What is love?

I have not had a decent night’s sleep since 2016, before my belly was too big and finding a comfortable spot to sleep was easy. And I would wake up twice or thrice a night to pee, as a little person found it amusing to kick me in the bladder. Almost two years later, I still get up several times a night to check on my little girl, and to attend to her every whim. I have even adapted to surviving on very little sleep and when I do get the opportunity to rest for a few hours straight, I end up restless and wondering if she is okay.

I have marks and scars in places that I did not ever imagine possible, my body has undergone a metamorphosis- I am a mother. I do not look the same in a bikini, but I have made the most of it. I take pride in my new body, for I know it is not a small feat to carry and bear a whole living breathing human being.

My state of mind has also changed. I constantly worry about my child- is she well, has she eaten, is she being given enough attention, is her caregiver mistreating her? I also begin to question myself- am I a good mother, am I making the right decisions for her, in the next 16 years, will I be happy with the kind of person she turns out to be?

I try to work hard to make sure she has everything that she will ever need. Good food, a good education, excellent medical services…everything she needs to be comfortable and to thrive.

Recently, I reviewed my relationship with my daughter and realised that all I do is give. I give her my love, my attention, my material possessions, my time. I would gladly give my life for her, with no hesitation, no second thought or regret. That is how much she means to me. I do not think I can sacrifice so much for anybody else in my life, just her. I give and give and give, she takes. She never reciprocates. The only reward I get is the occasional smile, a hug and sometimes (many times) temper tantrums.

I have finally understood what unconditional love means.


Mummy Brain in 2019

My mentor, a columnist who writes weekly about her experiences in one of Nation Media Group’s products, recently wrote about her terrible memory and I quickly diagnosed her condition as “mummy brain”. This condition occurs in women who are about to or have just delivered babies. Top symptoms include memory lapses, hearing the cry of a baby even though they are quiet or not even there, putting the baby first, no matter what the situation. As a new(ish) mum myself, I quickly recognized the symptoms as I myself have been suffering from the same.

One of the best examples I can use to demonstrate how severe my condition is is that I have been meaning to upload an article in my blog for the longest time and guess what? I always forget! I get a fantastic topic to explore, I play out the points in head to get the flow of the story and when I finally get round to typing it out, I forget all that I had planned to write. Other times, I get an interesting topic and just as I am about to develop it something distracts me and poof! It’s gone. This has been plaguing me for the past few months, and I sincerely hope that this will come to an end soon.

Something else that I have been forgetting is my mother’s birthday. Though she never sys it out loud, my mum loves it when we remember and spoil her on the day. I never forget the date itself, it is December 24th, quite a hard one to forget. But I have been of late unable to get her a good gift on time. This year, around September, I went shopping for success cards and stumbled upon the best card for my mum. I knew that I would forget to get another one closer to the date and even if I did remember, it wouldn’t be as nice. So I bought the card, even signed it and kept it very well. On the 23rd of December, we were with the almost birthday girl, but because I did not want to spoil the surprise too early, I decided that I would find a way to get it to her the following day. I forgot to remove it from its hiding place. I remembered about the card when we were with her and I could not get it. Let us just say that today is the 9th of January and I am considering just sending it to her for this year’s birthday, as I have even forgotten where I have kept it!

Despite my poor memory, I have found ways to cope. I pack my handbag and things in advance. This way, whenever I remember to add something to the bag, I just add it before I forget and before it is needed. I have also taken to writing lists. To do lists, shopping lists, budgets, everything. And how, you ask, do I remember everything I need for my shopping lists? I just walk around the house and check what is there and what is finished. I go to the kitchen and check the levels of cooking oil, unga, rice; I go to the fridge and see the carrots and hoho and dania then I check the toilet paper and bar soap and detergent. It is a process, I do not deny, and when I have picked an item at the shop, I cross it off the list, lest I buy five times what I need. So, it is obvious by now that this article was on my list. Let me publish it quickly before I forget!

To all doubting Thomases out there, mummy brain is real! It is hard and it is frustrating. When a new mum tells you she forgot, please believe her. It is hard functioning with less our brains as it is!

And for all mummies out there, let us work to finding new ways to deal with this scourge, no more forgetting in the New Year!


Not everyone tells the truth

There are always memes on social media that show that real life and your internet life may not always be the same thing. How one portrays the places they go, the things they do, and even the food they eat may not be necessarily true. We always want to show that our lives activities and families are way better than they really are. Just like at a job interview, we will dress in our best suits, get to the venue two hours early and even speak with a polished accent, just to give a better impression of ourselves. The internet has made it possible for us to only show the glamorous side of ourselves.

I have also realized that people are not always honest about their lives even out of social media, and that you should always take in information with a pinch of salt.  Alternative facts are not just a Trump thing, so I have gathered.

I have a childhood friend who got married a few years back. It took three years for the couple to get pregnant. When they were still trying, she had said that they would try for a year before seeking medical help. Luckily, this was not needed. Their daughter is now two. The same person, during a bridal shower for our mutual friend last month said that she had not wanted to have children those initial years of her marriage and only recently warmed up to the idea. I couldn’t help but notice the discrepancies in the story, though I did not call her out on this.  After this incident, I started realizing that some aspects she shared of her life, which her mother or sister would talk about separately, were not the same. Now, I’m keen on the details she gives, as she is not very truthful.

I am also reminded of a lady I used to work with whom I thought had managed to get to her position through sheer hard work and being at the right place at the right time. She was always fond of telling the story of how she got to be in that job, saying that  she was just ‘trying it out’, yet she got it without even having a background in the field that she had applied for. I was always in awe and felt very intimidated as well as motivated to work hard to get to where she was by the time I was her age.

Recently, I met someone who happens to know her and she revealed that the lady’s brother was a very senior person in that company. I doubt that it was a coincidence that she managed to get the job she wasn’t qualified for out of just good luck.

I have come to meet very few people who are brutally honest about the hardships that they really go through, no sugar coating. Especially matters relationships, only a handful are willing to share challenges they may be going through. I understand that we are taught not to wash dirty laundry in public but there are some issues that without airing will go unsolved. Matters like infertility, abuse and even financial problems, should be shared, if not to your friends or people who have gone through similar circumstances then to professionals trained to deal with them.

A lady I know, who had been struggling to conceive in the first years of her marriage finally got a doctor who specialized in cases such as hers after she confided in a friend about her challenges.

On the other hand, people have turned to social media to ask questions and opinions on how to handle various relationship issues from complete strangers. Armed with pseudonyms and posting anonymously through their friend’s accounts for fear of retribution, social media users, especially women have resorted to posting very personal and intimate queries on groups on Facebook. These posts are usually very sensational and generate a lot of traffic and chatter around them. Sometimes good advice is given, but one has to wade through dozens of comments rebuking the asker before getting to these.

All in all, whether you like it or not, people will talk about you and your family. If you appear to be thriving, we will talk. If you seem emaciated or your children are ill-mannered, we will still talk. So, it does not matter how perfect a picture you paint for us, we will still see through the façade and talk about you.

Reasons you shouldn’t have only one child

Once, when I was about 19 years old, I had gone to babysit for my cousin, who was in between house helps at the time. I remember telling her that I wanted many children, like four of them. Then, she was the mother of only one and she advised me that after I had had my firstborn, then we could talk about my having a football team. One baby later, and my mind hasn’t changed- I would still like a large family.

I find that people who want only one child very strange and would not advise them to do so. I was recently told by a friend that one of her colleagues has only one baby and can even beat someone if they suggest that she has another. I am aware that people are different; they know their capabilities; their preferences and even their issues hence the decision to have only one child. However, they should also consider that the decision not only affects the parents but the child as well. Here are a few reasons why I think people should have two or more children.

Being an only child is a lonely existence. I should know, I was one for 11 years. Where I grew up, we lived with my cousins in the same area. During weekends and holidays, our days were filled with fun games as we played with each other. When evening came and supper time drew near, my cousins would all go back to their homes, where the games would continue while I was left alone. Many nights I would sleep over at my cousins’ house because my parents didn’t provide the company that I needed.

Only children are innately selfish. I don’t know how to share, because I have never had to, until recently. When my parents’ brought home goodies, they were all mine. I find it difficult to be generous and get awkward because I am not sure what society expects of me. This selfishness stretched to even the affections of my parents.

I am very headstrong and stubborn. My opinions are the best, and there’s no convincing me otherwise. It’s my way or the highway. I have never been in a position where I had to compromise or let someone else take point, it was always me. This brings problems later on in life, like in marriage or at work where one has to realise that they are not the only ones with good ideas.

I know I sound like a mal-adjusted psychopath with so many problems, but I promise you, you can’t tell. Despite the down side of being an only child, a few good things can come from it as well.

I learned to be independent quite early on in my life. As I was the only one, many times responsibilities fell to me. When I eventually got a sibling, I was responsible enough to be left with the baby, even before I was a teenager. I would ensure that all the duties to be done in the house were completed quickly and I didn’t need supervision.

I also learned how to make my own decisions without looking to an older sibling for guidance. From a long time ago, if I was asked what I wanted, I knew that I had to get it right the first time.

I learned to be tough, growing up by myself. I did not have anyone to protect me; neither did I have anyone to fend for. I admired how my friends and cousins with brothers had ‘bodyguards’ and nobody could bully them. I remember one time in kindergarten; I was playing on the monkey bars on the school playground when another little girl came up to me with a bigger boy in tow. The boy didn’t waste time and told me that the spot I was playing on had been booked by his sister and that I had to go. I have never played on monkey bars again.

So, dear parent and parent-to-be, before dooming your child to only-childhood, think carefully about how the lack of siblings will affect your child’s life.

Broken hearts, mended dreams

Wedding season is around the corner, and after the brokenness that is Njaanuary, brides to be are busy planning every little detail of their dream weddings. There is nothing as exciting, frustrating and exhausting, as physically and emotionally draining as planning your wedding. Amidst all the hullabaloo of ensuring that the walk down the aisle is perfect, few people however, consider the happily ever after-that is the marriage itself.

As I may have mentioned before, I have a guilty pleasure of tuning in to a certain radio station on my way to work that usually discusses relationships (as they all do nowadays) and today’s topic was on why some men break off their engagements just a few days to their weddings. The radio host put men to task to explain why and how they could stomach calling off an event that had been planned for over a year without a second thought. Before I reached my destination and cut short my listening experience, several men had called in to justify their actions.

A host of highly indignant men explained that the breaking of engagements usually happened when they found out something unpleasant about their wives to be or had a change of heart at the last minute. One caller explained that he had called off his wedding a week to the date and had already spent Sh1.5 million on it. He said he realized that that was not the woman for him and that it was a personal matter. He did not fear what people would say about him, nor about hurting the girl’s feelings. He just didn’t want to make a mistake.

I have seen and heard of broken engagements, called-off weddings, and even stood up brides and grooms at the altar. I do not blame anyone who walked away before they made the plunge into a life-long commitment. A very wise lady once told my husband and me (before our wedding) that we would rather have a broken engagement than a broken marriage.

If you are planning your wedding soon, also plan your marriage. Reflect and find out why you are really getting into it. Is it because you are getting on in years and your family has put pressure on you to finally settle down? Are all your friends already settled in their homes and you feel left out? Do you want children can only have them in the sanctity of marriage? Is your decision to be bonded to someone else till death do you part for financial stability? If you can, ask your partner for their reasons for marrying you. Be honest about it now, or else the truth will come out sooner or later.

Marriage is not a joke. One only realizes the gravity of the vows they took long after the wedding bells have stopped chiming. One wakes up and looks at the sleeping figure next to them and discovers that this is the person that they should (because some people feel monogamy is an option) be waking up to for the rest of your life. And when the reality of the situation finally sinks in, it can be quite overwhelming. I think that the unpreparedness of couples is the root cause of broken relationships and the rampant murder suicides in families that are announced in the news on a daily basis.

So, brides and grooms-to-be, do not be afraid of what society will think of you, should you choose to walk away now. We will talk for a bit, and then find a more interesting topic to move on to. Do not be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, if it is for the better for the both of you. Do not worry about the money that was spent, you will earn it back eventually. Do not worry about your family, if they really care about you, they will support your decision. Learn to be honest with yourself and the rest will follow.

Checklist for brides to be

I’m very happy that this year I will have to make many vitenges for all the weddings that will happen. So many of my friends will be tying the knot and I’m very excited to be a part of that process.

Many brides to be have been asking for a checklist for their weddings. I’ve also noted that some things, though small seem to get overlooked  and yet they play a vital role on the big day. So without further ado, here is my checklist for the modern bride to be.

When I make a list of items or to-do lists, I usually like to start from the very beginning of the process. I discovered this technique when I was making shopping lists in high school and I never forgot anything. I would start with waking up in the morning and see all the activities I would do from then, adding to the list all items that would be needed for them. And that is how we will start.

Eve of the wedding, the night before when you go to bed

  1. Comfortable night dress/ pyjamas
  2. Headscarf
  3. Bathrobe

On the wedding day, Morning when you shower/bathe

  1. Bath set(If you need any special things like body scrub, bubble bath, loofah, face wash, shower gel)
  2. Lotion (Some brides go for a tinted or glittery lotion for an extra sheen in their skin)
  3. Perfume
  4. Toothpaste and toothbrush
  5. Slippers
  6. Shower cap
  7. Combs and hair brushes
  8. Deodorant
  9. Make up


  1. Underwear- this you will have to get depending on the style of gown you are wearing. Make sure you get well fitting, comfortable, and discreet undies to give you a seamless look.
  2. Wedding gown- as obvious as it may sound, there are some cases I have heard of brides forgetting their gowns and having to improvise. Please ensure that your gown is clean and at the place you will be getting ready that day. The gown comes with the veil and petticoat.
  3. Shoes- get your shoes early enough and break them in to avoid pinching and sore feet on the day. If you want, you can have a back-up pair, just in case. Like the dress, pack them in advance and ensure you have them on the day.
  4. Jewellery and accessories- these may be small, but my do they make a difference! Get your jewellery in good time, after selecting a gown. This will ensure that the style of dress matches the jewellery. Eg, getting armlets (upper arm bracelets) with a long sleeved gown would be pretty pointless. Accessories like hair pins and clips, tiaras, gloves should be acquired in good time to avoid last minute rushes. A bride to be should decide early on what she would like to wear on the big day and in what style so that the search for the specifics can be done and finished in good time.
  5. The rings- make sure these are given to the best couple on the day so that they are not forgotten.


For the day

On the actual day, after you have left the house for the ceremony and for the rest of the day, I feel a bride should have a few things on her, just in case.

  1. Handkerchief- watu hulia. Also noses get runny, make up gets smudgy, people get sneezy.
  2. Gum or mints- it’s always good to have fresh breath on your big day, we don’t want your soon to be spouse to be put off by your breath on your special day.
  3. Lip balm- for smooth, soft, kissable lips
  4. Sanitary towels- it’s always good to be prepared
  5. A clutch bag to keep all these things in.

Interesting things you didn’t know about babies

Motherhood is an adventure; every turn leads to unknown roads and interesting surprises. It is an exciting journey because one never really knows what they are getting into. And once you get used to the groove of things, they change and life hurls another curve ball your way. Whether you have one child or six, you will never really get a hang of it, because every day, as your child(ren) grow(s), they will teach you something that you did not know about them. Here is what I have learnt so far.

Babies are individuals with their own unique personality. From very early on, children are able to display their own individual preferences dislikes and their temperaments. My daughter has so far shown me that she is very picky. She doesn’t like change, she also doesn’t like to be babied. She wants to be treated as a grown-up; probably because she is surrounded by them.

Babies grow at their own rate. It pains me when I see so many new mums on social media wondering why their kids aren’t doing something as fast as the others or developing at the same rate as other babies. Let me ask, when did you hit puberty? Was it at the exact time as your friends? Does that mean there is something wrong with you? No. So why should it be different for your babies? They will sit and walk and talk and teeth at their own time, don’t compare them.

I have also discovered that children have a sense of time. This was not apparent before I went back to work but it was very obvious after a few days. Somehow, my daughter knew that I should be getting into the house at around 5 or 6 pm in the evening from work. According to her nanny and people who have been left with her, she plays and eats and sleeps quite well during the day after I’ve gone to work and only begins to fuss at around 5pm. By 6pm the fussiness has increased and if I’m working a bit late and get home after7pm, she is absolutely livid.

Babies, I have come to learn are very intuitive and intelligent beings. Do not spite them for their small stature, they probably know more than we do. I even think that formal education dumbs them down and makes them lose their innate sensitivity. My daughter has very chubby cheeks and depending on who or how it is said, she will react differently. If you say it in a spiteful way, she knows and she will cry and will not let you pick her up. Ever. She knows people who genuinely like her and those just going through the motions. She cries if I have an argument with someone. She smiles and laughs heartily if you pay her a sincere compliment. This is a very important trait you should look out for when hiring caregivers for your children.

Babies can communicate. Yes, we all know that babies talk with their different cries, but do you know that they use other types of language? The language of touch is extremely important to them and they can tell you a lot about what they want and how they feel by their touch. Of course you can also tell in what mood a child is in by the expressions on their face.

All in all, babies are interesting human beings that we can learn a lot from. Their love is pure and unadulterated, their actions are sincere and they don’t mince their words(probably because they can’t talk!).

Eight Simple rules for handling my infant daughter

My baby is the most precious thing on our lives and seeing scary videos and photos online of what has happened to other young children when handled improperly gives me sleepless nights. Sometimes we get visitors who aren’t very familiar with the does and don’ts of handling children and they’ll do something that puts the baby in danger. It might happen too fast for me to stop them, or I’d be embarrassed to correct them. However, I will speak up now, not only for me, but for other mums who can’t say these things themselves.

  1. Don’t kiss my baby. No offense, but I have no idea where you and your lips have been. Saliva is a breeding ground for very many bacteria and viruses, starting from the common cold to nastier things like VD. She’s cute, I know, but please resist the urge to kiss her. I don’t want to be left with a sick baby.
  2. When you come to our home, wash your hands. She’s bigger now, and not as delicate as she was when newly born, but nevertheless, the need for the cleanliness of your hands persists. Now, chances are high that she’ll grab your finger and pop it in her mouth. Again, I have no idea where you have been and we don’t want cases of running stomachs, or worse.
  3. If we are out in public, please resist the urge to shake our daughter’s hands or give her anything to play with. She’ll put her hands and the thing you have given her into her mouth. At this stage, all and sundry will end up in her mouth.
  4. Do not feed the baby. I have a neighbour who tried feeding her cake. CAKE! Why? She was only four months old then and not even weaned. Please, if it’s not her food, don’t give it to her. You do not know this baby’s allergies, food intolerance and basically enough about her to give her food from your plate. Also, if you intend to share your spoon with her, please refer to point number 1 above.
  5. Do not take photos and share them with other people. Or share on your social media a photo of her that I have shared with you. Children are stolen using info on social media. People do horrible things with those pictures. If someone really wants to see her, they’ll visit. If they are not in a position to, they can ask her parents for photos of her. If they do not know us enough to have our numbers then they are strangers and have no business with her at all.
  6. When you see the baby, do not be in a hurry to pick her up. Let her look at you, study you and then decide if she’s comfortable enough to let you hold her. She might smile with you, and even grab your hand, but that doesn’t mean she wants you to hold her. She will scream if you try. You’ve been warned.
  7. Do not say negative things about her, especially in her presence. Many people think that babies are just cute ignorant little things and they can get away with saying anything. Babies are very emotionally intelligent and they can tell when a person is not very nice. Anyway, go ahead, say something mean to her and see what will happen.
  8. Please avoid picking up the baby if you have a very strong perfume on. Babies are delicate and so many things can cause her allergies. Please help avoid them by staying away from strong scents around her.


The year my baby was born

I thought that the year my baby was born will be an eventful year for just us, boy was I wrong. It has been an eventful year for the entire country. And it has affected us directly in one way or another.

The year my baby was born was marked with a 100 day doctors’ strike. Thank God they had gone back to work by the time she was born. The longest nurses’ strike, which lasted a whopping 150 days followed soon after her birth. She almost missed getting her six weeks vaccinations on time because the initial hospital I took her to did not have all the drugs. I was advised to take her to a government facility that would definitely have them. I did just that. And surely the drugs were there, just as promised. The only problem was that there was no one around to administer them. The nurses were not there.

The country had not one but two elections that year. My colleagues were envious that I would be on maternity leave when the laborious task of keeping up with politicians during their campaigns and the culmination of the process by keeping vigil at polling stations to report who the new leaders of our country will be. Little did they know that I would resume work the week to the second elections.

The repeat election brought with them a resistance movement, post-election violence and new vocabulary. To Akombe is to run away from something. Bae is the new pronunciation of the letter B, which became every Nairobi girls’ favourite letter of the alphabet. Withdrawal became the go-to family planning method of the time.

My dear daughter is lucky enough not to know what plastic bags are and the devastating effect they have on the environment. She would also only hear about a time when people ate only boiled food, took milkless tea and washed their clothes with plain water as a mass boycott of washing detergent, cooking oil and milk took effect.

The year I finally became a mother would be the year that I finally left the country and travelled to exotic lands far away. 2017 is the year that the coast decided that they did not want to be a part of Kenya and for us to travel there on holiday we would need a passport and a Visa allowing us in. Maybe this is the way to keep the hoi polloi from dirtying and crowding the beaches and keeping tourists at bay.

This year, when my husband celebrated his first father’s day, Team Mafisi became a real thing. Up till then, the group was just a joke, but they decided to make it official, the way they have never done with their girlfriends. Team Mafisi became a registered foundation, to help with the fight against HIV and AIDS, no less.

The year is yet to end and I cannot honestly predict what will happen in the couple of months remaining. But of all the earth shaking events that our country has experienced this 2017, the birth of our daughter will remain tops for me.


So you think parenting is easy?

I recently saw a video on YouTube of a British comic describing how his life is now that he has children. He was saying how childless people are clueless on what it really is to have little humans in your life and that all they have are misconceptions on how easy it is to bring up children. This was the second time I watched the video, but it was the first time I could relate.

When I was still young and stupid, I thought that parenting would be a breeze. There’s a  couple I know that has three young children, the oldest of whom is a boy. He is the typical tomboy; he uses furniture as his own personal playground and the walls of their house are his blackboard. His parents had recently painted over his doodles, but a few months later, they were back, bigger and bolder. The house is never clean; the carpet has food stains in it permanently and a funny odour permeates throughout the home. I have never admired these parents and I’ve always thought that they don’t try hard enough to discipline their children or keep their home presentable.

I have a small child, one who isn’t even mobile yet and still my house is not neat. I have toys, blankets and other baby paraphernalia strewn about my living room. My little one, who sometimes has trouble keeping food down always aims for the carpet, so white blotches are often seen around where we sit. Every room apart from the kitchen has little white muslin cloths for wiping her face when she brings up milk, we even joke that they are part of the baby and have to be where she is. If this is the state of my house now, what will it be like in a few months when she is crawling and walking?

My mother often told me when I was pregnant to go to all the places that I desired. I was so heavy and tired all the time that all I really wanted was to curl up in bed on my days off and just sleep. I cheated myself that I would be up and about once the baby was out. Now, leaving the house is chaos, and she hasn’t even started refusing yet. Getting myself and the baby ready takes about three hours. I get up (reluctantly, mark you) and go to make breakfast and before I can partake of it, my sleeping child wakes up and demands to be fed. After her feeding, I clean her up and dress her for the outing. If she is calm enough, I will hurriedly take a shower, dress and then pick her up and go have my breakfast. Remember how she can’t keep food down? She will soil her clothes and possibly mine, so a change of clothes is in order. While I’m at it, I pack her bag with at least two full changes of clothes, depending on how long we will be out, diapers, a toy, the all-important muslin cloths, bibs, wipes, a small blanket, a baby shawl, a flannel sheet, changing mat and petroleum jelly. During all this, the baby gets hungry again and starts to doze off as she feeds. That is the routine, no matter how early I wake up and or what I do beforehand.

Children will embarrass you, no matter how cool, calm and collected you feign to be. We once went out for a family lunch to celebrate my dad’s birthday and as soon as we walked into the restaurant, my baby started wailing. I don’t know if it was all the strange faces but she just didn’t want to be there. Needless to say, it was a very long two hours. As soon as I had eaten, I left and everyone was quite relieved as they watched us go.

For all those people who kid themselves that they will be perfect parents, always pristine with an immaculate house, just continue. Reality will bring you to your senses once you have been handed your newborn child.