Yay, it’s school half term here in U.K, and we are all home. I had a lie in until I was woken up to a hearty breakfast by our son. Our two children are now 17 and 12, with the our eldest son nearly an adult.
I look at them with joy and pride as they busied themselves around the house. Indeed the Lord has been gracious to us. The journey has not always been easy. Fear, anxiety and worry have played a significant part of our parenting journey. It should not be so! Lack of knowledge and understanding creates fear and unnecessary anxiety.
Our son was born back home in Zimbabwe and was dearly loved and adored since conception. I stayed with my parents from 35weeks pregnant as per shona custom of ‘kusungirwa’. For 6 weeks postpartum, I was ‘fattened’, waited upon and pampered as a new mom by my mum and grandmother as per our Shona custom. That did not stop Q from having colic and being the most unsettled baby in the household. My mom and grandmother used to take turns to cuddle and bhabhu (carry baby on the back with a sling, see pic below 👇🏾) him to sleep which he loved. I remember very well my late grandma laying down to sleep on her tummy with Q on her back.
Once I returned to the marital home, I couldn’t bath, eat or do anything due to Q’s crying. Social isolation did not help as we moved into suburbia. My poor husband did not know how best he could help. Things settled when we finally got a nanny, when Q was around 3months old. I feel I should not have suffered in silence. But how could I? I did not know or understand what was going on. Gripe water did not work and Q blatantly refused formula milk. It took me a while to adjust to being a mom.
The feeling of overwhelm and sadness was intense. I felt lost in all the roles life required of it. Newly married trying the wifey thing, commenting for work, being pregnant and hubby landing a lucrative role with a non governmental organisation. This was meant to be exciting, fun and fulfilling yet here I was!
Hubby tried. We started going for evening jogs together. Then it was to shift the baby weight and sure it did. As the months progressed, we would have lunch dates 3times a week near his workplace. This was to give me something to do, create an opportunity to have a proper shower, dress up and show up at his workplace 😍. I just felt so lost.
I remember a dear friend who had a same aged son as mine. She would invite me for play dates, coffee etc. It worked for a bit. She would have Q and the nanny on valentines just so we could have couple’s time. It was only a few years later when we met here in UK and we were talking about this that she recollected how much I struggled.
I am writing this to encourage other moms out there. Motherhood is challenging but there is help and resources available.
📌Talking about your feelings:
Talking your feelings through with someone is a start. For most couples talking to your spouse/ partner ideally, should be the first point of call. By talking it through together, it aids the transitioning journey to be in synergy. Sometimes, he may not be the best candidate to talk to, maybe due to work pressures or lack of insight. My husband did the practical bits ( coming home on time to feed the baby, cook and relieve me so I could have a shower). However, he never confronted my emotions and how overwhelmed I felt and looked. He just did not know how to and so were my family and friends. Your GP is a point of call and s/he can signpost you to the necessary services.
Attending parenting courses educates and empowers you for the role. I totally agree, to the notion that parenting classes should be made inclusive for transition into parenthood (Independent news, 2016).
Parenting courses are offered for different stages of parenting; pre birth, 0-5years, Teenage years etc. Most social services across UK offer parenting classes for different age groups.
Some voluntary organisations, such as charities and churches also do offer parenting classes. Ask your local church if they do. From work experience, BME women do not access these courses as they do not find them valuable or they do not relate/ appreciate the experiences of mainstream caucasian women. It will be interesting to note evidence on the outcomes of those children in developmental skills at school entry level.
Attending and accessing help via children centres, health visitors, church organisations and social care is equally important. This does not only help with combatting isolation but building a social network. Relationships are beneficial in life, for personal development and growth.
Social services tends to be seen in a negative light but they do work for the welfare of all children and families. If you find yourself in a vulnerable situation: no money, no papers and in a volatile relationship, they can assist, under Children in need.
📌Community/ cultural groups.
These groups, if well run, are fantastic for offering a sense of belonging and well being. The challenge from a professional point of view, is that they can be a stumbling block to cultural integration. Some of the groups do not offer parenting courses, support groups etc.
The Intentional Parenting Community exists to support African migrant families who sometimes want to talk to someone who understands ‘where you are coming from’. Indeed parenting practices differ globally.
Our 6am club is a faith/ prayer club for mums who want a safe place to build relationships, pray and center their day. The club runs term time only, Monday -friday 6am-6:30am GMT via zoom. Anyone is free to join. You can connect via this link.
Our webinars are also a great resource to learn, ask questions and be equipped as a parent. More details coming soon for the webinar sessions.
There is hope ❤
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Disclaimer: This post is based purely on personal experiences.
Children In Need