How does a woman transform herself into a mother, and what are the costs and gifts attached to the process?
BRENDA WAIRIMU, MOTHER OF ONE
Brenda Wairimu, an actress and influencer, and mother of one says that being a mother is a wonderful experience, but that it comes with a cost like everything else that is worth having.
“My daughter who I love very much will be turning eight in January and watching her grow has been wonderful. I love that I now have a friend and partner for life. However, having a baby will change you, hence, you have to catch on quickly and leave the old version of yourself behind and embrace the new you,” she says.
“It not only changes your body, it also changes the way you carry yourself. I used to live a carefree life before I had my baby, but now I constantly worry and I am anxious when she is not near me. I have also become a planner because I have someone who completely relies on me. It was not easy I had to mourn the carefree version of me and embrace the new me.”
According to Brenda, being a mother also made her realise how strong she was. “When you become a mother, you experience a rebirth, especially in how you view yourself. For example, I laboured for about 32 hours before I had my daughter. I quickly became aware of my own physical and emotional strength.”
TATIANA KARANJA, MOTHER OF THREE
Tatiana Karanja, a photographer and public figure, and mother of Nora (five months), Marley (four years) and Olive (five years), says that she has had quite the metamorphism into motherhood.
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“I first got pregnant when I was in my mid-20s and it was not planned. It was a year after I had moved back to Kenya after my studies in the Netherlands. I lived at home with my parents and my life at the time was my job in photography, and partying on the weekends. I had no responsibilities and lived a carefree life, but being pregnant woke me up quickly,” she says.
The 31-year-old says one of the biggest changes for her was the many friends she lost once she got pregnant.
“My first pregnancy was a lonely season, and once you have the baby it almost feels like all you do is breastfeed, and take care of the baby. Although it felt like I lost many friends, I was able to identify who my real friends were. You do not have to have 30 friends, but a few solid friends. I have also made friends with other mothers and so my second and third pregnancies were better. Social friendships are not necessarily a bad thing as long as you know where you stand and who your real friends are.”
Tatiana also states that there are emotional changes that come with motherhood, and that one needs to be on the lookout and get help where necessary.
“I recently discovered I was going through postpartum rage with my recent pregnancy. I believe it may have been because I was running on empty. A week after my c-section I was taking my children to school because I am their prime caregiver. I was not sleeping well and I was exhausted. I would get angry and frustrated all the time. However, after talking with another mother I was able to identify what I was going through, and now I am in better space,” she says.
Tatiana says that when a woman becomes a mother, she goes through so many changes that it often feels like she is losing the older version of herself. However, if one embraces the changes, it not only helps in discovering new things about themselves, but it introduces them to a new version of themself.
“Once I realised I was trying to hold on to a version of me that was now gone, I was able to embrace the changes and the new me. My babies pushed me to work hard, to be passionate and to be the most authentic version of myself. Previously, I was a people pleaser, but now I have boundaries as I realise that I cannot give all of my time to everyone else. It pushed me to be independent and strong, and clear about what I want. I am now 31, but if I was not a mother by now, I think I would be living with my parents and still partying away my weekends. I would probably have reached 40 without bothering to have a proper savings plan.”
Tatiana, further, says that now her work as a photographer and influencer is not just about money, but about leaving a legacy for her children. Being a mother has taught her to enjoy life and live fully in every moment.
VICTORIA MUSYOKA, MOTHER OF TWO
Victoria Musyoka, 36, founder of Kiddie World and Bongo Kids, and mother to Amani (seven) and Jayden (10), says that motherhood is a mixed bag of blessings as it comes with the need to sacrifice, but also pushes a woman to grow and evolve to be a better version of herself.
“I got married at 24, and had my son at 25, and my daughter at 29. I tell my friends if I knew better, I would have my children in my 30s and not in my 20s because in your 20s you are still raising yourself, you do not know who you are or even what you want. However, I was able to adapt and grow into the mother my children need, and I have no regretsIt was motherhood, and knowing that I was now a single mother and that I needed to provide for my children that birthed . my businesses, Kiddie World and Bongo Kids,” she says.
“I struggled to raise my firstborn because at the time my husband travelled a lot and my work was not flexible. So, I felt like I was not giving my child what he needed as a parent. I was employed in the IT field, but I wanted a flexible job because I was now a mother. When I was pregnant with my second child at four months, I quit to start a business, which, I officially registered my business in 2015, a year after my divorce.”
Another gift, she says she got from being a mother was the push to go to therapy for her childhood wounds.
“I did not want to pass down any dysfunctional patterns from my childhood to my children, so I decided to be proactive before having my firstborn. Therapy was really good for me; however, I still struggle and fall back to my old default systems, my old way of doing things, and when I do I apologise to my children, especially when they get hurt. I want to be intentional about breaking dysfunctional patterns, I want to break the cycle in my family.”
Victoria says that being a mother has not only taught her to love deeply but also given her grit and resilience.
“I have no option because my children rely on me. They inspire me to keep working and to keep pushing myself no matter what I face. When I feel like giving up the thought of what will become of my children is what keeps me going. I have also learnt to save and to invest and to be financially smart.”
Victoria believes that being a mother has affirmed her and given her the courage to love herself just as she is.
“Having my daughter who came out with a personality like mine was healing and a confirmation for me that I was okay just the way I was. I am strong-willed and I have always been clear about what I wanted, and when I set my mind on something I go after it. These are the qualities that have made my business successful, but growing up my mother whom I love very much did not know how to handle me because I was so different. As a result, I was made to feel like something was wrong with me and I carried that for a long time, but having a daughter who is exactly like me was like a confirmation that God made me just the way I was and I was okay. The best part is that I now know how to nurture my daughter and guide her on to harness the good and balance her personality in a way that she can thrive because I have walked the same path.”
Victoria notes that one of the most important lessons she has learnt as a parent is the ideology that a mother should sacrifice everything even herself in order to be a good mother.
“We as mothers sacrifice everything for our children. We give up self-care, our social life, love, our dreams, etc, and never realise that we will eventually suffer burnout because we cannot give to others when we are empty. I now prioritise self-care. I love my children, but I also schedule motorcycling, which I love, I go out with my girlfriends, and once a year, I travel alone.