Watermelon Halves

Greetings from Bermuda, Hamilton! My home for the past two weeks.

This time has been spent relaxing; beach sits and walks, sitting in parks just breathing and taking in the surroundings, roaming the streets, taking tonnes of pictures, meeting new people, sleeping, eating. The books I plan on reading: J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, Chimamanda’s Half of a yellow sun (for the second time), and David Baldacci’s The Hit, have barely been touched. I have never felt better.

It is so quiet I did not realize how loud Nairobi is. Especially now with all the campaigning going on. It is so clean. It’s a shame this is a point even, because it should be the norm. But when you see someone rolling their car window down to throw out an empty water bottle, or a banana peel at home, I guess it is something that surprises you, clean streets, something that you notice. The locals say it is not as clean as it was before, I wonder to myself how it must have looked then. I guess too, it will be spruced further as they prepare to host the America’s cup 2017 in June.

The people are so friendly, you say hello to everyone, everywhere. Caro, my sister, has to remind me at times. On the streets, stores, in the parking lot, in church they actually give you a hug, tell you they love you. Now I am not sure whether this is superficial or something that is done without much thought, but it sure feels good. We are all going through something and at times all we need is a stranger saying hello and smiling at us.

The clubbing scene is nothing compared to Nairobi, but it’s alright. The best spots are on one street, Front Street. Soca music is very popular, and very dance-able I might add. It finds is origins in Trinidad and Tobago and is a fusion of calypso and Indian Rhythms. Like Kevin Lyttle’s Turn me on. Some revelers I was chatting told me Jamaica, Kingston, is the place to be for partying. So now you  know where to go. The place I have been to had mostly expats, some Kenyan friends told me that one ni ya wazungu so I asked them to recommend ones that give me the local vibe. Now you know where I will be Friday and Saturday. Harbor nights have started, every Wednesday. Harbor nights is a street festival characterized by local Gombey dancers and street food. The shops remain open till late, folks  mingle, chat, dance, eat. Awesome sauce.

People jog here especially on Sundays so I have temporarily ditched my cardio, abs, and strength workout routine for jogging. I mean, how could I pass on the chance to jog whilst surrounded by water, houses painted in pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, all colors you can think of, all with white roofs and boats parked upfront, greenery? It makes it enjoyable, easier, even when you are huffing, puffing and dripping with sweat since it can get hot and it is humid too.

Stuff is expensive though. The currency, the Bermudian dollar is equivalent to the American dollar and one can use either. A 680g loaf of bread is $6.29, one half gallon of milk $ 5.59, water melon halves $10.99. I stopped mentally converting to the Kenyan shilling because my head was spinning each time. Guess this is due to the cost of importing goods especially since there are almost no taxes levied here. There is no direct income tax, no capital gains tax, no income tax returns to file individually, no wealth taxes. There is however payroll tax which is around 6% and land tax based on value of property. Makes this place a kind of tax haven for the rich.

This week on Wednesday there was unfortunately a road accident, between a motorbike and a car. The person on the bike succumbed to the injuries. This was the 4th death since beginning of this year related to road accidents. Speed limit is 35km/h and visitors cannot hire cars, only scooters or use the bus and taxis.

I guess it is easier running the place though given the population is just slightly over 60,000. Can’t really and fairly compare it to home.

I miss Djasiri terribly. Try video call him every other day. But I noticed one thing, he is OK, barely spares a full minute for me before he wants to run off and do something. Made me realize that maybe it is the parents who need the children? Like emotionally or to validate us or something, I am struggling with the right words. The children are fine, really.

I think at times, we use the kids as an excuse to not do certain things, or to limit ourselves. Now I am in no way suggesting that we ignore our children, not spend quality time with them, and be all in their business. I am proposing that it is fine, probably recommending even, to take time for ourselves as parents, to recharge. I know how challenging it can be, for example maybe to find someone you are comfortable with, can count on, to watch your child, but when you get an opportunity, even if for a day or two, to travel to another town, city, country, take it.

I urge all mothers, once in a while, to take time for themselves; a day at the spa, tea/ drinks with the girls, a holiday by themselves or with their girlfriends.  Would be good for you.

Got to go folks, the beach beckons. My chance to  don my short shorts. Oh and the Bermuda shorts are actually official wear, in the summer especially.

Happy Mothers day to all moms.

Much love,

Vicky.

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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

 

 

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

Questions Galore

Are you allergic? That’s my sons favorite word at the moment when you say you do not want something.

Would you like some watermelon mummy?

No thank you

Are you allergic?

No, I just don’t feel like it at the moment

Because it has mechanicals?

Mechanicals? (A few seconds later) Oh you mean chemicals? Hehehe

It is not funny mummy

Every moment that I am awake and with him, while eating, walking, shopping, reading bedtime stories, praying, I am fair game for questioning. Like in Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Djasiri is my Question Quigley.

How many questions does a five year old ask? A quick search reveals up to 300 on average! Let me break it down a bit, from wake up time say 7:30am to bed time 7:30pm, that is a question every 2 minutes 40 seconds. Every day.  If you are lucky.

Mothers, it seems, are the most quizzed people on earth. I can bet mothers are now using Google search to learn some responses for the questions they are being asked. I mean what do you say when you are asked what is water? And what color is it? Because they do not understand colorless, when in school, they are being taught about all colors, except the color colorless. Something you drink? Break it down to its chemical compositions? When you are urging your child to drink more water, better have a fine response on why they should do so.

There have been those questions I am not even sure how to respond to, whether to be embarrassed, laugh, warn him not to ask that again, especially in the midst of people, or tell him the truth.

So one day I am in the bathroom minding my business. He knocks. I have to play along and ask who is it? otherwise we will repeat this all over again. He states his three names and asks if he can come in. I say no. What are you doing mummy? Using the bathroom I say. Ha? Are you pooping? No. Peeing? Djasiri can you give me a moment please? Mummy, you have to stand when you are peeing. Djasiri, girls sit when peeing. No, you have to stand, let me come and show you. I bolt the door these days.

But I am going to get him. When he is older, I will be all over his business, questioning where he has been, who his friends are, does he have a girlfriend, I want to meet her. Reversed roles, just not in the same magnitude. And respectfully too, no spying shit, OK, maybe a little. It is crazy times folks, I will fortify him with loads of prayer too as I do now.

On a personal front, I have also started asking questions and embracing this innocence and lack of shame in addressing issues that I do not understand or that do not sit right with me. Women, in my unsolicited opinion, acquiescence – sometimes subconsciously. Go on, ask, not nag, there is a big difference between those two, do not accept just for the sake of it, or to avoid a dispute.

As for the children, they maybe young, but they are entitled to the truth. Give it to them.When they were studying continents, Sonny strangely figured he is not from Africa. So one day in the evening I tell him he is African. You got to be kidding me he says. No I am not, you are African, Kenyan to be precise.

We have already covered how he got out of my stomach, let’s wait for when he asks how he got in.

xo, mamadjasiri.

 

 

 

Let Us Pray

 

“Thank you for my mommy and daddy and Aunty

Help us to have energy as we perform for the graduation (even though this is past!)

In Jesus name Amen.” Tuesday 18th

 

“Thank you for mommy and daddy

When I go to school

Help each other to be kind today

And help us to go on a lovely Mashujaa day holiday

And you may help us go safely home

In Jesus name Amen.” Wednesday 19th

 

“I don’t want to pray today.” Thursday 20th

 

While we are at it, can we pray for mothers?

Most of the times I have zero clue what I am doing, on a wing and a prayer basically.

There are times you just need total silence, to step on the actual floor and not a toy, to not have your favorite magazine glued together even before you halfway done reading. So i tell Djasiri to give me a minute. Two seconds in, “mommy is it a minute already?” I want to scream, ship him somewhere. Does that make me a bad mom?

I am learning not to be solely defined by motherhood, to be a full being, that I am as much human as a man is, that gender roles are bullshit (read untrue, nonsense). To be fine in my imperfections.

Mothers allow me to say this, especially since on this blog I do not plan to teach anyone anything, what would I say even if I wanted to? Just my musings. Learn to breath, otherwise one day someone is going to scratch your car on that yaya junction, and you going to come out, claws aiming for the poor motorists jugular. They will not be able to reason with you, you are going to be screaming at the top of our lungs, quoting the traffic act, refusing to budge till a cop comes, on your phone taking pictures of  invisible dents or scratches. Tempest in a teacup.

To the mothers, the real mashujaas, more so those pulling double duty.

xo, mamadjasiri

PS: Schools are almost out, what activities do you have lined up for the children? Read somewhere you need to let them be idle at times so that they become creative and learn to do things by themselves, might have to, because for two months, what does a mother do?