My Angel.

Exactly seven years ago, my life changed irrevocably. Exactly seven years ago, God sent me a precious little Angel to save me. Exactly seven years ago today, my little man Aidan came into the world.

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Today I celebrate him with this post, simply because, he is absolutely and without a doubt, the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life. You see, I was never really prepared for him. People say you prepare for a child, but honestly, nothing really prepares you for a child. In my case it was even more extreme because he kind of popped into my life when I was at the lowest point of my existence. I was convinced I would be a horrid mum and kept asking God, why, why, why now?

Nothing could have prepared me for my little Angel. Little did I know that it was I who would learn from him and be inspired by him; and very rarely, the other way around. There was nothing cliché about his actual birth. I was highly doped up on pain medication (thank you Dr W.!) which meant that when the nurses grandly presented him to me, I did not go “oooooh, aaaaahhhh……” like I hear other mums declare. My first words to my son were “So this is the one who has been giving me all this stress….” After which I promptly nodded off. (effects of the meds!)

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Hours later, less dopey, I was happily receiving my visitors who of course demanded to see the little Angel. I found my way uncertainly to the nursery and inquired which of the many screaming tots was mine. When they showed him to me, I remember peering curiously at him and wondering, “….now what the heck do I do?” Bottom line, the so called and claimed “rush of love and motherhood instinct” never hit me until two weeks later during a particularly rough morning when he just wouldn’t stop crying. I remember trying to give him a sponge bath (he hated those) and he just kept bawling. I finally put down the wash sponge and burst into tears – frustration, sleep deprivation and apparently, effects of postpartum depression, all pouring out of me. When we were done crying, I just felt like something had shifted. I picked him up and looked into his eyes and just knew it. That we were stuck together, for better or worse, he was mine. All mine.

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There is no way I can possibly do justice to seven whole years with my little Angel in just one post so I will not even try. I will say a couple of things though.

Simply put, he is the most amazing human being I have ever encountered. He has this knack of just sensing when I am not ok and putting his little arms around me trying to make it all better. He is very creative and we often have a difficult time distinguishing between actual events, and one of his famous “creative plays”. He brings light and fun into any room he goes into, and makes friends with everyone! Children follow him everywhere, lapping up his every word. Adults find him refreshingly mature to have conversations with. He has the most beautiful eyes and will not hesitate to use them to manipulate me into whatever his heart’s desire is. (he learnt this too soon, honestly, I really pity the girls!). He has the most infectious laugh that can deliver you from any depression or preoccupation with trivial things. The best part of my day is always getting home, usually catching him in the middle of some mischief which he will desperately try to wiggle out of.

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If I had to summarize him in one sentence, that sentence would be “He is the best part of me.” Because he truly is. He makes me want to be a better person, just to live up to his expectations, since in his own words; I am the best mummy in the world. And just for him, I try to live each day to be the best that I can possibly be.

Happy Birthday my Precious Angel!!

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F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

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What kind of a friend are you? What kind of friends do you have? It may seem pretty cliché but the people you surround yourself with influence you more than you would care to imagine. In turn, you also influence them just as much. So if you have never looked keenly at your friends, perhaps you need to.

What’s a friend anyway? One of the common definitions is a person whom one knows and has a bond of mutual affection with, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Using that definition, a lot of people would definitely make the list, right? They don’t all influence you though, do they? I mean, I am pretty fond of my Face Book friends, but I wouldn’t really say they influence me.

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So we need a deeper distinction. What then is a True Friend? Some people would say, someone who will always be there for you, even when everyone else is gone. Someone who sees you and accepts you as you really are. Someone who would never judge you. All these and more, are what we normally call True or Best friends.

I have seen my fair share of friends come and go. Some I could clearly tell were there for the short haul or for a particular season or reason. Like my campus friends for instance. I absolutely adored those girls and even though we no longer speak daily, I still consider them my valued friends. They had a very high influence on who I was during that season of my life. Others, I could have sworn, were friends for life till they just upped and left without so much as a goodbye.

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One thing I have realized as I grow older (and hopefully wiser) is that I have fewer friends. The ones who are really close to me. The ones who know where the bodies are buried, so to speak. And it’s actually harder when you’re older to make new friends. The long lasting deep kind. Our experiences make it harder for us to trust people easily and we end up holding them at arm’s length and never really letting them in.

Personally, this is my definition for a true friend. Someone who will pick my call at 3am and will come to wherever I need them to. No hesitation and no questions asked. I use the same consideration to define myself to the precious few who call me a true friend. And trust me, I am not the kind of person who would often need to make 3am calls. Even when I was a night owl, I only made that call once. So it’s symbolic really. These are people who will have my back no matter what, and will not hesitate to call me out if they see me going the wrong way. They are not afraid to offend me and subject me to tough love on a regular basis.

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I used to think that a true friend was one who would let you get away with anything, like an enabler. The kind who would let you jump off a cliff, and be waiting at the bottom for you. I recently learnt that true friendship is about telling someone that they are making a big mistake – before they make it and not after! True friends will tell you the truth; the painful truth. They will not mince words, or stand by as you make a mistake, or let you wallow in your misery. And you will hate them briefly for doing it, but eventually you will thank them. And ultimately, these are the people you will come to treasure and hold close. These are the people whose opinions will influence and gently complement your own.

And by the way, if you ever have the good fortune to fall in love with and marry your true friend, then consider yourself one of the luckiest people in the world!

FOR ALL THE MUMS OUT THERE…

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Last week I was having a chat with my sister who recently got pregnant with her first baby. She was narrating an experience she had had with some ladies at a function. You know the typical ones where all the men segregate together and the ladies are left to themselves? So as they chatted, the topic (inevitably) turned to babies, motherhood and pregnancy. The interesting thing, or should I say shocking, was that none of them had anything positive to say about the entire experience. Now my sister found this very alarming, to say the least, considering that they all had more than one child. At some point, she couldn’t take the negativity any longer and gave them a piece of her mind. Of course they castigated her (as expected) and told her that her lack of experience was distorting her opinion and that she should wait till she got her baby to know just how “bad it was”. At this point, she decided that the men were better company and moved away from what she termed as “negative energy”.

Which brings us to our chat; she wanted to know if it was really as bad as it was being made out to be and why someone like me still remained positive about pregnancy despite having gone through what can only be described as a horror story in my pregnancies. (Yes there was more than one; story for another day). My response was my standard one; that some people will always choose to see the negative side of anything; it takes a lot of energy to always try and see the positive side. Which a lot of people do not have the time, nor energy for. It’s actually a lot easier to be negative.

To be honest, though, I have a much more profound perspective when it comes to parenting. I am a single mum, and I can honestly say that without my son, my life wouldn’t have that much meaning. Despite everything I went through to have him, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Because there is no greater blessing in my life than my son. I would give my life for him. I look at him every day and thank God for giving me the honor of raising him.

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You see, children belong to God. A mother is accorded a special, divine responsibility to care for one of God’s children. How do I know this? Because in all my wildest dreams and fantasies, I could not have fathomed how this tiny being, so adorable, so innocent, so perfect, so loyal, so pure (I could go on and on)….could possibly have been my own creation. I’m obviously just a humble guardian; to take care of him till he can stand on his own two feet. Another reason I know this? He came laden with God given blessings! A lot of struggling mothers can relate to this; you will always somehow manage to feed, clothe your child no matter what your circumstances. It’s said that God will never give you what you cannot handle, and this is especially true for children. 

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So, when I hear mothers being all negative about pregnancy, children and parenting in general, it breaks my heart. Yes it’s not easy at all. It is however, the greatest blessing that will ever be bestowed on you in your entire life. Not your career, not your fancy house, not your spouse, not your annual holiday; Your Child is the greatest blessing. Straight from God.

You may have had a difficult pregnancy. Why focus on it? Focus on the amazing tiny being that resulted. Focus on the amazing milestones – opening his eyes, learning to crawl and walk, his first words, the first time he said “I love you mummy”, his first day at school, his first love, and how you will always be his mum no matter what. That’s what I choose to focus on. Because my son changed my life. For the better.

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Always speak positive of your child no matter where you are or who you are with. Your children need unconditional love. They need affirmation and encouragement. They need their parents’ counsel. Always appreciate your child; do not take them for granted. Discipline them in love when they do wrong and celebrate them when they do good.

And the next time someone starting out on the journey asks for your counsel, choose to give the full side of the story. That yes, it has its ups and downs. That yes, child birth is painful. That yes, your child will challenge you on a daily basis. That ultimately, all things considered, it will be the greatest and best experience in the world, filled with daily blessings. That your child will be the best thing that will ever happen to you.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

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The Second Time Around…

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I was never much of a believer in second chances. Especially in the big stuff like career choices, investment decisions and of course the biggest, Love. I always figured that once you had picked a particular path or made a choice, you were pretty much stuck with it for life. It also did not help that I knew (and still know to date) numerous people who were stuck in careers or relationships they weren’t really happy in. A common factor across all these people was that they had chosen to stick it out, not really believing that second chances existed for them, or that they could be happy should they opt out. I guess something to do with the old saying “Better the devil you know….”

So there I was; stuck in a rut. In a career that didn’t fulfill me at all but paid the bills so I figured what the heck. I was also recovering from the gut wrenching heart break of what I thought was the love of my life till it all fell apart months from the altar. And I had pretty much convinced myself that no one gets a second shot at that kind of love, it just wasn’t feasible. So I made do. I woke up every morning and went through the motions of life without really living. I filled the void of loneliness with meaningless friends, endless banter and the temporary comfort of liquor-induced euphoria. All the while convincing myself that I belonged there, since people didn’t get second chances – at least that was what I thought.

Then one day it was just no longer enough. I couldn’t continue just existing anymore. I couldn’t take the whirlpool of the black hole anymore. But I also had no idea how to get out. So I locked myself in my house for about 4 months to just figure out what I wanted to do. At which point my Second Chance literally walked into my life. Interestingly our lives collided at the exact point that we both desperately needed second chances, but didn’t honestly believe we deserved them. But we both took a risk and decided to take a chance. A second chance.

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I can now honestly say that second chances, once you take the risk and bite the bullet, are the best things in life. Why? Well for one, you have learnt from your mistakes the first time round and you apply the lessons. You have also learnt to appreciate what you have because you know what it would feel like if you lost it. You also know what it is like to fail, so you do your darn best to succeed. You have also learnt that no one is perfect, least of all you. You are therefore more giving, more selfless, more listening, more understanding, more compromising. You have learnt how to take your head out of the fantasy clouds and are very realistic in all the decisions you make.

 Alot of people I know are terrified of the leap of faith that a second chance requires; especially in the face of loss or pain from the first time around. But I also now know that those who do take that leap of faith never look back. They move on to third, fourth, fifth chances because they now have the faith to keep rising; no matter how many times they fall. I have learnt that the first step isn’t the hardest to take. It is the second, after you have fallen.

If you’re stuck today, look up. Your second chance is waiting for you.

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