Motherhood in 2019 is quite different from what we saw while growing up. My mother was strict but very loving and kind - a balance that is hard to achieve. When she punished or reprimanded us we knew that she was doing it because she loved us and wanted us to be good people. I saw the same in many of the mothers as we grew up. Parenting was tough love but it was loving. Parents would speak with authority and we respected them simply because they were mothers or fathers. We would not talk back and we knew that if you somehow got the courage to do so you would quickly be put in your place. So naturally, I expected motherhood to be as clear as it seemed to me in my childhood. Mum was always right and mum loved us so she had to discipline us and make sure we were not useless adults.
I have always loved children. I especially loved babies because they couldn’t talk back and challenge my opinion. I was excited about being a mother when I found out I was expecting my first child. However, as my due date drew closer, I realized that I was stepping into a role that was huge. I had to take a little baby who knew nothing of this world and introduce her to life. I had to teach her to be independent, confident, kind, hardworking and everything else that comes with being a responsible adult. That’s when the anxiety set in. I began to realize that motherhood, and indeed parenting, was much much harder than our mothers made it look. On top of any challenges my mother had to face I would also have to teach my child how to navigate a world filled with technology, social media and an increasing lack of morals. I’ll add that this anxiety never went away even when I was expecting my second and third children.
I asked my friends who were mothers several questions. I read up on parenting and found Dr. James Dobson’s parenting books to be pure gold. I was always looking out for how other mothers were doing it and it helped prepare my mind for the task ahead. I believe every mother needs a village to help her navigate this wonderful, challenging and yet rewarding journey of motherhood.
The one thing I did not expect to feel after having my first born was confusion. A few days after having my baby I could not understand what my body or my baby was doing. I had expected to feel ‘normal’ after having my baby - whatever normal had been. Instead I was feeling sick, tired and stressed out because after a week, I had not mastered motherhood. I was in for a shock. I remember telling my friend how I felt and she said ‘Oh! Yes! You feel completely disorganized and disillusioned for a while.’
I had read about post-natal depression and I remember reading an article that noted how African women or women with great support systems often don’t feel this depression. I believed the article and dismissed the idea that I would ever be a victim.
A month into motherhood, I began to feel overwhelmed. I was tired. I wanted to feel the joy of doing what I had longed for for so long but I couldn’t feel it. I loved my daughter but I also felt the burden to be a good mother. I started to go out with the baby to visit my parents especially. The change in environment and help from my mother helped ease the burden a little. I began to breathe. I learnt to be patient with myself. I was learning how to be a mother. I couldn’t master it all in one day. I’m still learning to this day. I learnt to ask for help. I learnt that saying I’m overwhelmed is not a sign of weakness. It still takes a village to raise a child and the village eases the burden one would feel.
The interesting thing about motherhood is that it throws curve-balls at you all the time. Just when you think you’ve mastered everything, something else comes up. I’m a Christian and it’s a lot harder to raise Christian children today. Many of the world’s ideas have seeped into the church. ‘Discipline’ is seen as unchristian by many people. Some parents do not correct their children because they either believe that the children are too young to understand anything or they will misunderstand the correction as hate. This is something my parents did not struggle with. If you went out of line, you were punished. There were consequences to your actions. That was a life lesson. Our Heavenly Father has a standard. When we fall below that standard we face the consequences. Christian parenting should play by the same rules. Discipline teaches children to be respectful of others and to know that whatever they do does not affect only them. My husband and I discipline our children and we’ve been told we’re too strict, too tough or simply mean. But our children appreciate the boundaries and security that our correction gives them. I’m also encouraged by the fact that disciplining our children will help us achieve our goal of raising independent, confident adults. I would recommend Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson for those struggling to discipline their children or those who are trying to figure out the right way to do it.
Motherhood in 2018 is tough indeed. We are facing challenges that our mothers never had to face. We are trying to figure ourselves out as women as we try to create a safe place for our children in a world that is increasingly unsafe. My encouragement to every mother is that you are designed to do this. The world has changed but motherhood has not. Have a goal for your children, love them enough to correct them and have your ‘village’ that will support you on this journey. Never be afraid to ask for help. We all need it at some point and we are stronger together. Let’s raise children who will make us proud and who will lead our nation with confidence and integrity.
About the author: Sarah Nsubuga is a wife, married to Arthur Nsubuga for 8 years with whom they have three children. She studied Mass Communication and practiced Public Relations before choosing to become a stay-home mother in 2012. She is a Christian who gave her life to Christ in 2001 and has been walking with Him ever since. Her belief in Christ plays a major role in how she parents her children. She believes that well raised children will change our nation for the better and for the glory of God. She also believe that mothers in all walks of life need support in all aspects as they face the challenges that come with raising children today.