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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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Article 36:- The lessons from my son; the first one year…

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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.

Resilience;

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.

Shopping;

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.

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If its single piece, it should be openable all the way to the feet

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If its a gorls pretty dress, the waist should be above the belly (there is a reason behind the baby stomach name)

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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

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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.

Time flies;

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.

House helps;

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…

Article 35:- The pains only a mother can feel…

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There are some verses in the bible  that have always left me baffled; wondering what Christ was trying to imply. For example, Luke 23:29, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!‘ This contradicts the belief that a child is a blessing. It contradicts ‘Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them (Psalms 127:3-4)’.

I may not know what Christ implied, but for sure there are pains that only a mother can feel. This statement he said during his journey to crucifixion when he met women who were weeping for him, and he told them to weep for themselves instead. I picture Mary, his mother, accompanying him in this journey. We watch this in the bible story movies and those of us who are weepy will definitely cry but there is a pain that only she felt. The pains of watching your child suffer… There is no mother who won’t wince when a child falls. There is no mother who won’t turn away at the sound of a crying baby. There is no mother who won’t get irked when they hear that there is rampage on a certain university. I remember my mother telling me sometimes back when Moi University went on strike and my brother was a student there that she could not sleep until he arrived home at 4am. How he got home is a story only he can tell. I don’t know of a mother who won’t call their child in this Nairobi if a bomb explodes somewhere. This remnds me of the August 7th 1998 Bomb blast at the American Embassy in Ufundi Plaza(the site is currently August 7thMemorial Park). I heard the news of the twin blast in Nairobi and Dares Salaam. It didn’t strike me as alarming until my parents asked me twice what I really heard and mentioned that she was praying all my siblings were well wherever they were; Reality check. I know I have been disturbed by a sight of a child being beaten ever since I was a child myself. A friend of mine keeps telling me that she was willing to carpet her house wall to wall because her child kept falling and hurting herself. The default button when you are a parent is to imagine the worst and always hope and pray that it does not happen to your child. When they go out you worry, when they are in the house you worry, when you are expectant you worry and when they are all grown with their own families you worry. When they make mistakes, you live the mistake…

Children make mistakes and most of us did make our own mistakes. The things we never realize the mistakes we make are a double edged sword to our parents, one they experience pain for the mistake and they suffer the consequences with us. Not because they will literally contribute in any way, but because they walk the journey with us. All of us probably have these two fears; fear of imminent pain, and fear of imminent death-I know I fear pain. That is why news of a cancer diagnosis will probably sound like a last nail into the coffin. Fear drives us to do crazy things. For a teen daughter, it is the fear of labour, sleepless nights, a child bringing up another child, support, provision, unknown future, terminated dreams, making it, what type of child will be brought up, the desperation of holding a sick child, the pain of watching your child make mistakes, the double edged sword that you embrace by being a parent… The list of worries is endless. One of the key is the death of the dreams you actually had for this daughter of yours. I believe that is the initial hurt. This is followed by many psychological self induced hurts fuelled by the fears I have stated above. Imagination is a crazy driver. Every time you hear of a child molested, you imagine that that could be your child, if a child is mistreated by their caregiver, if they are raped, stripped, beaten, shot, it all comes to you, and you share in the pain of that mother. When they leave your house, you have probably imagined all things that could go wrong and when they are not home on time, your heart will skip beats when your phone rings fearing for the worst. And of course when you see a little coffin, you can only weep.

That is all theory until it happens to you. I am a mother to many daughters and most of those who know me know that I have cried many tears for and with them. There is just that sword that cuts through you. I am a great advocate of life. I have recently learnt that one of the mistakes that cuts through a mother’s heart and shreds it to pieces is the realization that their child is sexually active and in the sexual activity, a child was conceived. Whoever said “it’s just sex” lied (my opinion), because no matter what we do, sexual roles that is the native and procreative functions will always manifests themselves at some point in time and the consequences of both must be born, whether if it is through heart breaks for unitive and pregnancy for procreative.  I will scream at the top of my lungs that you keep your pregnancy, because that child is a key to many blessings in your life. I will advice you that it is not the end of life when you are teenager, and you have made that one mistake that will make you a teen mom. I will give you a dozen examples of successful teen mums who chose to against all odds live this life with the fruit of their wombs. I will give you a dozen more successful influential people who made a difference in this world but they are abortion survivors. I have cried for the unborn children that never see the beauty of this earth and experience the joy of overcoming challenges. But recently I have learnt that I can tell you the reasons why a sane man and woman would actually advice you to procure an abortion, especially when that person is the woman who bore you. I have learnt to appreciate why mothers would banish their children for ages and refuse to be associated with their grand children. I have learnt that sometimes it is not the child’s mistake parse that scares the parents but the consequences of the mistakes and the fear of the impact of those consequences on their lives. They say that every mother goes to labor with their daughters; they nurture their children with them; cry when they cry; celebrate when they do; and most of all they parent these children with them. Why is this so, because they have been there, done that literally.

While the fears and worries may be justified, I still believe that, as my friend Agatha says, the cross that comes our way will never be so heavy that we cannot bear. God knows His children before they are born and God for sure takes care of the child when they come. He never promised that life will be easy, but He sure promised to be there for us, to travel with us to the end of time. So there comes a time when our own selfishness, which is what drives these fears must be set aside and the good of another be made important. We have to somehow, amidst this confusion of creative imagination, sort the fears and bury them and start living positive steps. We must celebrate life. We must embrace life. We must fight for life. We must fight fear and live in hope. It is good to go down the pain road, but it not good to let pain dictate our life. Negative activities will always be there. Evil will always be there, but it must be there so that good prevail. Am not saying that any child deserves to be raped, neither is any boy or girl worthy of being sodomized, no woman should be undressed and no human being should be beheaded or blown away by some bomb. All I am saying is amidst all this is a beautiful world. We cannot let fear dictate our activities. We cannot become permanent slaves to our own anxieties. We have to rise beyond that which inhibits our becoming and live life to the full. We cannot totally negate the fact that our children make mistakes, but we can resolve not to let the fact that they made them define the relationship we have with them. We cannot shield them from all the harm of the world but we can equip them with a skin so tough that when they indeed get touched, it will only scathe them not scar them. We cannot stop our children from becoming their own persons, we cannot hold them back from growing, we can pray to the God who co parents them with us every day to watch out for them, to hold them close to Himself, to shield them from the contagion and the evils of this world, and when anything does befall them, that He may give them the strength and the resilience to pick themselves up and rise beyond that which weighed them down. Like one Gary Thomas said in his book Sacred Parenting, pain builds resilience and confidence in our children. May God grant us the graces to bear this pain, because by the virtue that we are parents, we will feel pain, but may we bear this pain knowing that it is all for the good. The poet Kahil Gibran wrote: “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow, that is giving you joy. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

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Article 34:- Nobility of Parenthood…

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I have always believed that before parenting role sits on our shoulders, God first parented the children. Our role is to co parent with him, to bring up these children to accomplish the role He created them for. I have been reading “sacred Parenting “by Gary Thomas. In this book, he shares experiences of how parenting his children has brought him closer to God and how the children have taught him to relate better with God. At one point, he shares of how his wife had challenges adjusting to motherhood. At this point she drew inspiration from her discovery that welcoming this child into the world is the very act so highly regarded by Jesus at the judgement in Mathew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me”.

Gary Thomas says,

Who gets hungrier than a newly awakened baby eagerly searching out the mothers breasts? Who is more naked than a recently born child? Who is more a stranger than an infant who comes into the world knowing no one? Who gets sick more often than a little one, who seems inclined towards infections, diaper rash, and colic?

When a mother welcomes a child into the world, feeding her, giving her drink and clothing her and holding her when she gets sick (and at least for most first borns, boiling the pacifier when it drops to the floor and rushing her to the emergency room when her temperatures soars) she is doing exactly what Jesus tells us will be most rewarded in heaven.

“But how can caring for your own child result in heavenly reward? Some might ask, “surely Jesus dint mean that did he?” People who ask such questions don’t understand that the children we raise, ultimately speaking, are not really ours. God creates each child and he has such deep passionate love for every boy and girl that he never misses a single life event in their life. “I tell you the truth, whatever you do to the least of these brothers of mine, you have done to me”(Mathew 25:40).

Mothers and fathers, when you give your tiny infant a bath, you are washing God’s baby. Pause a moment in your busy day and look up to heaven. When you minister to the youngster, can you imagine God smiling down on you? When you fix that hungry six year old a peanut butter sandwich, you are feeding one of God’s children. Listen carefully; you may hear God laughing in pleasure. When you hug an adolescent whom others have teased mercilessly at school, you are comforting God’s teenager. Are those God’s tears dampening your shoulder?

In the process of caring and loving, you bring God great pleasure. At that very moment you become his provision, his comfort, and his passion. Learn to swim in that joy and you will never look at parenting in the same way again.

You could have rejected this child. You could have spurned the demands on your time, your resources and your emotional well being. But instead, you accepted this child, through great pain you gave birth to this child, and even with greater pain you make daily sacrifices to love this child. Your heavenly father doesn’t miss a second of this sacrifice. He sees it all. He cries with you, he laughs with you and he takes great joy in the good work you are doing.

Whether we are parents or not, we have incredible opportunities to participate in this passion that God has for children. I am sure God is present in the sanctuary of a church, because Jesus says that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there. But if we really want to live in the presence of God, we may want to hang out at the playground, Sunday school and nursery. There is no way God is missing what is going on there.”

I just wanted to share this excerpt from this book with all the mothers out there. So that they may know, whether the child is unborn or not, whether the child is a boy or a girl, whether the mother is a single parent or not, our heavenly father looks at you with pleasure as you walk through the journey of parenting that child God blessed you with. Every time you struggle for that child, to feed, to find the right caregiver, to build his esteem, to do all that parenting calls you to do, look at that child, imagine God saying, well done my faithful servant, for a job well done.

Article 30:- To be a mum; to be a hero…

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If you ask children, even most adults, who their heroes and heroines are, a majority of them will say their mothers without a second thought.  This is not because fathers have not been responsible or they have not impacted their children as much as mothers. I actually do not have a reason why I would say my mother without blinking an eye if asked the same question. She has fought fights for me that only a mother could, she has counselled me gently yet firmly, she has loved me  even when I was unlovely, she has sacrificed her beauty to make sure I am beautiful, she has had sleepless nights when I have been in trouble, she has prayed for me since I was born and she still prays for me, she has disciplined me with love, she has celebrated me and my achievements, she has cried with me when I have done foolish things that have wounded me, she has believed in me, in my values when no one else thought otherwise she has scraped her knees and blistered her hands fending for me, she has sacrificed her happiness so that I could be happy, she has let go of her dreams so I could cherish my own; the list is endless. This is what a mother daily chooses to do for her child since she is born.

I do not want to highlight my mother as such in this article; I want to celebrate those who have chosen life when Abortion was a very enticing idea. Those who have chosen to fight for life, when everything else pointed to gloom, who have chosen fight all the odds to bring forth a baby not knowing what the future holds.

In the recent past, I have read two stories of courageous women who actually banished the idea of abortion when its end was so beautiful to the eye. One lady fought the odds when her husband who is supposed to be a co-parent to this child denounced this child and told her that if she chose to bring forth this child to the world she will be sort of banished. She would remain hidden until the child is grown up. The parents in law who supported the decision of their son ensured that even during her pregnancy, her life would not be easy. So she had to endure all this and even when the child came, the father has only seen the child once. The mother stands relentless in the fight and loves her child. She is currently staying with her parents and keeps hoping her husband will come round to love this child. The other lady got pregnant while in campus and contemplated terminating this pregnancy because she had a whole future ahead of her, she had no job, final exams looming, a boyfriend with no job, and very harsh parents among other challenges. She chose to keep her baby and this brought with it its own challenges, like going with no food, living in a makeshift house with the boyfriend as they figure out how to live the next day, depending on friends to even food the purchase of child supplies among others. However, they managed against all odds and they are still living one day at a time trusting God to keep providing for them. Their child has never lacked. This is just among the few who actually fight it out for the sake of the innocent child.

Sex has two primary purposes which are not mutually exclusive; the unitive and the procreative functions. However our world today glorifies the unitive – in the wrong way in that it is self seeking selfish kind- and frustrates the procreative by its encouragement of safe sex and promotion of contraceptives. However since the functions are not mutually exclusive, and frustrating nature will never be very successful no matter how much we try, conception does occur many times. With conception is the beginning of a new life, unique and ordained to perform a purpose in this world. However, since most of the time the idea of pregnancy is overwhelming, even for the married and since we were not ready to bear the consequences of the procreative function of sex, we start entertaining the idea of abortion. The idea is made more appealing by the social pressures that are prevalent at the time. Am I ready for a child? What will parent say? I don’t have a job, how will I fend for this child? The baby daddy has denounced their child; I am just but a teenager and my parents will banish me; my husband wants no more children, what will he say when he finds out I am pregnant? I don’t want more children, the ones I have are enough; my career will take a dip; I am still in school; I have medical conditions that will not allow my womb to support this pregnancy; the child before him/her is still very young; with all these, the choice to abort becomes almost sealed.

Every time a woman gets pregnant, married or not, in school or not, with a well paying job or with none, the overwhelming feeling of- I am bringing forth a child who will depend on me for everything- hits her. I remember wondering every day in the first few months of my pregnancy if I will be good enough for my child. What kind of mother will I be? I am really ready for this? Well, many thoughts passed through my head really. Every time a woman gets pregnant she has to make a choice to let live or to let die. Every time a woman chooses to let live, she chooses to be a hero to the child she will bring forth. She chooses to fight all the social battles that being a parent brings forth. It is choosing to embrace the fact that Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind (Howard W. Hunter).

Accepting responsibility does not mean the other party will do the same; accepting responsibility does not mean it’s going to be easy; accepting responsibility does not mean it’s going to be all smiles. Parenting brings forth its own unique challenges with every child. Many people cite financial constraints as a main challenge, but that is just a tip of the iceberg. It means choosing to trust God to guide you as you bring forth this son or daughter of His. In Jeremiah, He declares before we were born He knew and consecrated us. Choosing responsibility implies co-parenting the child with God to fulfill that which he was created to accomplish. It is choosing to be a hero to this child, who when they are born, they look at you with all the trust no one can describe in words. As N.K. Jemisin says, ‘In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess’. They know that in your arms they are safe. Take a crying child and place it in the arms of its mother and shush, all is well in its world. It is choosing to let the child discover the world, first through your eyes, and when they are ready, through their own. It is choosing to let your heart beat outside of you and still survive. It is choosing to derive joy in seeing someone else smile, someone else achieve a milestone, someone else be happy, someone else derive courage in your eyes. It is choosing to let someone love you unconditionally and in that love you find satisfaction. It is knowing that someone else’s life matters more than your own, yet the knowledge does not make you less. It is choosing to let the small hands that touch you with love define your waking and sleeping moments.

We would want many things for our children as mothers, and one of them is not to suffer. Gary Thomas, in his book sacred parenting says that we should allow our children to suffer so that they may build character. Many of our fears towards parenting are born from the fact that we do not want our children to suffer, we do not want them to lack; we want them to have everything. Gary says it is letting them grow through all this that they appreciate life, sacrifice, value and character formation but most of all, they learn that there is world beyond their mother. There is the one who controls the universe; there is a God who walks daily with them in the wakes of life. They realize they have a father.

My country celebrates mashujaa day. They sacrificed their all and fought tooth and nail to secure our country’s independence. They dies so that we may live free. Today I choose to celebrate those mothers who against all the odds, choose to be the heroes of the one they would forever hold dear; their children. They choose to suffer to let their children live. They literally lay down their life for their children. I have listened to many mothers, young and old, talk about the challenges they have gone through. They have all had that smile that says, against all odds, we made it and look how fine my children turned out to be. I have listened to children of such women, and they all have had pride in their voices as they say, my mother is my hero. I raise my glass to the unsung heroes, happy mashujaa day! You are the heroes who define the character of the next generation. Someday, when your child will be old, she/he will look at you and say, mummy, you are my hero and the struggle will all be worth it in the end…

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Article 29:- Hellooo Motherhood!…

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It will be my 31st birthday in a few days. It is going to be a very different one; different in a good way. For those who know me know that motherhood has been a long time dream. And I will be celebrating my 31st as a mother of a wonderful five and a half month old son. I am grateful to God for this gift of motherhood. I sleep and awake knowing that there is someone I cherish more that myself. Yes, motherhood makes you very selfless. That is just one of the things you learn from being a mum. I am not old at this but I will just highlight a few of the lessons I have learnt.

A baby is a big boss. Sometime ago, when I was in Class 1, in the year 1990, my sister did a poem for the music festivals that had a Kibwagizo that went like this “Bwana Mkubwa ni tumbo, wengine ni watumishi”. I tend to agree with him, but probably, he or she never encountered this boss am talking about, because he surely is bigger and has more driving force than the stomach. This boss, once you interact with him, your life changes forever, because the stomach ceases to motivate your actions, this boss becomes your centre of the world. This boss is fragile, yet strong at the same time, is demanding yet flexible, loves yet needs more love. This boss is very trusting. I once went for a recollection at Africa Bible on the Ground in Nanyuki and there is this tree whose branches, once they touch each other, they change direction. Once a child lands on your arms on the first day, all a mother will ever think of is baby. Is what I am doing well for my baby? Is the weather good for baby to go out? Are the people interacting with my baby good for him, or they will make him become a spoilt one? Is the program of investment long term enough to ensure a good future for my baby? What will happen to baby when I go back to work? Well, nothing a mother does exclude baby, including the fulfillment of those appetites that used to drive us in the first place. It is baby and then everything else. Does that mean that mothers don’t have a life, or their life exists? No, their life is just redefined.

I am not a patient person and those who have kept me waiting in town for whatever meeting we had scheduled will tell you the same. I hate waiting. It is for that reason I hate sitting in traffic. Why should I wait for 4 hours to conclude a journey that can take 20 minutes? It doesn’t make sense. A baby teaches you to be patient. You have to learn to wait for them to learn things in their own time, including a basic thing as sleeping. Many mothers will tell you how night shift is a norm. Many will wonder how they even function the following day taking care of chores after only one hour of solid sleep or none at all. But they do function and very well at that. They will even wait on you when you visit, crack jokes, laugh and tell you how wonderful life is. And when you are gone, they will go back to waiting for the child to grow up; they will nurture them from total dependence to semi independence, and wait patiently for them to become the persons they would want to be. Patience becomes an everyday virtue that has to be exercised. Mothers will wait for their children to poop, and if they don’t they get disturbed. They will wait for the child to wake up if he sleeps for very long. They will wait for them to lift their hands and wiggle their bodies which are a sign that they are okay. They will wait for them to keep quiet, when they have colic and crying is a norm. They will feed them patiently, waiting for them until they are full, some will take up to two hours to feed, or will feed every hour. They will be patient with friends whose comments hurt deep. They will be patient with touts who yell at them when the baby can’t stop crying. They will be patient with the next door neighbor who plays loud music when she and her child are trying to catch a nap because they have not slept a wink for weeks. Patience per excellence.

Before I was a mum, I believed that I must own a Halley Davidson, until I discovered it wakes all the children in a 50 meter radius when you start it. Motherhood makes you realize there are many unimportant things we dream of having or owning. Maybe it is rationalizing life in a way, I don’t know but you learn to actually discover what is important in life. You realize that the relationship you nurture with your child is more important than that work that earns you a daily bread. I remember being recalled to work severally just to sort a project issue that no one else could not handle, or seemed not to be able to handle. My answer was the same. No. No matter how much you plead, I only have a few months before I resume that work anyway, so, it is me and my baby for now, period.

Mothers are the best innovators. It is driven by the fact that the tricks you use today to make baby eat, sleep, stop crying or smile may not work tomorrow. You will rock him to sleep today but tomorrow he will want a lullaby and the day after he will want to be nursed. He cries for many reasons; when hungry, when wet, when tired, when he wants to play, when bored, when agitated, when sick, when sleepy. You have to figure out the reason so that you can calm him down. So you try solving the reasons one at a time. If all fails, you just have to invent something to calm him. One of my professors would probably call it muddling through. Innovation is not limited to nurturing, it involves use of things, modification of toys e.t.c.

Motherhood has taught me to let go. I believe that the lives of our children are lent to us. Before we became parents, God already parented them. He designed a life for them and drew a purpose that only they can fulfill in this world. Our role is to take care of them and bring them up to fulfill that purpose. Barbara Taylor in her book Act of will reiterated the same saying we cannot force our children to become who we want them to be. Many times, parents try to design their children’s lives to suit their own needs, but however much we try to do it, we cannot stop them from becoming. We would want our babies to sleep, eat, drink, poop, sus, cry and smile when we want to. But, they are totally different individuals with a big mind of their own and they will define their own schedules to do what they want. It is this same principle that makes me not to worry much about my boy now that I have resumed work. I know He has a father looking out for him, taking care of him where I cannot, protecting him from dangers that I cannot foresee, and nurturing him in the best way to fulfill that which he was created. Every day I pray that I may be granted wisdom to bring him up to know His heavenly Daddy, to know that he was created for a purpose, that he is not an accident, that he is special in the eyes of His God, because he was fashioned most perfectly for that one thing that only he can do, that he will forever be unique in his own way and there can never be another like him, that no matter how much environment forces him to conform to some norms, he should not change to suit others, that he should not be afraid to follow his dreams because they do not appeal to me or his father and that through him people may encounter Christ. That does not mean I do not love him. I love him to bits. But I also know that God loves him more. I accept that I can only do so much for him, but God will do everything for him. That the guardian Angel assigned to him will look out for him always. I only understand that before He was mine, he belonged to God, and he forever will. I will be the vessel God uses to perfect Him for His work.

I have learnt to respect my mother more. I love my mother, and I know the pains she has been through to see me to the woman I have become. Being a mom has raised that respect a hundred fold. First I know I gave difficult labor, which was way beyond 24 hours. I have given her many scares throughout my life, when she wonders if I am okay, when I tell her I am unwell, when I turned up sick at home from school earlier than usual and many more. Looking after a child whose only mode of expression is a cry when they are a few days old makes you understand that mothers are superhuman. They can read and tell when you have a problem. They have an eighth sense. I used to wonder how she could call me always when I had issues I was dealing with in college. I just know that she could tell. And I know I am also learning to tell. I am learning not to be scared by small things because, whatever happens even to me, I am a mother first. I used to wonder how, when my grandmother passed on, she still had the strength to hold my sister and I one on each shoulder. She was grieving her mother, but she never forgot that her children were grieving their grandmother too. She is a model I look up to. And every time it gets tough with my baby I always tell myself, my mother did it and so can I. If I ever become half the woman to my son she is to me, I will not have lived in vain.

The biggest lesson is probably the fact that I have to thank God for everything even those that look obvious, like feeding, sleeping walking, and breathing e.tc. In this life there is nothing obvious. You wake up and you are healthy, you thank God. You go to sleep, and you actually sleep, thank God. Your child can suckle, thank God. Your baby is adding weight even if it is one gram, thank God. It is not a guarantee that you will go to hospital and make it through labor and leave the hospital with a healthy child. If you did, thank God. I read somewhere when one goes to labor you come close to death. For those who believe they are in control of their lives, they should probably try going in to labor; you will realize there is someone beyond you who orders your life every day. Well, of course you must have the capacity to get pregnant. Your child sleeps, even for half an hour and wakes up to feed, thank God, some totally have the idea that sleep is a bad state to be in, so will keep you awake hours on end. Baby can look at you, can hear you, can squeal at the sight of you, and can smile at you, crawl, walk and every other milestone every mother looks forward to, thank God. It doesn’t matter if they will speak at three years or crawl at 4 months; the fact is they crawled, they talked, they stood and walked; thank God. Be patient with your child. He is alive, he is well, he is blessed and he is where he is meant to be, doing what he is meant to do and being what he is meant to be at whatever age, thank God.

I know that I am in a school called motherhood, where every day is a new lesson. I keep travelling this journey, with hope that I will one day sit and listen to my son tell me, mummy, you did a good job raising me, that I will sit back and say even if I am given a chance again, I would still do the same things I did to bring my baby, or babies up. I believe God will travel with me. I will never be alone. He will always guard and guide. And even if I never hear them say that, I will do my best, because it is all I can do. My best. So help me God…
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