After a long while MIA, I was making a new post to this blog when a new feature popped up. I could now turn the blog into a podcast! At first intimidated by the potential tech difficulties, or cost, of doing this, I clicked “Next” several times until I found myself with the real thing. A podcast!
“Welcome to the show, ladies and gentlemen, boys and germs,” goes the intro to one of my favourite podcasts. This is one of the things I now had to consider, as I looked at the long list of blog posts that would make potential podcast episodes. An Intro. A narrator. Would I choose to use the automated voice provided by the podcast app or record my voice? My sister recently gifted me with a cool mic-headset and even though my voice sounded odd to me, I opted for it. Of course with a few background tunes to make it easier on your ears, dear subscriber.
I spent many happy hours tinkering with the technology and wrestling down my shyness. And going back to the very beginning of this blog in 2014. And reflecting on what I thought being a mommy would be like and what it actually was. The shimmers and bows, and the shit shows. The gushing and the bashing.
When I started to document this journey, the blog was a way to examine the things that occupied my mind but were difficult to include in conversations. Too much navel gazing. My friends would definitely not enjoy such introspection. My writing also allowed me to admit when I was struggling, a retreat from the exhausting positivity we are encouraged to maintain these days. I could write about my failures without anyone exhorting me to quote winning scriptures.
There IS quite a bit of scripture on here. As I was telling a dear friend recently, while the rest of you guys are coming to terms with the limitations of your humanity, courtesy of a cruel, heart-breaking global pandemic, people like me have been walking around naked for a long time. No cover but God. Believe me, I have tried to find alternatives, seven-step umbrellas, and winning full-proof plans that promised to shield me from life’s rain. Harr harr harrrrr!
So I am not embarrassed to admit that I am defenceless against life’s assaults, and there is no in-built well of wisdom that enables me to finagle my way out of assorted conundrums. The grace of God is all I have. Hence the scripture-quoting and soul baring open letters to him you will find on here from time to time.
Seven years is a long time in a child’s life. Big Daughter is now a fully-fledged adult who has flown out of the nest. Literally taken wing across the skies to another country. I can no longer complain about the mess in her room because I cannot see it. She cleverly rations her face-time to dodge my tendency to suggest miracle face scrubs and to forward pictures of natural black hairstyles. My first blog had me advising her on a high school presentation, hoping that the network would not completely disappear as the van I was in flew over the potholes of an upcountry road. That blog compared that nerdy conversation with my feigned astonishment at her younger sister’s latest discovery. She had learned that day that elephants exist in Uganda and I was oh so grateful to get this update.
Seven years later, Small daughter is under the illusion that she is too is an adult. Like millions of teenagers before her and those that will come after. Still small in stature, her petite physique hides an outsize personality. Her journey through adolescence is a movie script writer’s dream. Or those telenovelas she used to be obsessed with. There is always drama with one cliff hanger after another. If there is anyone who has tested everything I assumed about being a mother, it is her. I have most definitely been refined by fire.
Baby daughter was an actual baby when I started to write this stuff. She cemented my status as a single mother, and taught me the lesson about jumping from a frying pan into fire. Yes, let’s roll out all the clichés, metaphors and idioms. The last straw that broke the camel’s back. Etcetera etcetera.
Now I watch as this baby washes dishes, plumps cushions to spruce up the sitting room, and folds away the dry laundry. Seven years later, she is old enough to ask me what I was thinking when I flung myself even deeper into a world devoid of functional fatherhood. Despite the smooth round cheeks and constant seeking for my bosom, I think she is the most insurgent of them all.
In the blink of an eye, she too will be gone. Small daughter has needs that may require my handholding for years to come. But she too will fly. Probably after she has accumulated enough views or likes for whatever media project she is up to then. About half of her sentences begin with the words, “When I become famous.”
Seven years ago, I thought I knew what it would take to raise these my insurgents. I knew that it would be an unconventional, even tough, task but I assumed I had it all figured out. Work crazy hard, take them to the best schools (with no homework), shelter them in a lovely home, keep them healthy, teach them scripture, surround them with wholesome people, hire expert help, be there for them no matter what. Again, harr harr harr!
The sweetest mean mommy is who I am. Very strict about the values that I hold dear. Kindness, loyalty, good manners, honesty, cleanliness, excellence, love. Willing to cut your fun short when I see a breach. Not afraid to throw away your favourite tee-shirt if I find it on the floor. Insisting on a written apology when you cross the line. Prepared to paint for you the gory details of what life will be like when you go down a certain path. Still not willing to do anyone’s homework. “But mummy you are so meeeeean!”
The sweetest mean mommy is who I will always be. Extending grace over and over again, even to near breaking point. Providing kisses and cuddles on demand. Finding another way to show affection when hugs gross you out. Staying up late for a pep talk before that job interview that is stressing you. Laying the bed with hospital corners on Sunday so that it is easier for you the rest of the week. Fielding questions about your first mother with tenderness. Hounding you into wearing that dress that makes you look so lovely until you finally see it yourself. Holding you tight when you rail at me in anger at the news of your favourite grandpa’s failure to make it out of the ICU.
Seven years. The insurgents are still raising dust, rejecting the status quo, and laying their hearts before me. Forcing me to really look. And love. On some days, their issues force me to my knees, with my arms up in surrender to their Maker, as I place them at his altar. On other days, the beauty of their souls forces gratitude-filled prose out of my core.