Mothers are amazing. As a new mum, I have a whole new respect for my own mum and for motherhood in general. Being a mum is incredible but it definitely isn’t for the faint hearted. And then I think about mothers of multiples, single parents, and those with live with the heartache and exhaustion of having a child with health issues… My hat comes off to you.
I often feel like I stand in awe of mothers here in Zambia. The African mother doesn’t have it easy. Every day I see women walking with a child strapped to their back, something massive balancing on their head and hands full with shopping or other parcels, all in 35 degree heat. I have no idea how long their journey is but I know I couldn’t walk any distance like that. I sometimes wonder what most Zambian mothers would think if they came to the UK – what would they make of our buggies, playgroups and coffee shop times? What about our cribs/cots, nurseries and changing tables? I wonder if motherhood would look so easy.
Our friend Emma had a baby a couple of days ago. We’ve know her and her family for the last 8 years and Dan lived with them when he first came to Zambia. She’s a school teacher and she taught until a day before her due date. She had to travel on two very crowded buses, about an hour and a half each way to her work each day. Upon returning home she’d cook over a small brazier, something that is very time consuming and hot. In addition to this, they have two vivacious boys (aged 8 and 3) already so she’s always busy with them. When we visited her on Friday, she was sitting outside, leaning over her big belly, doing her handwashing – she was sweaty and swollen and had a massive smile on her face.
On Sunday night she had another little boy. He’s about 6 pounds and absolutely gorgeous. They are both healthy. We went to visit yesterday and I was very pleased to see her resting. As I sat there, I wondered how I would cope with her situation. They live in a two-room home. Her and her husband have two boys and then they have two nieces (aged 12 and 15) that live with them as well. Their home has very little ventilation so it is hot and when I sit in their living room and look up, I can see the sky through the gaps in the metal sheets that make their roof – I can’t see how the roof wouldn’t leak when it rains. They don’t have electricity and their access to water is from tap outside a neighbour’s house. She said the baby cried loads in the night and was up nearly every 30 minutes. I can’t imagine how stressful I would find that knowing that every other member of my family are in the same room potentially being woken up by the new baby. She doesn’t have family, friends and a church that are bringing them meals so they don’t have to cook. In a couple of days she’ll simply get on with her normal life, just with an addition strapped to her back. Emma, you are amazing.