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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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