Early this week, I made French fries and chicken marinated with a mother’s love. I hurried through it like I hurry through everything nowadays, there doesn’t seem to be enough time for anything.
I feel like an I need to be a human mom with an elephant’s brain, octopus’ hands and the patience of a hunting cheetah. The food was on the school menu, and I always strive to make for the kids what’s on the school menu.
I garnished the food with the pride I feel for my little queens and topped it with some more love. I even wrote a note for miss Z on her lunch box, but only sent Miss T’s Z with good wishes because girl can’t differentiate a T from a Z. I hurried to school and presented it to her teacher just in time.
As the other kids sat down to eat, I saw a boy extend his hand to the little purple and white lunch box. The lid on the lunch box is loose, I prayed to the trinity that he wont touch it. Before my prayer reached the ceiling, he touched it. Then he grabbed it with one hand and dangled it between his index finger and thumb like you would dangle a bug you aren’t sure bites.
Before I could blink, potato wedges, pieces of chicken, orange slices and my left ventricle were on the floor. Miss T rushed to it when she realised it was chips and chicken and asked if she could collect it and eat it anyway. My heart cracked a little. She was given the school food which wasn’t marinated with a mother’s love but was good anyway.
I silently moaned my wasted efforts, all my dreams for my baby’s full stomach now lay trodden on the dirty Foundation Stage One floor. It’s the little things that break a mother’s heart, but the hearts of mothers are made of slime — we are malleable and easy to mend.
Also, I saw myself in that child.
I was a clumsy child. Clumsy, forgetful and hasty. The first time my dad (RIP) caned me, my elder sister had lied that I was eating Omo box cuttings pretending it was mandazi. I was whooped, and later in the evening, he brought me five mandazis the size of Madagascar and asked me to eat it all. It was the worst punishment ever, a delicious punishment if you may.
The second time he whooped my little behind, I deserved it. I served his lunch outside and then didn’t wait for him to come and eat it. I was having major FOMO; I needed to rush and catch the green grasshoppers that had a rainbow ‘petticoat.’ The chickens thought they were having a bash; they came and feasted on his food and made a huge mess because they are chickens, making a mess is in their job description. It was also the last time he beat me.
I was a clumsy child. Clumsy, forgetful and hasty. I have worked very hard to be organized, always know where my hands were, and remember instructions. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, that child has shown up repeatedly in my work. I have made significant, silly and annoying mistakes, some so foolish that I want to hit my head on a wall afterwards. Twice, I have contemplated hiding my face in a bag and sleeping under my bed with the curtains drawn. I haven’t. Yet.
I have approached simple tasks with such surety, only to realize later that it was a colossal blunder. I have felt like a child who gleefully shows you the piece of art they made — on your car, with a nail.
I have wondered if this is a mid-life crisis, if this is how Alzheimer’s starts or if I’m having a series of mini-strokes because, my goodness, how can one person be so clumsy, forgetful and hasty.
I’m a harsh self-critic; sometimes, I think the weapon fashioned against me that is prospering big time is none other than me. It’s like my whole body is one small toe, and I’ve bashed it against furniture so much that it’s almost broken. Yet, amid the self-bashing, my eyes have been so open to the love of Christ. I cannot imagine he forgives me repeatedly despite me messing up every waking day. I have encountered a grace I can’t comprehend, which I probably wouldn’t have extended to me if I was my boss. In the practice of repeating mistakes, I have been a generous giver. I haven’t felt like I have been winning much in the recent past, self-doubt sits on my head like an elephant on a blade of grass. But I have felt the presence of Christ saying, “See? I’m the expert clearer of messes, if you let me.”
There are highs, and then there are days when you may wonder if your water has been spiked with delirium by an evil elf. I don’t know what it is, but “His mercies are new every morning”, even after mistakes, some bigger than others.