3 things I didn’t expect about becoming a mother

WanjikuMwaura seated infront of a yellow background

Becoming a mother has been the most smooth transition. My child is peaceful and joyous. He laughs by himself, he laughs at me, he laughs with me. My partner made sure that I settle into motherhood by taking care of things that he can’t help me with, like my mental well-being or simply grooming things. So you see, becoming a mother for me has been mostly smooth until it wasn’t.

My Identity is not what I do, it is who I am.

Wanjiku Mwaura

As with many transitions, there have been things I didn’t see coming. Perhaps I should have, but I was busy focusing on growing a whole human then meeting and learning the child after birth. A process that I know will never end.

Shifting friendship goalposts

As a woman, I didn’t feel as if I had changed how I interacted with my female friends. I felt like I still cared for them as I had done before pregnancy. But I soon realized it wasn’t the case. Whereas before I was flexible and ready to meet friends at short notice and at their convenient locations, I could no longer do that. I had a whole human to nurture and care for.

I started noticing that I was expecting the friends to now meet me at my point of convenience. I started evaluating keenly the kinds of conversations we were having with said friends. Were the conversations worth the effort to meet the said friends? Were the friends accepting and embracing my changed status? I am still figuring this out.

Even as I continue examining my relationships, something beautiful came out of my changed status. I was on the receiving end of intense and pure friendship during my transition into motherhood. I had mothers holding me up, making sure I never hungered, making sure I learned to trust my gut fully. Women who listened reassured me and loved me back to full health. Women who showed me how I can pass that love on to the next.

Shifting Identities from career woman to career – mom

Hard at work during the pandemic lock-down, 2020

For a long time, my career defined me. Suddenly, I became a stay-at-home parent and I am grateful for the time. However, occasionally it feels like I never had a choice.

Let me explain, in Kenya, maternity leave is three months. After that, a mother can choose to continue staying at home or going back to work. Of course this decision is based on many factors that I won’t go into. But child care is easily available whether in the form of parents or as paid labor

In Germany the Maternity leave can be up to three years. During this time, you do receive financial support from the government. The amount you receive is based on the average salary you earned in the previous 12 months before birth. You could receive up to 67% of your salary (If you are interested in more of this, let me know in the comments).

This sounds fantastic on paper. But the reality is available child care is very limited. For example, I had to start looking for a day care place in October 2020, I found space for August 2022. Therefore, to encourage women to have children, such financial incentives and laws ensuring you cannot be fired while on maternity leave are implemented.

So here I was, happy to meet the young lion, and also oscillating between missing my career and loving my new season. My absence from my workplace definitely took some adjustment. At home I was tired every evening but my labor felt invisible. Sure, my child was growing and meeting milestones. But it still wasn’t the same as the results I would have when I was working out of home. It took talking to other career women to realize that the shift in identities is very normal. Moreover, it forced me to define my identity.

My Identity is not what I do, it is who I am.

Shifting sense of time

What is time? I find myself asking that too often. It sometimes happens while I am folding away clothes that my child will never wear again. Or looking through pictures and realizing he will never be that small again.

Sometimes it feels like I am not there as he is growing. I am with my son so often that only pictures remind me of how much he is growing each day. I mean I do notice almost every new thing like how he has learnt to complain cry of to fake laugh just to get a reaction from us. I do notice these things but still when I look at picture and videos from the last couple of months I am in awe of how much has changed. When my child turned 12 weeks I remember telling my wonderful in laws that it feels like ‘ He is only 12 weeks old and also he is already 12 weeks old’. Because it didn’t feel like so much time has passed. Days slide into each other, the nights feel like short interludes to a very long song.

Loving this boy has definitely shifted my perception of time. And it is true what people say, priorities become clear once you have to care for someone who can never repay you. Because what I do, I do not expect to be paid. But I do expect to have a mostly jolly good time, nurturing this boy into his full potential.

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