Before I indulge you in my thoughts on silence, let me admit that I am still reeling from the excitement of my 30 day challenge which started here, and culminated here. It was not so much to create hype, like it was to reach out to moms, to meet them in their fleeting thoughts of inadequacy, and throw in a little dry humour. This was a gentle reminder that anything I put my mind to, is in fact achievable, possible, do-able. I will revel in the lessons therein for many days to come.
My son is a ball of kinetic energy (no asking where that came from), and has an amazing appetite to match his gusto for life. I never had any idea how this would impact my parenting, but I am learning, and re-learning. Oh how my frayed mind sometimes wishes there was a manual, a PDF guide, a downloadable torrent… the slightest inkling to this thing called motherhood and bringing up boys. Since my son was born, I have taken time to appreciate the value of self care and spending time alone, in silence.
This sounds selfish, certainly, but looking back, sometimes it gets a little overbearing when you have a tiny mammal coiling up around your dusty legs when all you want to do is hang those legs and sip some wine. You learn to appreciate your own time, especially when you are a SAHM/WAHM (Stay/Work At Home Mom) and have your pals asking you what in the world you do all day, and why you cannot afford to steal some time for yourself.
I am learning to look for those silent and small moments scattered through out the day when my lil’ man decides to pop champagne open and click Begin on his Tantrums series. After my morning devotion, these moments are my next favorite in the quest for the Double S – Silence and Sanity. When I cannot catch these moments, I find myself experiencing a severe bout of verbal diarrhea, I cannot concentrate on simple tasks, and I almost always retreat to my cocoon and shut the world out.
These moments of silence are as varied as they are ephemeral. They can be anywhere, anytime. They do not necessarily mean that the world is in a state of quiescence; rather, my inner world is still, tranquil. These moments have grown to be very precious, and I put in effort to get them. In a world that is increasingly operating at a frenzied pace, these transient moments are a breath of fresh air. These moments help me put things in perspective, analyze what I am really feeling in that moment versus the truth that I know. The truth is that even in my imperfection as a mom struggling to quieten my soul, grace will meet me there.
This is Day 30 of the 30 writing challenge, which can only mean one thing. It is overrrrr! Wooop. I am so excited to have done this challenge, not so much for the numbers, but for me, for moms who follow this blog! Let’s just say, if you want to imagine what I am like today, this video shows it best 😀 In this post, I am going to give my insights into what the challenge was like, somewhat a recap, show highlights over the 30 days as well as appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read.
This is where the blog started. I had always yearned to start a blog and chronicle my Postpartum Depression Journey, and healing as it progresses. For whatever reason, I kept postponing setting up the blog. I was my worst critic, and chief procrastinator. I always had a reason, till I realized there are never perfect conditions for anything (well, save for a ripe avocado and a hot meal 😀 ). I had to start, however I could. And so, first post went up to welcome my readers, and give them a feel of what it is like to be on ‘the island’, and a little about me.
After a couple of posts, I figured I wanted to do something that would get me out of my comfort zone, something that would push me further and allow me to reach out to more moms. That is how the 30 day writing challenge was birthed. I was a bit skeptical at the onset. Here’s the thing, you really don’t know that readers hold you accountable till you skip a day in the challenge and someone asks you what happened! So yes, I was concerned about whether I’d be able to hack the challenge. As a counter-measure, I decided to donate Ksh 1000 to MyMindMyFunk for every skipped day of the challenge.
Now, here is the thing, I did not want to pledge 100 bob because that would be easy; 1000 would make me rethink before I say I am too tired/hungry/sleepy/experiencing writer’s block to blog. Suffice to say, I skipped only 1/30 days. If you look keenly, you will notice that Day 19 of the 30 day writing challenge is missing. So, I get to keep my word in support of Sitawa Wafula‘s mental health organization in the coming days.
Were there days I felt like this was too much? Yes. Were there days I asked myself what had I gotten myself into? Yes. Were there days I asked myself whether I was living the truth on my blog, looking for grace even when it is scanty? Many days those ones. But the end goal kept me going (plus this has been a rough month for me as a WAHM, so pesa onge, loosely translated to cash on the low). I have learned many lessons which I will share in one of the posts this month, so look out for that too *does the happy dance*.
Recapping the 30 day writing challenge
Looking at analytic information on my WordPress Dashboard, the most widely read post was actually Day 1 – Lost Identity where I shared my experience on losing my identity as a new mom, the core of who I was in my bubbly persona. Depression has a penchant for throwing you off balance, so much so that you can hardly recognize the woman in the mirror. The ominous feeling of a lost identity and a depressed soul. In healing now, I am relearning this identity; first as a child of God, as an individual, as a mom, as a daughter and as a friend.
Day 10 – Angst was, undoubtedly, one of the hardest posts to write ten days into the challenge. This heartfelt post could be a trigger for some, because in it, I share the darkest moments of my PPD journey – been suicidal, and hating motherhood so intensely. I remember Googling exactly this phrase: ‘Why do I hate my son so much?’ This was a very hard place. Looking back, the journey from this angst to now has allowed me to reach out to other moms, both with PPD and without. Beauty for ashes, now I see the beauty of it all.
Day 15 – When Loneliness Creeps in for new moms was, in the last 30 days, the third most read post. And for good reason. Sometimes I think moms-to-be have this illusion thinking that once baby comes, you get to pick up with your girls right where you left off before you hobbled to the labour ward. This loneliness was a complete shocker for me. Reading through the feedback after posting this affirmed the need for moms to connect more closely after delivery.
During the challenge, I also put together resourceful posts for anyone who would like more information on Postpartum Depression which you can read using the links below:
Then there were those posts that gave glimpses of my life as a mom, the challenges of single parenting (albeit with some subtlety) as well as the rigorous stage that is poop, pee and everything potty training!
If you would like to have a look at all the posts over the course of the writing challenge, feel free to make your way here. So there, the summary of the amazing journey that the 30 day writing challenge has been. I cannot publish this post without expressing my gratitude for each and every person who took their time to read, to make sense of my words and to immerse themselves in the world of a PPD survivor. Thankful for the support, the encouragement and the criticism. Here is to new beginnings, new opportunities and new connections. Eternally grateful for abounding grace in the now.
The 30 day writing challenge was on condition that for any skipped days, I get to donate Ksh 1000 to Sitawa’s organization, My Mind My Funk. I like to keep myself accountable, it is integrity even in the small stuff that makes all the difference. Here’s a screenshot to the same effect. So glad to be a part of Sitawa’s projects.
Today’s post is inspired, in part, by the simple discovery that the Bible actually makes mention of a nose ring (i looove nose rings 🙂 ), in three instances. In Genesis when Rebekah, on been discovered by Abraham’s senior servant, was adorned with a gold nose ring and bracelets. Yet again in Proverbs where Solomon aptly describes beauty that is superficial by saying, “like a gold ring on a swine’s snout, is a beautiful woman with no discretion”. The MSG says it as it is: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful face on an empty head” – ouch!
In the third instance, God professes His sovereign love over Jerusalem using metaphors. He cleans her, dresses her in warm clothing and adorns her precious jewelry: bracelets on the arms, a necklace, a nose ring, earrings and a crown. (These respective scriptures can be found in Genesis 24:22-23, Proverbs 11:22, Ezekiel 16:18-24 if you are interested). Evidently, womenfolk in biblical times have long been fascinated by jewelry; this has not changed much today. Women are enamored by jewelry.
I have not been one to shy from jewelry, and yes I love my (nose) piercings. Reading through this scriptures today morning and using my Women of the Bible Devotion, I couldn’t help but realize that there was more to adornment. There is nothing wrong with these piercings and outer beauty, but there’s more to beauty. There is something elegantly graceful about inner beauty; the kind that does not emanate from outward appearance or the latest trends.
This inner beauty transcends physical appearances and embraces gentleness, a quiet spirit, an endearing demeanor and a peaceful aura. This inner beauty takes time to develop. Unlike physical beauty where in an instant, one can have a piercing or makeup or a different skin tone, inner beauty is a Work In Progress (WiP). If only we, I, took time to analyze my inward persona as much as I do the outward.
I will admit, I have struggled with this in my Postpartum Depression (PPD) journey. The fogginess of this journey meant that even my outward appearance was quite messy. Kinky hair (not the nice natural hairdos on the streets complete with bows! unkempt, something that could house a bird for a week), dry face, sagging postpartum belly… This happened so effortlessly when I was depressed; I stopped living and resorted to existing, getting through the motions, somewhat irked with every start of a new day, because it meant more tears, more rage, more helplessness.
In recovery, I am learning to embrace my inner persona as well as take care of the outward appearance. Loving my bald look and piercings. More importantly, I am learning to be less grumpy and calmer, more cheerful, more grateful. This inner beauty does not fade, but it is a WiP.
This is Day 28 of the 30 day writing challenge. The curtains are almost drawing on this life-changing (at least for me) challenge, I have learnt so much, about Postpartum Depression, about myself, about motherhood, about my son and about the relationships that matter. See, I just cannot post stuff on here and not abide by it. I cannot write something that I cannot vouch for. In that regard, this challenge has made me endeavor to be true to myself, as a child of God, as an individual, as a mom and as a friend.
Today’s post is reflective. Going home yesterday evening, I happened to sit next to a man and someone who I presumed to be his son. A man whose smell was unmistakably that of dingy seedy bars. You know the kind with dim lighting, slow mugiithi and likely, the highest concentration of Savco jeans per square kilometer? Yes that one. His verbal diarrhea was peppered with political small talk, the weather, and his bedroom conquests. I cannot forget the off-key singing that reminded me of a loquacious someone somewhere.
I’d not have a problem with him, okay, I did. Because on most evenings, I want to retreat to my little space, whether in the matatu (public transport in Kenya), or driving back home or walking under the moonlight. There is something reflective about some quiet, internal quiescence, after a long day that is as captivating as it is liberating. So suddenly, that was not an option with the unwelcome decibel-packed singing of the passenger in the backseat.
But that was not what disturbed me. I was befuddled by the fact that the man was accompanied by the young lad. The young boy, huddled in the back seat, was an unwitting spectator to the drama that unfolded right before our eyes. The man I presumed to be the young boy’s dad reeked of alcohol, and not the classic Cognac, or Hennessy. It was something far worse.
I could not imagine how the young boy perceived all these. I let my thoughts wander to distract myself from the guy’s speech on bedroom matters and which women he thought had it all. I wondered to myself, if this is what we saw panning out in the matatu, how much more when he got home? What was the young boy exposed to? What would his upbringing lead him to become? Was this guy violent? Did he hurl insults at the women in his home? Did he ever make time for the young boy? Would the kid grow up knowing that insults and a drunken stupor were the norm?
The boy didn’t say much, but you could tell everyone in the matatu was flustered by ol’ man’s antics. The conductor said little too. After a long day, perhaps such a verbose confrontation was the last thing he wanted. I couldn’t blame him either, yet this encounter set my thoughts on a different trajectory altogether. Perhaps it is because I saw little of my son in the young boy sitting on ol’ man’s laps. Or maybe the thought that the skeletons in my closet would almost expose a similar situation had my son been brought up in a two-parent home.
Whichever the case, this had me thinking about how we influence our children. Kids, I am learning, do not do what you say, they do what you do. A precise case of monkey see, monkey do. I took an introspective look. Do I ask my son to be gentle when things do not go his way, then be the one to shout when situations get awry? Do I tell him he ought to be organized for school, yet wake up in a huff, looking for stockings and earrings and wondering where one of my heels is?
Do I ask him to extend kindness even when he is wronged, then go ahead and hurl some unsavory words complete with gesticulation at the driver who cuts in mummy in traffic? When it comes to eating, do I advocate for healthy eating, only to steal away and munch on them fries? What about asking him to read the Word yet He never sees mommy open her Bible save for Sunday School? Do I ask him to pray, yet he never hears or sees mom doing that? I could go on and on…
The point is, am I a living example of what I tell my son to be or to do? I’d rumble on and on about what he needs to do or who he needs to be, but for as long as I do not live it, I might as well be playing a saxophone for a Merino goat. I am tasked with been an example for my child. It is my responsibility to model for him the traits I’d want him to exhibit, the character I’d like to see him as he grows to be a fine young man.
One of the challenges that single moms face, especially in Bringing Up Boys as James Dobson puts succinctly, is allowing for a present father-figure. This is often a male adult, a relative or friend who will walk with the boy in his journey to manhood. Grateful for this realization, and even more for the position I have as a mom to influence my son’s life.
Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
How do you influence your children’s lives? What are some of the challenges you have faced in been a role model? Are you a single parent? How are you handling the challenges that come with this? Let’s connect below. I look forward to hearing from you.
This is Day 27 of the 30 day writing challenge. 3 days to go. *does the happy dance* Last week has been a little hard for me, especially with disciplining my son. I can’t tell the number of times I think about sending him to Pluto with a one-way ticket… then I am reminded that grace is available. What better way to come to this realization than to take stock one month later? This is the second post in this series, you can check out the first one I did here.
Making: the best of my morning hours. Still inculcating in myself the habit of rising at 4AM, some days I struggle and snooze through, some I wake up so excited about a new day. As a mom, I have found this to be one of the best ways to steal time for myself to do my devotions, read, and blog, without asking why someone is wearing a potty on their head.
Cooking: Its 5:30AM, thinking about my favorite cuppa tea 😀
Drinking: Lots of tea, and water, and missing wine!
Today is Day 26 of my 30 day writing challenge. Four days to go, and it has been an amazing experience. Something about a prolonged challenge that pushes us to the limits (especially considering I would blog sometimes after a fortnight). That said, I look forward to wrapping up this challenge 🙂
Today’s post was inspired by a conversation I had with my friend sometime towards the end of the week. Catching up over chitchat, I mentioned to her that I was not too sure how to tell her that her child was influencing my son, and in the wrong ways (story for another day). As gently as I could, I told her I wished she would look into that; so glad she was pretty receptive. Turns out she is a single mom too, but who works far from her home. This meant she left the house early before her son woke up, and came back late in the night when he was so tired, and often, asleep. She admitted it was a tough balance, understandably.
While I couldn’t relate to this per se (I am a WAHM – Work At home Mom), I realized that every mom, faces different challenges, even when unified by the fact that they are a single parent. Our conversation carried on for well over an hour. She mentioned the fact that she was depressed during her first trimester. Once, she locked herself up in the house for a fortnight – young, alone, pregnant, jobless- with no contact with anyone. Rolling on the floor, clutching her tummy, wondering what future existed for her and her inborn boy. This felt so familiar, eerily so.
Long story short, she did find her footing, got a job at 6 months pregnant (Would you believe that!) and has been able to raise her son thus far; he is seven years now. I remarked I’d never have figured she was depressed, ever. It reminded me of this post where I shared my thoughts on living a masked life. Depression, and especially Postpartum Depression, does not have a structure, form or shape it comes in. Little wonder you hear people commenting (usually after suicide cases), she didn’t look depressed/ he didn’t appear like anything was bothering him / I can’t imagine someone would kill their own child and kill themselves…
The conversation was also a gentle reminder to be kind to others. I try to remember that everyone is going through their life’s issues, many are fighting battles we would otherwise never know about. Showing grace and kindness, even in the midst of our own difficult experiences, could be the very last hope that someone needs, someone clutching on to the end of their rope’s strands. It goes a long long way.
Talking and connecting with her also amplified the need to share our stories. To raise our voices and create awareness of mental health issues, of which PPD is one of them. Speaking boldly about our challenges and struggles to stop the stigma that society we have against those who suffer depression. Through this blog, I hope a mom is encouraged, even if it’s just one mom. I came online looking for help, and mom blogs where moms shared their PPD journey and struggles gave me hope. I knew I was not alone in this. There is hope, I’d wish to extend the same grace to a mom in need.
This is Day 25 of the 30 day writing challenge, albeit late. Here’s what happened *accountability*. I often write the posts early morning, 5AM, and schedule them to publish at 11. Yesterday night, my son had an erratic night, thanks to a cold and all-night sniffles. I couldn’t get the post scheduled, and so resorted to writing it late in the night. As if on cue, my internet decided, you know what, I ain working. for half an hour I kept refreshing tabs and figured I’m better off asleep. Here is yesterday’s piece.
The moon stands majestic, tiny cloud hovering around,
I can’t contain myself, I hear my heart pound,
Gentle whistling of the wind, and the rustling of the dried leaves,
An eerie quiet fills the atmosphere, and a cat purrs in the distant,
this scenario was all too familiar, causing me to be flippant.
Then a sharp cry rent the air, breaking the still of dusk,
I knew what was going to come after that, and resorted to the sulk.
Rolling, screaming, caking himself with fine dust.
He looked up, puffy eyes, gasping for breath. Amid his sobs, white hands he cast.
This is Day 24 of the 30 -day writing challenge. I will admit there are days I feel weary, worn-out, and stare at the blinking cursor, as if waiting for magic to happen. My heart is a little weary this week, been on the receiving end of not-so-good news from my close friends. It is easy to feel swamped by all that’s happening now, alongside all the evils in the world. I shared this with a friend a while back, and my memory was jogged to a little challenge I came across, but for some reason, had slipped my mind.
The Gratitude Challenge. Just as the name suggests, this is a challenge that involves taking note of things one is grateful for. Took it on a month back and, as with any other challenge, this is a journey not a destination. It revolves around writing down (at least) 5 things I am grateful for, everyday. A little task that seems a little of an inconvenience at the onset, but one which has tremendous power. It not only puts things in perspective, it is also a gentle reminder that we do not own all of life’s troubles.And so, when my heart is weary, let me learn to give thanks, in ALL things.
I like how Paul puts it in I Thessalonians 5: 18 (AMP) version:
18 in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
In every situation, no matter what it is, Paul urges us to be grateful, continually. Even he (Paul) was well aware this was a journey. Today, I am grateful.
What are you grateful for? What’s the experience of keeping a Gratitude Journal been like? Has this changed your life in any way? I look forward to hearing from you!
This is Day 22 of the 30 day writing challenge. This challenge has forced me to look inwards and reflect on the journey that has been. Looking through the archives, I came across a post on Postpartum Progress, one of my top five favorite blogs mentioned in this post. The content on this site was both relatable and resourceful, something which kept me going at a time when motherhood was both frustrating and overwhelming.
In the post, the author likens recovery of Postpartum Depression (PPD) to a journey of healing after the loss of a loved one. The thing about PPD is that you can’t just take medication and expect it to die down after a fortnight. The process starts from recognizing the condition to seeking help and finally recovery, all of which can take up to a couple of years.
For those with friends and loved ones who have suffered from PPD, it may help to look at this mental health condition through the ‘5 distinct stages of grieving’, namely Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Originally developed for people with terminal diseases, the system was later made to include the stages for any significant loss, and PPD is one such loss.
The Six Stages of my PPD Journey
Denial – Motherhood has taken a toll on me, I can’t believe this is what it is like. I need sleep for my sanity, I just can’t seem to get any rest. I will be okay. It will improve as baby gets older.
Anger – No one seems to relate to what I am going through. What did I get myself into? Life is not fair. I struggle as a single parent, he is probably enjoying a Manchester United Game at a pub, totally oblivious to how much goes into raising a boy single-handedly. What the hell is wrong with me? This is meant to be a joyous occurrence; it just isn’t, and I can’t seem to help myself or my baby. 🙁
Bargaining – Maybe if I get more sleep it will ease. Or perhaps I need to exercise and get rid of this sagging post-pregnancy belly. I can’t wait for the day baby sleeps through the night, I will be much better. Or perhaps if I shared this with another mom it will ease the burden. I just need to improve on my motherhood style.
Depression – This is not working out. I am not good enough a mom, seems like I am a let-down to everyone. My son does not deserve a mom like me; he deserves so much better, someone who will love him for the innocent child he is. It’s very bleak, I have no hopes it will get better. Maybe suicide is the solution, this is unbearable.
Acceptance – I don’t have the courage to live a lie anymore. I must accept help. It is okay to admit I am not okay. It is okay to be an imperfect mom. It is okay to look for support groups for moms who have conquered PPD. I will trudge on for my sake and my baby’s.
While these are the 5 notable stages of Grief, and can be related to PPD, there is a unique stage that comes after treatment and recovery. Think of it as the place where doubtful thoughts plague your mind, always on the lookout for triggers that make it easy to slip back into depression. This stage is characterized by good days and bad days; with the latter, it’s typical to feel like strength is wavering. You are unsure whether you will ever recover fully, yet on the good days, you experience the thrill and joy of motherhood.
Once this stage is over, there’s total healing. You know deep down that you are doing an amazing job as a mom, only that it was made foggy by the haze of PPD.
NB: The journey with PPD, as with any other mental condition, is as personal as it gets. As such, it ought not be hurried, or compared to another’s. Moms with PPD, hang in there. I cannot promise it will get better in a day, or a week. But you cannot afford to give up on you. You are not alone in this, I have survived PPD, you too can.
This is Day 22 of my 30-day writing challenge. Loving the shape that this challenge has taken on so far. It is allowing me to learn so much more, giving me fresh insight into who I am as an individual as well as offering a platform to connect with my readers and moms across the globe.
Today’s post is inspired by an incident that happened this morning, but first things first. My son is fully potty trained at 3.5 years (thank God, diapers are oh-so costly!). It’s taken a year plus to get here. I opted to start off with day potty training since I figured two-part potty training would be kinder on us as opposed to introducing both routines simultaneously. That, plus I was was still in the doldrums of depression. So even day potty training was difficult.
At the onset, the slip ups were so frequent, especially considering Jayden had converted his potty into a Ferrari. So, I’d try as much as possible to sync his feeding time, nap time and potty time so that he’d learn to use it. Many days, I’d show him the potty, he’d say he didn’t feel like peeing, only to walk a few steps and create a puddle, or a jet to the wall depending on which came first. I’d lose it. It was worse when these accidents happened with poop as described in this post. Postpartum Depression (PPD) made potty training hard because I’d take it out on him if he didn’t remember to use his potty.
Occasionally, when fatigued, I’d simply put him on diapers and give myself an ‘off’. Once he got the hang of it, he stopped wearing diapers during the day. He even graduated himself to using the toilet *proud mommy moment*. All that remained was night potty training, which I wasn’t too enthusiastic to start because I knew it meant interrupted sleeping patterns. Then I weighed that, versus the cost of diapers, and resorted to night potty training ASAP.
At the start, I figured I’d have to wake him up twice at night. Jayden would usually sleep at 10PM, or 9PM on good/tiring days. I’d program myself to sleep at midnight so that I’d wake him up to do his first wee. Then again at 4AM for the same. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes I heard the alarm buzz for Jayden’s wee, and half asleep, I’d just switch it off, only to wake up to his wet bedsheets. This would irk me, because it meant cleaning up before he left for school. At the time, I had also banned any drinks after 5PM (save for water when he brushed his teeth).
As he gradually got the hang of it, I cut down the number of times I woke him up by half, and so I set the alarm for 2AM everyday, without fail. It became automatic, so much so that if I forgot and woke up 20 minutes later, he’d be soaking wet. And that’d mean changing him into a dry set of clothes and cleaning up, at 3 freaking AM. So I rarely forgot the 2AM call.
A little while later, I realized that he’d gotten used to it, and I could skip the 2AM call altogether. The ban on drinks was pushed to 7PM. He’d do dry nights for 3 weeks straight, and have an occasional accident. I learnt not to be brash with him for this, he was putting in effort, evidently.
So today, waking up to his wet bed sheets and a cranky toddler (he detests waking up soaked in his pee!), first thing he does is cry, and ask why he peed on himself, and why yesternight I didn’t remind him to brush his teeth. Wheew, This is not my idea of starting my mornings, but I am taking it in stride, and praying for grace.
See, his night routine looks something like this: Have dinner> Shower> Play a little >Brush teeth > Night time pee > Bedtime reading > Prayer > Cuddles > Snoring. Started this sometime this year, and it stuck. And yesterday mom was too tired, she didn’t remember Jayden hadn’t brushed his teeth. He dozed off in mom’s arms, and so wise moms know when baby is asleep, you don’t wake them up unless it is an emergency.
When Jayden woke up all cranky this morning, it suddenly dawned on me how powerful routines are in parenting. Little wonder he felt something was off. I apologized and let him know; today I would remind him to brush his teeth!
How did potty training work for you? Did you do day and night potty training simultaneously or opted to deal with each stage desperately? How about routines? Are there any routines that have worked for you in your parenting? Let’s share in the comment box below. I look forward to hearing from you!