Mummy musings [1]

I often do a double take when I refer to myself as a mum. It’s mostly in my head, but it surprises me nonetheless. I can’t possibly be a mother. Mothers are super heros. They’re organized and strategic. They’re good at everything. They can sew. They know exactly what to do and when and how to do it. They know where to buy stuff for a bargain, can tell you exactly what will be for dinner on 12th March 2018 and can remove a stain from anything! So, with my clumsiness, poor memory, and complete cluelessness when it comes to most things, I am surprised that God would entrust me with this little girl. Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing, but I must do something so I guess until I get it right. A series of mistakes – that’s what my sister defines parenting as. I couldn’t agree more.

We’re now trying to sleep train. A mild, child friendly version, not the ‘cry – yourself – to – sleep’ kind. They say when baby wakes up for her night feeds, you shouldn’t look at her. No eye contact. She should learn that day time is for play and night time for sleep. I try, but when my daughter looks straight at me, middle of the night and all, and flashes me her killer smile, my heart melts right there and out goes my resolve. ‘Tomorrow, I won’t make eye contact’, I say to myself. But then a little voice reminds me to cherish every minute I get to look into her beautiful brown eyes, for those moments are here today and gone tomorrow – she’ll be too busy planting her face inside a smart phone to give me toothless grins at midnight.

I love being a mom. I don’t think I deserve the honor, but I embrace it with all my heart. For in these my mistakes, in my cluelessness, in my self doubt and second guessing, I get to experience a miracle every single day- the miracle of love. I love many people, in different ways, but there is nothing like how I feel about my baby girl. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Not even a full night’s sleep 😁

Hello Mummy

The journey to motherhood is anything but uneventful. From the physiological changes that happen in the body before you even understand why, to the shocking but exciting double lines on the home pregnancy test, to the nervous conversation with the doctor once you get to hospital to ‘confirm’ what the home kit said, to figuring out how, when and who to tell… The journey is exciting and frightening in equal measure.

I remember attending my nephew’s birthday party with my secret. My husband and I had found out the night before that we were going to be parents. I had a slight blush on my cheeks all day, which I passed off as just being really happy and excited about the party. I wore really bright colors that day- so bright that all my sisters asked questions. My husband and I kept exchanging knowing glances, afraid we’d let our secret slip out.

I remember the test results from the hospital. They read, in bold, ”Pregnancy Test – Positive”. My goodness. You know, all my life, being pregnant was a bad thing. It was a thing I was not supposed to be. I didn’t realize how much I’d struggle with that. Here I was, married, but ashamed to be expecting.  I kept telling myself it was OK – better than OK, it was great! But it takes more than a mental pep talk to undo 20- something  years worth of reinforcement that being pregnant is a bad thing! Every time we shared the news, I’d want to run and hide, convinced I was going to be judged. It wasn’t until a told a friend at work and she kept oooing and aaahing whenever she’d see me that I started to really feel proud of my bump – the bump I successfully hid for almost five months!

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I had heard that pregnancy hormones can cause chaos in a woman’s body. I only knew that in theory until the day I wept uncontrollably because I needed to use the bathroom. Yes. I could not believe that I had to go – again! I cried uncontrollably all the way home, and then some more when I got home. My brother says pregnancy is a pathological illness. Not far from the truth.

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For all the literature out there about this journey, there are things that you can never be prepared for. They tell pregnant women that they will gain weight. They say our faces might break out, and we may love things we hated and hate things we loved. They tell us our skin will stretch and we might get stretch marks.

But the never tell us how that will feel.

They don’t tell us just how permanent those marks are, and how it will take time to get used to having them. Big bellies get smaller with time. Skin break- outs heal. Fat thighs go back to shape with some urging.But the stretch marks… They are permanent. They are scars. Battle scars- a constant reminder of what happened inside me for 9 months.

They din’t all show up at once. It’s as if the skin broke silently when I was not looking, every time the little one gained some weight. Or wriggled. It’s as if the first mark paved the way for an endless network of lines on my belly, new marks appearing every evening when I took a sneak peak at the mirror to confirm my fears.

Stretch marks. My permanent reminder that my life has changed for good. That a whole human being began their life inside me.

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They took some getting used to, that’s for sure, and then just when I thought I’d gotten over it, new ones would appear. And then the cycle ran again . One more blemish, one more mark on my already flawed body.

As a person with a predominantly melancholy disposition, I struggled a lot in my pregnancy to believe I was loved. I was convinced I had no friends, and nobody really cared about me. But I love how God crushes lies decisively. I got not one but two baby showers. Amazing humans came together to make the journey for my husband and I that much more special. I remember after the second shower thinking to myself, “…would you look at that! The girl with ‘no friends’ just had a second baby shower”. To all you amazing people – thank you for being so kind and thoughtful. Thank you for allowing God to use you to be a blessing to my family, and to illustrate to me the difference between truth and a lie.

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You would think that after an eventful nine months, the last stretch would be at least bearable, a reward for enduring the awkwardness of trying to wash dishes or the numerous aches and pains in parts I didn’t know existed. But my goodness there is nothing quite like labor. It is the ultimate test. The ultimate hurdle before the prize. It is inexplicably, unbelievably difficult. It is like nothing else in the universe. No amount of reading, asking, praying or preparing can make you ready. It is an assault on all faculties, all senses, all dimensions of one’s being. But the miracle of it all is that as soon as there is a cry of life in the delivery room, it is as if you were dreaming- It ends, right there, right then, not to return again… Well, until the next time 🙂

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The process that ends in the labor room paves way for a new and exciting journey. Feeding, burping, bathing, diaper changes. Coos. Toothless grins- the cutest thing ever. Wiggles and cuddles. Infinite kisses. Sleepless nights. Tears. Nothing has been so challenging in my life before, yet nothing has been so worth the challenge.

In my journey towards parenthood, I have learnt this.

  • That it is a privilege and not a right to carry a life inside me.
  • That it is a miracle how two lives coexist in one body- a miracle that only reinforces my faith in the existence of God.
  • That  my husband is the single most amazing human being I know. He is strong and gentle, firm and kind. Present, unafraid, determined, the biggest cheer leader I have in my life. One of the greatest gifts God has given me.
  • That God is sovereign and He can and does His own bidding.
  • That there is nothing tear- jerking like looking into the little face of a person you are privileged to call your child.
  • That my daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world- hands down! 🙂

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The journey to motherhood starts slowly, and gradually we find the rhythm, and then, when our little ones arrive in the world, our lives are transformed forever, never to be the same again.

What a privilege. What an amazing privilege to be a mother!

For my beautiful baby girl, and my very dear husband- literally my whole family. I am privileged to jam through this life with you two 🙂

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Photo credits- SpeedSnaps Photography. All rights reserved.

Pain hurts. 

Pain is painful. It hurts. Especially when you sit still and just listen to it… Feel its depth… Its grip on you. When you follow every trench it has dug in your heart, examine every ugly mark it has made. When you let it sit like leavened dough and you feel it rise unrelentingly within you….Emotional pain so real you think you can feel it physically- a real heartache.

One of the most difficult choices I constantly have to make is the choice to move on. To move on from pain. Pain is a familiar place. Self doubt has been home for a long time. And so daily choosing to get away from that familiar yet torturous place is not easy. I must say to myself- sometimes only softly- that I am precious, I am loved, I am cherished, I am enough. I say it now and something inside me laughs hauntingly…  The kind of laughter that reminds me just how many hundred times I’ve said those words to myself, and how many more times I’ve been disappointed that it wasn’t true.

But still I say them. As I gasp for breath between my muffled sobs, I say You are precious. As I reflect on how I got here and feel myself get sucked into the depression again, I say You are loved. As I speculate what it really is about me that makes me too much and not enough at the same time, I let out a cry with all the strength I’ve got- YOU ARE ENOUGH.

I think about all the people who will actually relate to this post. All the men and women who understand deeply what this all feels like. I think about all the situations which put us in this dark space, which ‘outsiders’ can’t seem to understand. I know you’re there, and this post is for you.

For everyone who feels lost tonight

Everyone who is broken

Everyone who questions who they are

Everyone who chokes on their sobs because they don’t want anyone to hear, and then not care

Everyone who smiles when they cry because they think they can fool themselves into believing it’s not that bad

Everyone who wishes someone would look deeply into their eyes this very moment and say it

Hear it from me, and allow yourself believe it

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL

YOU ARE PRECIOUS

YOU ARE CHERISHED

YOU ARE ENOUGH

💜 Marie

I am changing.

As I grow older, I realize what it means to be set in one’s ways. To get so used to doing things one way that all other ways seem wrong. 

I went to the same church for 20 years. Everything I know about church and being a Christian, I learnt from there. When we started out, we didn’t have what is popularly called a ‘Praise and Worship’  session. We’d sing hymns, with a pianist accompanying the music. It was wonderful- I still love hymns. It took time before we got a drum set, and it took some members of  the congregation a long time to accept dancing, lifting of hands and playing of instruments as acceptable forms of worship. That shaped my view of church. To date, I struggle to understand the ‘dance break’ session that happens in many modern day churches. I struggle to accept that it’s OK to lead worship in jeans on a Sunday – skinny ones even. I struggle when I hear Nyashinski’s Mungu Pekee playing in church. I struggle when we don’t do a corporate prayer at the end of the worship set, or when we don’t begin the set with a ‘slow song’. I struggle to accept that just the way my church experience shaped my views, others’ views were shaped differently and neither is necessarily always right or always wrong. 

As I grow older, I realize that my beliefs will be challenged, my faith will be questioned, my worship will be ridiculed, my chosen paths will be misunderstood. 

I pray that God would remove the legalism in my worship created by my experiences while growing up- in and outside church- and allow me to learn Him a new, see Him through my ‘grown- up’  eyes and deeply understand that He is not only one thing. He is many things, to many people, and chooses to reveal Himself to us differently. The Bible teaches that He is the Lion and the Lamb- that should be proof enough that God can be experienced in very dynamic ways. 

To a new year, new experiences, the end of legalism and the beginning of life and freedom. 🍻

Lessons from a grape.

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So last night, I was very angry at God. VERY. Here’s why- I had accidentally swallowed a whole grape and it was stuck at the back of my throat. I could breath ok, but it was irritating and frightening. I tend to be an anxious person, so I imagined how it would come shooting out of my throat and into my windpipe, and I’d be dead within a few minutes. I tried several ‘home remedies’ but they didn’t work. Eventually, after a few cups of warm water, the grape moved into my esophagus. And stayed there. Or so I thought. I was awake until 4:30am, because every time I’d fall asleep, I’d wake up shortly after with a start, afraid that the grape had dislodged from my food pipe and would soon be choking me. If you are not a Mel and you don’t have anxiety issues, this probably all sounds completely stupid to you. Just bear with me :mrgreen:

Anyway, I was so angry at God. Wah! I was there thinking, honestly, why would God let an anxious person like me have an incident like that?! Like he could see the grape, He could order it to move… Why was He just sitting there, watching me suffer??? Side note – severally during the night, I thought of all the people who are truly suffering from terminal illnesses, who were asking God the exact same things. But I wouldn’t let my case be dismissed. It’s a simple thing which God could fix in a split second. Why wasn’t He choosing to?????!!!!!!

When I finally woke up, I decided to just ignore the whole thing. I was tired of being worried. Should I go to hospital? Will it kill me? Why isn’t it going down? I was tired of all the questions and the stress they were causing me. I decided to just ignore it as much as I could and wait until something happened – either it would move into my stomach or it really would choke me to death. (OK, yes. Chocking is my greatest fear).

Hours later, some wonderful people came to visit me. During the course of conversation, we began talking about how God works in mysterious ways. I happen to be nursing a broken foot- story for another day – and we talked about how that, and everything else in our lives is in God’s hands and there is no better place to be than in His will. A few minutes later, my grape worries and fears were calmed by a doctor, and I immediately felt at peace for the first time in hours.

What is the moral of the story?:mrgreen: The moral of the story is that being angry at God is OK. It happens. We are human, and God can handle us being angry at Him. He won’t pout. But being angry at God eventually feels really really dumb🙈. Coz He ALWAYS proves He was right. That He did have a plan. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. I’m still waiting to discover the reason for many things in my life, including my sleepless night with the grape 😁, but I have come back to my senses, because history has taught me that everything we go through has passed through the filter of God’s perfect, unfailing love, and He permits it for a reason. We just need to chill. He’s really got our backs. Really!

Peace.

Stoooooooooop!

Overwhelmed

So, I am tired. Very. I want to run away from my life. Just leave it going on in all its flurry and insanity and walk away whistling… ok, I can’t whistle…. but you get the drift.

Do you ever sit back and wonder, amused, at the on- goings in your life? Work to- do lists as long as a supermarket receipt the day you do monthly shopping at a store where they don’t use the multiply function… Wife duties.  Cooking, cleaning, organizing, shopping, planning…. Social activities left right and center. School. Church. Goodness, just how many things can one person do at a time?

One, if it’s me.

I often find my mind going over an irritating question. Is it worth it? All the mambo jambo at work. Every little thing I stress about at home. The worry, anxiety, stress, annoyance, fatigue, impatience that come from the daily routines. Or is it daily chaos. Is it worth it? If I was told that I had 6 months to live, would I carry on as I am? Would it be business as usual? Or would I quit my job, cut and dye my hair( a glorious red :-D), go to church twice a week, give all my money to KNEF, sing more often, in more places…? Or would I still do what I do, when I do it, how I do it.

This is a very nagging question… and I shall not be nagged alone :-p So think about it. Is everything you toil for, worth it?

What will they say about me when I die?

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A random thought just crossed my mind, as I sit here, exhausted at the thought of how much I need to finish before I call it a day. What will they say about me when I die? What will you say?

I am always struck at funerals, when families and friends give moving speeches about the departed. When I read tributes to the fallen loved ones. Kind, jovial, optimistic. Words that are repeated over and over by different people, attesting to the fact that the departed really was… a great person. A genuine friend. A warm lover. A diligent worker. A faithful giver…and as I sit there listening to the speeches and reading eulogies, I often wonder what kind of person I am. What are those things about me that everyone I interact with can see, and appreciate? Are there any? Surely it must be something more than a single act of kindness. It takes more than one phone call every few years for me to be thought a good friend. I would have to show mercy often and very sincerely for people to think me merciful.

I’ve listened to daughters speak of their mother’s godliness, graceful gait, generosity. Listened to mothers and brothers mourn the loss of a true hero, always available to listen and help. And in those moments, I am gripped with a kind of fear, an anxiety that people will struggle at my funeral. That the eulogy will be filled with photographs, and stories of education, work and death, but very little of who I really was. I panic at the thought that the service will be short, because there really isn’t much good to say about me. And I wonder what I can do, from that very moment, to leave an indelible mark in the lives of those I interact with. I promise to lift my face from my phone a lot more and talk to people. To sit with my mother and have a lengthy conversation more often. To help my colleagues in the office more faithfully. To show kindness to strangers. To give more in church. To love deeply and genuinely. To forgive quickly. But I fear it is as the popular song by Casting Crowns that narrates the tale many of us know too well- the inexplicable memory loss that happens between the alter and the door- in this case, between the eulogy and the ride home. Every time I purpose not to panic when I think about it again, but every time I think about it again, I panic.

So as I reflect, I really wonder, what will my husband say about me when I die? My parents? My brothers and sisters? My friends? My colleagues?

Come to think of it, what will yours say?