“Stranger” in your house!

This is a story about domestic managers (dms)! We need them to hold the fort down while we fend for our families. How many have you employed? Each paragraph that follows represents the number of dms I have worked with.

Domestic worker
  1. A few weeks before giving birth to my first child, I decided that it was time to get a live in nanny. An agent in Western Kenya connected me to Judy. She got into a fist fight with a tout shortly after. I sent her away some months later because she studied all the mistakes she thought I was doing and repeated them to my mother in law
  2. I then asked the same agent to get me another nanny. Eliza arrived promptly, and left just as fast. The next morning, she took off before I even woke up
  3. I decided to use an agent in Nairobi to find a dm. She sent me a middle aged woman who came in with a huge disclaimer of not knowing how to make chapattis. She told me of how her previous employer made her pick out miaze from mukimo to feed the baby, but she had no time for such nonsense. Once her boss left, she gave this poor baby instant noodles
  4. Next was Sheila. She was very good at her work, every other morning she would wipe down all the walls and windows. The only issue I had with her was her dressing. Her clothes were extremely tight and became even tighter on days I had house guests, especially my brothers in law. One day my mother in law saw her in pants similar to the one below and she said “uyu akipatana na wembe kwa njia hio trouser imeisha”
    white pants
  5. Triza, was my best nanny ever. When I first saw her I highly doubted her ability to do the job because she was very tiny, but she proved me wrong. She stayed on for 2 years, then decided to move back to Uganda in December 2018, to set up a clothing business. Succeeding her are 7 women in the span of 9 months.
  6. Jemima would take my children out to play, but as soon as they walked out the door, she would forget her job. She was busy chatting with other nannies and watchmen. What put the nail in the coffin was when my baby girl developed a skin rash because of poor hygiene
  7. Jane was a pleasant older lady, soft spoken and well mannered. I found out that she was hiding her HIV status from me. Many days later I walked into the room she shared with my kids to tuck them in. The smell in there reminded me of my local bar to power 200. On the outer side of the window pane there were traces of cigarette/bang ash
  8. Maria from Uganda, was not so good at keeping the house clean. If I did not tell her to do a task, she would ignore it. I had to micromanage her. I hated the fact that she liked to watch vulgar music videos in front of my kids
  9. Hawa was also Ugandan. She needed micromanagement too. She fled in the wee hours after two months together.
  10. Caroline from Makueni was always reading her Bible. She refused to touch any clothes with poop. I compromised and would wash cloth diapers myself. During the national census an enumerator asked her “umesoma?” her response was “mimi ukiniangalia nakaa sijasoma?” She stayed for a month then left to join a teachers training collage
  11. Claire came next. I picked her at the bus stop one evening, right in time for me to make it to an appointment the next morning, with the guarantee that my kids would be well taken care of. As I was heading out the next morning at 6 am, Clair had her bag in hand too. She had to leave, because she needed to attend to an urgent matter in her village. I had to run, and I left Mr. to deal with that mess
  12. Then came Doreen, she is now 1 week old. I will tell you her story as it unfolds.

Conclusion

  • Nannys come and go, set your mind for any eventualities. Identify a good day care as an alternative
  • Just because you are lucky enough to have found a good dm do not judge other women unable to find one, because your turn is coming
  • No! It is not about pay. You can give a dm 20,000 KES monthly and they will still do you dirty if it’s in their character
  • Do not send bus fare to a potential nanny. Nowadays, you can pay via mobile money to bus services, when the traveler is about to board. Also, you can reverse a payment made via M-pesa.

Confessions of a bad mother!

This is for all google moms. Those who do thorough research prior to a hospital visit then when at the doctor’s office challenge him/her as if they are Chiromo Med School alumni. We address such questions on Pregnant and Nursing Mums Facebook group… “I was at the doctor’s office today and my baby’s foot has this red spot, what does it mean?” My only question is why you would pay consultation fees and leave the doc’s office not knowing whats up.

Anticipation lead me to join team google moms before becoming a mom. A year and a half later, here I was holding my first child. I was wondering why those before me didn’t tell me that labour is death. Nowadays when I see pregnant women on the streets I low key say a prayer for them for I know that a basketball will soon be shredding their flowers into pieces. Surgery is just as bad if not worse, from what I have heard.

I would describe being a first time mother as baptism by fire. The hottest part of this fire is when everyone else thinks they can care for your baby better than you can. How is this even possible in their minds? Even strangers will offer advice on what they feel you are doing wrong and tell you exactly how you can redeem yourself. When my baby turned 8 weeks old, I was ecstatic to host house guests who came to assist me. By the time they left my esteem was on the floor.

“OMG are you trying to get this child to catch pneumonia? Bring a sweater. Okay is this what you call a sweater?”

“Put that baby down she will get used to being carried…why is this baby crying when put down?”

“Now look at how you have spoilt this baby, no nanny will ever have peace in this house. This is why they mistreat kids.”

“WOW, your boobs are huge. You know in my village it’s said women with small boobs have a lot of milk.”

“Ok, this baby is not feeding well why is she crying? She is not sleeping because she is hungry.”

“WHAT! Ati you are not taking 2 litres of porridge a day? JESUS! This will be a formula baby.”

“Can you press to see if there is milk flowing? Woiiiii! That milk looks so light, and it’s coming out in few jets. You know in my time I had milk like you cannot imagine!”

“Oh my! Hiyo tumbo yako woi! Na imeanguka style ile mbaya! I hope it is recoverable”

That was the kind of scrutiny I was under. By the time my guests left, my esteem was chipped away and I was feeling extremely harassed. This affected baby as well, she could only get fore milk during that period because I did not have the peace of mind I needed to nurture her. On speaking to close friends about my experience, I realized that this is a common thing for many new mothers in the hands of elderly women in the African setup.

A couple of months later we begun weaning which felt like trying to cross a highway in blind folds. After struggling to get a grip things took a down turn and we were always visiting hospitals due to food related issues such as severe constipation and low blood levels. One Sunday morning, after waiting to see a doctor for 4 hours at Gertrude’s Children Hospital, a short skirted pretty young lady in a white lab coat and a stethoscope around her neck greeted me with “…you mean you are a mother and you don’t know what causes constipation and what to feed your child?”

Of course I felt inadequate. However, I am one of those people who don’t give up. I decided to take a drastic step and get it right the second time around.  By the time my second child was 6 months old I had developed a range of flours that I felt would make my life easier when it came to weaning. I also had a brand new way of dealing with those who thought that they knew my babies better than me, ignore or delete! Indeed it was smooth sailing. I joined online communities of mothers who had kids the same age as mine, and this really allowed me to enjoy motherhood and share experiences with other women in my shoes.

Nature’s Bowl was born out of my personal struggles, pain and a few tears. At Nature’s Bowl we support mothers to raise healthy children through a range of 100% natural porridge flour mixes that result in tasty meals.

What are some challenges you faced as a new mom, and when weaning?

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started