It has been a year! Wow! I am in denial… I am in denial that I have been mothering for the last one year. Time does fly indeed and if you want evidence you have grown old, look at how big a child born the other day has become. The first one year has been a mixture of excitement, firsts of many things, learning to balance, life, work, love and marriage, learning to be a mother, doubting most of the things you do, cheering baby on as the accomplish milestones, learning to let go and let God, and of course, learning to deal with house helps. Life is not without lessons and a wise man once said that you should make sure you learn something each day.
Overcoming fear, anxiety and uncertainty
Many first time moms have gone down the uncertainty road. The moment that child is put on your arms, the nurses will tell you to breastfeed. Well, there is no manual for that so you attempt, and the first question comes, am I doing it right? How do I know when my baby is full? Is my baby getting satisfied? That coupled with comments from friends, relatives, well wishers and sometimes haters, that every time the baby cries, the baby is not satisfied fuels that mothering anxiety. If this fear and anxiety are not put in check mostly by the mother of the child, you will find yourself going down a depression road, which is totally not good for both you and child. So relax, be the best mother that child can have, listen to advice, if it does not make sense, nod your head and let it pass. One thing for sure is you are the best mother that child will ever have and as far as they know, you are doing just perfect. The best you can give him those first few moments of your lives together is yourself, the rest is AOB. This little person does not care about tomorrow or future or the next minute. This little person lives the moment. The now. He smiles when he is happy, he cries when he is distressed, he plays, he does whatever he wants to do at that moment. It is the moment that counts. In this living of theirs, they teach you that you too need to live the moment. Many of us worry so much about what is to be, and what was and what people say, and a million what ifs. How can you live the now with all this worries? Enjoy the moment; plan for the future; learn from the past, but live the moment.
Ever wondered how many times a child will be hit before the master the basic things we take for granted like sitting, standing, crawling, walking, waving, shaking our head…? They cry a little, throw tantrums a little, get a scratch here and there, but always, always they will rise and keep going. Nothing will keep them from learning what they want to learn and showing off their recently learned skill. Many times life bashes, clobbers, hammers, blows, name it, us and we fall so low. The lesson is to keep rising, keep moving, keep going, keep learning. We cannot allow ourselves to stoop so low that everyone can see beyond our problems but ourselves. The problem was as important as the lesson. Its importance ends there. Life must be lived. We must arise and walk. Everything makes as stronger and better, just like fire purifies gold.
The next exciting thing we do after the initial excitement of pregnancy news is shopping. It is a thrill and for some of us who window shopped baby clothes since ages ago, well, it can get us to buy anything and everything. But how important is that which you are buying? How useful is it? How long will it be worn before it is hidden in a locker somewhere waiting either to be sold or the next baby? What value is it to your child? This first year has taught me to shop for essentials. With time you realize that a child enjoys spending time naked than clothed, the clothes we buy should not hinder that enjoyment. They should be as free as possible, easy to wear, easy to remove, and easy to change diapers when soiled. For that I will attach some photos.
If its single piece, it should be openable all the way to the feet
If its a gorls pretty dress, the waist should be above the belly (there is a reason behind the baby stomach name)
If its a onesie, it should have the shouder overlaps or push buttons on one side (babies hate things being pulled over their heads, the quicker the experience the better) same applies to sweaters and tees. Jumpers, push buttons, button or zipped
If it goes all the way up, it must be openable between the legs
Besides that, it is good to realize that the first one year is an age of rapid growth. My godmother advised me to buy minimal number of clothes. Infract she told me to buy just 6. 6 rompers, 6 onesies, 6 vests no sweaters, if any 2. Nothing fancy (The first few months they are all swaddled) and nothing for 0-3 months, vary the sizes up to 12 months. If you shop well, you won’t need to buy anything for the first one year.
What does that tell me, there is something called the essentials. Most of us have so many things that we never use. Whatever we have, what value does it have or add to who we are? Would we be less without them? These are some value questions we need to ask ourselves before we acquire anything that will end up somewhere in the house with no value whatsoever.
One day he is all tiny. The next day, he is running all over the house, and a few more days, he is in school, and bam! He is no longer yours, he belongs to the society. We have very little time to influence our children, to teach them values, to teach them what is right and wrong, to teach them God, to teach them all they need to know to acquire a tough skin that when they become of the world, they have a solid foundation. The tragedy is that most of the time we spend trying so hard to make money to provide them a “good life” we forget to mould the people they become. It is good to earn a living, but it is more important to find time to be with our children. If you were to ask them at that age what they would prefer, money, candy, fancy clothes, etc will be the last thing they want. They want you as a person. The faster we find a balance to giving our children ourselves, and committing to bringing up morally stable generation of the future and to providing them with their basic needs, the better, because, they do need both. They need the basic things, and they need values. There is not extra time, but time must be created. One thing I know is you will never find someone at their deathbed saying, I wish I had given my children better toys and super video games. The biggest regret is usually I wish I spent more time with my family. Strike the balance now more than later.
This is one area where, just like there is no perfect design; there is no perfect way to deal with them. My only driving belief here is, we are all people of different background and set up. We all strive to be loved and understood. Whatever funny stunts they pull on us, may we love and understand them. They say if we want to understand people well, walk in their shoes for a while. Try doing what they do for a day, a week or two, and you realize that they really do a lot for us. If they treat the child well, thank God, if they choose to disappear on you, call them find out if they got to wherever they were going well, if they steal from you, God will give back to you, if you are kind to them, kindness begets kindness, it shall come back to you, not necessarily through the same person. If they harass your child, forgive them, God will deal with them. But more so, may we realize that they will spend more time than us working mums with our kids than we ourselves. If we have to instill values in our children, then we must work with them at it. I remember telling one of mine that the kind of person my child becomes is a factor of the parenting they do to our children on our behalf. That is a fact. We must teach them what we want our children to learn. We must explain to them the values we would like instilled in our children. We must learn to work with them to bring up our children. But more so, we must pray that they are kind to our children in our absence, because no matter what measures we put, no matter how guilty they are, if they are to harm, by the time we get to know, the damage will have already been done, and there is no just remedy for the injury that has been inflicted especially on the personality. God help!
Celebrate your achievements, no matter how little;
A child will smile at anything, they will coo and the funny voices you make, and will get excited at just the mere sight of you. They will perfect one skill then move on to the next happily. They will squeal when they know they have achieved something. And of course we will celebrate all those milestones with them. We should have the same attitude towards life. Even the smallest of achievements may have taken a lot of effort and we need to pat ourselves on the back. Raise a glass, smile, cheer yourself on, be happy. You are doing very well in living this life the best way you know how. And yes, that little person is proud of you no matter what. Be proud of yourself and make them proud too.
Prepare them for when you are gone; prepare yourself for when they are gone,
Most of us treat our lives like they are perpetual. We plan like we will live with them forever. Like my mother always says; kifo ni lazima, kusishi ni bahati. We shall all die at some time t. But our role when we are here is to prepare our children for eternity and prepare them for when we are gone. In this regard, I still believe that we need to teach them how to be independent of us as soon as possible. We need to introduce them to those whom we can entrust our lives with, in hope that that same trust can trickle down to responsibility for those whom we cherish dearly. We have to equip them with the knowledge of God their heavenly father who will walk with them always for as long as they live. We have to teach them to believe in the life of the world to come. We have to let them know that nothing in this world is permanent, and life can turn around and in that turn around, they must live or survive with a smile still in their faces. They must know how to stick together as brothers and sisters and look out for each other, and be each other’s keepers literally. We must detach ourselves from them, allowing other people to be involved in their lives to the extent that is good for them in case we may not live the next to see the next day. They must know from as early as possible how to relate with people, to accept people for who they are and appreciate the fact that life is beyond their parents, and the four walls of their house(not literally). There is no perfect way I can express this fact, but, we must teach our children to live without us, even when they are with us… But more so we must teach them God, we must prepare them for their own deaths and their encounter with their maker, because it is with him that it all begins, and it is with him that it all ends…