Lifestyle

Parenting from a 27 year old’s perspective

May 31, 2018
Lilmissbelle- Brenda

*Its 8.19 am in Amsterdam and I am seated at the baggage area of Schipol Airport after an 8 hour flight, one that zoomed by like an asteroid given my level of fatigue. The plan was to write a feature in the flight but I literally blacked out at 11.00pm before we even boarded. I found myself nodding off at JKIA’s Gate 13 as we waited to board, and I knew that once I got into that plane there was no possibility of writing a blog post, much less a text. So, I called the one person who has never disappointed me. My sister, Brenda. There’s once she told me that she is convinced she’ll never have kids because she’s afraid of loving them too much and losing herself. 

“You know that fear you have, the one about having kids?” I said in my sleepy stupor.

“Yeah, what about it? Don’t tell me you want to make me adopt Xena and Xia.” 

“That’s a possibility, but not today.” I laughed. “Why don’t you write me something about your thoughts on parenting based on your interaction with them?”

“Please don’t tell me you wan’t this to go up tomorrow. Surely, Joy!” She scolded. “It’s 11.00pm where I am.”

“Yes it is, even at JKIA haha. Thanks for coming through.”

And so she put this feature together last night and when I landed in Amsterdam and got access to their amazingly fast internet, my first job was to put up this feature before the mister and I head out to look for some flavored weed!

I hope you enjoy the read. Brenda and I are looking forward to your comments!

*****

Every little girl’s dream, as per the conventional every-day young girl, is to have a big fairy-tale wedding & a bunch of kids afterwards (Case in point: Kate Middleton {my personal favorite}). In the young girl’s mind; which has a high possibility of carrying on into adulthood- is the dream of having a fairytale romance, a fairytale wedding and finally a fairy tale life: Happily Ever After.

That being said, in my opinion, the romance is just a by the way to the process of getting that fairy-tale life. To be honest, all I saw were the fun, silly and goofy moments; a fun lunch out which might include a swim or a hearty meal at the end of an adventurous weekend afternoon. And more honestly, I didn’t envision kids in my future. Why? Because having an older sister meant that I had someone to take care of me – which she did magnificently by the way! Therefore, as far as I saw, I was in (and still is) no capacity to take care of someone else, let alone another human being entirely!

When my older niece, Xena, was born, I had just finished my University lectures & exams and was just waiting for my graduation which was four months away. My sister didn’t have a reliable nanny by then and so she asked me to step in for that time which I was available. For the five or so months I was with and around her, I came to realise that parenting wasn’t a walk in the park!

I learnt that being a parent is much more than just helping them make humongous Lego blocks during play time. Babies are cute and all, but the cuteness alone can’t cater for diapers and formula (and God forbid that your baby is allergic to cow milk, meaning you have to find alternative milk sources: camel milk, soy milk, et al.) This tiny human with a problematic appetite was so expensive to cater for, in my eyes. Diapers would get finished a week after purchasing that mega pack. And not just diapers: cotton wool, petroleum jelly, and in case they have a skin condition, eczema treatment comes in and so on. As for formula, one of those pricy Nan powder milk containers would get depleted in less than a week – a week at most if her appetite is feeling generous. Just seeing that was a wakeup call that this is serious business. You have to be financially stable to afford your lifestyle as a caregiver/parent/guardian and also that of your child. In short, you have two budgets.

When babysitting, Joy (my sister, Mama Xena. We’ll refer to her as Joy from now on) would call me every hour or so to find out how we were fairing. You have to understand that for a person with no interest in not giving more attention than necessary to a baby, the moment Xena calmed down, I’d put her in her cot to chill and possibly figure out how to torture me next (her appetite was, and is still for tears!). Joy would call and cause a storm as to why I was just abandoning Xena like that *smh*. [Would Xena know that she was abandoned really? She was in her cot playing with imaginary friends for Pete’s sake!] My point is, I didn’t understand that as young and impressionable as she was, she still needed that social interaction even though she appeared impassive as hell. How was I to entertain a four-month old baby after suffering through the torture of feeding her?

That was just the tip of the ice berg. You know the way babies like to cry just for the sake of it? I believe that she did it just to torture me. Every time she would start her tantrums, I’d console myself that it was however many hours left until Joy came home. I would later reflect on that and wonder that had she been my child, whom would I leave her with when I got tired of the crying? Now, that’s the catch: I l learnt that children are not like shagz pets that you can just abandon when you’re tired of them (the upmarket ones are considered family).

Aside from the crying, kids can be so demanding in terms of time/attention and energy. At the moment, Xena is almost 6 years now. That means she has the energy of a whole Dothraki army with a myriad of questions that are only related/linked by “why” and “what”. She’s at what I’d call her ‘destructive phase’, meaning that no one can just sit in peace in her presence. Once, there was a blackout at home but my laptop still had charge and I was using it. That was the only source of lighting in the living room since I didn’t feel like lighting the candles, so, she was obviously drawn to that. She made it her mission to attract my attention from the movie I was watching (Wakanda Forever! X): Standing silently, yet ominously next to me making all kinds of fracas- dropping things around me, ‘accidentally’ touching my screen or keyboard but never saying a word.

In that moment I thought to myself that, in all honesty, I couldn’t afford her the attention that she wanted since that was my me time! Had she been my child, I would have had to find an exciting way to keep her engaged. So I just told her to go check on her sister who was with their dad. And knowing that they are daddy’s girls’, the moment she saw her dad she forgot about me.

That made me realize that it’d be a while until I’d be ready to be anyone’s parent. I have learnt to be selfish with my time and effort. However, when my nieces come in the picture, that structure becomes obscured. You should see Xia’s (the 2.5 year old) face if/when she wants a favour from you. Up to this day, I can’t say no to those adorable eyes. Instead I go for the “ask mama first” way. Cowardly, I know. How can I be ready for kids when I can’t even make decisions that affect them on my own without asking Mama? (Joy is Mama Bear though!!)

More so, aside from the indecisiveness, more often than not I’d just lack the energy to engage Xena, especially after fighting with her to finish her food. Or just given my emotional instability at times, like when I just don’t feel like talking to anyone and she’d just show up by my bedside at 7:45am asking me, “Aunty Brenda why are you still sleeping? Kwani where did you go last night?’’

On any given day, in public my paranoia is almost at 100 out of 100 paranoid level. Now, bring Xena and Xia into the picture together with all the possible hazards around them in that house when they’re playing hide n’ seek and I wouldn’t know a moment of peace. In my eyes, anything they touch poses a possible life threat! Oh, the horrific possible scenes that play out in my head. How, would I be able to do anything else aside from literally monitoring their every move?

Now, consider that the toddler is sleeping and so I am I(intending to sleep, that is) but I have to be on the ‘lookout’ for any signs of discomfort from her. You know, things like making sure she’s sleeping in the right position, she hasn’t soiled her diaper, she hasn’t uncovered herself e.t.c. I might as well just forget about napping since my mind would already be in overdrive thinking about all the possible ways the babysitting episode could take a turn (to date, that’s my worst nightmare). I don’t see how I can keep my sanity around my toddler child unless they’re strapped to my back.

Almost every weekend I see Joy and her husband  figure out where to take the kids out for a change of scenery plus fun activities like horse ridding, bouncing castles, swimming, which aren’t available at home. Every time I’d challenge myself to get out of bed at the same time as they do (parents) so as to help them with the planning and all, but my sleep would be calling! Had I been the parent here, that wouldn’t count! I’m definitely sure that I’m not ready to sacrifice my sleep for anyone, especially not kids. Even just figuring out what would keep them occupied throughout the day in the house aside from watching CBeebies is a task! Toys would be forgotten in a minute, and all the forbidden places/areas would be more alluring. Also given that both their favorite pastime is thoroughly bullying each other until one caves in.

Lastly, I believe the last thing holding me back from joining the parenting bandwagon is that I would love my kid(s) too much that they’d end up either being rotten or smothered. My nieces are my heart. I’d give, not just all of my arms and legs just for their sake, but also my life. Considering that they aren’t even my own children, I can’t conceive what I would do for my own. I think my love for them would consume me which would mean the end of/for them. Did y’all know that Elephants can die from heartbreak? – All of that emotion taking them over. I imagine that’d be the scene with my kids.



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mercy
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mercy

the nightmares ; i totally get on this kwanza the ones that she stops breathing cause covered herself to the head

Samuel Ndungu
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Samuel Ndungu

A great piece coming as it is from someone who has actually never had children.
Very accurate and memorable description of the joys -and ooh different experiences- of parenthood.
The feelings and fears of prospective motherhood are also succinctly captured.
Keep it up.

Eva
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Eva

Wow..this is such a nice piece. The fear of loving your kids too much is actually a good fear to have from where am standing. That love will enable you discipline them and watch them cry while holding back the pain and tears deep inside you. It will remind you constantly that every action you take is for their good….like the immunisation jabs they have to get that make them cry so hard sometimes they stop coz they are out of breath not coz the pain has gone. Parenting is hard emotionally, but it is also the most rewarding job… Read more »

Original Kenyan
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“…even though she appeared impassive as hell…” ha ha really? 😁😁

Love how you’ve already got your husband and your sister ocassionally writing for the blog. I’m waiting for Xena’s turn, lol.

Butterflies and Petals
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you look so much alike,like twins

Hellen Njenga
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Hellen Njenga

Great piece.. Love the way these tusmall sisters of ours come in handy to hold up for us during desperate times. Brenda, no worries, the fear will disappear, at its own timing. When that moment comes, you won’t even realize how you will pull through…

Mama Ivanna
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Mama Ivanna

Oh Brenda, you would figure it out. It is absolutely true that God gives you grace to do parenting once the kids come. From your interaction with your nieces, you sound like you will make a great mum. All the best getting ready and even if you never get to a place you feel ready, Xia and Xena are blessed to have you in their life… and of course Joy is very lucky to have you around.