You know you are failing miserably as a parent when you wake up on Sunday morning at 10.00am to an urgent letter from your six-year-old daughter.
This happened to us this past Sunday. My fatigue level was beyond what is humanly acceptable. It wasn’t surprising at all given that I had started my day with a 16.2km run at Karura forest, and finished it off with a long night full of laughter, dancing and a few shots of whisky. Actually, if we are being honest, I lost count of the shots of whisky at some point. It was a friend’s birthday and I had a legit reason to let loose after three months of burying my head in my books.
On the other hand, as a golf fanatic, the mister was also understandably incapacitated given that the Magical Kenya Open golf tournament was in full force, which saw him stay out late both Friday and Saturday. The nanny was not available to save us from our misery as she had promptly left at 6.ooam. It was her day off after all.
Xena, my six-year-old daughter, and Xia, her three-year old sister, were up at 7.00am like clockwork. She knocked on our door and after getting no response, proceeded to the kitchen to fix their breakfast of hot chocolate and pancakes (No she did not cook the pancakes, just warmed them. We are not that irresponsible). Afterwards, she tried washing the dishes and was disappointed to find no running water in the kitchen sink. Later, she decided to brush her teeth but again, the tap in her bathroom let out no water. Finally she barged into our room, her sister hot on her heels like a shadow at noon. She tried waking me up but I ignored her after which they both left my room.
After sleeping for what felt like eternity, I suddenly jumped out of bed in panic, imagining that our kids had taken off to find more caring parents. I reached out for my phone on the bedside table to check the time, but it was missing. In its place, was this letter:
I bet you are shaking your head in shock, perhaps even rage, wondering why God chose to bestow the parent tag on us. On me. I bet you are wondering why I would think it’s ok to share this story. Am I seeking validation? Or consolation? Am I trying to exonerate myself by letting you in on my guilt? The answer is none of the above.
The point of publishing Xena’s letter is three fold. First, this is the reality of parenting. Don’t be fooled by those perfectly curated Instastories or YouTube videos that show how a mom woke up at 5am to get the kids ready for school, made breakfast for them and hubs, dropped them to school without forgetting to kiss them on the forehead, kicked ass at work in her power suit and made it for the 6.00pm Zumba class. Still, she managed to get home in time to whip up a quick meal and put them (the kids and hubs) to sleep. I’m not disputing that it happens, it does. Perhaps even most of the time. But there are days the reality of parenting is so ugly it gets you thinking that parenting is a calling and God ran out of airtime before he could get to you.
Secondly, I may have been disappointed that I let her down, but I was filled such a great sense of pride knowing that the lessons I’ve been instilling in her are finally yielding fruit. I was taken aback when she told me that she wanted to wash dishes and leave the kitchen clean. Independence and responsibility are two key lessons that I want my kids to embrace, if not anything else.
Finally, aren’t you proud that Xena who a few years ago would say yawa for flower and sikino for signal, can now write a letter? Today, she has made a debut as a writer on this platform that I created initially solely for her.
That letter made all the difference in the world. Had she just waited to rant when I woke up, it would definitely not have had the same impact as the letter. The letter was well thought out. It showed her intent. It emphasised the level of her frustration. This letter will always serve as a reminder that Xena never wants to miss church, and shame on us if we allow it to happen again. And if for whatever reason we choose to sleep in on a Sunday morning, at the very least, we should ensure there’s running water.