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Kudos to all the Single Mothers

African-American-pregnant-momRecently the Ministry of health released shocking statistics. According to the data over 465,000 unsafe abortions were carried out in the year 2012. It therefore means that over 500,000 abortions were carried out in one year if you were to factor the ‘safe’ abortions. We are a population of forty million; this translates to murder of 1.25% of the population. This is genocide by all means. Why is the United Nations not raising a hue on these unwarranted cold blood murders? Interestingly the conscious of many was not even aroused. It seemed like the same old tired news which we already knew.

Within a week of the release of these shocking statistics, we are back to our usual lives. We have all ‘accepted and moved on’. None of our politicians, who are quick to comment, even on the most mundane things, have found any reason to even make a statement. Is the situation this bad? Is our conscious as a country not pricked when such shocking revelations are made?

Our society is unforgiving to say the least. The society would rather turn a blind eye to someone who is sexually active even outside the marriage setup, as long as they don’t get pregnant. Most churches would only consider excommunicating a member for adultery or fornication if there is ‘evidence’ that such a thing happened, and what better evidence than a pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy to show, most people would turn a blind eye to the vice and claim that they have no evidence to prove it happened.So most people actually live in sin – as long as she doesn’t get pregnant.

Having known many married couples who have been looking for an opportunity to be parents for many years and yet someone who has received God’s blessings and is able to conceive almost ‘effortlessly’ and carry the pregnancy to term and yet goes ahead to carry out the abortion to avoid the societal stigma of being a single mother is quite shocking. If a child is conceived as a result of an illicit relationship, should that child be accepted in the society? Why such a child should be forced to suffer the prejudice of how he or she was conceived for something that he had no control of.

None of us chose how we were conceived and born. Things happened and we were brought up to this world. Some of us had parents as we grew up, others were orphaned at birth, while others have been brought up by one of the parents either due to death or desertion of the other parent, yet because someone gave us a chance to actualize our potential – we are who we are today for that.

When my son asked my why the mothers of those 500,000 children had to kill them, I didn’t have an answer. I could see a look on his face wondering if such a fate would befall him even at a later stage. He could not comprehend this news.  He was wondering why the mothers would not have given the children to a children’s home or someone else to take care of them instead of killing them.  Maybe it’s time we started being responsive and supportive to those among us who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Appreciating that the child is innocent can go a long way in helping the said mother overcome that prejudice.

The pain that will forever haunt her after carrying out the abortion is not worth a dime. For one whose uterus got ruptured in the process of procuring an abortion, the reality that she will never conceive will forever haunt her. Support and appreciate the single mothers who chose to carry their pregnancy to term and give birth to their baby and risk getting rejection from the father of the baby. They are our heroes today, let’s honor them and appreciate them for making tough decisions under extremely unfriendly circumstances. Even when this happened when one is a Christian, we need to help such women who are bold enough to reconcile with God and bring up their children in confidence.

 

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Posted by on September 5, 2016 in Marriages, Motherhood

 

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Let the baby grow

Baby-1Towards the end of last year, I and my wife visited a close couple who had recently been blessed with a baby boy. The father was quite excited and although the baby was barely two months old, you would be forgiven for thinking that the baby was already one year old. He could not hide his excitement.

To this couple, the entry of the new-born had transformed their lives. The father felt he was now more “responsible” and had already big dreams for his son. He was looking forward to the times, when he would take his son for an outing. Probably go out to the Animal Orphanage or the National Museums.

As the discussion progressed, the father of the new-born had already set targets for his son. According to him, by the sixth month, he should be seating down, crawling by the ninth month and walking by the time he hits one-year at the latest. According to his plan, the kind of environment he intended to expose his son to would ensure that he talks coherently by the time he is two years.

I admired his vision. His Engineering background could probably explain the source of his optimistic schedules. He had everything perfectly laid out. But there was something wrong with his plan. Unlike other targets that we set for ourselves, the growth and development of children cannot be easily put on a linear scale. It’s not possible to objectively rate whether a child is growing “faster” or “slower” based on your perception of the “progress” of your neighbors children.

He wanted to have his child ahead of the pack. He would like to get complimented how “fast” his son had grown. He would like everyone to recognize that his son is intelligent or bright. We all as parents want our children to be ahead of the pack. In our discussions, the focus is always on how talented, intelligent, smart our children are. It’s always seems like a competition.

I have met parents who grossly exaggerate the actual progress of their children. There seems to be an apparent pressure to have your child, speak earlier, walk earlier, weaned faster than his or her peers. Any first time parent would ordinarily feel pressured to up his or her game so that his or her child would catch up with other children who appear ahead.

In an attempt to speedy up the walking of their children, some parents go a step further and purchase a “baby walker” to facilitate their child to walk. Most Pediatricians generally advise against the use of such tools. It’s important to consult your doctor before using them.

In my view, it does not make a difference how long your child takes to sit, crawl, walk or talk, as long as there is no medical issue. He or she will eventually pass that stage and you will be left wondering what was really worrying you.

If you met two adults who are thirty years of age, could you ask them on which month each of them walked? On which month did they start talking? On which month did they actually learn to crawl? Chances are they would not know and they would not even care to know. Reason – it makes no difference to them at this stage, neither should it make to you.

Let your child develop naturally. He or she will soon be past that stage that is bothering you so much. Even when your friends keep updating the progress of their babies on social media, don’t worry. In most cases, you will come to realize that what is stated is grossly exaggerated. A baby uttering baba or mama words is usually categorized as one who is now talking, so calm down. First time parents always exagerate the actual progress of their children, so don’t listen to them too much. Its natural. They want their child to be ahead of the pack in terms of weight, first tooth and also number of teeth by a given month, speech, crawling and walking. When a baby makes the first step, that is categorized as ‘walking’.

Should you notice that you child seems to be growing much “slower” in your own perspective, it is important that you consult your pediatrician for more information. If there is no medical issue noted by your doctor, don’t worry. Relax and let your baby grow naturally – like you did. Am sure your mum don’t even remember what month you had your first tooth, or when you first crawled – does it matter now?

 

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Fatherhood

 

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Don’t leave me home today

“Dad, where are you going?” my son asked recently. He looked pensive. He was expecting that beCrying girling a Sunday afternoon, I would not have work related engagements and therefore should be home with him. “I am taking the car to be cleaned up. It’s quite dirty as you can see” I responded affirmatively.  “Can I come?” he asked. I wanted to say no. There was no need for him to accompany me to have the car washed.  But he gave me that one smile that I could not just resist.

As we drove off to the car wash, I asked him why he wanted to come with me. Why not stay at home and watch TV. He told me that he just wanted to be with me. He thought the work of washing cars was manly and as such it was right that he join me for the activity. The smile in his face was indescribable. He was excited to be seated next to his dad taking a ride together.

Interestingly the days following, I noticed an increased responsiveness on anything I asked to be done. It’s then that I started appreciating what it means for a child to accompany the parent. I know most parents prefer to leave the kids home so that they can travel light. You don’t want to be distracted from that important meeting by your child. You are afraid that the child will cause unnecessary distraction or probably even embarrass you.

Depending on the function at hand, most of the time it is more convenient to leave the kids before so that you can ‘concentrate’ better in the meeting. At times the argument is that it’s for the better of the child due to probable exposure to dust and cold.  Although some of these concerns are genuine, it is possible to that at times we can stretch them to the extent the child feels dumped.

Since by default you are most likely tied up the whole week with work, the only time left for you with the kids is only the weekend. Why not consider incorporating them in your weekend plans. If you must go out to do the things you engage in to relax, the stuff you would like to take up when they grow up, why not have them accompany you? Let them see what you do over the weekend.

A friend surprised me when he decided to go with his 4-year-old daughter for prayers. Although the daughter only prayed for a few minutes, she all the same took time to listen to what everyone was praying about. With time, this friend observed that her daughter is now making effort to actually make some prayers not only for the meals, but also for her parents and even school mates. Although she was taken for only one even, it nonetheless changed her life and perception of things.

The logistics might be complicated especially if you still don’t have a family car. However, the kids might appreciate the effort you put into it even when you have to hop into several mats to get to the final destination. For them it’s the thrill of being with you and not how you get there. The kids value time spent with their parents. This cannot be replaced by anything.

So this weekend, don’t just leave the kids home. Go with them where you go. Let them see how your weekend looks like when you are away from home. On the first few days, they may disturb you and seem to cause significant distractions, but unknown to you the emotional investments that you are making today, you will reap them big time a couple of years from now. So invest heavily to get better returns.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Fatherhood

 

Its green and beautiful …how about yours?

modern-tone-for-luxurious-garden

Last weekend I visited a close friend who lives along the eastern bypass. If you have been to those sides, the area is generally dry and a little dusty most of the times. So when I entered his compound, he had a well-kept lawn. It was a beauty to behold. I had always argued that Kikuyu grass is not good choice of grass for a home lawn. My argument was based on the fact that the grass required quite regular maintenance and one would require to invest in a lawn mower – which I felt was an unnecessary expense. To solve this problem, in my assessment the solution was to get the Zimbabwe grass. I was told that it was a low maintenance type that would be most suitable for me.

So I asked this friend of mine, how come he is able to maintain the lawn in such perfect condition? What was his secret? How come his Kikuyu grass lawn was so beautiful?  “I mow the grass every two to three days, and water the grass regularly if it doesn’t rain in three days”, he responded. He was quite calm – like a doctor giving you a prescription almost effortless. With my busy schedules, I leave home before daylight and return at dusk, when will I get time to tend on my lawn? For sure I was not cut out for this. I would not be able to give this kind of dedication.

Fact is am lazy. I am not willing to spend time to water and tend my lawn, yet when I see what my friend has done, I am thrilled and envious. If he was living in Limuru, I would have told him he was lucky that the weather was favorable to him, but hey this is not the case. Here was a gentleman mowing his Lawn twice a week. I don’t even shave twice a week!!!  I wanted a beautiful lawn, but I was not ready to invest my time and resources on it. I am just plain lazy.

We all love to read great love stories. We see a couple getting featured on TV or any other platform and we go – “Wou, your story is a great inspiration to us, you are a great encouragement”. We get that WhatsApp or email forward about the story of a man or woman who has loved their spouse selflessly when they were ill, given up almost everything for the sake of their marriage and we are amazed. But are you willing to take such steps for the sake of your marriage? Or your wou ends by forwarding that message to all your WhatsApp groups?

When you meet a gentleman with a cologne with fragrance that takes you to cloud nine, and you are there dazed and wondering why your husband doesn’t have a taste for the fine things in life. Get one for him – don’t be afraid to make a wrong choice, at least you would have made the first step. When you see marriages that “inspire you”, someone out there is making an extra effort to make his or her marriage great. That husband goes home early and help his wife fix dinner. That wife runs home to make dinner for her family, even if she has a house help who would do that. That father is rushing home to assist his children with homework – yet he had pressing tasks at the work. That wife gets home, even though she is very tired, takes a shower and make love to her husband. She could use fatigue as an excuse, but she chooses not to. That man who has an assignment out-of-town, organizes his schedule so that he arrives on Saturday morning for the conference instead of Friday night like everyone else so that he can spend one more night with his family. That wife would still respect and honor her husband even when her position in society demands otherwise.

That wife decides to skip that church function so that she can take her husband for a family function.

When you see that YouTube video of a 5-year old girl singing in front of an international audience and you say “It’s so sweet, this is wonderful and a brilliant performance”, someone worked hard to ensure she gets there. Her parents created time and resources to help her reach that goal. They didn’t just throw in a coach, and a fat Cheque to boot. The parents created time and walked that journey together with their child. Through the failures, through the successes, through embarrassing moments, through it all – they were there for the child.  As that Coca-Cola advert goes

“For every great goal, there are a thousand misses

For every amazing style, a dozen attempts

For Every big performance, hundreds of embarrassing moments

For every video with one Million views, a million videos without a view

In Life you have to keep trying, keep practicing, keep chasing your dream

Anything is possible …“.

Someone has spent time and resources to help those children reach their goals. When she is a golfer at ten years, when he is Africa swimming champion at eighteen years, when he has written a book at seventeen years, when she has more than ten medals and she is barely ten years, when he has traveled to more than fifteen countries and he is not even twelve years, when she has released an album at nine years, when she has a collection of her own composition of great poems at ten years, when she can stand in front a huge crowd, belt one of your favorite song and she gets a standing ovation and she is not even in primary school – someone behind the scenes has been the Engine that drives that success. They have given the child all the support she would have needed, they have gone that extra mile to make it happen. Sometimes sacrificing their careers and time with friends. Wonder why some of your friends are never available over the weekend – hopefully they are spending time with their families.

So stop wondering how come your children don’t have any talent. The problem may not be the child, maybe you are not there to help them identify that talent. Maybe you are not ready to make that big sacrifice and be with them on weekends when you can identify such talents. Maybe you are too busy to note, that your girl loves dancing and would be thrilled to do ballet dancing – but how can she know, if you don’t tell her there is something called Ballet dancing!. Maybe you think your son’s love for cycling is shifting his focus from academics (even though the grades are still good), let him ride his bike. If the bike breaks down, get it fixed – but let him ride.

Wake up buddy and water your own lawn. Mow it every two to three days, it will be so beautiful that some will say you are blessed to have just the right lawn that fell from heaven like manna. They won’t be interested in the details. But hey, who cares? Its your lawn after all.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2015 in Fatherhood, Marriages

 

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A Decade later – The Vows go unbroken

Maggy&Njoros_Wedding_20051111_066This November marks a very important milestone in our lives. We have been married for a decade now.

How it all began

During a Christian Union retreat at Arboretum, we were divided into several groups and in the group that I was allocated, there was a fine girl who had a puzzle to give to the rest of the group. The puzzle was to identify the 4 P’s that defined Joseph life. For whatever reason, I was thrilled by this piece of wisdom and there and then I said – behold my wife beckons. Want to know the answer to the puzzle, it was Pit -> Potiphar’s  -> Prison -> Palace. On the same day I got her name, we took photos and I booked an appointment to see her two days later. The rest as they say is history.

 During the preparation of our wedding, we were quite flat in terms of resources. My best man offered to host us for our committee meetings at his YMCA hostel where he was staying. He used to buy all the snacks for those attending the meeting. After about 3 or 4 meetings, the care taker noticed there were regular meetings happening on Sunday’s in his room and ordered us out. We took the next available grounds – behind the University of Nairobi  graduation square. We held our last 2 or 3 meetings there. Am delighted to my gang of friends –The Baobab Family that stood with us 10 years ago and remain our bosom friends to date.

Wedding

On the day of the wedding, I sent my best man (who was not yet married then) to go to Thika and pick the bride for me, together with the rest of my family as per tradition. I had given him strict instructions that we should not be late for church service otherwise I would have to forfeit my 1k deposit (a lot of money by then for us), and also the Pastor was attending some other functions and we didn’t want to delay him.

Probably more out of naivety or lack of experience, they drove straight to the gate where we were picking the bride. Opened the gate for themselves, and gave instructions to the bridal car to reverse and pick the bride without any further delays. I guess the car actually got inside the compound – as families from both sides (especially from the bride), looked at him unimpressed. It was then he was instructed to get out of the compound and asked drive back for about 1km and come back hooting. I am proud of you Sam, at the end of the day you got the bride in the church right on time.

First years – the Marriage

 Our first year of marriage were very tough. We argued a lot and many times I felt I have had enough. Not once or twice, but countless times – I doubted whether I made the right decision to marry her. When she was expectant with our first-born son, I would pass by the butchery and buy Liver for 30 bob. I would pan fry it and would then take a spoon and literally feed her – like a baby. This brought more conflict. Probably if I was wise enough, I would have bought a bigger portion of the liver and we would have even shared. But my narrow thinking was that a baby requires Iron, and Iron is found in Liver and spinach. My job was to ensure she took enough quantities of these two delicacies. She disliked the liver so much till date.

We argued about the amount of money she would spend on the salon. My Kinyozi guy would charge me 50 bob and yet I could not understand why she would spend 800 bob on her hair. My expectation was that 200 bob was more than sufficient. The strange thing is that whenever her hair was done, I would appreciate it for its beauty but grumble for the price that I had to pay.

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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Marriages

 

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Accidental Promise

oopsLife is full of those Oops moments. It could be for the couples who decide to use the maximum withdrawal as a family planning method and the man is unable to let go at the critical moment. He just says ‘oops it has just happened’.  The lady is furious and the man’s apology falls on deaf ears. It could be that time that you told the guard to allow you to park in a parking slot not designated for you with a promise to ‘sort’ him out as you leave, and you suddenly remember when you are approaching your car and you only have a 200 bob note only. There is no way the guard will give you change and he will not accept you paying later.

It is very tricky when you make a promise that you are unable to fulfill and more so when the promise require more efforts or resources than you had predicted. It is said that men usually fall in this trap more often, due to their inability to multi-task and say no to a challenge. A story is told of a man who gave his mistress his bank ATM so that she can just withdraw 5k and do her shopping. In the process, the wise mistress cleared a cool 95k in 2 days, before the man could block his ATM card and report it as ‘stolen’. It is an awkward position to be. He was deceived and fell for it. The request sounded genuine and he had no reason to doubt – in any case, he had been well ‘served’ by the lady.

As a father I have faced those moments where I promised something to my children so that I can dismiss them and stop their insistence on something. Somehow they remembered the promise and am forced to honor the promise. A couple of days ago, I was working on my laptop at home. It is those moments when you have a report expected in a few hours time and you need maximum concentration. As was busy working on my laptop, my daughter was also pressing keys on the keyboard. My plea to let her dad complete this urgent report didn’t seem to work. I didn’t want to raise my voice – no father wants to raise his voice on her daughter.

It was weekend time, so she expected that I should not be working. It was her time to play with dad. As I was wondering how to get her out of my working space, I told her “Hope, I will get you your own laptop and you can use it anytime you want” and I continued working as if what I said amounted to nothing. “Dad, you will buy me laptop?” she asked. “Yes, I will get you a laptop next year.” I responded. We were already in 2014 at that time and the year 2015 had more than 12 months for her to forget.

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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Fatherhood

 

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Washing My daughter – A Father’s Dilemma

Baby bathingWhen I was growing up, I don’t remember my dad bathing me or feeding me. Probably I was too young to notice or probably it did not happen. That role of bathing and feeding a child was solely for the mother. It was unimaginable that a father could contemplate changing a baby’s nappy (there were no diapers then), feed the baby or sooth the baby to sleep. Usually the father would call out the mother to come and pick the crying baby.  Statement such as “Come and pick up the baby as he is crying, probably he is wet or hungry” were quite common among many fathers of that time. I guess even those who would have wanted to help, were quite clueless where to start. It’s like cooking, where in the traditional African setup; a woman cooks much better than a man. Well with education and enlightenment, I must acknowledge that there are men out there who are better cooks than their wife – and am not referring to those whose cooking is their profession.

Times have now changed. The modern mother is now more empowered; she is in the workplace earning a living just like her husband. She is either in business or formal employment and is meeting her fair share of the family budget. At times due to work schedule she has to work late in the evening, work over the weekends or even travel out-of-town for work. Although a few of the mothers choose to stay home with the children, most of the mothers in the urban centers are out there earning a living.

This means one thing – that at one time, as the father you will be left home alone with the children. And although the house help would assist in handling most of the chores that would ordinarily be handled by the mother. A great daddy would want to do a couple of things for his children. It could be feeding the baby, changing diapers, playing with the children and even washing the baby. Technically when the babies are much younger than one year – most fathers find it a challenge to wash them, due to the apparent delicate nature of the baby. However when the baby is a little older than a year, most fathers would be okay to wash the baby and would be thrilled at the opportunity to do so.

But what happens when you have a daughter? When she is much younger, it is not a big issue. But as she progresses in years, as a father you start wondering at what point you need to stop seeing your daughter in her nakedness whether you are bathing or just clothing her. You start wondering what the girl is thinking when she sees you staring at her – suddenly you become strongly aware of your sexuality. So what do you do?

I have been trying something of late. Whenever I opt to bathe my 5-year old daughter, I wash her head and the rest of the body and ask her to wash her ‘susu’ to ensure that she doesn’t feel violated. When I have to apply lotion on her body I ensure she does not necessary put her legs in a way her privacy is ‘staring’ at me. I would either ask her to stand up and I apply the baby lotion or if she has to lie facing up, I ensure that her head is near me and the her legs farthest from my head. Whatever you do as the father, be conscious to handle her privacy with dignity.

Assuring your daughter that you respect her privacy by asking her to put on her clothes before you open the door to her room is another way of doing this. Where possible if she complains of some pain on her ‘susu’ you insist any such check be done by the mother. Of course all this depends on the age of the girl. If you are a single father – then that’s whole ball game together and I have no clue how you would handle that.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Fatherhood

 

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