Firstly, to those of my friends who have journeyed with me as a mum in the last 5 years, I really miss you. I miss meeting and doing life together – both the good times and the hard times, both the laughter and the tears! I miss familiar things like meeting at jocks lane, the Look Out, swimming at Bracknell Sports Centre, tea and cake round each other’s houses, Sparklers, phone calls when having one of them ‘moments’! Activities I think I took for granted at times and perhaps never fully appreciated the importance of.
So what’s it like being a mum here in Lusaka, Zambia? Well, every morning Isla attends the British International School which starts at 7.30 and finishes at 12.45. This requires a very early start to our day, up at 6 to leave the house by 6.45! Which is a little bit difficult, considering the last 5 years has been spent trying to encourage my children to sleep until 7am! It is the most painful thing in the world to have to wake them at 6 each morning. There is something so wrong about waking a sleeping child! Anyway, on the three days that I work, Amba goes to the nursery at the same school and so we all leave together on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The other days Amba and I spend together and I am really enjoying this quality time with her. Most days we stay at home, attempting to be creative whether that is baking or craft. We enjoy walking along the red dusty roads near where we live or walking to the local market to buy fruit and veg. I love these days – experiencing the vibrant buzz of the local community, chatting to people, admiring and observing the entrepreneur spirit of local people doing business in the streets. We are a bit of a spectacle though and seem to attract a great deal of attention! Firstly, Zambians comment and seem to find it really funny that a ‘mzungu’, that is a white person, is walking! I guess mzungu’s are usually sitting behind the wheels of a car so to see one of us walking is a surprise and novelty. Secondly, Amba is overtly admired and people want to touch her, particularly her hair! Most people say “hello baby” to which Amba responds indignantly, “I am not a baby, I am a big girl”! This leaves me explaining why Amba prefers not to be described as a baby!!!
At this point I just want to say how proud we are of our two girls. They have experienced so many changes in the last 7 months – not seeing friends and family whom they have grown to love, moving into new nursery and school environments where they look very different from the other children around them, becoming accustomed to such a hot climate, adapting to a new culture, food, church, sleeping in various beds and houses, new people every day, very few toys and no TV! We are so proud of their ability to adapt and they continue to be such a joy to both of us!
Other days I crave a little bit of the ‘familiar’. I would rather blend into my surroundings and not stand out and be the centre of attention as I walk through the compounds. Some days I would just love to go to a play park and watch Amba play on a swing. However, this can be a bit tricky at times as Lusaka town planning does not really accommodate for children. The play areas tend to be connected to cafes and restaurants where there is an expectation to buy food and drink in order to use their facilities. So it can be a bit costly! Therefore, some days I just head to the shopping mall in the city. In fact, the children get very excited about this day out! The main attraction being the air-con and the escalator! The other place that has become a bit of a God-send is the Swedish school where they hold a toddler club on Thursdays.
I am happy and feel alive out here, knowing deeply that I am where God wants me to be. But some days I feel lonely, I guess that’s the hardest thing for me out here. I do life as a mum largely on my own out here and that can be hard at times. Most Zambian mum’s seem to work – whether that is selling fruit and veg in the markets all day whilst their children play near them or whether that is going out to work whilst their children are looked after by a ‘maid’ or nanny at home. I guess I just miss my friends. Friends mean so much to me. But this experience is good for me and has encouraged me to depend on God more than I ever have before.
I want to thank you all for your ongoing support and love.
Sending lots of love