A few things about me

Archive for April, 2009

Motherhood tales, Oprah and Vogue

I have been ill since Sunday morning courtesy of bad meat. I prepared pork roast for Saturday dinner and it seems the meat was bad (there was no iffy smell off it and it cooked through.. trust me, I like my meat well done). Come Sunday morning I get an attack of nausea which I put down to something else(and not it was not pregnancy).  By mid day I knew it was not what I thought but food poisoning. Boy have I been sick, stomach cramps.. running tummy of the kind I never want to see again, dizziness, fatigue… and all the while.. mommy duties still abound.  I went into work Monday and Tuesday and since they refused to let me go home early on Monday, when I was feeling really crap.. I refused to work overtime on Wednesday and Thursday.

Meanwhile I just have not been able to get into reading my school work. Yani today morning I was staring at a paragraph trying to make sense of it. Read the thing like 4 times before I finally gave up  and decided to accompany Big Al into town.  We rarely get moments when it is just the two of us in the light of day. Now and then we sneak in lunch dates but usually it is not relaxed coz baby needs to be picked at a certain time and he needs to get back to work. I am still reluctant to hire a sitter. I took a leaf out of my cousin’s book when she said of her three children “I never leave them alone with a maid until they are 3 years old because by then they can talk and tell me how their day has been. If I need to be anywhere, my mother will babysit my youngest” at the time of the conversation her youngest was 5 months and her first two were 6 and 3. She can afford to do that because she is a stay at home mum with a very rich husband and a house full of maids and shamba boys etc.

Last night I was reading some message board and the topic was about raising boys. The poster was ranting about the challenges of raising boys. It was very interesting and though the age group of the children in discussion was  older;  9 years and above, I could already see that I have my work cut out for me. Seems like boy children will push boundaries and keep pushing till they finally learn who is in charge. I am glad that my husband is a very present and active figure in my son’s life.  A lot of the women on that thread were single mums to boys and from it I gathered that disciplining and the transition from boy to young man can be rather tough without the presence of a positive male figure in the child’s life.

Big Al reminded me of how as a baby Nikh was just not cuddly at all. He did not like to be held close and cuddled.. boy has that changed. We have a ritual now. After dinner and bath, we all sit on our two seater sofa. Big Al at one end me at the other and Nikh cuddled up tightly against one of usually his father, with the blanket covering all of us. Now and then he looks up at us and giggle and cuddles even tighter into his father. Sometimes he asks for his crew which consists of Dodo the dog, Nino the bear, Bobo the monkey and Bobby the elephant (Big Al came up with those names). At approx 2.30am every night/morning he gets upfrom his crib and descends or rather I get him into our bed, I refuse to share the bed with the rest of the crew. Sometimes I let Nino come in cause he is small and doesn’t take up too much space.  When we get baby number two we are going to need and new couch. 3 seater preferably… just enough space to all of us to sit, cuddle and watch tv.

So I got to town and ended up in 7-Eleven. I have been going there since mid month to see if the  April issue of O magazine has arrived and yes it had. I picked up the copy happily looking at Mrs O. Been a long wait…then I saw a copy of Vogue and it had Beyonce on it.. and you know I had to get it. I like Bey. On the bus back home I started flipping through Vogue and came to the page which featured a Kenyan artisit called Wangechi Mutu. Pleasantly surprised. Nope I don’t know her… but hey she is in Vogue, Kenyan, hello.. just got me happy. I read the whole article and I have to quote her on this because it precisely mirrors my feelings. The strange part was that during the ride to town Big Al jokingly said “we should get all our money move to the US and buy some of those cheap houses”

We joked about it then I got serious and said that I would absolutely not like to raise my children in the US and here is why ala Ms Mutu

I’d rather think of my children as intercultrual than black or white and what that means…….I wasn’t raised with the isses that have been enforced and implied for black people here (USA), and I don’t necessarily want our kids to go through that. It’s one thing to come here at a certain age and learn it through books and through watching people and through having conversations; it’s another to learn it by absorbing it all the way from childhood

I don’t know if I have said it here on this blog but after reading a lot of African American and Afro Carribean literature (while in the UK) I came to the conclusion that the history and heritage of African Americans or Afro Carribeans is not mine hence I can empathise, understand and sympathise but I will not own it. I have my own.

PS: though I have not finished reading the Vogue or Oprah, I highly recommend picking up April’s copy of Vogue.  Theme of the month is Nip/Tuck: Designing the Perfect Body. This is the 3 issue of Vogue I have bought. The first one was many years back in England and it totally sucked the previous one to this was excellent and this one looks promising.

If you love Mrs O. Pick up April’s issue of O magazine. The Talbot ads are killing me. The dresses, the dresses. If you want to get an idea of danish fashion.. check out www. staff-woman.dk

What happy Easter

So far my Easter has sucked. Good friday I got some “YUCK” news from home.. which had me on the phone back and forth with mum trying to sort things out, blowing my phone bill budget to hell. (I am trying to get my foreign calls under control; all this savings and living within your means stuff)

Then Big Al has been working through it all. Big project hand in on Tuesday.. so you can imagine.. no hubby, no help.. just me and baby.

Then baby was misbehaving thursday and friday. Tantrums the works. And not just at home.. but in town.. when I took him to the free park which has semi-wild deer and pigs and other animals. He is 2 years old. He thinks every animal is to be petted like his grandmother’s dog. So he goes off running towards these deers trying to pet them. They start hissing.. I pull him away.. he throws himself of the ground  screaming his protest at being taken away from the animals. All the other kids are perfection.. there I am chasing this 2 year old.. swearing to myself how I am will kill him when we get home.  We lasted less than 15 minutes at that place.. I was like “no way this boy is going to embrass me like this”


I was in a tiff when we got home. Then he starts acting up. On the way home I was like “Mrembo this is all your fault. You are lax on your discipline and he needs to understand “no” one time and one time only”

So I start enforcing the NO…sweet Jesus.. the tantrum.. wacha tu.. but I was determined to win. it involved me saying no.. him throwing himself on the floor screaming his head off. By the time Big Al showed up both baby and I were drained. So Thursday is gone, Friday whole day spent doing the same.. though I took him to the indoor playground for 2.5hrs.. let him get some steam off. Come back home.. repeat the battle of wills. Then at 9.00pm he spikes a fever, vomiting.

In the meantime I have been in a mood since the phone calls.. .. also in a tiff because hubby aka my best friend is working over Easter and yes I know he has to work and it’s not his fault.. but the irrational part of me is pissed of because.. it’s Easter.. I have 4 days at home.. can we not spend it as a family bonding… noooooo work… I hate work! So yeah.. I’m in a mood.. and he picks on the mood. I deny I am in a mood about his work. Cause what’s the point of burdening him with it. He senses I am pissed, if I acknowledge it.. then he gets into a mood and is zero productive at work.. and things will just get shitty. And he is also feeling guilty about working over Easter cause he KNOWS it’ aint right.. but deadline’s a deadline.I Acknowledge the mood about the phone calls. The phone call mood ended Friday morning..but the work thing.. (work has been an on going “issue” in this house).

then to top it all by end of Friday I have not managed to accomplish a single thing I had drawn up on my “to do Easter Break list” things like “hang up new curtains” “clear out baby’s room” “sort out clothes wardrobe”

Today has been easier baby wise…. cause all morning he was still feverish.. so energy levels were nearing zero levels. There still a lingering mood in the house. I manage 3 hours of alone time in town.. shopping 4 baby shoes, groceries and browsing. I see all the shoes I want and can’t afford.

The day ends well. Baby falls asleep next to me on the couch at 7.15pm. I buy an e-book (was crap), I read some school book chapters, Big Al hangs up the curtain (lots of cursing and muttering involved…me I am in the sitting room away from all of it….)

Crappy EAster.. I k now. Loooking forward to summer break.

I still have Sunday and Monday there’s still time to Easter to redeem itself

Hope you had a great one

3rd Year Anniversary

Its exactly three years to date that I arrived in Denmark to begin this chapter of my life and what a ride it has been.

The three have felt much longer than three. Chalk it down to all the life that has happened in that time.

So how are things on the whole:

  • I speak good Danish. I can watch news and understand 90% of it. 2 or 3 words in a sentence will usually throw me off.. but generally I get it  and Hello! I am doing a course in Danish (which I am so looking forward to completing..mothering + working+school + homework = having no time for anything). Case in point.. I am taking a break from reading a chapter to type this.
  • I became a mother: That still leaves me in awe. Sometimes. I  look at my son and think to myself “Good heavens, I am his mother, he is mine, who would have thought”. Motherhood is a ride and a half.. sometimes it has knocked my confidence, many times it warms my heart and makes me all lovey dovey. That animal protective instinct is so not a cliche. I used to think it was overrated.. me thinks it is actually overrated.
  • A lot of personal development and growth has happened and still is. That I think is more to do with growing older than it is to do with being in Denmark.. though being out of my comfort zone i.e “home” has magnified things and added a few extra chinks is the wheel thus making things rather interesting!

I don’t know how I feel about Denmark. I have accepted that I am here and made the decision to be happy here since my son is DANISH and this is his home. It is interesting when I talk to my friends about going back home.. they are like “what the hell you going back for” My friend R really shocks me with her sentiments about going back home. She was transfered here late last year and it has been very refreshing to have someone from home whose at the “same level” with me (sounds elitist and snobbish but it’s true) here. She has such a different take on things and its not like she was struggling finacnially or otherwise back home. She has the career life that one once part of my dreams.

Anyway whenever I gripe to her about Denmark, she has a way of asking me hard questions, telling me how things  back home actually are. She is a trained accountant and does all these economics/Economy/accounting stuff so she sees things from different perspective compared to me. Strangely enough she plans on going back and has no intention of being here longer than necessary.

The question she asked that staggard me was  ” Mrembo, apart from your father.. what ties do you have to Uganda”. The answer was clear “None”…

She went on ” so why the hell do you want to go back.. you want to go back to something you left behind 8 years ago ….” she went on breaking it down for me.

That ka-question of hers really shook me so ofcourse I was on the phone to mum telling her about this Ug-connection and mum was like…” but it is true … apart from your father… there is no one.. the only other aunt whom you are close to migrated to the US….. (we were not even that close and she got on my nerves when she told me to start calling my step mum “mommy”)

Like most people I am close to my mum’s relatives and feel more rooted there than Ug because it was in Kenya that I grew up with cousins etc ….yet again having left Kenya to live in Ug…I am out of touch with my relatives.. … but my closest relatives are in Kenya and not in UG.

So that’s Denmark for you. I am not hating it but I can’t say I am loving it. Many times I feel like I am in transition and I know that has to do with getting our own place. Lord knows I really want us to buy our own place. When we manage that, then I guess it will begin to feel like home. For now it is kinda home cause my life is here. My husband and my son are here and even if things were to end with my husband (I am not being negative.. just practical) I would still stay here for my son’s sake. But I do not want to grow old here. Salala.. that is why I still hang on to home. Ati being old here in winter…no

So what rating would I give Denmark on a scale of 1 to 10.. 10 being heaven

that’s so hard. Here is why:

In Denmark or Western world. Things work. You turn on the tap, you get hot or cold water. There is no going to the tap and wondering if you have to boil water in the kettle for a bath. Electricity does not go out. No fuel shortage, free medical care, no paying bribes to cops and government … basically things work. You flush the toilet.. there is water.. no rude shocks there 🙂

BUT BUT BUT.. the price we (as immigrants) pay is high. The emotional conflict. One foot here another one at home, the loneliness (that really stinks by the way), the isolation (no radio you relate to, no plethora of magazines featuring people that look like you, not some many people like you on the street). That’s the price we pay. (this fabulous speech is a direct quote from my friend N whom I was talking to today about this very issue)

so back to the scale. I want to give it a 4.5.. but that is dishonest. So a 6.5 all factors considered. yeah 6.5

I have not bitched about my career because I think this is not the year to do so.. everyone or rather many people.. broken dreams or not are facing some challenging times career wise juu ya FINANCIAL CRISIS!

Confession time

Haya here goes brace yourselves! This one has been a long time coming and the reason it is so late to the page is because I hate eating humble pie and ofcourse I am always right!

Cast your minds back to Dec 07/Jan 08… yeah that time. I wrote some things about the violence in Kenya that make me cringe when I read them. Woi.. I was talking out of my ass and for that I put my hand up and say I was WRONG WRONG WRONG. I got educated about the situation not long after that.. and should really have said something then.. but.. refer above. So there I have said it.

I am very proud to say that since then, this blog has not seen any political entries nor “how to save Africa” entries. I am so out of touch. I have not watched news or read newspapers in a long time. I have a general idea of what is going on.. but cannot even comment eloquently because I am so out of loop and nope I am not missing it. Now and then I loose my mind and comment on other peoples blogs about political/developmental stuff and then I realise how stupid and uninformed I sound when I read other comments (case in point.. my comment at Rombo’s) 🙂 thing is I have always had an opinion on EVERYTHING and I am  still learning the art of SILENCE! 🙂

Confession number 2:

I have forgotten what it was.. there were two things I was going to confess. .. it will come to me… in the meantime…

I am so inlove with my husband. And I know it sounds like I am showing off but it’s so true. For those of you who have been in long term relationships/marriage.. you know how it goes.. some times things are just normal.. .. nothing much.. then comes this wave that has you both behaving like you have just met and are falling in love for the first time. That’s where we are.. things are so good. We’re just in love!! At work I am smiling by myself.. remembering things. The other day I was reminding him of our first date how he came to pick me up from work and had a rose with him. He corrected me and said he had two roses because “I was twice as special”. Goofy … I k now.. but that earned him a kiss and other things you don’t need to know about! lol.. I am blushing.

I have remembered my other confession but let me finish gushing about my hubby. Right now it’s 10:13am he is still in bed. Today is a public holiday here so we are very relaxed. The sun is shinning, the sky is blue.. I intend to be at the beach later today. Anyway about hubby sleeping in late. That used to be such a sore point with me. I used to nag him about it. “come to bed with me, why do you have to wake up so late… why sleep so late”. I am a morning bird and he is a night owl and I was trying to change that. Used to get us both mad. Me… cause I wanted to go to bed, cuddle, chat and fall asleep in his arms.. him because he wanted to be up doing what he does.. enjoying the silence of the night and having the night to be himself.  One day after another tiff about “why do you have to get to bed so late.. don’t tell me you’re tired..serves you right for sleeping late”… I promised him that I would never again tell him/ask him to go to bed early. Many anights I had to swallow my anger about the issue.. before I knew it itwas a none issue.  He is who he is and I have accepted it. He was reminding me about it the other day.. asking me why it used to get me in such a tizzy and I was like.. “because…” and I didn’t  really have an answer.. but refer above.

Now on to my confession before I forget.

I confess that I have finally accepted that I don’t do religion or God well. It all came to me as  I was walking with my son back from daycare.  I had planned to tithe from my first salary and had agreed with myself on the amount.. I was jusst trying to figure out how to get my tithe to church (given that I do not attend church regularly or ever.. these days). As I walked past the church it occured to me just like that that I was tithing because I was “going to be good and do everything I ought to do then .. God will reward me and grant my prayers” . I was not tithing because “I love God”. I was tithing because I wanted something. Then I remembered some verses and in plain sight saw the foly of my  motive. My thoughts went into tailspin that week.

I sat with Big Al and asked him if he thought I was flaky.. one month I am so religious.. next.. I am a kafiri (heathen) to boot. One minute I believe the next.. I have so many doubts and question. He was sweet, he understood, told me that he had long accepted that I am a kind of religious mishap and that is part of who I am and he is ok with it. Said he supports me in whatever decision I make given that religion is a very important fabric for those who believe. Thus consoled.. I continued my self analysis and came to this conclusion

Somewhere in the bible it says we are all given a measure of faith. Well mine was very kidogo. I have tried cultivating it and well.. it just does not work for me.  Then while talking to a friend I mentioned that I was having a crisis of faith. She laughed and said.. “God Mrembo.. you have always had a crisis of faith.. remember back in high school…” I was taken aback.. I had totally forgotten my crises back those days…

From that I figured.. this stuff does not work for me. For me religion calls for blind unquestioning faith of which I have failed. I don’t know how to do it. I am not trying anymore.  there is more that has led me to where I am now..  but that’s a confession for another time.

So there you have it. My apologetic confession on politics, my love for my husband and my vanishing, evolving faith. Gotta run the outside’s calling

Blessed Easter folks.

Powerful Women

I finally finished reading February’s edition of “Vogue” the one with Mrs Obama on the cover.. The feature articles included Mrs Malinda Gates (wife of Bill Gates) Queen Rania of Jordan, Carla Bruni first lady of France and Stephnie Meyer (author of Twilight series novels that have taken the publishing industry by storm)

I was impressed, inspired and spured on to continue being the best woman I can be. Mrs Gates story was very interesting. The article mainly featured her work with her foundation and what they aim to do. The same with Queen Rania’s article. Over and above that, what moved me was thier dedication to thier families and how well they have maintained thier bodies. With regards to how they dress Mrs Obama stands out best because her fashion is so accessible to the rest of the world. She manages to look elegant, beautiful, feminine and poised in clothes from the high street as well as designer stuff. And she is not afraid to repeat clothes. She is an everyday woman. She gives me hope that if I just get “serious” about my dressing, I could also look fly and I do not need a president, millionaire or king as a husband. I believe that this is why Mrs O’s opinion polls in the US are in the 70s while her hubby’s are in the 60s. Way to go Mrs O.

Reading about these women and their work got me to thinking “eh Mrembo here you are admiring women so far out of your reach.. what about women you know”. That thought led me to my mother. Yes I consider her a powerful brilliant woman. My mother’s career is in developmental work and she rocks in that area. More importantly she really enjoys what she does. She will sometimes call me after the end of a project and I can hear excitement in her voice  as she talks about pulling off the project. It was from her that I first heard the term “grass root”. I was about 13 years old. She once told me “I really enjoy what I do.. the only part I don’t like is writing up the report.. lakini I am also very good at that”. Inspite of many challenges she has not opted out of her career because “she was born to do this” as she said to me.

Anyway so I was thinking about the way she has impacted her home village with her efforts that have had nothing to do with her work. In her own way she has managed to bring “maendelo” to her village area. My mother does not have a lot of money to her name but she does what she can to ensure that things happen in her home area. As a community we are a very small group.. many times forgotten by government but through small endeavors by those who can things are getting done one step at a time. And in that way my mother joins the ranks of Queen Rania and Malinda Gates.

She makes me proud…my mother. When she was here last summer we really talked and I got to really know her and know how things went down with my dad. The challenges she faced. The decisions she made that have impacted mine and my sisters life forever. Like the decision to send us to very good private schools on her small government salary. I said to her “but I thought daddy used to pay the fees” she said “in the begining no.. he was not for it and wanted me to send you to xyz… nikakata… I wanted you girls in abc and decided to pay for it. That I did by taking coperative loans etc… and eventually your father agreed to pay the fees”.

Details of things I did not understand or know about her all came to light last summer and I stand in awe of the woman that my mother is. On the whole mum is a calm, quiet, chubby, intelligent, funny, sensitive woman. She is also a very strong woman. It is from her that I have learnt that if you are not happy in a marriage you walk away. She is the one who walked.. not willing to put up with stuff. She walked at a time when everyone around her was telling her to “vumilia” (hang on). I have always been of the opinion that it is ok to break a marriage when deal breakers are broken. I also know that it is not easy to be a single  mum. I must also say that though she was a single mum.. my dad finally stepped up and in terms of school fees and “child support” he did provide consistently so unlike other women, my mum always knew there was school fees and child support coming in from my dad regularly.

It is because of my mother that my sister and I have travelled the world and East Africa.  I love her, I consider her a powerful woman.

This is my appreiciation of my mother. Not thorough but a small reflection of how I feel about my mother. Don’t get me wrong, she is no angel. Sometimes she frustrates me to no end.. but she’s my mother.. she is allowed anything.