Moji Alawode-El and her son, Garvey, in 2016Photo: Courtesy of Moji Alawode-El
Editor’s note: This year, to celebrate Mother’s Day, The Glow Up interviewed four generations of mothers within a single Harlem family that recently welcomed its fifth generation. We’ve asked these mothers, ages 19 to 83, the same 12 questions about motherhood, daughterhood and matriarchy. These are their stories.
Full disclosure: Moji Alawode-El and I have been best friends since virtually the day we met as college students at Sarah Lawrence in 1994 (technically, it was the second day we met). Over the course of our now decadeslong friendship, she’s become a de facto member of my family, and I of hers: a Pan-African family well-known in their Harlem community as the Alawodes.
But while we’ve watched each other mature in many ways over the past 24 years, I was still wholly unprepared when Moji announced her pregnancy in the spring of 2015. Frankly, I thought that motherhood was something we were both entirely ambivalent about, and was genuinely (albeit selfishly) concerned about how it would affect our friendship.
Moji Alawode-El, Maiysha Kai (aka “Auntie Mai”) and Moji’s son, GarveyPhoto: Courtesy of Maiysha Kai
But as my best friend’s pregnancy progressed, my commitment to our bond actually grew, as well as my curiosity about what type of mother she would be. Now mother to my godson, 2-year-old Garvey, Moji joins four generations of her family’s women to discuss motherhood; telling The Glow Up what it was like to become a first-time mother at the tender age of 39, how babies can change even best-laid plans, and what her hopes are for her son.
The Glow Up: Were you always sure you wanted to be a mother? Was motherhood a deliberate choice for you?
Moji Alawode-El: While I can’t say that I was always sure I wanted to be a mother, getting pregnant and having my son was a deliberate choice that his father and I made together.
TGU: How did you first discover you were pregnant?
MA: We had been trying for a little while, and for a solid week before I took an actual pregnancy test, I’d mentioned that it might be time to find out. I was having some symptoms of pregnancy, but those symptoms had been misleading before. So they’d been going on for a