The blog is my personal inspirations on the issues that are dear to me. I am passionate about the rights of women and girls to live in dignity, and transformative leadership. Desiderata inspires me, that I am a child of the universe and I Inspire others that you can Dare to Dream
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Multiple roles, one soul
“Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing”. Ricki Lake
was a beautiful Sunday morning. Sundays mornings are usually beautiful. Serene.
It is like the weather knows it is a Sunday and even if it rains, the day has a
sunny demeanor. May be because there is less traffic in Nairobi. Less pollution
unless you neighbor some Church with blaring noise.I have never understood why they do this. The
megaphones outside the Church preaching to everyone who is not interested in
the preaching. Anyway, as usual, I had plans to start the day with Sunday Mass,
but his plans…well he had different plans. I ended up spending part of the
Sunday Mass time outside the Church when my terrific two son decided there was
more interesting stuff outside. Despite
the accommodating section for lactating mothers and young babies in the Church,
he was uncooperative.
is enough.” He said …through tantrums.
wanted to play, not pray. Sometimes, most times, he is more cooperative. To be
fair to him, after some rains that week, the grass was so green, alive and inviting,
sort of calling to be enjoyed. It was truly a beautiful day to be outdoors, but
the wrong timing. I resigned myself to the fate as he explored. That is where I
met this lady, fellow mom in a similar situation. We got talking as her
daughter and my son discovered the surroundings. The two children were about
the same age. Well, may be the two young ones had planned it all along! Children
really get adults talking.
the issue of travel came up. Her profession demands travel as part of the
everyday roles. She mentioned the challenge of having to travel when her child
was about seven months old, and so stopped breastfeeding. We ended up talking
about the balancing act of being a mother and a professional when the children
are too young to understand.This is a
shared concern for many women in particular. I started travelling when my son
was 13 months old. I had planned for it, but that did not make it easier. Sometimes
there is a sparkle in the drab.This was
an easy way for getting him off the boob. He had reduced breastfeeding and the
travel sealed it. He stopped breastfeeding and he forgot about it. For some
mothers, this is a struggle. If I was not travelling I had no idea how long he
would have breastfed as that decision was off my hands. I think he had already
had his fair share anyway.
parent, one often has to make tough decisions around the different roles that
one plays. Travelling and leaving the family is not easy, yet this is often
required of many parents, in employment or business.
do you manage?” I often get the question.
not have an answer. Just doing what I got to do and getting a lot of support in
that. I grew up with an ever present mother who worked in the homestead. But,
my dad worked and resided in Thika, coming home over the weekends. I doubt if
anyone ever asked him how he managed being away from the family five (or
sometimes six) out of the seven days in a week. That does not mean that the men
do not necessarily find it difficult to leave the families, but the world has
accepted men as the species that work away from the home. Not so for women.
professionals have had to make decisions around various issues related to work
and their parenting role. Travelling away is a sometimes quite tough. The
anxiety of leaving one’s family, more so when there is a young child, almost
robs one the excitement of exploring a new place. When the time difference is many hours apart,
it becomes even trickier.You want to
hear the positive message when you call, “we are doing well.” That is a
standard reassuring response. Sometimes I wonder if it is rehearsed and ask
many questions to verify.
time, I travelled away from my home for work after my baby was born was
difficult. I was away for two weeks and every day felt like torture. This was
quite different before I became a parent. It was easier to stay away for
longer. This was a different experience. Despite occupying myself with the
tasks at hand, I practically counted days, every morning and every evening. I
felt like my heart was being torn apart. I kept wondering what his little mind
is telling him. Was he feeling abandoned? I ached to be back. When I arrive
back home, he was confused. He looked at me and became so emotional, tears
welled in both of our eyes. May be he
thought he was dreaming. As he gets older, his reactions are different. He will
clap and run for a hug. That is easier to manage.
some situations, the work environment does not support the roles of being a
parent. Some women especially face the
challenge of biased employers or supervisors or colleagues. During our earlier working
days immediately after Campus, my friend was working in a government office. In
those days maternity leave was quite short. She was expected to be in the
office from 8.00 am to 5.00PM. There was no allowance for the lactating mothers
to have more flexibility back to work. Her supervisor could understand her need
to go home earlier. In those days breast pumps were not quite known and
acceptable in Kenya.She had a rough
time struggling with painful breasts every day and literally fasting to reduce
her milk production. Ironically she had so much milk. At one time her
supervisor told her to “find out how other women manage”.
we have gained quite some steps in getting more women to the offices, getting
the offices accommodative to women is still a struggle. Many offices are
buildings without a soul. There are also beautiful stories of how many
employers have made strides in making the working environment more humane. One
should not have to choose and feel that the multiple roles are in conflict.
am the child of the universe, striving to leave foot prints, however faint they
seem. A step at a time.
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Dear son, You are now a Terrific Two!
A whole two years of existence. You came into my life and
changed my world. The first fruit of my womb. Turned it in more ways than I can
imagine. It is said life begins at 40, so what a joy to start a new life at 40!
From the first minute you came into the world, you silently whispered “we are
in this together”. While I could not hold you for some time, I said a prayer
“Lord I need to bring up this boy”. I don’t know if I fell in love or grew in
love, long before I saw you. Knowing you were forming in a world I could not
see, yet the growing bump was evidence that there is a life coming up shortly!
The bump did not grow fast enough for me to get…you know those social
privileges of not queuing … I am not complaining. We walked, we shopped, we
planned, we prayed, we played. Then you came, and life has never been the same
again. You were an energetic boy
from the word go. You fought the nurses who tried to put some sharp needle in
your little arm. I re…
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy”. Nhat Hanh
She smiled. I looked up and smiled. We both smiled. We both knew that this was not just a coincidence but a meaningful smile.
“You could smile more often” I had told her several months ago.
I met this young woman in a guest house while travelling in a field site in Uganda. She works in the guest house and I had noted how she was acting and wondered if she knew life is too short to live with a sad face. She was far from polite but something about her pulled me towards her. I thought of her as young woman struggling with life’s challenges and wondering when the day would end, starting another day and the drudgery continued. One day after telling me in a “do-not-disturb-me” tone that what I needed was not available, I called her aside and started chit chatting with her. I reminded her that she was in the hospitality industry that required that one be hospitable to others…
That is a common judgment that is used on women and girls, over and over again. the narrative seeks to establish how the victim contributed
to what happened to her.
In the recent past there has been several incidents of reported rape cases in Kenya involving high profile individuals or highly publicized incidents. Some are in the process of legal proceedings so I will not get into details. With social media such incidents are highly publicized and the ‘online experts’ immediately start giving ‘analytical input’ into the incidents. In one case, there was an immediate reaction on doubting if this was true and even how this was a “date gone wrong”. That caught my interest, a date is equal to saying yes to sex? In Kenya it is very hard to hear about date rapes. This is not because that does not happen but because there is an assumption that when you say yes to one thing, then it is a yes to everything else. If you did not intent to have sex, do not go out fo…