty of failure worth spreading. (ps another grant is being reviewed today as I type this, I may get my wish before next week with my 31st failure. Accepting each one gets better with time).