Life is not an Emergency

Life Isn’t an emergency. Point number 22 in Richard Carlson’s Don’t sweat the small stuff…Omnibus. I read the two pages this point covers twice, then a third time more slowly.

Parenting, being a mother specifically has managed to make me feel so inadequate. I take it so seriously, I forget I am only human, I have two hands, and only so much energy. Looking at a house cluttered with toys, snacks, shoes and feeling an urge that everything has to be in place, always. Each time telling my son not to pour this, return your books to the shelf, do that. Is having the house in order such an emergency? Whats the worst that could happen really? We manage to stress ourselves on things that should not even. I do not endorse clutter, but I am learning to let the kid play, he can put everything back in place when done. And if visitors find it too messy maybe they should come back years later when he is grown.

In my future posts, once in a while, I will be talking about some points in this book, and what I am learning so far from it, how I am translating the points specifically as regards motherhood, the category this blog revolves around.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Tied to life is not an emergency. Richard Carlson put it simply and perfectly, we spend so much energy sweating the small stuff we miss the beauty of what is going on around us, of raising our children. Now I know, this city of Nairobi manages to drive even the best of us crazy right from the traffic in the morning. For some, right from their gates. By the time you get to work you are irritated, then work, maybe a difficult colleague or client, by the time you get home in the evening you are ready to explode, snowball effect. How about you let it go? Why are you competing with that lunatic on the road? Why not let them go? Do you have to be the one who is always right in the office? Letting your colleagues be right does not in anyway mean you are wrong! Think about it.

Sounds too easy, case of easier said than done? It is easy I believe, just a mind switch. Making a mental note that you are not going to get worked up, seeing the bigger picture which is getting home calm, not a seething monster breathing out fire. I have noticed that when I am irritated from work by the time I get home I snap even on the smallest things. We spend so much time away from our kids, I think we should spend the few hours before they get to sleep catching up on their day not shouting at them, projecting our anger and frustrations. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is all small stuff.

If he is not concentrating on the homework, I don’t shout, instead I tell him the importance of focusing on the task at hand. We finish quickly and then get time to play a game or for him to tell me something he wants to.

Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences. How annoyed do you feel/ get when someone does this to you? It’s easy not to pay attention to the fact that you probably do this a lot to your children, maybe even spouses, friends, but that is not my focus. I notice when my son speaks he does not always get to the point immediately, the story takes twists and turns at times I do not even get the message. But I am learning to listen, then ask questions when I do not understand so he can explain himself clearly. Becoming more patient. Listening without getting an urge to interrupt requires it. I have noticed how relaxed we both are when conversing. He notices I am listening, paying attention, looking at him, nodding, asking questions. It is fantastic. You are actually teaching them the same too.

Lastly, for today, Allow yourself to be bored. The authors friend put it this way to him, “People are no longer human beings. We should be called human doings.” I am not sure why we get this urge that we need to keep the children occupied all the time! From the moment they wake up, till they get to bed, every minute is scheduled. Weekends see us moving our kids from one activity to another, they are signed up for so many clubs their little heads must be spinning. How about we schedule time to be bored too. Allowing them to fill this time makes them create their own games, activities to do. I have heard Djasiri sing songs he makes up as he goes during this time, it is hilarious. But most importantly it shows me that he can come up with ideas to occupy himself. He does not need me to tell him or plan for him what to do. It obviously translates to parents also slowing down, taking a minute to just relax. Take a nap Sunday afternoon when you feel the urge to engage in an activity instead of just being.

I in no way do justice to how good this book is. Grab a copy if you can, hopefully you enjoy it as much as I am doing and that it gives you a different, better perspective. There are a total of a hundred points, I am thrilled and hope to put them in practice in my day to day and also as a mother. I will try at least.

xo, mamadjasiri

 

 

Weekends

It’s Sunday evening and I am spent. Djasiri is serving me a krabby patty, only it’s the sofa cushion. The name of the game is make believe. I have to not only eat it, but also enjoy it, make conversation, you know, the way you do in a restaurant.

The krabby patty is served at krasty krab restaurant, in SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon series and movie. It is a sea hamburger. Residents of bikini bottom are addicted to the krabby patty. Djasiri just loves this series, not the patty. Each time we have gotten him one, he never eats it! He will take boiled maize over it. So that’s what we do every Sunday after church, eat boiled maize.

We have watched the SpongeBob movie so so many times, I can recite the lines. He still laughs and jumps all over the place each time he sees it. It is amazing really, that he does not tire of it. In the spirit of getting into my role, I ask for extra mayo. What pray will I be brought for? Anything that is not planted on the floor, nailed to the walls, not too heavy is fair game. Immediately,  Djasiri dashes off to the kitchen, fetches a mug and fills it with water. “Extra mayo coming right up!” he says. Thankfully it is water. This I can easily work with, drink without trying too hard.

The house looks like a circus, a little tornado christened Djasiri swept through. All the cushions big and small, toys, balls, blankets, throws are on the floor. Minus three cushions, that I have been served and I am eating that is. It is a good thing it is pretend, otherwise we would have weight issues in this world from being served huge portions. Standard portion sizes are a myth here it seems. My krabby pattys’ are blocking my view of the TV where we were watching, but mostly I was enjoying, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn. It is hilarious, quadruplets with such different personalities.

Is it just me or are there other adults who enjoy cartoon? At times I think I enjoy more than Djasiri. Cartoon humor is the best. You should see us, laughing so hard, playing back sometimes just so we see a scene again. We acquire new names after a movie we have seen. For instance after watching good dinosaur he was Arlo, I was Momma. In Mr. Peabody, he was Sherman or Shermansky as I liked to call him. I wanted to be Agamemnon but Djasiri insisted so I was Penny. It it tonnes of fun. Just vet the movies, some cartoons have language that will leave you scrambling for the remote. Both of us want to be a particular turtle after watching the teenage mutant ninja turtles movie. Hopefully we will come to a settlement soon. Hopefully in there too, will be a lesson that everything does not revolve around him, he does not get what he wants always. Learning to lose.

It is Sunday evening and I am aching. The tight hugs and being jumped on when you least expect it. Boys are rough little monkeys. He almost chokes me at times in those tight hugs. My neck truly is sore. He steps on me like he is walking on the floor, whether the foot lands on my leg, belly, doesn’t matter. I am not sure whether he understands the concept of pain, or maybe he just thinks it applies only to him. He had extra swimming classes on Saturday. I am now the student, on the floor. “you need to hold the rail and kick your legs” he says. “a rail is something that is round and on the wall of the pool mummy” I know what a goddamned rail is, but this is a cooking stick! He is tough this little man.

It is Sunday evening and I am  happy, feeling blessed. So many wet kisses. So many I love yous. I know more than half of it is bribes so he can get his way, but I will take it. We have done the homework and I am glad he is enjoying school, making new friends, learning new things. Creating his own circle outside of his family. Fighting his own battles. He is also helping to clear the table,pack his school bag and other manageable chores. What more can you ask for?

Stay blessed folks,

xo, mamadjasiri.

 

Worry

Happy New Year folks! It’s past mid month, I know, but surely it can’t be too late to pass my wishes? I hope and pray you all are keeping well. The holidays as usual flew by, I have been getting my bearings, clearly it has taken a bit longer, but like a good habit, here we are, my muse and I.

We started class one exactly a week ago last Tuesday. It was exciting for Djasiri. On our way to school he kept asking the driver if there was a shortcut. He did not want to be late. He talked a mile a minute. I already felt sorry for the new teacher we were about to meet, She would not know what hit her.

I am not too sure how I felt. Bittersweet I guess. I was happy he was progressing. I was also worried, he was moving further from home, new environment, new classmates, teacher. It was primary school. There were bigger kids here. They could be mean. Amazing how subconsciously I managed to make this about myself.

He Sat next to this pretty little girl when we got to his class. I was about to remind him that he has a girlfriend, then I figured it’s day one, she would be OK when they were catching up later and he mentioned who he chose to sit next to. I wonder what they talk about, five and a half year olds. He barely gave me a second when I was leaving after a brief chat with the class teacher. It stung. Who was I kidding thinking he would cry a bit, say he does not want me to leave? I am old, boring.

I called his teacher only twice that first day. Only being the operative word. The first time at around 10:30 to see if he had settled in and how he was dealing. The teacher assured me he was fine. Then at 4:30pm, he was not home yet and class ends at 3pm. These teachers have grace, I can bet I was not the only one who called. OK, I hope I was not the only one who called, two times.

One week later, he is doing well. I have learnt that children are resilient, strong. Stronger than their parents. We worry too much. Even our parents, they worry. I guess once you become a parent, a mommy you become a worrier. You go into labor and come out with the worry app installed. This app even auto updates, you do not get a prompt that there is an update available, that would give you the choice to comply or not. It does not matter that I am a grown up, a mother myself, my mom still worries about me and my sisters.

Djasiri has been bringing back reports of being pushed, someone being mean or not sharing. I was tempted to get involved, call and find out. But I did not. He needs to find his way and be able to speak up for himself. I hope there is no escalation that will warrant an intervention.

Often times, we make it about ourselves as parents when really it is about our children. And then we get involved when maybe all we need to do is watch, listen and just be there for our children. I pray I am able to not live my life through him, wanting him to do things that i want, that I am able to let him make his own choices. Guaranteed there are some choices that as a parent you need to say no to. May God help us all.

Stay frosty folks, till we meet here again. Soon. I thank God for my friend, my mentor even. Keeps me in check when I am struggling to write. Amazing ability to break things down into perspective. Friends if you have an opportunity to mentor someone, impact on them even in the smallest of ways, please do. As Paulo Coelho says in the manual of the warrior of light, if you arrive to find an empty paradise, what will have been the point of your struggle?

I look foward to hearing about your experiences.

xo, mamadjasiri

2016, The Year That Was

It is almost two weeks since my little man went for holiday with his cousins and my mum. I miss him terribly. But he doesn’t. He will not even speak to me on the phone for a whole minute, a few seconds and he runs off to something more important than the person who bore him.

His absence had a startling revelation. I do not know what to do with my free time. I tried remembering what it was like pre Djasiri and what we did, came up empty. The house is so quiet. I get back from work and its me, a cup of tea and my thoughts, and my books, and TV series.

The silence gave me time to think about how when we become parents, everything else sort of stops. Which is OK, for sometime as you adjust to the new normal, but I strongly feel it is important to also remember that we are individuals first, before we are spouses, mothers, fathers, business owners, employers or employees. That part of us also needs to be taken care of.

See, I struggled with guilt, each time I took time for myself. There are those mums who I guess can do it all and still remain calm. Good for them. I was going crazy. So I read about it, and was pleasantly glad to learn I was not alone. My reasoning is simple really, I need to be OK to be able to take care of my son and everyone else around me. Our children are not stupid, they know when we are struggling taking care of them. I doubt they like it, nobody likes feeling like they are being a burden to someone else.

And, if you forget about yourself, don’t pursue your hobbies, make friends of your own, what do you do when they are grown and  leave home? And most importantly, how do you teach them to balance family, life and work if not by example? It is Rumi that reminds us that life is a balance between holding on and letting go. Osho, “love your children, but never hope through them.” Have something of your own. And please note I don’t mean abandon your children and your responsibilities. No.

I have also realized changing my life, and therefore by extension everyone else around me is a task in itself. You will be judged, branded selfish, fall out with your family. Hi, my name is Victoria, and I am selfish. I take time to nap, read a book, hang out with the girls. It makes me a better parent. When I am with Djasiri, I am fully present, I am not resentful, I have a really good time doing things with him, not distracted, fatigued.
The silence has also  given me time to go over the year and how it has been. A blessing, a lesson, a mind shift. Made friends, lost some. It’s also the year I stopped giving fucks, for lack of a better word. You cannot make sense of everything. You either listen to the noise or not. “Life is not logic, life is not philosophy. Life is a dance, a song, a celebration! It is more like love and less like logic – Osho.”

Towards the end of this year, I also published my first blog post. It was scary, would anyone even read, would they like it? Then this smart person said to me, you are writing for yourself, your experiences as they are, just being you, authentic. Anything else should not matter. I am so glad I listened and followed through. And the support and comments have been amazing. Thank you so very much to everyone who reads, comments, whats apps me, shares. Keep reading, hopefully you take something from this, as I do .

On the books and reading front, 2016 saw me became obsessed with  Jalauddin Rumi, and Osho, and Khalil Gibran. I highly recommend them. Also Warsan Shire. Looks like it was a year of mystics and poetry for me. Take time if you can and read a few poems, quotes, books. Reading takes you places, you travel the world from the comfort of your seat, and for a fraction of the cost. Do it with your children and loved ones.

There is so much I have to say, Inshalla next year we will pick up from here and build up on various subjects raised, even just from this post. For now, happy holidays folks. Thank you for taking time to indulge in my musings. And please, don’t drink and drive. Have you seen that Budweiser ad by Dame Helen Mirren on drunk driving? For those who engage in this despicable habit, I strongly suggest you look it up. I concur, and quote, for those of you who are in the habit of drinking and driving, “if your brain was donated to science, science would return it. So stop it! Don’t be a pillock.”

Stay blessed and safe. See you in 2017, God willing.

xo, mamadjasiri

Of Protective Dads

Last week Saturday found us at a talent show supporting my niece. All went well, Djasiri even met a girl. He hustled her the entire afternoon, this lovely three year old girl I think. When it was time to leave, he even wanted to bring her with us.

The girl is a darling, i like her, her mum too. I wonder whether the mum and i can strike a deal and start grooming them for each other. It is not such an awful idea i think?

I noticed something curious at the show, the dads present watching their daughters closely, not wishing them to play, run around or speak to especially the boys. I have also noticed this when we have fun days at school, in malls, playgrounds, church. So I ask myself, I ask you, what is it with fathers and their daughters?

There are plenty of memes and quotes that make light of this phenomenon; Obama sitting with this kid taking his daughter for a date. He says to him, I can be telling you of how I killed bin Laden as we wait? Or, a dad saying “my girl can only have three male friends: the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.” “Whatever you do to my daughter, I will do to you.” Funny, unless you have zero sense of humor. The whole overprotective business, not so funny, not very helpful, maybe even detrimental to the dating lives of our children.

Djasiri has a girlfriend. They met three years ago when he started school. Yes, their relationship has outlived thousands of marriages. I will call her Dora, not her real name. The dad just might be reading this blog, or his friend, or a distant relative, you cannot be too careful. Your security begins with you folks. After reading this piece,they will call him and say, “baba Dora, you need to read what one mama Djasiri has written about your daughter.”Things will go downhill from there.

When schools open next term, baba Dora will go to school,as my son is leaving for home, he will go to him, or maybe even follow him home. I know, crazy things fathers of daughters can do. Surf, I am thinking of you here. He will then ask my son, “is there life after death? Touch my daughter and you will find out.” Djasiri will be left wondering, what just happened? I just play with this girl, share my snacks and sit with her at lunch break! Is that so bad?

A fathers role to the daughter without a doubt is crucial. They are the first introduction to masculinity, a role model and the yard stick all men will be measured against. My two cents; instead of being overprotective, how about you instead encourage healthy relationships and not scare them? Encourage dialogue so that these young girls, when they grow up, they are able to share the challenges of dating, get advise from the dads. You want them to come to you when they have met a boy, not hide this fact from you for fear you will intimidate the boy.

What I also want these fathers to know is that there are also mothers who similarly worry about their sons. Both of us definitely want the best for our children. For now, let the kids be. Later, we can talk about overprotective mothers.

xo, mamadjasiri