Unsung Heroes of Our Homes

12th July 2013
At the end of my first week back at work after maternity leave
Lukundo was 3 months and a day old

Thus ends one of the hardest weeks of my life. I am super grateful for my house-help. She who takes care of my most precious gift all day while his mother is away gaining ‘financial stability’.

She gives him his milk. Changes his diaper. Holds him till he sleeps. Rocks him. Plays with him. She had her phone at hand as I called multiple times and every time not hesitating to pick up and tell me what she and baby are up to, how long ago he slept, how he has burped and everything in between. Letting me hear him play over the phone. It was this that kept me sane. And when I was too tired and sleepy on Wednesday night, she helped me by pouring Lukundo’s bath water out. A small gesture, but one that showed tremendous kindness.

When I was home with Lukundo during my leave, all I did was be with him and take care of him; yet somehow she has managed to be with him and still do the other chores. Making porridge for me to take to work. Ironing. Cleaning. These people we call helps, nannies, aunties…they are unsung heroes. We entrust them with our homes and our most precious jewels – our children- leaving them only with instructions and lots of trust and the fervent hope that all goes well. And somehow they do it, with grace and patience.

As I look back at the past few months, and this week in particular, I celebrate my help, Dorothy. Yes she has her dramas, she sings out loud with her headphones on, she likes to watch Big Brother Africa, but who doesn’t have weaknesses? I thank her. I thank her a lot.
I pray that one day when she has her own home and her own child(ren), she will have someone to help her as she has helped- and is helping- me. Together with many women, I’m sure, I celebrate the nannies. The aunties. The helps. The Unsung Heroes Of Our Homes.

 

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Doctors’ Strike

27th September 2012
There was a doctors’ strike going on in Kenya, and a stand-off between their Union and the government
The Minister of Medical Services at the time was Prof. Anyan’g Nyong’o
If only his track record was as glowing and positive as his daughter’s now is

When you have a Minister of Medical Services who is arrogant and careless enough to threaten to fire all the doctors in a country that already has a deficit of doctors,
When the president and prime minister of that same country don’t say a word about that kind of madness,
When doctors have to plead to get medical services improved,
And media houses still give the wrong story.
While Parliament goes on talking about gender balance, while your average Kenyan who can’t afford going to a private hospital watches the whole debacle in despair,
When you have such a country…
More specifically when you live in such a country,
You know you’re really in trouble.
It makes you want to get on the streets and start a revolution.
A real one. A proper one.
One that will get some real results.

This particular strike was resolved after much back and forth.
But it was neither the first nor the last.
Unfortunately to this date, June 2014, medical services are still very wanting in Kenya.
But who cares? Those who make policies and who should be checking to ensure the smooth running of medical facilities, the provision of medical supplies, machinery, tools and medication; those people never go to public hospitals. So I suppose it’s none of their business.
So your regular mwananchi, more than a year after the strike(s), is still stuck in the same place.
Hoping against hope that when they get to the hospital, they will be served, treated, and they will live.

Breaking Sugar Dishes

11th January 2014

Today, my darling, you turn 9. Well, 9 months old. You are still such a joy to watch. Your energy is infectious. We can’t get over your smile. Especially when you act like you are blushing. And your chuckle. Your sweet laughter when we tickle you.

We love how you can now stand holding on to the stool, the table, seats, people’s knees. How when you wake up nowadays you hoist yourself up to stand in your cot. And when you fall you just get up and try again. How you have no idea how dangerous it is for you to tilt yourself over the edge of your cot. How when we bring you to our bed you are so full of activity, stepping on us, climbing your dad’s tummy, pinching his nose, wanting my phone until you see his then you drop mine because his looks more attractive.

We love to hear you speak as you say ‘babababababa’, ‘tatatatatata’, ‘mamamamama’. We have no idea what you’re saying but you seem very serious about whatever it is. So we agree with you.

We still love to watch you sleep. You are so handsome and beautiful, so innocent and peaceful in your sleep. I love to watch you and your dad sleep. I marvel and thank God for two such wonderful blessings.

You’ve already broken a sugar dish with your games of pulling table mats off the table, and we are told it’s only the beginning. You tickle us with your antics especially when you squeeze your eyes to try and show just how upset you are, and there are no tears, and you open you eyes to see if we are reacting.

We still don’t get why you crawl in reverse, going backwards, ending up sometimes under the couch, but it’s very cute to watch.
It’s interesting how you are convinced that licking is the same as kissing, and how you see us kissing your cheeks and forehead and you want to appreciate the affection but you just lick us instead.

You’ve put porridge on the seats, and often dirty our clothes with your butternut, mashed potatoes, mangoes, bananas, avocado. But it’s your house and these things are yours so you have every right.

We love how you splatter water all over the floor when you are being bathed, and how you refuse to stay still when we are trying to change your diaper.

You have grown up so much, and yet you are still so young, so little, so precious.

We have to wrestle the remotes from your tiny hands, and somehow you have such a firm grip when you are determined that no one but Lukundo gets that remote. So now your dad has resorted to taking out the batteries, and you still haven’t figured out why the remote is then handed to you gladly, have you?

You are a joy to our siblings, cousins, friends, parents, aunties, uncles, neighbors – you will one day learn that they are your aunties, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. It’s so nice to see you recognize and remember faces, and to see you take time to familiarize yourself with people before feeling free to ‘kiss ‘ them or pinch their noses.

You, my dear, are a joy, a blessing, a gift, a treasure. We are so lucky to have you. And are so grateful for the past 9 months.
We look forward to -and pray for- hundreds of months ahead. May God bless you and keep you, Baby, as you turn 9 months old today. Thank you for all the laughs and love.

With all our love, your Mum, Shibs, and Dad, Poriot.

The First Time He Waved

Saturday 18th January 2014
Lukundo was 9 months old

As in this is a small milestone, but not actually, because every milestone counts. This morning I was leaving the sitting room and I said to LL ‘Bye Baby’. And he lifted his little hand and waved. I hadn’t waved at him. He has figured out that when people say Bye, they wave. I know it’s not exactly an Isaac Newton and the apple moment, but it’s pretty exciting. Well maybe for a first time mum. You can imagine how many times I said Bye to him after that just to see the little wave. My Saturday has been made. Not to mention that when you say ‘Sasa?’ in greeting, he repeats ‘Tata?’ The little joys of watching a little one grow.

 

And Then Someone Calls You

Written on March 20, 2014

And then someone calls you,
And they remind you of who you are,
They tell you that it will be okay,
They remind you that they are there,
That there is a yesterday, a today, and a tomorrow.
The person talks with passion and compassion,
With confidence and sincerity.
It gets to a point where you keep quiet.
You let them talk, because their words are like a balm.
They need no interjections.
Nothing more than Yes and Amen.
You hold on to the phone tightly.
You hold it even closer to your ear.
Your eyes fill with tears.
Tears of gratitude.
And when the conversation is over.
You say Thank You.
You say it with all your heart.
But you wish there was a word stronger than Thank You.
You wish there was a way of saying,
In this moment, in this particular moment,
at this specific point of my life,
your words, your faith, your confidence, your concern,
your phone call,
is more than words could express.
Dedicated to those whose phone calls have uplifted, healed, encouraged,
empowered all of us.
Not just today but yesterday and tomorrow as well.
I thank you.

First Fathers Day

Sunday 16th June 2013
Our Baby was 2 months old
To Poriot
Celebrating my favorite dad in town,
one of the newest ones in the game.
One who is fast learning to distinguish
what different cries mean.
The size of diapers, the brand of wipes,
The variations between Cussons and Johnson’s
Baby soap, Baby jelly, Baby oil.
One who is caring and gentle.
Loving and kind.
Generous and thoughtful.
Who has great dreams for his child.
Who stays calm even in moments of uncertainty.
One who, even in all the excitement of the new arrival,
still prioritizes the mother of his child,
and treats her as a delicate treasure.
One who works hard everyday,
saves, plans, invests,
and ensures that his family doesn’t lack anything that he can provide.
A young dad who is learning on the job and giving it his utmost best.
A young dad who doesn’t pretend to know it all,
Who admits when he is wrong,
when he is unsure,
when he is worried.
A young dad who is enthusiastic about the responsibilities and joys that come with being a family man.
A young dad who is also a young husband.
My husband.
Grateful for him,
and praying for his health, happiness, wisdom, and long life.
As he is now, not only a man,
But a Dad.
A Father.

 

First Mother’s Day

First Mother’s Day
Sunday 12th May 2013

And when it happens,
you love with all your heart,
you watch him sleep,
when he wakes you want him to know you’re there,
when he cries you cannot focus on anything else,
you worry about whether he has burped,
has he peed,
has he pooped,
your arms get tired,
your back too,
yet you know you could hold him for hours on end if he needed you to,
you eat better because you know you’re his only source of food,
you look into his eyes, his little face,
and your eyes, your face, light up and tear up,
you cherish his grip on your finger,
his active kicks,
his side smile,
the way he stretches,
the coo-ing sounds he makes,
you pray for him more than yourself,
you want to protect him,
to provide for his every need,
you bless him,
embrace him,
slather him with affection,
your body,
your mind,
your heart,
your life,
changes
forever.
When you become a mother.
And as far as blessings go,
this one is
truly one of the biggest.

My baby was a month old.
It was my First Mother’s Day as a mother.