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Superwoman…

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MamahoodWe all have heard that woman are great, women can carry a million and one things on their shoulders and not flinch, that they can smile with tears on their faces and they carry a multitude of secrets in their hearts… Well there is one breed of a woman who definitely takes the crow. A woman called MOTHER…

I have been wondering how they actually survive, especially when the children are still under five. A typical Nairobi lifestyle demands  a “Five to Eight” kind of work environment, where you leave the house and five in the morning and return at eight in the evening. Work demands are varied with deadlines to meet, crazy bosses to deal with and keeping yourself concentrating on the job. When a mother gets home, they have to deal with hyper active toddlers, homework, and at night they can be awake half the night because, John had a nightmare and Jerry could not sleep and breastfed the whole night and Katie had fever that needed monitoring. And in the morning the cycle begins all over.

Wake up at four, dress up and go to work and be 100% productive. That is just basic family unit. Add the crazy tout who yelled at her, a friend who she needs to hook up because she needs a shoulder to cry on, a mum who is unwell, brothers and sisters who need scorning, a graduating relative, a bereaved neighbor, the careless driver who dented her car, the cop or “Kidero cop” who took her in for questioning on some unidentifiable offence, and the list goes on.

Well, if you ever catch her gesticulating, smiling sheepishly on the street, bad hair day, screaming at you for no particular reason, staring blankly or just on a 3% conversation concentration, give her a break. she needs it. She will bounce back in no time. but for just a second, let her retreat to a world only she lives in. The world of being a super person.

HATS OFF to all mothers out there who brave the world with a smile each day. Celebrate yourself often because, only God really understands what you go through in the motherhood journey.

5 things to remember when your child gets a seizure/ Convulses

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Child

Mom monitoring a seizure in a child

The first time I heard of Epilepsy, was in a first aid class I helped organize for a group of pro-life students in 2003 when I was in college. And of course it rarely concerns you until it hits home… You will read a lot of the seizures, the types, and one thing you will realize is, most common child seizures are caused by fever. Of course there are those that just happen, and doctors brand them atypical, but in simple terms, that is just epilepsy. Your child has a seizure whose cause cannot be explained, then they have epilepsy. It is a big and scary word. And traumatizing. But it is actually scarier to watch your child convulse. Having witnessed 2 in a span of 6 months, I am no expert, but I have a tip or two to share if you ever find yourself in my shoes. This may not be limited to children, but if you ever be in a place where one is having a seizure, the procedure of what you need to do more or less remains the same.

A typical -grand mal- seizure more or less takes place in the same way or follows the same pattern. The casualty stretches out, goes rigid and falls, then jerking movements, then often but not always grinding of teeth, then sleep. Each phase takes different lenth of time. One seizure may not necessarily take as long s the one before, or one stage may take longer or shorter time than the previous one. Here is waht you do:-

  1. Thou shall not panic:- As a parent watching your child going through all that , the first instinct is, scream, pick up the child and run to hospital. I did that and when I got to hospital, I was asked questions I could not answer. So as a parent or observer, it is your time to be most sane. Everything that you are going to observe in the next few seconds to a few minutes counts in terms of what diagnosis and tests will be given to your child. Don’t panic, no matter how hard it sounds.
  2. Get a soft landing:- By this I mean, remove the danger from the casualty or remove the casualty from danger, whichever is easier. If it is a child, place them on a soft bed or couch or put something soft under them. This will ensure that when they jerk they do not injure themselves further. If the casualty is an adult, break the fall. Hold them as they fall, ensure the ground around them is free of stones, sharp object etc. Do not try to wedge the child’s mouth open or place an object between the teeth, and do not attempt to restrain movements (seizurekids.com). This should also apply to adults as well.
  3. Take note of what happens while the person is in the fit:- One thing you will sure be asked when you get to hospital is “Describe the seizure”. How will you describe if you did not observe? Take note of the times of each phase. How long did the casualty stretch or was stiff, how long did the jerking movements take, how were the jerks, just the hands or both hands and feet, how long did they sleep immediately after the seizure? Most importantly, check for fever.
  4. When they fall asleep,now do what you were to do in the panic state:- After seizure, the casualty sleeps. Now you can panic. Run to your room, get your wallet and baby bag, call a cab, run out of the door and call the neighbor. Get to hospital. Whatever you do, make sure you get you child to hospital especially if it is the first seizure. As soon as possible. After all the 3 above are done. If it is a subsequent one, you probably already have a neurologist, call them, inform them, schedule a check up with them.
  5. Be ready for the checks:- While you are riding to hospital, prepare yourself psychologically for the check ups. Once you get to the hospital, you will answer on what you noted on the above. Was the child on medication, remember the names of the medication he was on. Is there a history of epilepsy in your family? If it is the first convulsion, and there was no fever, and the above checks out as okay according to the doctor seeing you, they will do a lot of blood checks. They check for infections, blood sugar among many other things. If that comes out negative, they will do a head scan to check for trauma (read injuries to the head). They will actually tell you to hold the child as he goes into that machine. Its a tough journey. If that comes out normal, they will admit the child and monitor. when they rule out the possibility of a second seizure, you will be advised to go home and of course return if a second seizure does occur for a brain activity test called EEG. After this they will put the child on medication until their 6th birthday.

I am not writing this as a medic.Just as a parent trying to help a another parent who is going to go through the same or going through the same. It may sound tough that you have to act and seem like you have no feelings for your child, but the information you relay to the doctor is so crucial to your child’s well being and diagnosis. Trust God to see you through the desperate times, be strong for your child and be there for them when they do not seem to be fathoming what is happening in their tender lives. Perhaps my next big challenge next will be when he goes to school. I am not afraid, it is well in Christ. It always is…

Finally, you will realize I have used the word casualty when describing what you need to do. It is not because they cease to be your child when it happens, but because you must disassociate yourself with the mushy feelings of motherhood, you must choose to act as opposed to weep or scream, you must choose to be sane as opposed to emotional. Mushiness may cloud your judgment. Panic will prevent you from noting what needs to be noted. Detaching yourself may work, if only for that short while when your sanity is so called for.

The 5 must-haves in that baby bag…

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Baby bagOnce a  mama realizes they are expecting, the next big thing is shopping (well, besides the regular check ups by your gynae or hospital clinic nurses). One item usually on top of the list is the baby bag. You have bought the baby bag, baby is here, you need to take baby to clinic, ow, what needs to go to the baby bag., there goes the first panic confusion.

I will highlight a few things that are important to pack in that baby bag, depending on the age of your child.

  1. Baby clothes:- In my short time of parenting, I have learnt that a baby will give you enough oops moments. You will undress the baby for weight checking and well, the freedom gives them a good feeling that they feel its time to relax all the muscles, including bowel and urinary tract ones. And they do it very excitedly, and smile at you afterwards. And he soils all his clothes. Grrrr. Well, no matter how close the clinic is from your house, make sure you pack a change of clothes. Two sets if your child is under six months and a set if he is above. Pack the same if you are going to church, to visit your friend, where baby goes, the sets of change of clothes go. A set for me was a roamper, and a onesie when they were under six, and a trouser, T-shirt and onesie now. When its cold, I add a vest to the set collection. I always carry one jacket, regardless of the weather. Even if you are staying for just one hour. The little angels have a way of surprising you.
  2. Diapers :- My baby is unwell, I take him to hospital and somewhere in the background a mama is asking if the hospital gives diapers. I look closely and she has an 8-10 month baby on her arms and no bag at all. I am not judging, but I want all of us to learn that children poop does not have a schedule and they pick an infection in a blink of an eye. Pack 4-5 diapers if your baby is under six months and 3 afterwards.
  3. Nappy liners:- But why and am not using nappies? Well, because you need something to wipe your baby, yourself and the person sitting next to you if baby spits or pukes. I find them very absorbent and light enough to carry around. Pack 2-3.
  4. Food:- When children are under six months, we worry when we leave them because we pack food (read breast milk) they will consume when they are away. When they are weaned, we worry when we carry them around, because you must have their meal plans in your bag, depending on age. Whatever you schedule for them to eat, pack it, if you have the insulation bags, the better, means food wont get cold. Breast milk is no longer enough and it is not a guarantee that you will be in a position to buy good baby friendly food wherever you are going. Its not much of a hustle, just pack, carry and feed baby when they demand. And yes, no one will chase you at of a restaurant for feeding baby with their packed food. The no food from outside does not apply here.
  5. Baby wrap:- By this, I do not mean toto wrap to carry baby around. I mean, something to cover baby with when they fall asleep. Not necessarily to do that but to place under them when you are changing. Be it a leso or shawl or cot sheet, something that baby can lie on when you are changing or sleep on when they are asleep and u are at your friend’s visiting.

But this is a lot to carry… Yes, it may seem a lot to carry and sometimes I find myself debating if I need all this when I am leaving the house, but I think of the oops moments and it is totally worth the heavy load. You may look like you carried the whole house and you are leaving for just two hours, but I have learnt that two hours for a child can be eternity. Be safe, or face the wrath of the community, when they yell at you. No, that shouldn’t be the reason, but you will be at peace and if the oops moment comes, because they do come,  you will be ready. All in all, we are used to carrying a lot of paraphernalia we don’t need in our hand bags. When baby is here, handbag is AOB, just make sure you have your wallet and hankie. Period.

Article 43:- Is there a formula for coping with labor pains?…

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labor_pains

On the 2nd of September 2015, was my fourth time in the labor ward. No, I don’t have four children of my own, not yet, maybe someday, by the Grace of God. Twice, I have been there on other people’s account. One thing that has always brought joy and a tear to my face on all the four occasions is the first cry of a new born child. Doctors will tell you that a baby must cry when they land in this world. I guess it is a magical cry born of this fact, but it is a moment out of this world. That is not the intent of this article.

Being in that labor ward reminded me of my own moments.  After a preterm labor at 35 weeks scare and a highly monitored delicate 4-week bed rest, I was finally induced at week 39. I remember my doctor’s talk before the induction process. He told me that there was 50% chance I would end up in a theatre. He told me to expect pain, and being induced the scale of pain goes up, say in a scale of one to ten, from 4 to 8. He told me to cooperate with the hospital staff. And the scary part, he told me in active labor, the cervix opens at the rate of 1cm every 1.5 hours, you can extrapolate how long that is going to be. I can recall the first quarter of Misoprostol tablet being inserted at 11am, then the next being put under my tongue at 5Pm. Then the cramps beginning, the water breaking, being rushed from the ward to the labor ward, the puking all through my labor (I must confess it helped with coping with the pain though), the periodic excruciating moments and the in-betweens where I could doze off (unimaginable-right), the helpful nurses who kept rubbing my back. Then walking into the delivery room, and the nurses urging me to push, and then he was out. Then they held him and asked me, “boy or girl?” and in my daze I answer, boy. He did not cry, so he was slapped a bit. Then he did. A small voice, but a cry alright. And everything was alright, we had pulled through. God had made the moment count. They cleaned him up, and brought him to me and the first words I ever said to him, God bless you my boy, and I put a sign of the cross on his forehead with my thumb. I remember every moment. Most people don’t . But I remember because one other thing my doctor told me was, regardless of the pain, stay sane. And sane I tried to stay. 9 hours later, I got the privilege of listening to my boy’s first cry. It is the best sound any mother will ever hear. Through the whole process I learnt to appreciate that birth is a Godly process. I have always known that, I have told my friends that, but mostly, I have believed it. Labor is different for every woman, and birth process as different as the number of children in this world. Tutorials have been developed on how to manage labor, classes of the same are taught, but when all is done, when you enter into that labor ward, it is you, your child and God. The rest of the people, even the doctors are spectators. I include the child because; even that child is in labor with you, literally. The child must bear the stress of the contractions for as long as the labor lasts. Some don’t and get distressed and they must be removed from the womb in the fastest way possible. Some mothers don’t either, they get fatigued and the mother and child must be separated and each attended to differently to ensure their safety. Others, in the process, either or both mother and child go to be with the lord.

I know many myths that have been said about labor, for instance, if your shoe size is less than five, your child is too big, you are short, and then you will end up in CS. I remember the labor stories that have lasted 30 minutes, others 36 hours.  I remember my niece being told she has a condition called Cephalo-pelvic Disproportion (CPD) and CS was inevitable. I remember reading somewhere that a woman who has brought forth a child into this world has been close to death. I remember the helplessness of the moment when you can call all the ancestors, angel’s saints, bash the walls, push beds scream abuses and anything crazier than crazy that you will never know you did, because in that moment, you are in your own world. I remember all this and my conclusion is one, it is a Godly process, just like conception is. He decides which sperm and which ovum becomes that baby, He defines when that baby graces this world, and no matter how much we want to convince ourselves of how much control we have over our life, He determines how they come.  He decides whether both mother and child lives. Not because He is a mean God, but because all of us are in this world for a purpose, and if our purpose is accomplished when we bring forth that child into this world, then we go back and be with Him who loves us most.

Many first time mothers, well even fifth time ones will have anxiety especially as the d-day approaches. This is because all of us have an intrinsic fear of imminent pain. Some women, out of the fear of the same opt for elective CS, or epidurals. Other developments have also come up in a bid to make the process as painless as possible. Many women will ask how to cope with the pain and there are enough videos online on how to make things easier. I do not have a formula for coping, or even a guide on how someone should cope with pain. I do not have a how to for my next birth. All I know is, birth process is a miracle. Whichever way the child lands into this world, it is a miracle. Holding that little person in your arms for the first time is magical. And a privilege we should forever thank God for. I can equate it to walking into a path you know not how long it is, or where it leads, but knowing that it is a path you must walk. You must walk it because you must. You can only imagine, pray and hop for an outcome that seems obvious. Whatever happens in between, only God knows. Does it mean that you should not prepare for labor, no. Go for Lamaze if you believe it will help, practice breathing, get a birth partner, do everything that you believe will help it be smoother for you. Walk, exercise your pelvic floor muscles, watch the videos, talk to your doctor, involve your spouse, do everything humanly possible, but most of all pray, surrender it all to God, because it is God who orders life. And He decided that children should land into this world as they do, well maybe humanity played a role, but it was His verdict. Pray for the safety of both of you.

Article 42:- Breastfeeding/Nursing – What to wear…

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Nursing mum in a nursing top

Ya mama, ya bamba…

One of the very fascinating things we women love to do is look in our wardrobes, choose a set what to wear; wear it; look at ourselves in the mirror then decide; Nooo! I don’t look great enough for the day ahead; so we goes back into the wardrobe, chooses another set, and the cycle goes on until we can find something perfect for that day. Frustration comes when what your choices are limited, because you are a few days post partum and in your new baby-fat weight you can only fit in 2% of what is in your wardrobe and hey, you are breastfeeding, so whatever you wear must be able to accommodate that. Most of us end up in wearing old oversize tees and buggy trousers most probably belonging to our spouses (if they are bigger than you).

Anyhow, when I started breastfeeding getting what to wear was really frustrating. It always got more complicated when going to church. I used to look at my dresses and wonder, why oh why can’t I wear any of them. Well it’s because at some point in the middle of mass, your baby will cry needing a feed. And there begins the struggle of boob extraction, trying to cover your back so that you are not exposed, trying to calm the baby with the boob and not choke them in the rush, then try and cover your boob too. Drama! Oh what goes first! By the time you are done, you have a minimum of ten pairs of eyes staring at you because you and baby just disrupted the juiciest part of the sermon. All I ended up wearing was two skirts I could still fit in and a few blouses and always a sweater on top, irregardless of the weather (so u ensure your back is sorted). Few churches provide for a baby place where mothers can go and nurse, once its done you can go back to church. Its sad because, maybe that which you  miss in the process is what was meant to be food for your soul that week.

When I could extract myself from 100% baby bonding and could do something else, I went on-line searching for options that would allow me to do this noble responsibility comfortably and still look good while at it. I developed my own solutions and I hope a mama can be helped out there.

First of all when I got expectant, I custom made my own pregnancy skirts. I knew that growing was inevitable, so I designed something with a stretchy fabric at the waist line and straight all the way down. I wore my skirts all through my pregnancy. I also designed them in a way that I could dart them and wear them post pregnancy. I was a perfect solution for the time when weight gain is overnight-literally and weight loss is drastic.  Also had one dress I designed when I was around 2 months pregnant. It could take in my weight all through. I still wear it, 1.5 years post partum.

Second,  I also discovered that alternatives design for clothes exist for breastfeeding women, both dresses and tops. I currently have stocked a couple and are available for sale. They allow you to nurse comfortably without having to expose your boob or back. They can also be worn to work as part of that suit and allow you to express comfortably. You can custom make your own dress that you will wear during your pregnancy, breastfeed in it, go to work in it and express and wear them to those casual outings and be comfortable and look good. The beauty of it is, you can dress your bump in the same wear, and wear it post partum.

simple_pregancy_women_wear_nursing_clothing_cheap  simple_pregancy_women_wear_nursing_clothing_cheap 1

long_sleeve_pregnant_dress_nursing_formal_dresses (1) long_sleeve_pregnant_dress_nursing_formal_dresses

Dress your bump, breastfeed with it later ( The beauty of elasthane)

I will attach a few sample photos and allow you to look at the beautiful side of breastfeeding where you can look fabulous and breastfeed. The trick is getting the right fabric. (Photos courtesy of Angel Solutions)

Casual outfit for nursing mum

Casual, ready for outdoor activity with baby

Nursing top, casual setting

Casual

Official in nursing top ready t express

Official and ready to express, hurray working mum!

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Lets get some work done…

Cheers mums to wonderful moments with your child.

Article 41 :- Exclusive Breastfeeding…

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Ya-mama-ta-bamba-image-1

One time you are walking like a duck because your tummy is quite big, you can never imagine you will ever touch your toes again; next moment, you have this little, most beautiful littlest human being in your arms and somewhere in your subconscious, you hear a nurse tell you, “mama, you need to breastfeed your baby”. And breastfeed you must, not because there is a manual on how to breastfeed, but because somehow, deep in your soul, you know how it is done, and you bring your baby to your breast, and they begin to nurse, and there begins your six month journey of you and baby and being the only sole provider of its first fastest food.

Deep in my heart, I knew I always wanted to be someone’s mum. Deep in my heart, I always knew, I would exclusively breastfeed, not because I knew the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding but because I knew it’s one of the best bonding moments between a mother and child. It was a special thing that only my child and I could experience. When you look into those innocent eyes and discover the true meaning of ultimate trust. When you know that, when they sit on your lap and lay their head in the crook of your arms, it’s the most comfortable position they know and in their minds they can stay there forever, and the clingy ones actually do try that forever, when the only world they know is the brightness in your eyes and the smell of your clothing, and for them that is enough. That is the magic of breastfeeding!

WHO and American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months (26 weeks) to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness. Numerous studies from around the world have shown that stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal infection and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do happen. Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no solid food, formula, or water) for at least six months seems to offer the most protection). According to Baby Center the main immune factor at work here is a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) that’s present in large amounts in colostrum, the first milk your body produces for your baby. (Secretory IgA is present in lower concentrations in mature breast milk.) The substance guards against invading germs by forming a protective layer on the mucous membranes in your baby’s intestines, nose, and throat. Breastfeeding our little ones also allows for development of a protective layer along their intestinal tract preventing food allergies caused by inflammations. This layer’s growth cannot be facilitated by even formula; the substance, whatever scientists call it is only found in colostrums. Breastfeeding protects a child from obesity. This can be attributed to the following; Breastfed babies have more leptin in their system, a hormone that researchers believe plays a role in regulating appetite and fat; Breast milk contains less insulin than formula. (Insulin stimulates the creation of fat.) Breastfed babies are better at eating until their hunger is satisfied, leading to healthier eating patterns as they grow; and finally, just like breast milk of a specific mother is specific to their child in terms of nutrient constitution, they say a mother’s body can respond to its child when it is full (debatable), so it stops producing more milk . It implies that, a child can latch for an hour but breast milk stops flowing when the child is satisfied, the other part of latching is solely for bonding.

For mothers, breastfeeding leads more rapid maternal weight loss after birth, lowers stress levels hence lower risks of post partum depression (many women report feeling relaxed while breastfeeding. That’s because nursing triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin. Numerous studies in animals and humans have found that oxytocin promotes nurturing and relaxation), reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer, and delayed return of menstrual periods. Other obvious benefits are It’s free; It’s available whenever and wherever your baby needs a feed; It’s the right temperature; It builds a strong physical and emotional bond between mother and baby. Finally, Breast milk adapts as your baby grows to meet your baby’s changing needs.

Breastfeeding is natural – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. In fact, most mothers will tell you it is not easy. From little or no milk, to sore breasts, to outright fatigue for those whose babies are great feeders like my boy.  Being a working mother doubles the challenge. Complications at birth that make it hard for a mother to breastfeed the first few hours post partum which contributes immensely to breast milk flow messes things up further, making mothers have little milk, hence opting for formula or early weaning.  However, amidst all these challenges, many women have risen to the challenge and managed to feed their children for six months exclusively on breast milk and avoid giving their babies packet/cow milk for up to one year. Mad respect to women ha! Yes, mad respect to the women who have to content with expressing, stocking, pouring out when power fails and milk thaws, rushing home at much to just do this noble curse, eat very funny tasting foods and drinks in the name of boosting this one substance very necessary for their babies, the wars they will fight for privacy in the office to express, and even amid all the hustles is the realization that stored milk cannot equal the directly suckled milk, there is loss of nutrients in freezing, thawing and of course in warming; a toast to all of us for the selflessness.

For those who did not make it, and will not make it, due to factors beyond their control, well, children are beyond us. They have a creator who watches over them. We are just His custodians. They are with us on a temporary custody, before they go to fulfill the mission they were created to; all we can ever do is our best for them. And one thing I am sure is, we do our best as mothers, always…

In as much as there is no manual on how to breastfeed, when that child land on our hands, lets breastfeed breastfeed, breastfeed. I remember the nurses who kept telling me to keep breastfeeding a few minutes after delivery, yes, a few minutes, and I thank them because my flow, in as much as it was not “fresian”, it was sufficient for my boy for those first crucial months.

Finally, there is a difference between exclusive breastfeeding, and exclusive feeding on breast milk. When I started out, I wanted to achieve the former but then again, I am a working mom so, most of us end up doing the latter. Meaning, we express, then feed from a bottle, or cup and spoon. I pen off…

Article 40 :- The things my mother teaches me…

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I have not put up anything for a while. It’s been a hectic several months. I changed jobs and for some time I was working for two employers; not easy at all. Then I went home, to the village. My rural home is very refreshing, so you don’t what to go there and carry technology with you. There you go to rejuvenate yourself and refill that which was draining empty. Other than the lush green and fresh air, I always learn something new from my mother. So, this break is also a learning experience from this very wise woman. Today I just want to share few things among the many I have learnt from her, in the hope that I may inspire someone somehow. That’s the whole reason behind sharing knowledge, right?

The importance of discipline: – According to Miriam Webster On-line Dictionary, Discipline is among other things, training that corrects, molds or perfects moral character; self control or suppression of base desires. It is a way of life that is molded by continuous control gained by requiring that rules and orders be obeyed and bad behavior is punished. Sometimes the training may not be by instruction; that is being sat down and given a lecture on how to behave. Many are the times this instruction is by example, though once in a while words are inevitable. As long as I can remember, my mother has always gone to church every Sunday, no matter how early the mass is; she will always rise a few minutes past 6 am, she will do her chores- her house has always been sparkling clean and clothes, to date, are washed daily in her house-, she will go to work (informal kind of work), cook family meals, ensure everyone has had a bath, whichever way one likes it, warm-u get warm and otherwise. She will go for small Christian community. Whatever she puts her heart to achieve, she goes for it; she dedicates her mind and energy to accomplishing that task and rests when it’s done. She gives herself deadlines. She beats them. Her rules are reasonable and when you break them, you really feel guilty for doing it, because she gives you freedom to do the right thing. She is a woman of few words, so her training has been mostly by actions. Discipline. With the example she has set in molding herself, adhering to her own rules, I have learned to make my own rules too; rules to live by. The rules are not cast in stone, they are flexible but I have learnt the importance of setting standards of your own life and living by them. For her, most of the standards are guided by the teachings of her faith in God; for instance, if you don’t work you should not eat. For that, she works hard and enjoys the fruit of her labor. Adhering to your own rules make you principled. It means you cannot be easily swayed to do things just because people are doing them. It means you have a stand on many issues because if you don’t then you can fall for anything. It means you have standards that you are not willing to have compromised unless those standards go against the will of God. It means you have a voice of your own whether anyone ever hears it or not. It means you are your own person. She taught me to become my own person; exhibiting my own uniqueness, whether in strength or weakness. She taught me the importance of character. She taught me to be self guided, self motivated, self reliant, innovative and identify my own paths in life and diligently follow them and actualize myself in those dreams that I seek to pursue.

Commitment to prayer for our children: – My mother is a very prayerful person and most of the time I tell her I accord where I am to the many prayers she has said for me and all of us. I know I have gotten into trouble (I have a knack for that) and gotten out mysteriously/miraculously. I know I have been to through hard times that only she as a mother understands, and come through. I have seen God in my life in so many ways. I wouldn’t say am a prayerful person, but I know my mother prays for me. I thanked her on this last visit and I told her, I honestly believe that I am where I am because God favored her and answered her prayers and she told me that when we were young she would kneel before God and tell Him to hold our hands and guide us to live good lives. I thank God for the people we have become. I pray to God to grant me the same energy, strength and resilience to always remember my children in my prayers. I hope I can pray for them with the same zeal. But more so I hope I can teach them how to pray for themselves just like she taught me in the foot of her bed as a young girl.

Do good for goodness sake: – A famous Kiswahili saying “tenda wema nenda zako”- Do good and go your way. Most of us perform acts of charity so that we may be recognized, or praised by those who see us or so that those who we are kind to can be indebted to us and when they do not return the favor we get angry and throw tantrums. There is no God’s teaching that says love so that you are loved. Christ commands us to love-period. Whether the love is reciprocated or not should never determine our acts of love. I have witnessed so many kind deeds from her I am astounded. The Kenya Post Election Violence was hard on us (disregard the myths of who suffered most) and especially on me. But picture this woman returning from an IDP camp, someone who lost everything, passes by this house of one regarded as an enemy, finds some Irish potato seeds this lady wants to go plant on her farm, but in her kindness, this frenemy gives the seeds to her, I don’t even know if she left some for herself. For her it is the only hope she can give this hopeless person who is returning to rebuild her life that, if you plant this seed, at some time-T you will harvest and have some livelihood for you and your children. It may not be much, but it was a beginning. Case 2:- you have a relative who lives a hopeless life somewhere, but you go your way to till their land, plant, weed, and do all appertains to crop maintenance, just to make sure this family has a livelihood. I have seen the selfless acts she does and every time I tell myself, if I ever become a fraction of the woman she is, then I will not have lived in vain. Well, may God bless her kind soul, and may she never tire doing good deeds.

Blessed is he who finds a good wife: – When we think of a good wife, we think of proverbs 31. I remember being told to read it by very good small Christian community members that it be my guide in my married life. It’s a small caption from a father to a son on what the father’s mother taught him on character of a good wife. I can summarize thus:-

A good wife brings good to her man, nurturing confidence in him, earning him respect among his peers; She works hard to provide for her family and all those who depend on her; She is an innovative entrepreneur; She is kind, giving to the poor; She is a good planner, ensuring her family is provided for in all seasons, all basic needs; She has dignity, self respect and is disciplined; She is wise; Most importantly; a good wife she fears the Lord.

My mother may not be all these things, literally, but she has taught me to try and be there for my family in my own little ways. My dad has been unwell in the recent past and the dedication I have seen as she takes care of him is humbling. She has slept in hospital chairs just to be at his side in those lonely nights he is in a lot of pain. In his weakest moment, she has been his strength, in his desperate moments she has been his hope, in those moments when he cannot pray, she has been that prayer he most needed. When work took him away from his family, she stood firm and ensured the family run well, she was the father and mother to her children. I can go on and on. I have listened to many men rant on radio shows of how women are bad, gold diggers, crazy, and how they only deserve so little worth; on the other hand I have listened to women who have been mistreated by the same people who have loved them for the better and the worst times of their lives. All I can say to all that is, blessed is he who finds a good wife, a Proverbs 31 wife. Surprisingly, it was lessons from a mother too.

Love your children unconditionally: – Children are a blessing from God, regardless of their capacities, character and abilities. A long time ago, when I was 8 years old or thereabouts, my younger brother passed on. He was physically challenged. His doctors never expected him to get to 5 years, but he died a month to his 6th birthday. Every time I listen to my mother talk about him, I cannot help but cry. She talks very fondly about him. I may not remember much about him, but I know he was an ever smiling boy. Making him happy was very easy. He could laugh a hearty laughter. He was very smart for his age. He was friendly to all. He had a knack for getting injuries but hat never made him grumpy at all. And he died in her arms. At our time and age, when technology can allow us to predict whether our children are “normal” or not, most women opt to terminate little lives just because they do not fit our definition of a “perfect child”. We all grow up and become different people, sometimes not what our parents envisioned we will become. My brothers, sister and I have different characters and all of us have given her enough bile juice at some point in time. We have made our mistakes, we have fallen, and we have done crazy things that have made her hair stand. We will still drive her crazy. That has and I believe will never make her love us less. May we celebrate our children with the same zeal, love and dedication to their lives regardless of who they become.

Irrespective of my age, I am still a young person. I am still learning especially from the people I encounter every day. I have picked a lot from this woman who God graced to be my mother, some I can never get to finish writing about. I pray for blessings upon her for the life she has lived, for the examples she has set but more so I forever thank her for the prayers she has prayed for me. I hope that someday when my children look back, they will find fond things to say about the woman who was their mother. I don’t live for that though, I live for the love I can give them and the values I can teach them, but more so I live in hope that I can teach them to know the precepts f the lord in those precepts they can find their way in life and become the very best of themselves. 

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