MTSB: How does it feel being a mom?
Mwinga: Amazing! Overwhelming! Exhausting!
Amazing because I wanted to be a mother since when I was about 18 years old. (I hope my father doesn’t read this). Overwhelming because now I have this whole human being who looks up to me. Depends on me not only for food but protection and support and everything else. And exhausting, well, as mentioned earlier, he depends on me, so I have to do everything to make sure he is taken care of.
MTSB: How would you describe Noah?
Mwinga: Ooh Noah is a sweet, happy, loud baby. Thank God! He loves to laugh. He must have gotten that from me. He is smart, super smart. Another quality from me, ha-ha! He is an easy baby I must say. Rarely cries. He loves the outdoors. He jumps up and runs, in his case, crawls, towards the door every time it opens because he knows he is going out. He loves getting under things. Even in spaces he can’t get under, he will lay there trying to figure out how to get under it. As much as I hate to say this, he has started throwing himself on to the floor when I don’t give in to his demands. Tantrums! Lord, help me.
MTSB: How has your life changed since being a mom?
Mwinga: Where do I begin. First, nothing fits anymore. I thought I would leave the 28pounds I had gained during pregnancy on the delivery table. LIES! I am ever exhausted. Which is totally understandable for a first time mom who is constantly on the move. I wake up at 6am, EVERYDAY, because that is when Noah decides the day has to start. I have more leggings and yoga pants than a fitness instructor, not because I work out a lot but at this point in my life comfortability is key. I am in new club now, the mommy club, (I sometimes have to say it out loud to believe it. MOM). I have a whole new perspective of life. I know a lot more nursery rhymes. Cute huh! I drive like an old lady, simply because I am extra careful when on the road.
MTSB: Do you document Noah’s progress? E.g., when he first took his first step, his first word, and the like.
Mwinga: Uuum, not really. I mean I remember things like he started to roll over when he was 3 months. Started to crawl by 5-6months. He said “mama” at 6 months. Though I doubt he knew what he was saying, but il take it, and I will never forget how it felt hearing those words. He had his first 2 teeth when he was almost 8 months. Come to think of it, I should document such things.
MTSB: If there is/was one person, other than your husband, that you would trust with your son. Who would it be?
Mwinga: My late mother. God rest her soul!
MTSB: Growing up in a country where a child is raised by a nuclear family and having a maid to assist with child care, compared to living in America where you have no immediate family close-by other than your husband, how is that life like?
Mwinga: Exhausting is an understatement. I cannot tell you how many times I have cried simply because I did not have the strength to go on. But then I look at this tiny, precious being, staring at me, and there is no one around me who I can call on for help, I pull myself together, sometimes with tears rolling down my face, and before I know it, its done. Strength of a woman they call it. I think. I always imagined my mother would be around to help me with my babies and after she passed, I couldn’t think of anyone else who would be able to do that for me. I used to cry every single day from the day we got back from the hospital. Everyday! Until one day I realized that crying wont change anything. I wish I could say I have stopped. So, whenever I feel like I cannot do it, I say a little prayer, I look at my baby, I think of my mom, a strong woman she was, and I power through it.
MTSB: There are so many books for first-time moms, have you read any? And how are these books of any help to new moms?
Mwinga: Books, NO! Articles or blog posts, YES! Cause I am lazy like that. Oooh, I did listen to one audio book and I recommend it to every first-time mom, it’s amazing. Its called CONFESSIONS OF A SCARY MOMMY by JILL SMOKLER. This book gave me laughs and a sense of community. It is so relatable to every mother out there.
MTSB: How do you handle Noah’s growth pains and the occasional accidents?
Mwinga: We have been lucky. So far the only accidents he has had was falling from the bed, which I was terrified the first time it happened. Almost dialed 911. But he was ok. And in another incident, he had stuck his little fingers in a drawer and ended up with a blister.
MTSB: Going back to before baby Noah was born, what do you wish you could have done differently to prepare for motherhood?
Mwinga: I wish I had someone from back home to come help me. During my pregnancy it did cross my mind a couple of times that I should probably have someone come over to assist me but I couldn’t think of anyone, so I brushed the thought off and gave myself hope that I could do it on my own. Fast forward to 2 days after coming home from the hospital, reality struck, I NEED HELP! Then I was like by the time we get through with the visa process, I would have gotten used to doing everything by myself. And I did. I made it. Here I am. The rest is history!
MTSB: Health care in Tanzania versus USA, where would you rather have Noah grow up?
Mwinga: Obviously between the 2, USA has the best health care. When it comes to where I would want Noah to grow up, I want him to have the best and I also want him to know his roots. It is tough, but I will do my best as a parent to make a wise decision.
MTSB: Have you started saving up for his college? If not, when do you think is the best time for you to start saving for his college fund?
Mwinga: Sadly, I haven’t. The best time is NOW.
MTSB: Between being a full-time mom and having a job, which would you prefer and why?
Mwinga: This is a tough one. I should start by saying I am super grateful that I get to take care of my baby, be with him from the minute he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. I know many mothers wish for this. It is truly a blessing. But on the other hand, it can be very depressing if all you do all day is take care of a baby, especially if you have a degree under your belt. At this point in my life I feel like no matter what I choose, being a full time mom or a have a career, I will always have feelings of guilt choosing one over the other. Guilt that am choosing a career over my child and guilt that I am simply wasting my education by not per suing a career, even though there is no such thing as a wasted education. I don’t really know how to explain it. I just pray for the wisdom and the ability to find a balance between the two.
MTSB: What do you miss most, that has changed, or you don’t have the luxury of since motherhood began?
MTSB: How many kids do you see yourself having?
Mwinga: If it were up to ME, I would have 5.
MTSB: What advice would you give to new mothers who are not able to have close family members around to assist them with child care?
Mwinga: Brace yourself. It is not easy at all but it is doable. After all, “A mother’s strength unlike anything known to man.”