I am a mother to an 11-month old girl, Ariana. The experience has been tough and wonderful at the same time. The wonderful parts of it is that from the first day I saw my child, that was the beginning of joy. Even if I do not have much, seeing her shining and smiling overwhelms me with joy and love. It motivates me to wake up knowing it is not all for nothing. It is another day of learning.

The tough part especially during this time of the pandemic is that Ariana likes fruits, especially strawberries, blueberries and apples. Sometimes I might go to the market and not find them. She gets sad because what I used to give and what she likes is not there and there is nothing I can compensate her with. There is a time to take her out but due to safety concerns, I am always worried and alert about taking her out.

Ariana/ photo courtesy of @zoomtherapist

The main focus of my parenting journey is making sure that she finds her identity as early as now that is why I pay close attention to what she likes doing and her passions. She likes watching adverts on TV which entails beauty and children modeling. I have to be keen on. I make sure I find similar content on YouTube for her. Then I buy her clothes she looks great wearing.

All these photos were taken by her photographer father Philip, who goes by the name zoomtherapist on social media. This encourages her love for fashion and beauty. This has also brought us so much joy during this times of uncertainty. Seeing that it is something that she loves to do and we are able to do that for her even now is a blessing.

You can find her pictures at @ariana.delene on Instagram.

Photo courtesy of @zoomtherapist
Phoot courtesy of @zoomtherapist
Photo courtesy of @zoomtherapist

The new normal brought about by the pandemic has changed so many things for us. After feeding her in the morning at around 9am, I take her for a walk for at least an hour or so outside the house but within our home environment. She is always happy after that. She might go to sleep or play with her dolls. After lunch we teach her words.

I realize that I have to be whole for me to be the best mother that I can be. I pour into myself by exercising for 30 minutes every morning or evening to get back into shape. Unfortunately I lost my job due to the economic constraints brought by the pandemic. I do hope that things go back to normal so that I can find a job. I spend my time knitting baby’s headscarves, scarves and boots.

I had just started knitting clothes for Ariana when one of my friends saw them and said that she needed that for her child too. I actually do not call it a business. It is a hobby that I earn money from sometimes. If it becomes a job i would like to form a group and even employ people who have talent and can benefit from it. Nowadays whether learned or not, it takes us to win.

Photo courtesy of @zoomtherapist

Well-baby clinic visits

It was a whole different experience going to the well-baby clinic visits during a pandemic. There were only two mothers for the two times I went there. I did feel safe because the 1.5 metre rule was applicable. They had to sanitize the weighing machine and height measure before placing Ariana. Many parents and guardians fear taking their children to the clinics but I think it is better to get to know the wellbeing of a child. Also I have been approached by people who say that they fear being tested for the virus since one has to get their temperature taken when they visit a hospital. I see this as a concern.

I am grateful for being mother to Ariana. I feel that it has come at a time when I was ready for this. And as much as it is challenging at times, especially at this time, it is fulfilling.

Spirituality is a wide concept. Since it is a personal journey, it has different meanings to different people. Mainly, it is about tapping into your inner self and connecting it to God, a higher purpose or belief. For Bella Ngore and Paul Pogire, raising a spiritual child is a core value. They have a son, Klyne, who is two years and three months old. They share steps they take to nurture his spirituality.

Bella speaks about her spiritual journey before and after she had Klyne while Paul shares the significance of introducing their child to spirituality early on in life.

Bella Ngore during a recent shoot

One of my favourite Bible verses is “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It is a phrase that I has been part of my life while growing up and I am intentional about it now that I have a child.

I grew up in a Christian family. We would go to church. As I grew older and had a baby, the urge to nourish myself with the Word strengthened. I am not where I want to be but I try every day to reach to a deeper level. I challenge myself to understand the scriptures by reading one or two stories a day with my son. I would then ask my spouse Paul to elaborate further on it.  

I hope to raise a God-fearing child. I hope that he chooses to take time in his life to serve God in church, whether it is singing or playing the piano or any other activity that he would be interested in. I already have plans to get him a piano and learn to play it.

Practices we do to grow his spirituality

We go to church. He knows that Sundays are for going to church. We pray together before we have a meal and when we go to sleep. We read the Bible right before bed. We watch sermon videos of TD Jakes, Joel Osteen and of other preachers. I am not sure if he knows what it is that we are doing. He may not understand it now but he will one day, especially when he starts to go to Sunday school.

A picture of their son, Klyne.

The Bible tells me that if I train my child in the ways of the Lord, he will never depart from it. Generally what we are taught when we are young stays us. My parents took me to Sunday school and it became one of the things that grounds me. I want to train him to follow God’s path and that will help him wherever he goes and when he has a family of his own.

How is our training manifested through his actions in his early years?

When we are in church he sees his father preaching or singing in church, or playing the piano and he would mimic him. Simple things like bowing his head when we pray and singing Gospel music, is an assurance that he is learning and we are on the right path.

Paul on why raising a spiritual child is important to him

One of the things that a child can learn from me as his parent is spirituality. As a child, he has to learn from his parents first for him to explore it when he grows older. We try to raise him in a spiritual home for it to have a great impact in his life. My father is a pastor and it is through his teachings that I trust that everything is possible through prayers and became a pastor too. From that, I see that children imitate what parents do.

The best thing I can give my child is a tool to help him find his own identity. I believe he can through spirituality.” – Paul

Spirituality should not be forced. I try to instill in my son in a fun way. We learn a lot about ourselves when we are spiritual. That happens to a child too. They can find out things about themselves. Say, he could discover his talent of singing. The best thing I can give my child is a tool to help him find his own identity. I believe he can explore this through spirituality.

It helps a child know what is right and wrong. I would like my child to know why a thing is right or wrong guided by God’s Word.

Christabel Orwa Thuku, a wife and mother, and an administrative manager has recently been travelling for work. She talks about the tips she has learned along the way on helping her son, Eli, cope when she travels for work without him.

Christabel with her son Eli

When my husband and I started a family, we never imagined we would work in different cities. Our home is in Mombasa, he works in Eldoret while I regularly travel to Nairobi for work. Our son who is two years and eight months old is in Mombasa.

My husband got a location transfer at first. It was a big change in our home but it was a decision we both welcomed. We would visit him every other month. Then in December, I was told that I would work in Nairobi for three days. I left very early in the morning when my son was sleeping to report to the SGR train station. It was not easy to leave knowing well that night would be the first I spend away from him. Throughout my entire journey, I kept imagining what he would think of me when he waits for me in the evening to come back home. Would he think I abandoned him?

The second time that I travelled again to Nairobi was in January. I left for two and a half weeks. I nearly resigned this time. My mother-in-law advised me to keep my job since it allows me to do the things I want for my baby.

I travelled back to Nairobi a week ago and it is becoming easier than the last two trips. Funny enough, he is not obsessed with me when I come back. He would welcome me home and the next minute he goes on about his business. But every morning he would follow me whenever I exit one room to another.

“Don’t go to work.”

“I will be back in the evening.”

“Don’t go.”

He would think that I am going again and he would not see me for some time. As he gets older, he will understand when I explain to him about work trips and day to day job. I also hope to afford to travel with him and his nanny and get an extra hotel room.

At the moment, I have learned ways I can help him cope when I am away.

  • I communicate with him throughout the day

I want my son to know that I still care for him. To be honest, he holds the phone for less than two minutes. He is busy living his life. Haha! I hope he remembers that I am still here for him in those moments that we talk on the phone. I talk and sing lullaby to him before he goes to bed.

  • His days remain as normal as possible

We make sure to stick to his routine and that he has everything he always has even when I am far away. I want him to feel that a lot of the things have not changed and that gives him security. He likes watermelons very much and he eats them every day.

  • Giving him with something to remember me by

Before leaving home this time, I gave him my computer tablet because, let me say, I was driven by guilt. I downloaded educational videos and songs to keep him busy and which will remind him of me.

  • Having people who already know him around

I am grateful that we have a strong support system. It gives me peace, especially, knowing that his grandmother is around. If she were not, I do not know what I would have done honestly. It was important to have familiar faces around.

Christabel with Eli at an amusement park in Eldoret
  • I give him undivided attention when I am back from a trip

I make up for the time I have spent away from him. In fact, I spend all that time with him and lavish him with gifts. I have become conscious of the fact that it is easy to spoil your child when you are constantly travelling. I have found myself spending a lot of money because of the guilt of being away from him.

Although I have always wanted to work in Mombasa, work business trips are great opportunities in my career. I was promoted earlier this month to an administrative manager’s role. I am happy to see my sacrifices bear fruit. Being away has been a blessing to my child in many ways. He has learned to do many things. For instance, he was once afraid of the pool. I came back to discover that he went into a pool. This is a milestone that both my husband and I did not witness. He also eats better when I am away. I was happy to see that he gained weight. Seeing all these has made it easier for me to travel.