Thursday, March 21, 2013

TRY INFIDELITY! but use protection.

Infidelity hurts. Whether by a woman or a man. More so in marriage.If there are children, they bear the brunt. There is the possibility of them growing up without the active presence of one parent, or if the parents decide to stick together after all, they are exposed to an environment of hatred, vengeance and mistrust before things can go back to normal again, if ever.

That said, there is this advertisement that has got the tongues of a section of Kenyans and religious leaders wagging to a point that it was pulled off air. The 'Weka Condom Mpangoni' advert was perceived to encourage immorality and infidelity in marriage. Other Kenyans however see nothing wrong with the advert and they have not shied away from stating why. It portrays a reality of what is happening in society today; the Kenya of today, they say. Objecting to it, they claim, is akin to burying our heads in the sand. Denial is not the way to fight HIV and Aids, they reason. We have to be open about such issues in order to win the fight against HIV. Valid points? I should think so.

I will give credit where it is due and state that I like the advert for two things;

a)   It carries a very relevant message; that if you insist on being unfaithful, use a condom. I am sure that every woman or man who finds out that their spouse has been unfaithful, while they will be devastated at the betrayal, will be relieved when they find out that they were not put at risk in the process. It’s a straw, of sorts, to clutch onto in the face of danger posed by the sinking boat that is infidelity.

b)   It addresses the woman. Finally, someone somewhere has noticed that women play a part in infidelity. The many adverts that have been run before have appeared to believe that infidelity is gender sensitive.

It goes without saying that the advert is clearly resigned to the fact that infidelity or as it is known in Kenya, mpango wa kando, is part of our marriages today. The 'wacha mpango wa Kando' campaign seems to have failed miserably, yet this one has not elicited the desired reaction either.

That aside, I have no qualms joining the disgruntled voices of those advocating for its ban because of just one reason: the advert blatantly sells infidelity, not the use of condoms.

The woman in question states that her life would be miserable with baba Michelle (a miserable drunkard of a husband) but since “Mbugua wangu” came along, she is bila stress and Life is good. As if to prove this, she is out shopping for vegetables. A happy child of school-going age who we perceive to be her daughter runs to give her a hug as she goes about her business. Evidently, she is accepted by her child and her friend. The woman is all smiles, she looks healthy. Why wouldn't she be, she is having her cake and eating it. The crowning of the cake is that the society does not shun what she is doing any more-It is the norm, we insist, hence giving her impetus to keep the affair going. She has the audacity to share her shenanigans with a friend, who amid laughter and  ‘high-fives’ cautions her to ‘weka condom mpangoni’ in passing.

After selling all the good stuff to us about infidelity, the advert attempts to scare us by showing Mbugua, the mpango wa kando, taken by a younger girl. If you are cheating would you be overly surprised that your mpango wa kando could be cheating on you too? Sure, we are afraid. We are very afraid.

The advert endorses every action of the woman; she sneers at her drunkard husband and makes a mockery of the union of marriage by claiming to love her side dish. She shamelessly gambles with her children's future and stability and yet we maintain our cool. But when she reveals that she does not use a condom, now life stops? Don't we have our priorities warped? 

Are we saying that it is ok to cheat but a crime not to use protection while cheating?

Seeing as marriage is not a walk in the park and most women are persevering through the hardships, which woman wouldn't want to be mama Michelle? Who wouldn't want to partake of what is keeping mama Michelle glowing and happy despite the fact that her husband is a drunkard who has neglected her? Which woman wouldn't want to have their cake and eat it?

Every woman would! But sensible women know that two wrongs do not make a right. We are dealing with spouses who are people too, and these people have feelings. Families will be left hurt and betrayed. Last time I checked, a condom cannot mend broken hearts nor restore broken trust. So if any man or woman out there feels like they deserve better, do us all a favor; stop giving marriage a bad name and get the hell out!

When I see women, who have been the family anchors, the voices of reason, the people who have shown their children direction when their husbands are out there chasing skirts, when these same women start taking the direction of mama Michelle, and worse still with the support of men, I get worried. It scares me to think of what will become of our families, of our children in a few years to come.

I wouldn't have any problem with the advert if it was solely advocating for use of condoms in ANY relationship. But it sells infidelity instead. The tragedy is not that she is not using protection. The tragedy is that she is a married woman having sex outside marriage. Or is that not an issue any more?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Motherhood: What I was never told

Something happens when you hold a small fragile-boned newborn in your arms. If you sit still for a moment and really get lost in that moment, you might feel your heart melt. I kid you not! The sweet baby scent will waft to caress your nostrils and you will be tempted to have another baby if only to enjoy that heavenly scent again-I speak for myself here. You will see their small beautiful eyes (if you are lucky to catch them when they're awake), their tiny lips, small pink nose, ears and you will wonder. Yes you will wonder because at that moment, you will  realize how much you have grown. How much you have gone through. How many mistakes you have made.How much experience you have gained. How many lessons you have learnt. In a nutshell, how much has happened since you were just as fragile and clueless as that newborn you are holding, to the grown up that you now boast of being. So yeah, you will wonder. 

Then again, maybe that is just me.

See, I am an aunt (yet again) to not just one but a pair of adorable boys. Wait, did I hear you applaud? Why, thank you! Thank you! You're far too kind. *curtsies* Now if you will let me finish...

My twin nephews were born two weeks ago and their mother, my younger sister,  has now proudly added the tag 'mother' to her bragging rights. That's a tag that comes with so much responsibility doesn't it? When you step into motherhood, you make an entrance into this grand hood having armed yourself for the journey ahead. As a newbie, you will get advice flowing your way from all directions. After getting all this advice,maybe even noting everything down for future reference,  you will lie to yourself that you know all there is to know about being a mother. Then baby comes along, and you will feel short-changed.

You will feel short-changed because there are some truths about motherhood that are conveniently left out by the motherhood fraternity. This could be because no one would like to be the one to punctuate the ‘aaaaahs! and  ‘aaaaaaws!’ with anything unbecoming. Who does that? 

Ok, maybe me. But let me state categorically (Check me out, I just used one of the most abused phrases by Kenyan politicians! Oh, well...) that I love my two daughters to a fault. I however had to find out some harsh realities about motherhood from my own experiences and the experiences of other mothers around me. Most mothers won't share with you these, but being the spoilsport that I am, and since I don't remember taking any oath of silence, I will share what I have learnt with all you newbie mothers out there.

  1. No, you will not enjoy every minute of motherhood. There will be days when though you love your children, you will loathe the work that comes with being a mother. As long as you remember that loving your kids and hating what you have to put up with is pretty normal, you will do just fine.
  2. You will be so sleep-deprived and exhausted the first few months and you will be tempted to think that you must be doing something wrong. Why? Because other mothers have it easy? Ha! You’ve been punked! They fed you with stories of how great motherhood is and left out the hard realities because they didn’t want to break the cycle.
  3. Poop (or in my case poopoo) and pee (in my case, susu) will become very common words in your vocabulary. You frown at them now but as soon as you have your child, these words will flow from your mouth with not the slightest tinge of embarrassment. I said it.
  4. Having a child will change you. Just like drinking, it will exacerbate your true inner personality. Brace yourself.
  5. Your relationship with your spouse will need some adjustment. Failure to which, you will stare separation or divorce in the face. He will - most definitely - change. Whether for better or for worse, you will only find out when your child arrives.
  6. Don’t have children until you are 100% sure that you can be a great parent alone. In case of divorce you cannot afford to be anything less than 100% capable. If you are not, your child(ren) will suffer. You don't want that.
  7. I am struggling with potty training for Heidi and this is what I have concluded: They will go when they are ready, and they don’t give a damn how expensive diapers are!
  8. You don’t need half the things you buy for your child, onesies especially, because they outgrow those tiny clothes in the blink of an eye. All that a newborn needs are food, warm clothes, diapers and a place to sleep. Really.
  9. It is true what they say, that when there’s one child its a child in an adults’ house. When there are two children, its the adults who are in the children’s house.
  10. But for health related hindrances, you cannot afford not to breastfeed your child. They say that scientific findings have indicated that the lack of mother-child bonding during breastfeeding could be a contributing factor to prostitution tendencies by women seeking to be loved and promiscuous men seeking elusive gratification. Whether this is true or false, I am sure no mother wants to take that chance if breastfeeding is a viable option for her.

They never told me how much I would laugh either. I laugh at how Heidi dances to a song, at Hailey imitating her pre-unit teacher. I laugh more now, than I ever did before.

It will do you good to add the above to the list you already have to make it complete. You probably have been told how you will love like you never loved before. That the good days will make the bad ones fade into oblivion. That is absolutely true. Otherwise, though pregnancy is a tiresome, life-sucking experience that is crowned with excruciating labour pains, why do you think, we never learn our lesson? Why do we go ahead and have more children?

It is because, when you look at the bigger picture, you can never describe motherhood as a horrible experience. Not even if you tried.

Sister dearest, as you don your new hood of mother, I tip my hood to you. 

Welcome to motherhood.