I still have vivid memories of my great-aunt seeding and peeling off the skin of grapes for me to eat. I enjoy thinking about the times my mom dropped me off at another great-aunt’s home and how we would walk to a store and she would buy me my favorite chocolates from the candy counter. I remember my paternal grandmother teaching me to make home made flour tortillas and the love and care she put into making dozens of freshly made tortillas every morning for her family to have for breakfast. My maternal grandmother has always been willing to remove whatever accessory she’s wearing and immediately gift it to you if you just mention that it’s pretty.
I grew up surrounded by women who generously gave all of themselves to their children and grandchildren and I pray I can be at least a little bit like them.
I have every reason in the world to learn Swahili. It’s one of the mother tongues of my husband’s (though Kikuyu is his real mother tongue, as he will tell you). It’s one of the official languages of the country, I call home. And a few years ago, a new compelling reason came along: our first-born child. We’re raising both of our kids to be bilingual, following the OPOL (One Parent One Language) approach.
I speak to the kids in English, while my husband speaks to them in Swahili. Our youngest daughter is just starting to use her first words – a smattering from both languages. Our eldest daughter is now 4 years old, and while she favors English when speaking, she understands nearly everything that she hears in Swahili.
It was difficult at first for my husband to speak Swahili with our newborn daughter. It didn’t feel natural to him, since our shared language has always been English. He had to constantly remind himself, and would often stop mid-sentence to repeat what he had said in Swahili. He told me that he didn’t want to say things to the kids that I couldn’t understand. But having my husband speak to our children in Swahili was probably the best thing for my own budding ability.
I have found that by listening to my husband speak simple Swahili to the children, I have begun to learn the language the way native-speaking children learn it: starting with the basics, slowly building with grammar and vocabulary. I may not be able to contribute to a political discussion around the dinner table with the extended family, but learning the language with my children has certainly increased my understanding of what’s being said around me, on the whole.
Listening to my husband read Swahili bedtime stories aloud to the kids has also helped my own language skills.
I find that random lines from the stories will start to swirl around in my head, subconsciously. There is something useful in listening to the same strings of words over and over, committing them to memory, even if by accident.
While nearly everyone we meet in Nairobi speaks English, learning Swahili with my kids has definitely helped me to communicate better with the people in our community that we see every day. Simple words like where (wapi), how many (ngapi), up (juu), and down (chini) actually come in quite handy when speaking to the staff at the greengrocer or to the attendant in a crowded parking lot. Furthermore, people are delighted when they see that I’m making an effort, and even more delighted when they see the children speaking in the local language.
It is so important to us that our children grow up speaking and understanding both of our mother tongues. And if I’m able to improve my rusty Swahili skills along the way, all the better!
Are your kids growing up in a multilingual household? Have you ever learned a new language with your children?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara Wambugu, our new contributor from Kenya.
Since my baby boy was born, I’ve been living with my parents (or it’s the other way around – they are living with me). We all live together in a two-room flat. I share the bedroom with my boy, and my parents sleep on the bed couch in the living room. I know that in some parts of the world, it’s normal. It’s not that usual in my part of the world. Family don’t live together for too long. Parents don’t come back to live with their children when they are getting old. But more and more often, children come back to live with their parents, after leaving home to study. They even come back with their kids or spouse. This is due to unemployment, real estate prices, life getting more and more expensive.
I was not ready for this. I was not ready to sign for it. But I was not alone. I had a little one to take care of. And I was on my own, separated from the father of my son. I had an entire life to rebuild. I needed help. I could have asked other people for this help. But they’re my parents and at the time I came back home, they were the only ones who could offer me the support I needed. My parents don’t care much about travelling or enjoying time together. They are family people, and they were delighted to be there to help me raise my little man.
So we started a new life together, sharing each moment, each joy and nearly each moment of pain, doubt, worry.
When it was becoming difficult for me to handle everything, I only had to look at my son’s face and see how delighted he was to have loving people around him. I only had to look at my mum and dad and see how much they enjoyed being with their grandson.
Day after day, it helped me to accept my situation.
Kids need love and support, and the knowledge that no matter what, we’ll be there for them. Kids need encouragement and the knowledge that we have faith in them. My son does not get this from his dad, because he does only sees him twice a month, for two hours at a time, under supervision. Without his dad being around, I am happy that he still gets a role model in his granddad. He is growing up in a secure environment, a much more secure one than the one he would have known if me and his dad had stayed together.
Whenever I feel like I want another life, whenever I feel squeezed and under pressure, I remember what the paediatrician told me:
“You are giving the best to your child. I can understand it’s hard for you. But for him, it’s all good. Under three years old, he needs this closeness. He feels secure this way.”
So what’s good for him make it bearable for me. Even if some days I wish for both of us to be on our own, so I don’t have to make efforts and compromise every single day (this is another story).
Do you feel like you could live with your parents again? Or is it natural in your country for all family to live together? If so, do you have your place as the mother of your kids or do you fight to find it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kleber of France. Photo credit to the author.
On June 17th, 2015, nine lives were suddenly lost in Charleston, South Carolina in the USA, when a man joined a prayer group in a church and opened fire. Today, on the blog, we carry the passionate words of a mother from South Carolina, Yolanda M. McCloud of “Lesser Known Feats of Awesomeness“, to tell the story…
There are no words that can describe the sorrow and despair that has been felt around my state and this nation in the past several weeks. June 17th will forever be emblazoned on our brains as the day when one man, one gun, one mission, walked into a church, not just any church, Mother Emanuel AME, one of the South’s most historically black churches, and changed nine families forever. One man, one failed mission, one gun, nine people.
As I reflect on this, I have said in the weeks following that this type of act just does not happen in South Carolina, let alone in a church. What type of monster walks into a church, sits through Bible study, and then shoots the people he has sat around with for an hour? Who does that to anyone? As we embark on the months ahead, I am saddened by the display of hatred that has taken place following the dreadful day.
Charleston has shown the world how to weep for the lost, but the rest of our State and country has become unraveled at the seams embattled in the same argument, over a flag.
A flag, the center of the unrest at this moment, not the nine lives that were doing God’s work by worshipping and learning his word and the principles for which Jesus died for. No, a scrap of cloth that was created out of hate. That is what society has made the central conversation. And now, it feels more like we are back in the 1960’s with the burning of black churches, too.
The flag issue seems to be the core of the unrest and the destruction of houses of worship around the South. The creator of this flag, William T. Thompson called this flag the “White Man’s Flag” and said that “As a people we are fighting to maintain the heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematic of our cause…As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism.” Supremacy, white man, and colored race…heritage.
The debate over heritage and the cause of a war long by gone, a war that was fought so that men and women in the South could keep their slaves, human beings that they owned like cattle, should not be happening today.
A scrap of cloth that now the governor of South Carolina and the governing body has found the courage to say, “enough is enough,” and remove it in honor of the Emanuel 9. I am honored that I was able to see it come down on July 10th, 2015 and pray that it never graces its perch again.
Now this scrap of cloth has long been used as a tool of hate and is being revered by many as a large part of their heritage, citing that the Civil War was fought over state’s rights. In 1962, Senator Strom Thurmond stood in front of Congress to ask for more money for schools to stay segregated and the flag was hoisted to the State House dome and stayed there as rebellion against the civil rights movement. It is being seen to many as a national treasure.
As I sit and watch friends and others debate the cause of the Civil War and the creation of this flag, they talk about how their heritage is wrapped up and tied in a scrap of cloth.
And I begin to wonder, what if instead of black people, slaves bore the shade of skin like those supporting the confederate flag? Would there still be the debate over heritage?
I was born and raised in the South. I grew up knowing that people with my complexion were viewed as “lesser than” because we are darker than my lighter complexioned brothers and sisters.
I grew up knowing that there used to be bathrooms, water fountains, entrances for blacks and they weren’t allowed to use property or doors marked “whites only.” That blacks and whites went to separate schools and the words “separate but equal” were often used when things were anything but. We are aware more than ever that this flag is used as a weapon of supremacy over my race and the race of many others.
We are living in dangerous times. Where is the respect that so many people of color protested, marched, sat-in and risked their lives to achieve in our country’s history? How and why do we find ourselves unsafe again through such a hateful act just because of the color of our skin?
We are living in times where people do not seem to care for life and respect each other after all the civil rights progress that has been made since the 1960s. People are hurling hurtful, unintelligent statements about race on social media for many to see. I see it.
We are living in times where church is no longer sacred. When I see the images of black churches being burned to the ground, it saddens me further because those churches, they are all of our churches no matter our denomination, no matter our race, no matter our gender. They are all God’s House, and we are all welcome. To see them go up in flames is sad because once again, God’s House is not sacred. Our country was founded on the principles of freedom of religion.
If a person is different, meaning if they are not equal to a person in ethnicity, finances, or educational background, then they are less. This extends far beyond “white privilege”. This is the message I am receiving. The message I, and so many others, are feeling.
Churches can be rebuilt, flags can be removed, but life cannot be restored. And as people weigh in on both sides of this debate, I think what gets lost is that children lost their parents, families lost their aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Nine lives lost, one of those lives I knew and applauded and appreciated.
I ask, How many more lives do we have to lose to violence because my skin doesn’t look like yours?”
I weep for the Charleston 9, I weep for Charleston the City, and I weep for the world that thinks that it’s okay to threaten, demean, and belittle those that do not believe in the same thing that others believe in.
I hope that my home state, the great State of South Carolina, will remember this day and the removal of the flag and continue to send a message that hate is no longer allowed.
I hope that the people who are burning churches are caught and publicly known as the hate filled monsters they are. If no other place on this earth is sacred and safe, a church should be sacred and safe. Mother Emanuel and every place of worship should be sacred and safe.
It shouldn’t be about culture, heritage, or being white or black. It should be about people. I ask you to empathize. It’s about the fact that Mother Emanuel could have been the Catholic Church up the street, could have been Temple, and could have been any mosque around the corner. It could have happened in North Carolina, Georgia, New York, or Maine. Your church, my church, from Greeleyville, South Carolina to the State of Tennessee and beyond, the rubble that once was a house of worship could have been made anywhere. The hate must stop.
We lift their families up in prayer, and we remind the world that greatness was lost because of one man, one gun, one failed mission, and nine families and a nation are forever changed.
This is an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Yolanda M. Gordon of South Carolina, USA. You can find her on her blog, “Lesser Known Feats of Awesomeness.”
IMAGE CREDIT: WWW.THEHILL.COM
Sometimes, being kind hearted can bite you in the butt, you know. I’m not advocating to not be kind. But just be aware that sometimes, you get more than the satisfaction of having helped a cause. You get a nagging child who won’t let you be until you surrender. (more…)