Any parent will say that raising kids is one of the toughest and most fulfilling jobs in the world—and the one for which you might feel the least prepared.
It is full of surprises. No matter how many books, parenting forums, and articles you read, nothing can completely prepare you for becoming a parent.
Take Jerome Kayitana, for example, who, just a few weeks into his new role as a father, started panicking.
Not that he detested it, on the contrary, he was excited about his son, but things were moving so fast, he says.
There was always something in demand, if it wasn’t diapers, or formula milk, it was burp cloths and baby wipes. Everything was draining and utterly exhausting for him, Kayitana recalls.
“Caring for a baby takes up all of your time and money. Everything is new and when you think you are starting to get the hang of things, something new happens. With the experience I have now, I know that nothing can prepare you well enough for the realities of being a parent,” he says.
Many dream of experiencing the joys of parenthood, however, when their dreams become a reality, then the unexpected happens. Most have come to realise that when it comes to parenthood, one can only speculate about what the experience could entail.
Laura Ishimwe agrees with this. Being the kind of person who always plans ahead, the mother-of-one thought motherhood wouldn’t be that tough; after all, with her proper planning skills and a schedule, she thought everything would fall in place. Not at all.
“When I had my baby, I had planned her feeding and nap times, something that didn’t worked for either of us. She (her baby) made it a point to wake up every time I was going to eat, I had to stop everything I was doing to either feed or wash her,” she says.
Besides the tangled up schedule, Ishimwe had also become more anxious, wondering if she was going to do a good job at protecting her little one.
“There was something new with each day. My first months were full of anxiety and panic, I was always scared that my baby would catch a fever or an allergy or some sort of illness. It terrified me that I had no control over that,” she says.
Ishimwe never knew that caring for a child could be that demanding, that it was a full time job that required one’s every ounce of energy and attention.
Eric Ntare, a father of two boys, wishes someone had warned him to look for a spouse who would pamper his kids just as much as he does.
“I am a father who makes a lot of time for them. But I sometimes have regrets; I thought my wife would be someone who cared for her kids as much as I do, but it’s unfortunately not the case.”
He says, “There are times I see women who care so much about their children and I feel like crying, then I find myself drowning in wishful thinking.”
He, therefore, says that those planning to have children should look out for partners who treasure having kids and value the role of being a parent.
Paula Umutesi is expecting her second child. With her first child, however, the pain she went through while giving birth almost led her to the decision of never giving birth again, though she eventually changed her mind.
“I know they always tell stories that giving birth is painful, but the experience itself is not just pain, it is torture. I think people should know this before they go to the labour ward, this can help you to prepare for the worst. I only wish I had known it was that painful I wouldn’t have moved so fast into it,” she says.
Umutesi also says people need to understand beforehand the demanding responsibility that comes with raising children.
“I wish I had known that bringing up and grooming a child into someone influential was very hard, especially a girl-child.”
The financial state of the father of the child is something to look into before having kids, Umutesi says.
“Knowing the financial status of the husband and his family status matters too, you don’t want your child to miss out on some needs because you know babies can be pretty demanding,” she adds.
Parenthood is a transforming experience
Gerald Nshuti says having his first child uncovered emotions he never knew he had. He was the kind who concealed emotions, but fatherhood changed all this, he suddenly transformed into an expressive person.
“When my son was born I was too happy, I was overcome with joy. I later noticed that I had become too sensitive and caring. My son uncovered feelings I never thought I had, he changed my world.”
Karen Barasa, a mother of two girls, shares her experience saying that before she had her firstborn, she was not too keen on being close to children, however, after giving birth, this changed.
“I used to avoid them because of the attention they always want from adults. After giving birth, I realised that kids need protection and as adults, it is our role to help and protect them regardless of whether you are the parent or not. The passion to help kids has also grown, something that wasn’t there before I became a parent myself,” Barasa says.
Elvis Nkotanyi is of the view that with raising children, parents need to be vigorous and flexible because the constant demands that come with children can otherwise be overwhelming.
“What I have come to realise is that when it comes to raising a child, one can never know it all regardless of how many books or parenting articles one gets to read,” Nkotanyi says.
He also advises parents not to be tough on themselves, adding that they should still find time to take good care of themselves and not feel guilty about it.
“When you become a parent, it is always good and healthy to find time to refresh because parenting can be tough. You can love your kids and still be away from them just so you can find some time for yourself,” he says.
The idea of becoming a parent seems overwhelming but it is a beautiful experience. I have learnt to take it one step at a time and let things flow. Raising children can be a bit tricky but what one needs is patience. — Scovia Karungi
The world of parenting can fill you with all sorts of emotions. These can range from love, anger, anxiety and much more. It is very important to know how to manage these emotions otherwise they can lead to irrational decisions that can affect the upbringing of your children. — Jacky Umurerwa
I have learnt to take things slow and not to blame myself for every single mistake a child makes. I do my very best to raise them the best way I can but I also give them space to live their lives. It is through these mistakes that children become independent and manage to survive. — Livingstone Buyinza
Parenting is that experience you hear about so many times but need to experience it yourself to understand. It is filled with happy moments and sad ones too but most of all, it is humbling to give life to someone. Parenting has taught me to be more accommodating and patient. — Wilbur Bushara