Adapting to Change

Womanhood | By Lynett Manikai, Psychologist | 09 May 2015
PHOTO: © Baynham Goredema

Unsure what the move had in store for me I packed my bags and came back to Harare. Unlike the fast paced life, traffic jams, bright lights that I was now accustomed to in the five years I lived in Johannesburg the Sunshine City had its own beauty and challenges. When I arrived back home I immediately got preoccupied with planning my wedding which was less than a month away. It was a pretty hectic time with premarital counselling, meetings with the service providers, family and friends; I barely had time to think beyond the wedding day.

The wedding day came and went, and then my real Zimbabwean experience began. Suddenly I had nothing to do but at the same time so many things to adjust to, a new city, new daily routine, not going to work, being a wife, having a new family, new church, new environment, funerals and weddings to attend, power cuts, water shortages, potholes etc. My life in Johannesburg was very different to this new beginning and it was a rather overwhelming experience. Needless to say life doesn’t stop and it doesn’t come with a formula either!

I wasn’t happy. I felt like I was floating, nothing was within my control and life was just passing me by. Everyone around me seemed to have it all together. They were not affected by the darkness when there was no power and of course they had their jobs or businesses to occupy their time. When I was planning the move back home I guess I focused on the positive aspects of it and not the total experience. My current reality was not anything close to what I experienced when I was just visiting Harare. I virtually had little or nothing exciting to look forward to every day. It was same old routine and frankly it wasn’t enough motivation to look forward to the next day. I felt like my life was at a standstill.

Somewhere along my boring schedule I started to feel tired and weak then I couldn’t stand the smell of oil when I was cooking. Instead of getting better, my life was turning into a nightmare but still I’d put on a front and act as if all was well. Maybe I was missing my life in Johannesburg, everything was readily available – well for starters I was working – there was water and power and all of a sudden, I longed for the ‘perfect life’ there. Then it hit me that I had gone for a few weeks without going on a period.

I know it might seem rather obvious that surely the signs and symptoms must have been crystal clear! On the contrary the writing wasn’t on the wall for me. I paid my family doctor a visit. He did some tests and the results confirmed that I was pregnant. What? Pregnant - now when I’m going through all these adjustments. I needed over 30 minutes of venting, wailing and half a box of tissues. Don’t get me wrong I love children, I am my nieces and nephews favourite aunt and I had decided on my child’s name when I was 17 years old! That’s how much I was looking forward to being a mother, but the timing
felt wrong.
News of my pregnancy did not change my circumstances, in fact I think it made it worse. Weeks turned to months from vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss and a whole lot more pregnancy dynamics came into play. I felt rather depressed about the move and I also wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy. 9 months later I gave birth to the most adorable baby boy. So this is when all the fun starts? No, it’s not.

From the hospital where I had the emergency caesarian, to being responsible for this little human being who is totally dependent on me - it was a daunting task. The sleepless nights came as a package with bathing the baby, laundry, ironing, clinic visits and everything in between. I didn’t have much help so I had to do most of the work on my own while healing from the operation. It was not much joy being a mother, or so I thought.
Then something happened inside of me, I changed the way I look at things. I began to feel alive again. I looked at my son and I couldn’t believe that this little person came out of me; he has a smile that melts my heart. As I looked at him growing each day, clearly the little miracles were always there but I was so wrapped up in things that I had no control over, I hadn’t taken time to notice them. Suddenly I was looking forward to the next day, the next stage, the next miracle. The exhaustion was all wiped away by the joy inside me. I was excited about life and I started noticing the beautiful things outside my son as well. Everything that seemed to bother me began to be insignificant and things that we take for granted began to brighten up my life. I had a new lease of life, my son’s birth made me realise that indeed it is the small things in life that matter.
Being a full time mother has given me a whole new perspective on life. So far it has been the most involving, challenging and fulfilling role I have had to play. As women we tend to underestimate the value we add to a child’s life, a society, a nation, a generation because we mostly look at reward and performance in monetary terms. 15 months down this journey, I have no regrets that I have had this privilege to raise my son on my own. Of course my life is not perfect; nobody’s life is,  you can’t control some things in life but you can make a choice to have a good attitude about it.

There is always something beautiful that you gain from every experience. Most children go through similar developments but when it is your child it is extra special. Simple things we take for granted like smiling, sitting, walking, talking, take a whole new dimension-an amazing one. I have never experienced love and joy like this before. Being a mother like everything in life comes with challenges so does moving countries or a change of environment and circumstances. All in all it has been a wonderful journey and I have learnt a lot of important life lessons. I’m really excited about the future and I thank God for carrying me through it all.