Baby & Me

Happy new year

First of all, I am relieved to report that baby and I are no longer without a nanny. Last week, I realised that it’s not just the child who needs help, so does Mama. Thankfully, our ayah came back exactly when she said she would.

During the Week of my Discontent, I had mentioned to a cousin who lives in the US, how hard it was to cook, clean and be on baby duty 24/7. She was not impressed. “No housi for a week? Brutal,” she jibed.

Ouch. I tried to explain to her how taking care of a baby is like clearing traffic because the President is about to drive by but she was having none of it. “Even the housi couldn’t do it alone,” I said in my defence. To which she replied, “Sawa sawa dear, if you say so.”

Harrumph! How was someone in an industrialised nation accusing me of having ‘first world’ problems? I was affronted. And rightfully so. Granted, caring for a toddler is not like tilling the fields but hey, it’s no stroll down a quiet street either. But I digress.

Baby and I are getting along better than ever. Like many people have said many times, being a Mum is the most important job in the world. No matter how crazy it gets sometimes, it is meaningful work, and that’s the best kind there is.

That’s what I tell myself every time I stop at the supermarket on the way home from work to stock up on baby supplies. I’m at the store so often that the guard and I are on first name basis. She starts waving her electronic baton at me from far. At this point, the body search is just a formality because I practically live there.

I’ve began to see a few parents starting on their back-to-school shopping, looking very stressed and put upon, as if buying stuff for their kids is such a burden. Well, it can be, but it is a burden I bear with pride. And hopefully, a good bit of grace.

Before I had the child, the supermarket was a place I visited maybe once a month. My fridge was a wasteland. Typically, they’d be a bottle of Fanta. Some milk. A mouldy loaf of bread. And maybe a block of cheese.

I had five of everything. Five cups, five glasses, plates, spoons, cereal bowls and so on. I only ever used one of each. I wouldn’t have had a flask if my sister hadn’t insisted that I needed one. Tea was brewed in the cup – hot water, cold milk, tea bag and sugar. It would take me five minutes tops to make a cuppa, butter some bread and eat, drink and be done.

My gas cooker was an accessory. I had it for months before I went anywhere near it, partly because I didn’t have a gas cylinder but mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to cook. While most normal people had shelves heaving with unga, rice, pasta, vegetable oil and things of that nature, mine were bare. As in, not even lined with newspaper. I was the quintessential bachelorette who frequently swung by a fast food outlet on my way home to grab my version of a ‘hot meal’.

But then along came baby and all of a sudden I’m living in a warehouse. I kid you not. My home has been overrun by kiddie paraphernalia and my kitchen is overflowing with all manner of homemaking apparatus. And that fridge that used to be a ghost town? It is very much alive with food that baby is in the process of eating or is going to eat. Mama’s soda, milk, bread and cheese has been replaced with fruits, lean meats and vegetables. My shelves would give Mke Nyumbani a run for her curry powder. I have become an adult. A bona fide grown up. Do you hear that noise? That’s the sound of hell freezing over.

Baby is at the wheel and she’s caused me to do a complete 180. When I think back to who I was and compare it to who I am now, there is no point of convergence. It’s like night and day. Whereas I used to travel light, never accumulating too much stuff on my journey through life, now I am a pack rat. And the most precious of my cargo is the sweet little girl who didn’t just increase my belongings, but my capacity to love as well. It’s going to be a good year.