Summer-saults

The saga continues

So far summer has been bliss. The planning has taken the pressure of me in amazing ways. Prayer and lots of it has gone into this planning. The idea is to have an enjoyable and memorable summer. For us as parents, the reality of our children growing too fast and time sipping through our fingers has become such poignant truth.

We are keen to make the memories of today meaningful both now and for generations to come. That takes time and being intentional. Intentional of our family time, activities we do or don't do together and how we spend time with other people. Being away from each is great, as the distance makes the heart grow fonder.

An incident that happened during the half term taught me to be more organise when it comes to the children's time and their friends.

What exactly happened was that I was sitting on the train, on my way to work when at exactly 8am, a text message came inviting my daughter for a shopping trip with a friend the following day. Of course, it was school half term and I had forgotten to fill this one day of the half term week with activities and appointments. The predicament was that I had said no to a couple of invitations before, to this particular dear friend. It was a matter of timing and other family commitments.
 

I was well spent financially, and I would have needed to organise the pick up, drop off etc. Not what I expected on that day. My daughter thinks the world of this particular dear friend. Yes, they have recently started high school together and they 'clicked'.

I had filled the 5 out of 7days in a week with things to do. We had friends over for bank holiday Monday. Both adults and children, enjoyed the company, conversations and cuisine. We then visited another dear friend, 50miles each way and had a truly magical time on that Tuesday. Forget the food bill befitting the 21st century 2 teen instagram postings. Come Wednesday, both children had play dates and a sleepover whilst I ran around chauffeuring them. I also busied myself with lastminute preparations for the new job the following day some miles away from home. Hubby was off  the next day and took our cherubs for bowling and eat out. Girl done good, I told myself.

Until that morning and this text message, I had been absorbed in my own little world. I had done what most mothers do for their children. Since primary school days, I know how critical play dates are. My thinking was that at her  age my daughter can now sort her play dates. Since this was never mentioned at the agreed 'three days before' I assumed we were all fair and square.

At this stage, I decided not to feel bad about it. I was on my second day in a new job, away from home. I was trying my best to make sense of my new world. My plate was full. In actual fact,  in my mind I had planned for a mother- daughter time at my mother church on the morrow. Great opportunity to see my wonderful mother Bishop/ mentor/ teacher and inteccessor and of course my delightful cousin sister and her two beautiful girls. My daughter does not think attending church events is really spending quality time with me. I totally get it.

Personally, I feel it's a good opportunity to catch up with each other as well as other fellow like minded and inspiring sisters. A woman needs to be surrounded by like minded women, to inspire and challenge, so I tell her. We have managed to make the arrangement work with a lot of persuasion and bargaining. We alternate the dates, She comes with me to my events and next time we do something that she loves, usually fancy eat outs.

Anyway, back to the text message. At 5:35 pm, I was back on the train on my way home. It dawned on me that I had not responded to the message. I had made this poor woman and her daughter wait 😟. Thats a no no. It does not help with the repertoire malarkey. Why does a mother have to go through all this?! You can imagine my emotional turmoil. At this stage I emotionally spent, having spent a solid 8hours trying to prove why I got the job and my worthiness. And now this. How do I say no to this invite and this late? I hate explaining myself in text messages for that matter. Is it not enough that I am trying to be a positive role model to my children,  organised,  working hard, making a difference and being balanced? I hate coming short. 

I felt terrible for ruining my daughter's social life. How was she going to cope with no friends at school? What about missing out on all those instagram/ snapchat stories about the shopping weekend that she wasn't part of? Could this be emotional abuse or neglect? Who knows. At this point, life sucks. Don't mention how I was going to break it down to her when I got home! It's an emotional roller coaster.

Somehow, there is a part in me that feels our daughter is fragile and vulnerable as a young woman. It's not a question of gender but the flaws in her personality. She thinks well of everyone, very trusting at the same time incredibly opiniated. Furthermore, some of big brother's experiences have left us slightly wary of these social outings. We allow him because he is 17years old and soon to go and find his space in the adult world in no time. The boy needs to practice being responsible and accountable so we tell ourselves.

I remember vividly another culture shock incident that happened when our daughter was in primary school aged 5years. I had agreed to a play date only to cancel it on the day a few hours before because of other family commitments.  In my own head, I didn't think it was a problem. However,  this wasn't the case with her friend who went on to have a full melt down. The whole thing was a mess to say the least. You can imagine how unhappy the mother was. Luckily, I explained my oversight and she was willing to fill me in on my cultural gap. Never again, have I done that!

This culture around play dates can be very complex and intimidating. It is critical that I send the right message to my children without disrespecting their friends as well as the friends' parents. My children are also learning about managing social dynamics. O what a cobweb we weave!

As mothers, we have to be kind to ourselves. There is no such thing called perfect parenting but good parenting.  I have learnt that saying no is a good thing for them as well. So in the end it was finalised that there was not going to be a shopping trip. 

I owe her friend a date, thankfully that's all sorted. Here is to us off to write our own story in the sand.

 

Lessons I have personally learnt:

– Your children need friends, it's a basic human need. It's important to know who they befriend. Birds of the same feather flock together and that is so true. As they grow older it's good to guide them to make that fundamental decision themselves. 

High school play dates and dynamics can be a tsunami. We are trying to work it all out and it's a journey we have to go through with our youngest. What makes it all complex is the little connection we have with their friends and their families. When they were in primary school, we knew the parents from the playground and we arranged the play dates as mothers.

Now we are having to rely on what our children tell us about their friends. Yes, some of them you meet them with their parents at the parents evening etc. There is not enough time nor conducive atmosphere to sass each other out and work through the layers, masks and airs that we carry as parents on such occasions.

The lack of time, to be involved in school activities, PTA, bingo and quiz nights doesn't help. How do we create that time as first generation migrant families? How do we prioritise our children without neglecting our parents and even ourselves?

– Living in a diverse and multi-cultural society, it can present a lot of challenges. As a mom, follow your gut instinct. A good friend and their family will respect your family values and beliefs.

-Be organised and proactive about dates, sleepovers etc. For me the idea of our daughter being invited all the time is what I struggle with. My idea of summer break/ school holiday/ half term is for us as a family to catch up. Up until now, I assumed that was absolutely fine. So I'm taking the initiative to invite.

– It also transpires that play dates are mostly for childcare purposes. Sad as it may sound, it's the truth.

-Activities do not have to cost an arm and a leg. Best things in life are still free ; libraries, museums, picnics, church activities and a walk in the woods. National Trust membership is a great bargain for history and culture activities.

– Holiday breaks are not a luxury but a necessity. With good planning,they shouldn't cost a fortune. 

Comminicate, communicate and comunicate. 

-Be compassionate; Understand and emphathise with your children. It's hard trying to fit in. Teenagers especially, due to their brain development struggle with identity, worse off if there is culture clash. Be in their world, invite their friends over and get to know them.

– Encourage them to take up sports, arts or other extra curriculum activities. This is an investment that pays for itself.

– Choose your battles carefully. The adage ' better to win the war than battle' cannot be emphasised.

Happy holidays x

Hope makes a way ❤

The blessing that makes one rich and adds no sorrow ❤

**First Published 20.06.2017**

What a privilege it is to wake up to God’s promises!

I was looking through the photos and came across this family photo that was taken last August 2016 in Copenhagen. It melted my heart. God has been good and gracious to us.


It has not always been like this. As a family, we have had our share of ups and downs, we have struggled as well as felt overwhelemed. We have also felt like giving up on each other as a couple as well as sending our children to be with grandparents in Zimbabwe.

Life is challenging, family life is complex. For us parenting in diaspora made the whole mix extremely complex. Our expectations for each other and our children change and keep on changing. That’s growth right?

Growth is a great thing as long as you do it together as a family. It’s very easy to grow apart. As our children have grown, we have decided to be an INTENTIONAL couple. We normally have a scheduled one hour daily, no phones and just us 2, to catch up on each other. I have taken working hours that are more family friendly as well. Happy couples make great parents.

The greatest thing we did is, we decided to partner with God. We realised we just couldn’t make it on our own. There is so much peace that one has when you handover something to someone else, it becomes their issue and agenda.

I remember when our amazing daughter was born. It was hubby’s first hand experience of looking after a baby all by himself.  Our wonderful son was born in Zim with all the help from extended family and nannies. The first day I left the three of them, I cried all the way to the nursing placement. I was worried about how hubby would cope with the baby as he was working  nights as well. We had decided that I would stay on the nursing course despite all health and safety issues from University and Occupational health. Indeed, I went to Uni on a Friday and gave birth on the Sunday.  Being on 3year student visa, we didn’t want to jeopardise that. Those who have experienced Home office service, beaurocracy and the extortius fees know what I mean.

No words can describe what a blessing our daughter is, incredibly strong willed, feisty, loving, caring, smart and definitely a daddy’s girl.

God promises us that He cares and loves our families more than anything. That is the confidence we have.

It takes a lot of faith and trust to believe and see the promises of God come to pass. Many a times, things may seem to get worse before they get better. As a family, we are encouraged by some of our answered prayers. We also know some families personally, who are walking in Gods promises and that inspires us. We continue to hope and trust in Him. The verse below summarises our mission as a family. Looking to the Lord for help always. We love the assurance in “never”, what a promise!!

“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame”. ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭34:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This is our journey, hope you have been inspired. Would love to hear how your journey as a family is panning out.

Be hopeful, always ❤

Daughter’s love letter x

Today is befitting that I should honor you publicly. You have been a source of encouragement and wisdom. You are my sounding board, always available and ready to guide and stand in prayer for me and my family.

Orphaned at 5years of age, you have very vague memories of both your parents. You did not have an easy upbringing being cared for by older siblings and sometimes extended family. Despite the challenges you faced growing up, you chose those difficulties not to define you. Stories are told of many days that you went to bed with an empty stomach. When I have asked you about it, you said:

“Yes, that may have happened but that was in the past, we are here now.”

You have never looked back with any misgiving but with gratitude. You are a generous, giving and loving person. You waited long to get married so that you can extend your gratitude where it was needed first. Thank you for that.

Strong willed and determined. I remember when I was 16years how you fought with your board of directors that I should be allowed to learn computing at your work place. It was either that or they gave you a pay increase to fund my computing lessons. There were only 4computers in the entire clothes manufacturing company that you worked. Indeed,  during that summer holiday, every Saturday  I attended ‘computing’ lessons within the human resource department of your workplace.

I remember my very first Saturday, the payroll assistant bloke didn’t know what to do with me. The computer system was configured to do payroll because that what his job. In the end I learnt about the computer components, switching on, off, MS word and typing. In today’s time, it may seem a waste of time but it meant the whole word to me. Those you worked with had great respect for you, your work ethic and intergrity. This particular incident placed you in a different category altogether in their eyes. Thank you baba👏🏾♥️.

This is one of the many examples of the father you are. You have never wanted me to miss out on any opportunity in life. You wanted me to go and study in America but I chose to be engaged and get married. You were greatly disappointed with my choice but you forgave and blessed my intentions.

Thank you for reminding me to dream, chase after my goals and be a better version of myself. During the rare occasions that we get to talk on the phone, you are able to challenge me on my insecurities and fleeting dreams. It’s amazing how you remember most desires that I may have shared with you in conversation.

I’m told you wanted a boy as a first born child but I came along. I remember you telling me that in your eyes I am the first born child you always wanted. You are the wind beneath my wings baba. Incredibly proud of all our achievements as your children like most parents, but you take it another notch.

For example, how you broke into serious tongues when they announced my name at my graduation ceremony in September 2015. The whole place went quiet as a lot of people couldn’t understand what was going on . For nearly two minutes, the Dean of faculty gave you the chance to express how you felt, those incomprehensible uttering that cannot be understood. I did understand and still do understand baba. I fought to complete that course and secure a job. You knew very well the path I had walked because you walked with me in your prayers, texts messages of encouragement and hope. It was hard losing Bridget just as I started the year long postgraduate degree.

Your journey of faith is a profound one. You once worshipped the ancestral spirits, got baptised under the catholic faith. Your transition into pentecostal evangelical, can only be by His grace. I have watched you grow like the tree of Lebanon and indeed your latter days are greater.


May the Lord fill your horn to overflow. May He continue to be glorified in you.

Love you forever ❤

UK elections

Praying for our government as we await the results. May Godly counsel, wisdom and understanding reign in Number 10. May the government have a heart for family life, stand for what is true and lead with justice. 

As parents and citizens we will not cower in fear over the plans of the enemy concerning our children, but we will rise up with courage and confidence in prayer to protect and defend the lives of our children. May God’s grace continue to abound as we demonstrate charity in our homes and communities. Let unity and love reign over this nation. We speak unending grace over our education system. As parents, grant us the understanding that we are our children’s greatest teachers. Help us when we do not know how. Give us wisdom to work smart and create time with our children. Help us to be parents so no one else parents our children. Remind us when we forget what a privilege it is to be stewards of our precious children. 

Above all, we ask that you continue with us in all that we do.

We declare England is blessed psalm 33: 12❤

Trust 

“Do not hold God at arms length- Let Him have complete reign in your life” Pastor Alan, Avcc.

Sometimes, life happens and it leaves you in a place of wanting control and being in charge. Having control gives you ‘peace’ and you feel in charge. O how I have struggled wanting to be in control!! The very things I want to be in charge of, somehow they slip my hands and spiral out of control. Today I felt God calling me out of wanting to be in control. I do not know how, BUT I am taking a step of faith and allow Him to lead me…

#outofcontrol

#intoHisgrace

#newseason

Hopeful ❤

The day before the new job

I am pretty excited about tomorrow. The day has arrived sooner! Change can be unsettling, however once you have done your research there is not much to be fearful. The timing could not never be so right. I am in the zone spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I am hoping that walking to the train and at work will add to the physical health benefits.

As a mom, I hope my children will be fine as dad takes the reins on the home front. Time will tell.

My prospective colleague Amy* has been amazing so far, she has kept in touch once a week for the last 4 weeks. Invited me last week to ‘pop over’ for lunch until I gave her my geographical location.  Today, she wanted to finalise details of where to meet how to access the workplace with ease, etc.

“Be attentive to your phone and I will do the same, so she said”.

This woman has been very encouraging, helpful and enthusiastic. I cannot wait to meet her. Her tone and pitch has been nothing but welcoming. Will soon find out if she is a health visitor by background 😆

On a serious note, I have decided to get myself a uniform of navy slacks, white t shirts and pumps. I chose comfort over all. There is so much I will need to grasp as soon as possible; policies, procedures and politics. Clothing need not to be one of them. 

The work bag is ready with a pack of almonds for snacking, deodorant, vaseline, gum, notebook and a book to read.

I have tons of enthusiasm. I am bold and courageous. If not now, when?❤

Things to do the night before

– set out comfortable outfit. Older ones the better as you know the fitting and comfort. Make sure the outfit sets the tone for who you are.

– Establish where you are meant to report. Ideally this should be done a week in advance or in plenty of time.

-Check travel arrangements, parking etc. Pack the work bag and have it handy.

– Be prepared to meet the team/ colleagues and introduce yourself. Ask and answer questions. Be clear and above all be You.

– Sleep well, at least 7-8hours. 

-Remember why you took the offer.

Hope ❤

Transnational parenting  

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. 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.

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.

 

📌Parenting courses:

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.

 

📌Children services

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.

There is hope ❤

*** Image copied***

Disclaimer: This post is based purely on personal experiences.

RESOURCES

Colic

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Colic/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Talking therapy

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/benefits-of-talking-therapy.aspx
Parenting coursehttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/david-cameron-plans-to-make-parenting-classes-normal-a6804381.html
Children In Need

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/looking-after-people/local-authority-services-for-children-in-need/