The past few days I have been on a go-slow of sorts (work-related) simply because the past two weeks have been crazy busy, to the point it got unnerving, disturbingly distracting enough to cause me to miss out on sunrises, the fog-covered Ngong hills on a chilly Monday morning even the distant heehaw of the donkeys rummaging through mounds of garbage uncollected by the county council. This period was best captured by my good friend who pens at Letters from a scribe in her latest post (She has amazing insights, y’all check her out).
Even then, a mini-break of sorts interspersed with toddler antics is not quite a break, you know… which is why it feels like spa treatment when the little one heads over to stay with grandma (cucu) during the day. So my mini-break is presently characterized by endless cups of tea, blog-reading, tinkering with my blog’s settings, and my current reads: The Goldfinch by Donna Tart and Dreams from my Father, by the only Kenyan President of America ever, Barack Obama.
This past weekend, my friend invited me and my son Jayden (not sure I have mentioned his name in previous posts) for her son’s first birthday. I was only too glad to accept the invitation for reasons that I will divulge towards the end of this post. Initially, I was torn between accepting her gracious invitation and heading home to kick back, relax and, you guessed it, take tea (cinnamon tea, thank you very much). Then I thought to myself, “Her son will be one year, once, forever. I might as well show up and make the most of it.” With that decision, I figured an African print high waist skirt and simple chic black top will do.
We got off from church and my sister dropped us off close to my friend’s stage. The air was hot, and eerily dry. White clouds floated over the dusty landscapes. Occasionally, a breeze blew over the trees, creating a gentle rustling of the dry leaves. Jayden was hungry, sweaty, and a tad bit cranky. We walked on across the labyrinth of crisscrossing paths using the directions we had been given. Moments like this always got me thinking how cool it would be to slump into the beige leather seats of my Mercedes M-Class…
The narrow roads ensured I brushed shoulders with many more people, even as we trudged on. We went about, lost in our own worlds without as much as a word between my son and I (Hot weather, hungry tummies, and a cranky toddler is a combination that does not offer fodder for verbal engagement). We skipped over a burst sewage line, the putrid smell overwhelming our olfactory cells, and walked on a couple more meters before my friend sent someone to pick us.
The relief of getting into the house, away from the sun’s midday heat was very much welcome. After gulping down copious amounts of water, my son went on to make friends as I helped around the house. Walking around, it was hard to ignore the resplendent aura of this magnificent home. It glowed with a dull haze that reeked of opulence, peppered with the mellowness of modernity before breaking out into a warm, colorful and cozy interior. I couldn’t help but marvel at the architectural masterpiece that this was. There is something about warm cozy houses that always gets me to picture my family.
The kids played, and ran, and wrestled, some dancing to the tunes of popular Naija songs (which I somewhat cringed at). Food was served, tantalizing food whose aroma wafted through the air, completing the perfect family scenario. Eventually, it was time for the birthday boy to blow his candles. The handsome one year old was only too fascinated with the flickering candle light on his cake, totally oblivious to the off-tune ‘happy birthday’ songs that rent the air. It was joyous. Family together, the blessing of one year with its spit-up filled bibs, oops-diaper moments, fevered sleepless nights and infectious toothless grins. I couldn’t help but marvel at this, happy I showed up. Here’s why.
My Post-Partum Depression (PPD) Journey, over my son’s first two years, means I cannot remember much of his milestones in vivid detail. Yes, I snapped them away, Yes I posted them on Facebook, Yes I ‘liked’ comments, and responded, seemingly happily so. But it was hollow, eerie even. I was present, but absent, emotionally excluded from the joys of a first and second birthday. For the better part of those years, I was joyless as a swarm of hornets, lacking inspiration, vigor, and worst of all, lacking hope.
Jayden at 9 months. Toothy grins.
I lost track of days, it was a constant cycle of sleeplessness, and fatigue, complimented by the shrill cries of a colicky baby in the first few weeks. There was always the lingering theatrical gloom that accompanied my erratic thoughts, especially as pertained to financial obligations. Jobless, single mom reeling from despair I could not put a word on (now I know it was PPD). It became a rather bleak form of existence, or the lack of it (something which spurred a cascade of events that led me short of stabbing my then 3-week old son, and suicide).
For this reason, I do not have many good memories of my son’s first two years. It feels like looking at the sun through over chlorinated pool water in the heat of summer. It is hazy. A hiccup of lost time, a couple of frames unexpectedly snipped off the film of motherhood, the dyspeptic dreariness of disconnection. Yet, standing there, amid the cheers of excited toddlers and towering pre-teens, I couldn’t help but marvel in the beauty of the moment.
The hollowness of PPD means I am learning to hold on to moments like these; fleeting moments that seem irrelevant in the unfolding tapestry of daily life, but which we reminisce about during PPD healing, and ultimately when the kids are older. I am re-learning how to enjoy motherhood. How to snap away the precious moments, while not blaming myself for failing to capture the moments that words cannot express; sometimes, these are the most beautiful.
I am learning to enjoy the morning hugs even when the clock is ticking, and we are running late for school. To enjoy a hearty laughter when my son finds humor in a gibberish statement that only he can comprehend. To appreciate the fact that my now-austere lifestyle is a worthy sacrifice. To be grateful for the opportunity to discipline, and model virtuous behaviors for my little man to emulate. To step back every so often and thank God for grace that held me unknowingly when my inner fortitude could not fight against the ravages of depression. To honor a platform such as this, with the hopes that more mums will be reached, more mums will know they are never alone, and ultimately, more mums will conquer PPD.
Rocking baldies with my favorite human 🙂
Featured Image Photo credits: Mutua Matheka