Every year, during the week of my children’s birthdays, I shall write them a letter and keep them in separate boxes and present them with these boxes the day they graduate. (& graduate they will) Today, I write a 3rd letter to my first born son…..Trey Gateja…My Pride…My Joy!
My dear Teja,
3 whole years later & here we are; yet again…celebrating your existance. Boy does time fly. I must say that I’m grateful that the terrible two’s are done. That was for me a whirlwind period. Never knowing what was going to happen next with you was quite unsettling. Your tantrums reminded me of a confused adolescent just hitting puberty. Your mood swings mirrored those of a middle-aged woman flirting with menopause. Your emotions were all over the place. You were a mess and you made me a mess. I’m glad that’s over.
This feeling: I felt it when I heard your first cry. I felt it when you were first placed in my arms. I felt it when you first tugged at my breast. I felt it when you took your first step. I felt it when you grew your first tooth. I felt it when you uttered your first word. I felt it through every milestone; each time more overwhelming than the last. This feeling. I felt it again on the morning of 23rd May, 2012, when I dropped you off at school for the very first time. It was more powerful than I had ever felt it. Not because the other milestones counted any less but because you didn’t need me through this one. Your hands didn’t seek mine as they always had through the others. You waved and promised to be a good boy and make new friends. That day my baby, you started your own journey. That day Trey Gateja, you opened your book and started to tell your own story. This feeling.
Yes child…we (Aunt Emma and I) took you to KinderKare in May this year at 2 & 8mths. You were placed in Apples Playgroup. We lingered on for a few minutes, talking and chatting & taking pictures like you were the first child to ever go to school. We had to be literally shooed out. You totally love school & waking up early doesn’t bother you. When you get home, all you want to talk about is your friends Dora, Ian and Kevin. Dora remains the constant though. I came to your school to ask who she was. (Please note that I will be that type of mother). She’s quite pretty I must say…somebody’s got taste! The teacher told me you’re obsessed with her yet she doesn’t really have your time. She likes Kevin. I’m glad that you’re being exposed to rejection at such a young age. Trust me; the earlier you start building your heart’s resilience, the easier your journey through life will be.
All you do now is siiiiiiiiiiiiiing. The rhymes haven’t changed much from when I was your age so it’s easy for me to sing along. I’m shocked though that you’re now learning “Doh, a deer, a female deer”. I learnt that when I was waaaay older…and from T.V…not School. You’re learning colors now and you now know that Pink is for girls and Blue is for boys so though it’s one of my least liked colors, I have had to incorporate a touch of pink in most of my personal items that I want you to keep your hands off. It’s easy to explain to you that you shouldn’t touch my pink panty or pink bra because it’s for girls. Now if only somebody could help me on start making pink tampons!!!!!!
Your first homework was a coloring assignment. I honestly don’t understand how you can see the lines of a picture SO CLEARLY and yet constantly choose to color outside them. We need to work on your concentration levels too; you cant sit down to do your homework for even 3minutes. All you want to do is run out and play. Oh, you’re counting up to ten now and that’s great. We’re now working on the alphabet and writing your name. The only downside to school is you constantly have a cold & cough. The infections are never-ending. They wear us both out.
We started going to church this year. That’s a lie. Not me…just you. Ria’s mom, Auntie Allen has made it a point that she takes you to Watoto Children’s Church on Sundays. You must be learning a thing or two because once in a while you mention the name “Jesus”. The nicest statement you ever randomly made to me, after “I love you mommy” was “Jesus loves all the little children”. I thought it was really sweet. You never know, maybe one day my beliefs on the same will change. I just wish you could learn to only ask me those ambiguous-type questions like “Where is Heaven?” and “Why don’t I see Jesus?” when I have access to google. I don’t know the answers to everything my boy. And mommy is running out of lies.
You’re much more patient now. You kind of grew up overnight actually. You say “Thank you and Please and Sorry”. And you SHARE. I love that the potty stage lasted only 3days. You use mom’s potty now. You lift the seat, do your business, flash and go wash your hands. Life is so much simpler. We need to work on you learning to put the seat back down though. Women don’t like it when they go to use the loo and they find the toilet seat up.
Our fave pass time this year has been cooking. You like to grate whatever you can put your hands on. You always come running to the kitchen and ask me to lift you so you can stir the pot. You’re my little helper. You actually think we’re playing house so that’s why you always offer to help. One day, you’ll realize that its work so let me use this ignorance time to my advantage.
You’re a merger of two completely diverse worlds. You’re as hyper and expressive as your mom yet maintaining the subtle tender nature that you could have only got from your dad. The only thing about you that still causes fits at home is the fact that your fingers are waaaaaaaaaay too itchy. You can’t seem to stay out of mommy’s personal space. The most memorable incidents being; the time you piled your chairs, reached into my closet and dug your hand into my honey pot bag. You came running to me while I was outside talking to the gateman and showed me what you had found. “Mummy mummy…whats this?” you asked. Dumbfounded, I said…Teja, that’s a balloon. You said “No, mummy, this is my pink sweetie”. I’m sure you know by now that neither of those answers was correct. In a nutshell, had your father and I used the contents of that wrapping approximately 3years & 9moths ago, we wouldn’t have had you.
Another incident I remember was when you went around the block of flats one fine Saturday morning, knocking on everybody’s door, offering them each a tampon from my box. I know that was your idea of sharing but mommy almost failed to leave the house that weekend. I really would appreciate it if you left my delicate items alone.
The year is 2012. As you can very well see, the world refuses to end. President Museveni still rules; albeit with an increasing sense of paranoia, I must add. We still have no clue what happened to the Global fund money or its trustees, just like we remain ignorant about whom exactly Tonku is taking the fall for. Please don’t get me started on the MTN mobile money scandal and I don’t want anybody to ask me my views on whether or not Pastor Kayanja molested those boys. My answers might be too candid for your taste. Your people continue to marry their blood relatives while My people seemed to have accepted the harsh reality that they will never get their land back. Besigye has been silenced…till further notice and Obama is looking out for a 2nd term. Oh, Remember Muammar Gaddafi? Yes, what I wrote in your last letter actually did happen. He got caught…was pulled out of some hole just like Sadam and killed. We mourned with the Toro Kingdom. May his soul RIP.
The Euro zone! The Euro zone! The Euro zone! I honestly hope that by the time you read this, the Euro zone has regained Stability. It’s tearing our economies apart. On a lighter note, we had the Olympic Games held this year in London. Ugandan swimmer Ganzi represented us and so did a few athletes. One of them, Stephen Kiprotich, even brought home a Gold medal. Our first since Aki Bua in 1972.
In the MagalaNyago household this past year, Jajja boy and jajja girl moved out of the city to a nice small warm country home called Buloba on Mityana road. You love going there. There is so much ground for you to run around and play. They also got a couple of German Shepherds; Chivas and Gin. You haven’t yet got the hang of playing with them because not only are they growing much bigger than you, their idea of playtime is jumping all over you and pinning you down. You think they hate you but they really don’t. You’ll soon realize that animals have a different way of showing affection.
Your auntie Yolisa got married on the 4th of August this year to the love of her life, Felix Forster. They are indeed a couple made in heaven. And just in case by the time you read this, God forbid, she moved on, we’ve got pictorial evidence. He is the most handsome muzungu I ever did see. That’s a lie. But I swear, it would have been true if I had never met the man who fathered him!!! The Forster family is really great. His mom Maryanne, sister Clara and Clara’s boyfriend Fulk. Such a great add to our family. Aunt Yolisa couldn’t have been in more loving hands.
Oh yes, you got a baby brother in April. His name is Israel and I’m not his mother so unless your education was shaky, I’m sure you can figure out who his dad is. Just know he is your brother and you see him once in a while. I can tell you already love him because you often mention your baby brother Israel. Now you have a sibling…my plan to keep you as my only child has been strengthened.
Page Breaker: It breaks my soul to say this but within a fortnight, I have to leave you for a whole year. I am heading to the University of Manchester to pursue a Masters in Economics & Econometrics. I was supposed to have done this last year but it was difficult to find what to do with you given that you were quite young and your dad was working elsewhere. Don’t worry though. I realized everything does happen for a reason. The scholarship I got this year, I dint have last year and the program too that I’m going for carries much more weight than the one I had got previously. If anything, seeing as you’re the reason I postponed this, I owe it to you that I got this awesome opportunity. Timing my dear…IS EVERYTHING!!! I just want you to understand that sometimes as human beings, we have to make harsh decisions now but we know that they will reap huge benefits later on. My decision to leave you now is not because I’m putting my career ahead of you. You know I love you more than anything this simple world has to offer. But mommy really has got to study. To be a great mother, I must be a great woman first. Remember, an immense part of your happiness is hinged on mine. If I’m not happy, chances are pretty low that you will be. In my heart and thoughts, you will remain. I just ask that you give me this one year. I’m following my dream just like I’ll always push you to follow yours. One day I want you to be the son of an influential economic policy maker. An advisor to the Governor of sorts. You might ask why I’m aiming for anything less than the highest seat in Monetary Policy Implementation. Well, I have my reasons and with time, I’ll share them with you. Not to worry though, you’ll be in safe hands. You’ll stay with your dad’s sisters during the week and your jajja’s will each have weekends with you during the year. We’ll skypeatleast once a week too. That will be fun. And not to mention, your Nanny Rose will be your constant. See, we have it all figured out. All you have to do is be the independent young man I’m raising you to be and not give these lovely people who have agreed to fill my shoes a hard time.
Tear jerker: You remain the reason I wake up each morning with the widest smile in the world and go to sleep every night with the most peaceful heart. I have to admit though, that despite its infinite returns, being a single mom has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I however, welcome the many hurdles it has thrown my way for with each comes an opportunity for me to realize a new strength. I live for its rewards because in your eyes; I see that they’re never-ending. In your smile, I see that I deserve them. And in the warmth of your hugs, I know that I’m doing something right.
I have always said that the English dialect will never have literature adequate or expressive enough to relay the unfathomable bond between a mother and her child to those who haven’t experienced this blessing before. I was wrong. This year, somebody told me something that I will never forget. It’s like she looked into my heart and read it to me like an open book. She expressed this relationship in the simplest yet most encompassing way. A child is a mother’s heart literally walking around out of her chest. It’s true Gateja. You stand beside me and I literally see my heart. You hold my hand and that firm squeeze you often give it, mirrors the slight grip I feel when I see you smile or giggle or try to dance. You laugh and my heart laughs right along with you. You cry in pain and I can almost feel my heart crushing within the walls of my chest. You my dear are my heart literally walking around out of my chest. It’s the most pure of feelings. It’s vulnerable. It’s virgin. I continue to be thankful for the gift that is you. We are great together. You and I. You make me believe in miracles…in love…in happily ever after. You my little fellow are my rock. You are my person.
As usual, I will leave you with pieces of advice that I have learnt in my 27years of existence.
FROM A DARK SKINNED MOM TO HER LIGHT SKINNED SON:
- BE YOUR OWN PERSON
Don’t ever apologize for who you are or for what you want. This is the one attribute that I hope I pass on to you. Never let anyone force you into being someone that you are not. Be who you are. Stand your ground, be proud of you. Find your strengths and nurture them. Embrace your fears; allow them to make you stronger. Don’t be ashamed of your weaknesses; accept them for they hold the key to your successes. Do not live to make others happy or to measure up to someone else’s expectations. Be Individual. Be Gateja. Let that be enough.
- 2. CHOOSE HAPPINESS. EACH AND EVERYTIME, CHOOSE HAPPINESS
There will come times in your life when you will have to make crucial decisions. You will pick up the phone and call me and ask for guidance. My answer to you each time you call will never change: Choose Happiness. Each and Every time, CHOOSE HAPPINESS. Happiness my dear is a decision you make. You alone are solely responsible for yours. Don’t let anger & sadness hold you captive. Free your heart from hatred and your mind of worries. If you fill yourself with these negative emotions, you’ll have no room for the many positive things just waiting to pour in. Fill your life with laughter and love. Decide to be happy today.
- 3. Even in maturity, STAY YOUTHFUL. Live. Laugh. Love. Dance.
My final words: In your quest for happiness, remember to Treasure your Family and be Loyal to your Friends. Live simply. Give More and Expect less.
My daily prayer is only one. That I remain present with you each moment of your life to watch and guide you as you grow to become the great man I know you are going to be. These are words from my heart to yours. Take them, cherish them. Don’t ever forget them.
HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY
Your mother. P
Oh…did I hear you ask about a birthday party? Well, sadly but truly, most of my closest friends are still childless & I’m not one of those parents who throws a party & invites random people just because they have kids. I’m also not one of those parents who have a birthday party for her child and have more adults than kids in attendance. We therefore decided tohave a function at your school this Friday. We’ll have cake and we’ll sing for you and we’ll open presents. It’s going to be fun so save the date!!!
I know. The year is 2012. 30 is knocking at our door and the girls I call my friends still fail to realize that their eggs won’t be viable forever. I don’t know what they are waiting for. I try to encourage them but to no avail. I do hope that in at least 5years, they will have styled up and we can have a celebration that you deserve.