Day 21 – The Place of Vulnerability

Today is Day 21 of the 30 day writing challenge, a challenge which has allowed me to learn so much more than just putting up Postpartum Depression-related posts. 9 days to go. While at it, S/O to all those who take time to read this blog, I see you guys in Poland, India and Mauritius too 🙂

Yesterday I shared five of the many blogs that have been instrumental in my life here. Mulling over the impact of these posts, the words that have so often spoken to my heart as well as the experiences of my fellow bloggers brought one thing to light. A common similarity emerged of all the sites: the five and the host of others that I visit constantly.

It was amazing to realize that as diverse as the blogs are, they were unified by the need to remain authentic, true to the lessons they have learnt over the years. Painful lessons, but necessary ones. To share with the world all these lessons calls for some bit of vulnerability. Here’s why: it is opening up about your *dark for some of us* past, bearing most of what many would consider a private life, and ultimately revealing a struggle, a deep-seated issue and the journey through it all.

This is not an easy thing, since then it opens up one’s life to scrutiny. You have people reading and following your blog silently, watching from a distance. It is easy to feel the pressure to impress by omitting these otherwise lackluster portions of our lives. There’s no harm in providing the highlights of the show, just let me retain the original script, so it is easy to think. This way perhaps, I can remain masked without having to pull off the layers that have camouflaged my ashen face.

I have discovered something beautiful even in the midst of these thoughts. That it is this vulnerability that makes it easy for people to relate to different issues. It is the vulnerability in talking about been suicidal that allow other moms to know that they are not alone. It is the vulnerability of wondering how to balance spirituality, motherhood, work, friendships and still create time for myself, that allows other moms to know that it is okay not to look for perfection.

It is the place of feeling exposed in handling issues that leave us flummoxed, wondering where to start, that allows divine grace to step in. When we accept out struggles, share our journeys, and embrace the place of vulnerability, then we are best placed to be open to the possibility of healing and restoration, not just in our lives, but in the lives of those around us.

Featured Image Photo credits: Linked 2 Leadership

Day 20 – Inspired by these blogs

This is Day 20 of the 30 day writing challenge. Skipped Day 19 for, well, a few reasons. As I had mentioned in here, any skipped entries will see me donate cash by end of this month to My Mind My Funk, a mental health organization run by the amazing Sitawa Wafula. Typing in the quiet of the early morning is as tranquil as it gets; reminds me of this post I penned a while back. Getting that perfect balance is as elusive as it gets, but we trudge on.

Today, I’d like to share some of the blogs that I follow, and which have inspired my journey struggling with Postpartum Depression. The blogs are in no particular order, but have undoubtedly helped shape my outlook, inspiring me to trudge on the treacherous road that PPD is. Other blogs, while not specifically addressing depression or mental health, have offered glimpses into God’s grace, strokes that paint the canvas of life in comforting shades of reassurance and a divine plan. Better still, blogs that infused hope and humour, because you can only look back and smile, and laugh at the funny parts.

With no further ado:

1) Postpartum Progress – A resourceful website that offers support for moms with PPD, as well as any other mental health condition that is related to pregnancy and raising children. It is an excellent network that brings moms together from all corners of the world, allowing them to share their stories without stigma. If you think you may be suffering PPD, or simply want additional information, this is a site I would highly recommend.

2) Sunshine Spoils Milk – An amazing blog run by my girl Kimberley Zapata. Incidentally, first came across this blog when I was on Postpartum Progress, when Kim had posted a raw, heart wrenching story about her PPD journey, aptly titled Fahrenheit. Her resilience, her tenacity, her realistic approach, and ultimately her brute honesty; these are just some of the things that inspired me. Her work has appeared in major publications, so you might want to check her out.

3) Our Small Moments – Many times, feeling stuck in the pits of PPD made me think it really was the weight of the world crushing on me. And it is easy to feel like one is not good enough. Reading this blog by Courtney Fitzgerald helped put so many things in perspective. Courtney is an amazing mom, widow and photographer. She chronicles her journey after the loss of her husband to cancer. I am enamored by her fortitude, her strength and insight.

4) Mundane Faithfulness – This website was originally written and managed by the late Kara Tippets before her homecoming. Kara had breast cancer, and at MF, she penned her raw thoughts, always pointing us, her readers, bck to the one who mattered most, Jesus. She allowed us to peek into her vulnerability, always looking for fresh grace to love those around her, and to love big. The site is now managed by a beautiful soul, Blythe Hunt (who also suffered depression, you can read that here), who, in my opinion, does a superb job carrying on Kara’s legacy alongside the MF team. Rest well Kara, dance with the angels.

5) PNDandme – A website run by Rosey, and dedicated to raising awareness about PPD. What struck me about her rich site is the diversity of the topics she addresses. More importantly, she features guest posts by Matt, a dad who has experienced the challenges of raising kids with PPD. Yes, dads too suffer from PPD! Rosey is also the founder of #pndchat, an online gathering that addresses topical features on #pnd.

This is just but a short list of my favorite blogs. Countless people have poured into my heart over my journey, and I am oh so grateful. What are some of the blogs that have inspired you in your journey? Blogs that encouraged you to hold on even when it looks bleak? I want to hear from you. Let’s share, you never know who you could touch. Sending sunshine to you all.

Day 18 – 7 Gross things moms do.

This is Day 18 of the 30 day writing challenge (Kinda excited there’s only 12 days to go :))

The other day, I was musing at how messy parenthood actually is. Forget the adorable snaps of babies in their tutus and bows on social media. Behind the scenes, there’s actually a dozen of gross things that parents moms do. This post is lighthearted, because, hey, Postpartum Depression does not show for 1440 minutes every single day. Even when it’s cloudy, the sun does peep even for a couple of seconds. Below is a list of some of the disgusting things moms do (whether they admit it or not). PS: I do not confirm or deny that I did all or none of these things :D.

  1. One of the things that still fascinate me about moms when they get their (usually first) babies, is the ease with which they transition to analyzing virtually everything about baby. And this includes poop. Like, did baby fart? Yes he did. Wow. *lifts baby to smell butt* Confirmation that baby has pooped. So you unfasten the diaper and study its contents, Color. Consistency. Stink. Yes, roll your eyes all you want, I know yall new moms think I am watching you.
  2. Feeding time. Baby’s just started on solids, and what better way to get them on Nestle’s Cerelac? The thing with cerelac is that it is just as amazingly sweet for mom too. So, prepare a larger-than-life portion for your 6-month old baby. They won’t finish it, of course. And we know wasting food is a no-no. Indulge, guilt-free. Thank me later.

Read More: Letter to a new mom

3. Closely related to point #3 above, feeding time for baby is not always accompanied with a feeding bib. Secondly, baby food has this innate ability to crust on baby’s mouth. What do you do when the baby wipes feel a mile away? Simply, apply saliva on forefinger and get rid of the crusty flakes. 3-second job, moms are busy yoh.

4. Baby’s got snot peeping out of their nose like the hanging gardens. Scene 1: Rush to get handkerchief from bag and find baby’s snot wiped by hand, creating a sticky and delirious looking smiley on their cheeks. Scene 2: wipe the damn snot with hand to avoid scene 1, after all, you are the bigger person here *chuckles*. BONUS: After #4, wipe snot on tissue, or wipes, or your clothes, whichever comes first. This is not a matter of life and death. 😀

5. Yall know how sometimes mommy gets a bad tummy, that’s filled with gas, and ends up feeling like a hot air balloon ready for take off to the expansive wild landscapes of the Maasai Mara? So, when this happens, you got to release this gas, a colon symphony of sorts. That’s not the part that sucks. The part that sucks is when someone walks into the room and curls their nostrils before asking whether a raccoon died in there. You stand there, with this quizzical look, and shift eye contact to your child. And make remarks on how that change of diet is making baby so damn gassy. Motherhood has tactical moments; this is one of them.

Read More: Of Potty training routines and brushing teeth

6. Let’s not even talk about how suddenly, bathroom breaks are not a personal affair! When they start crawling, you best remember to lock your bedroom and bathroom.

images7. So, you got this pie you have been dying to munch on since Eve collaboed with Steve Jobs on the Apple (wait, what? Whatever…). It’s a reward of sorts for sailing thorugh motherhood with a sprinkling of sanity. You wait till baby is engaged in his toy sessions, and steal away to delight your taste buds with the tantalizing pie. Only for baby to peep and go like, “What’s that you eating mom?” Straight-faced, you go like, “this pie is actually bad. Let’s dispose it off” And you diligently do so, in the microwave. Folks, that’s called safekeeping, second type of tactical approach. Sometimes mommy’s gotta reward herself, ALONE.

I wrote this post smiling to myself because, much as depression does take away the sunshine from our lives, there are glimpses of humor. Anybody relate to these 7 gross things moms do? What are you guilty of (I see y’all)? What should I have added? Let’s chat in the comment section.

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Featured Image Photo Credits: The Stir Mom

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Day 17 – 3 Lessons Learnt During Healing after Postpartum Depression

Two years ago, if anyone told me there’s light at the end of the tunnel that Postpartum Depression (PPD) is, I’d probably stare at them, and laugh hysterically, caustic sarcasm and all. The truth is, there isn’t a single formula for coursing through the treacherous path that depression is. It is not a one-size fits all, and for this reason, healing varies from one parent to another. I am extremely grateful for this space now, this place of healing as the fog of PPD slowly lifts.

Healing, I am learning, is a journey, not a destination. You don’t just wake up and voila! You are a-okay. It is many days of holding on, trudging, many times with weariness and loneliness for companionship. It is days of lapses, when, just as you are thinking the haze is lifting slowly, you are knocked over by triggers that threaten to suffocate any nuances or implications of healing. During these lapses, I’d slump into implacable sadness, and the guilt would wash over my heart like the ocean waves over the beach at dusk. Then, the cascade of thoughts about ‘bad mommy’ ‘you are never going to hack this’ look, you are failing at been a good mom (Read this post on feeling like I am not good enough a mom)’… the cacophony of noise from this derailed mental train of thoughts would send me into a frenzy, and it’d then feel like making three steps forward, and thirty backwards.

Sometime this week, my uncle, after reading this post, asked whether my son still shouts. I replied that he doesn’t, and pleased, he replied that my son had become a good boy. I mulled over this for a while, and it dawned me, he was always a ‘good boy’; just that mom was depressed, and he only acted what he saw me do, which was shout like a crazed woman. Against this background, I started to think of the lessons I had learnt during healing after PPD, and I’d like to share them with you. In no particular order:

1) Monkey See, Monkey Do

This phrase best captures my conversation with my uncle. Kids do not learn from what we say; they learn from what we do. My son saw me flip when I was angry, he learnt that shouting is the way to go when stuff doesn’t go his way. Why? But mommy does it. More critically, kids in the toddler stage are in the formation stage, the moulding stage if you will. They absorb what they see and hear in their immediate environment like a sponge, which is why it is important to model the right stuff.

For parents with PPD, this is not as easy as it sounds on here. Under the haze that PPD is, you feel like you are losing control, spiraling downwards very fast. If you recognize yourself with any of these symptoms, you might need to seek help. Confide in someone, get someone to watch your baby when you feel overwhelmed, ultimately, seek help from a medical doctor since this is a mental health condition just like any other.

2) Kids are very perceptive.

When things feel like they are getting out of hand, kids are able to perceive this, even when they cannot tell exactly what’s going on. For parents with PPD, this is often, which is why medical professionals assert that depressed parents are predisposed to raising stressed kids. My son had gotten to a point where he could smell trouble coming, even when he did something that was typical of kids his age. He’d freeze, remain motionless, terror written all over his face just before the lashing would begin 🙁

It is hard to undo the damage done thanks to the monster that PPD is, but I learnt and continue to learn that each present moment is a good place to start afresh. To appreciate that I might have lapses and all, yet holding on in the healing journey is not always easy. Living in the present, embracing moments, because they are fleeting in their very nature.

3) It is important to spend quality time with kids.

Time flies, quite literally. To think just 3 ½ years ago I was holding him, just a little over 15 lbs, and now he is running all over the place, asking when Obama’s jet will land in Kenya again, and why his boobs are tinier than mine….

The point is, there’s only so much time to spend with the kids at any particular stage. PPD has the uncanny ability to steal these moments, leaving moms and dads frazzled, grasping with the reality that moments and opportunities to bond are lost. Healing is teaching me to enjoy these moments, to enjoy quality time, to find balance in the crazed days, to savor the thrill of bedtime reading and cuddles, and never to beat myself for a past that is gone.

Samaina
<3

Featured Image photo credits: Patricia Esteve

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Day 16 – Health-freak (with a sweet tooth. Paradox?). Here’s why:.

This is Day 16 of my 30 day writing challenge.

Lately, I have been on that healthy tip, needing to stay fit. There is something about staying healthy that just makes you energetic, content. It is taking care of the temple, taking care of the body. Read through a number of blogs, and the one thing that old(er) people always wish to change is the failure to work out in their prime years, failure to stay fit and ultimately bad eating habits.

For the longest time, I was that person. Eating every kind of junk food throughout campus (veggies are for rabbits, no?) I stopped this trend when I realized I was pregnant, but I have to admit, there is no telling what those cravings can do to you!! And if you know me well by now, I got an extremely sweet tooth (red velvet cake, anyone?). This was exemplified prepartum, and many times I think my son got it from me (black-forest anyone?)

Post-partum saw me right back to my bad eating habits. The two years I suffered from PostPartum Depression saw me indulge in comfort eating like never before. I added so much weight then, and didn’t quite care really. The wakeup call came one year ago. A routine pap smear test (which turned out negative, thankfully) saw me take my blood pressure readings. I noted the figures, an average that showed my bp then was 141/90. (Medically, this is listed on borderline hypertension stage 1)

The nurse didn’t say much then because, take note, this was a pap smear test. I went home, but that figure kept tugging at my heart and mind. My background in Biochemistry made me all too aware of the lingering risk (and reward) of my bad eating habits. That, coupled with the stress of a negative and suffocating relationship at the time, weighed on me, and there I was, registering high blood pressure at just 25 years.

The news hit me like a thunderbolt. 25? High Blood Pressure? Noo! I thought about my son, my health, staying through a wrong relationship, and at what cost? This cannot be. I took up a radical exercise approach, I did cardio exercises at home like my life depended on it, and it did!!! The results were impressive, I lost significant weight gradually. All along, I realized it is important for me to take on a healthy eating habit. Occasionally, I will chronicle my journey. I will share healthy recipes I have come across over this period, as well as sprinkle this section with servings for my oh-so-sweet tooth, like this one below, made by my good friend Shiro Thuo of Maorpi Foods. *Yum*

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Featured Image Credits: Dreamstime

Day 15 – When Loneliness Creeps In For New Moms

This is day 15 of my 30 day writing challenge. For my new readers, this was a challenge I took on to push the boundaries for ME (previously I’d write one post sometimes after two weeks, partly laziness, and a good chunk of this due to self-doubt). So far, it has been amazing, though there were days I must admit, I stared at the blinking cursor, and my mind ran off to think about the vanilla chocolate I ate at L’s baby shower last weekend… Focus Samoina!

***

One of the misconceptions I had pre-partum was certainly about friendships as they would pan out once I became a mom. Anyone who knows me well enough will know that I am the bubbly kind, the one who talks volubly when reminiscing fun times, the one who laughs heartily in good company, the one who is jumping around at the get together… and so, before my pregnancy I had all these friends around me, many of whom I appreciated for influencing my life in one way or the other at the time.

I was accustomed to been the life of the party, at the party, whiskey shots at hand, and loud reggae hits by Gyptian cranked up to the max. The exuberance that surrounded me at the time was almost palpable. I figured, been a mom would not alter this; or maybe it would, a little. At some point, my friendships would cohere and we would go back to the good ol’ times, or so I thought.

Enter baby Jayden, and motherhood changed my life’s trajectory. It was somewhat the chasm that separated my fading memories from the stark reality that faced me. In the first few weeks, save for the congratulatory messages, there was little communication between my ol’ crew and I. I didn’t get it at first and kept wondering what I was doing wrong, or not doing. We drifted further and further… and my Postpartum Depression didn’t help.

For reasons I mentioned in this post, I just couldn’t come forward and explain to my friends, most of them not parents themselves, what depression was like, and why I suffered PPD when I looked ‘all together’. How can you not love your baby? OR, why are you so damn angry? Without concise answers to these, I kept to myself, only giving glimpses into my angst on whatsapp chats that were far and in between.

In retrospect, this is a weird kind of loneliness new moms face, especially when most of their friends are yet to be moms. Suddenly, your talk changes; it revolves around diapers, poop color, burps, vaccines, breastfeeding, teething, potty training… depending on the stage one is in. When your friends start to feel out of place (understandably), there’s a tendency to back off.

Looking back, I realized only those strong friendships stood the changes that had taken place in my life, PPD and all. Even then, I’d still feel lonely quite often. Some of my pals kept telling me, “But you got Jayden for company, how are you lonely?” At which point I’d roll my eyes so far back I’d feel my spine tingle. A baby who’s up for the better part of the 24 hours each day, who can’t talk and will cry with no notice is not exactly the company I meant when I pointed out my loneliness, a loneliness that creeps up so subtly it shocks you when you realize its vice-like grip has made you all queasy.

It was adult company I missed. Someone to talk to, not necessarily about baby stuff but to converse, about the weather, about work, about new joints in the ‘diaspora’, about current reads. Anything for the semblance of normalcy that my depression-riddled life sorely lacked. Which is why last weekend’s baby shower was welcome relief. Just to get away and hang with the girls, and laugh, and eat, and marvel at mom-to-be’s girth (:D), and share life stories, and see how far we have come. To new moms out there wondering just what the hell happened to some of your friendships, I hope this heartfelt post puts things in perspective.

PS: Still learning to lean on Him when I feel lonely. To whisper a prayer because He hears. And teaching my son to call on Jesus when he is having a bad day, or feels like no one understands what he is going through. There is some amazing peace, peace Paul defines as tranquil, the peace that transcends understanding, that comes through prayer and trusting in Him. This peace and contentment, I want even in my loneliness.

Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].

Any of you moms relate to this loneliness? That feeling of been with family and baby, yet still lonely? What have your experiences been like? Moms who have survived PPD, how did you deal with this? I’d like to hear from you too!

Featured Image Photo credits: Sunshine Spoils Milk

Day 14 – #SnapshotsforSanity

Day 14 of the 30 day writing challenge, halfway through. Wooop! 🙂

Today’s post is inspired by the work my good friend Kimberly Zapata does at Sunshine Spoils Milka website that she dedicates to create awareness of Postpartum Depression as a mental health condition, facing anxiety as well as the challenges of parenting with a humorous twist. The online project revolves taking a photo of oneself daily, bi-weekly, weekly, monthly, or for as long as you would like, and tagging #snapshotsforsanity. This, does not require a pre-determined look. You could be ecstatic, frustrated, tagging along your Little One(s) (LO), even with your pet if you so wish.

The underlying concept is not whether you have make up on or not; it does not revolve around whether you use filters or not, or whether the image augurs well with the perception people have of you. The aim of the online project is to show that depression looks like the average person. This is why it is easy to ask, how could she be depressed when she posted all these happy photos on Facebook or Instagram? I’d never have guessed she was going through so much! She didn’t even look like it!

And that is the point of #snapshotsforsanity. Show that depression, and especially PPD does not have a face, or a way it ought to look like. Forget about how depression is portrayed on different TV productions and films. It is not the black-and-white capture of a person, curled up like a ball, soaked in their tears. This is true, in part. And that is because depression does not show for 1440 minutes daily! Most of the time, I would look like that, angry, frustrated, curled up and teary. But there were also days I was jolly, smiling for the cameras even in the depths of PPD, looking ‘normal’, ‘okay’ even when deep down I was far from it.

It is time to change this perception. Alter the perception of what PPD looks like, one snapshot at a time. Follow the hashtag #snapshotsforsanity on Instagram and Twitter too.

#snapshotsforsanity
#snapshotsforsanity

Featured Image Photo Credits: The Amazing Glitchy Artist

Day 13 – Baby Shower!

This is Day 13 of my 30 day writing challenge, almost halfway through now. This challenge has been, and continues to be amazing! I honestly had no idea where 30 posts would come from, on a DAILY basis, and even more fascinatingly for me at least, was when I’d get to do this. It has been more than a writing challenge! While at it, let me appreciate everyone who makes time to read on here. I hope this encourages someone, urges a new mom to push on even when they feel the weariness and despair set in, to let a mom with Postpartum Depression (PPD) know they are never alone…

***

This past weekend we, my pals and I, held a baby shower for one of us (not mine obviously!), a surprise baby-shower whose plans were hatched and executed on a Whatsapp group, without mom-to-be’s knowledge. All this over a period of a month or thereabout. This, I must say, was the most amazing baby shower I ever attended. Not so much for the gifts or the food (which was tantalizingly yummy!), but for the outpouring of love and blessings for this amazing lady about to bring forth new life. It was the sacrifice of one of us to travel from Eldoret overnight to arrive in good time; it was her sister taking time to travel from vaite land aka Meru to stay around and help her in these last laps of the marathon that pregnancy is. One of the girls had worked her night shift and still managed to be present. Another had a ruracio to attend, but still made it for the baby shower.

Looking back, I realized that this is what made her shower so special. It really is in the small things, it is in how people make time away from their busy schedules (or weekend sleep ins) to let you know that they are present. It is the crescendo of friendships birthed in high school (a decade ago, WOW! ) and in campus. The joyous laughter, the teary eyed mom-to-be (sniffles), the noise pulsing around. Joy is in the little things, and these are the memories we would hold on to when our kids are all grown up, and expecting their own children.

I stood there, reflecting on my journey. On the ups and downs of motherhood, battling PPD for the first 2+ years of my son’s life, and the healing after that. I couldn’t help but reminisce of what motherhood without PPD looked like, I’d not wish for any mom to go through PPD. Kept thinking, if there is any way I can be present for mom-to-be, I will. I said a prayer, a heartfelt prayer for mom-to-be and her child. That in days of weariness, she would be reminded of the assurance that she is loved, that grace will meet her and her baby at her point of need, that there is strength for the journey. That in the end, it is all worth it.

Congratulations L!

all shades of 'feeling elephantine' :D
my memories. all shades of ‘feeling elephantine’ 😀

Featured Image Photo Credits: Baby Showers

Day 12 – Shouting at my son, and 4 tips that helped me.

This is Day 12 of my 30-day writing challenge, almost half way there. It amazes me sometimes how much simple things like a commitment to 30 days of XYZ can alter our lives for the better! 🙂

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Today’s post was inspired by an incident sometime mid last week. Apart from been a WAHM (Work at Home Mom, or at the hotel, or on the move, wherever really), I get to write, articles for web content, academic papers, and lately, a good chunk of my time has been directed to getting this blog up and running. So, on this particular day that spurred this blog, I called a client to follow up on dues, late dues, like work-done-in-July late. Using my safaricom line, and realizing that his line was ‘busy’ almost every other day. I switched lines and when he picked, he didn’t immediately realize it was I (of course). So I introduced myself, and it was as though that was the cue for his verbal diarrhea.

Guy launched into a tirade of how my ‘small’ money was not worth bugging him about, how he wished I hadn’t got his number, how he had better things to think about… All along I am wondering to myself what’s going on with him exactly, so I pause and request him to stop shouting because sense does not get amplified that way anyway. Starting to feel agitated now, so I let him know I wouldn’t be a vending pit, and that he’d have to channel his negative energy elsewhere… you gotta pay up, gotta have integrity in the ‘small’ things. He was annoyed, from the way he blabbed incomprehensible words before hanging up.

For a second I felt weird, strange a little out of place. You will realize why. One of the biggest challenges I had during my Postpartum Depression (PPD) Journey, and even during healing, was the shouting and anger that characterized my dialogue on a daily basis. When I got frustrated/felt overwhelmed, I’d feel helpless, and this would launch my shouting antics, at my son, as young as he was. I’d shout at him, roughing him up for things that kids would normally do at his stage. Depression meant that these ‘normal’ stages and milestones were a little harder for me.

My shouting at a vulnerable harmless child was camouflage for a weary soul, an overwhelmed mom, a mom fighting depression but living a masked life. In retrospect, shouting was simply to cover up my powerlessness in parenting. Once I was neck up high in my shouting contests when my mom appeared and enquired what the matter was. I broke down because I knew I shouldn’t be shouting at my son, but just couldn’t stop. The question that drove the message home was when she asked, if a stranger came in and listened to the shouts, whether they’d be able to differentiate mom and child.

That subtle remark tore me apart, it was true. There was no difference between how I acted and how my son manifested the same. My capricious words, mom said, would damage him emotionally, and change who he was at heart. My shouting would slowly but surely transcend any efforts to raise a stable child. Proverbs 15: 1 comes to mind:

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.

The wise one wrote that a gentle answer defuses anger, but a harsh word stirs up anger. How’d I expect to raise a calm son when all I did was rile up his anger with my words? This has been a slow (sometimes painful) lesson for me. Even when my lil man has made a mistake, I need not shout at him. It only raises his defences and squashes any hope for finding grace together. These 4 practical tips I came across somewhere along the journey have been of immense help.

  • Acknowledging the situations that trigger overwhelming pressure, and in turn, the yelling

As a mom, I learnt to decode cues and behaviors that signaled my son was about to crumble, and I was going to get frustrated. Evenings and early mornings were the most common. Early mornings when he was still groggy made him easily ticked off. Late evenings when he was sleepy were also a perfect recipe. So, mentally, I’d set time to be with him so that he eased into the day/ into his sleeping patterns seamlessly. Other situations included when he was hungry (so I’d carry a snack or fruit), when I was tired (so I’d decompress before getting home to avoid venting at him), when he’d be required to sit still for long periods, say when travelling (so I’d make advance plans to schedule breaks).

  • Counting to 10

When I felt that a shouting match was a few minutes away, and I needed to act, I’d count till ten, slowly. This was a perfect buffer that quelled anger and gave me time to weigh the situation before responding. I will admit this took some time to get used to… but was well-worth it. I don’t always remember to do this, but then again, I am not the shouting mom, claws out Khaleesi-style at the mall.

  • Draw closer to my son and hug him.

Initially, this felt awkward because the closer I got to him, the higher the chances were that my hands would land on him diapered butt at a velocity. After inculcating the first two tips into my response plan however, I realized that it was harder to shout at him when he was clasped in my arms; it required more effort; And so I realized this worked as well. When he was angry/disappointed/flummoxed, hugging him brought this close bond, a sense of security, a platform to point out where he erred. In the end, mom and son are at peace.

  • Seek grace.

Parenting is hard, there are hard days when shouting does not seem to ebb regardless of our best intentions. Days when anger seems to cast a theatrical angst so that through my eyes, and the world feels distinctively bleak. It is on these day that I seek grace, wisdom to raise this little human being in a world that is increasingly becoming depraved and entitled.

How do you handle anger as a parent? As an individual? What works for you in defusing this anger? Any tips you would like to share? Looking forward to hear from you J

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Flashback to when I had big hair and J had a mohawk 🙂 <3

Featured Image Photo Credits: Life Hacks

Day 11 – New Norm?

This is Day 11 of my 30 day writing challenge. Today I have steered away from Postpartum depression a little, and put my thoughts as they were on paper. Somewhat cryptic, but authentic thoughts nonetheless. My reflections of the subject. Of past hopes and dreams. Here goes

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I have had to gather a lot of courage to write this. The year is drawing to a close and I realized I had made a promise to do this (in 2014!). I am not sure whether I have any structured prose, but I guess that is a good thing because I will write it from my heart. Words unspoken, thoughts unsaid, the travail that accompanies such is sometimes too heavy to bear… and this necessitates this letter.

Ever since I came of age, I do not remember a time where I had a conversation, you know, a real conversation, not a one-way talk. Even then, most of that one-way conversation revolved around school, grades, pocket money… never about my dreams, my aspirations, my hopes. This reminds me, back in the day, when Stomp was the in-thing, I dreamt of been a female DJ, gospel DJ. I shared this with you, and the vivid memories of the acceleration with which you picked a wooden mwiko remain fresh. You wouldn’t pay all that money for one to end up a DJ… I am not sure that Bachelor’s degree has been of much help…

Many events over the years have made me think of your place in my life. Does your role culminate in the formation of the XX chromosome? Does it extend to infancy, toddler stages, and adolescence? Or maybe it stretches all the way to adulthood? Granted, perfection is a grand illusion, a distant mirage.

Over the years I have learnt to grow some thick skin. Thick skin to scathing remarks, heart-wrenching insults, and the occasional violent reaction. These, from perfectly normal strangers does not often get to me, but when it comes from you, it realigns quite a number of things. It changes the way you think, for life. It dents your self-esteem. It stings. It hurts, most importantly, it leaves an indelible mark. This mark remains etched in one’s brain for eons to come.

May seem like something that will change, someday. But it never does. It becomes the new normal. Normal starts to be different, unusual, peculiar… whatever the name, but it is never the same way again. Sometimes this new normal pushes you, stretches you, redefines so many things so that you are never the same again. You trudge on in life, sometimes in despair, sometimes in jubilation, seemingly perfectly normal. But this is a new normal I am yet to get accustomed to.

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TBT!

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