It has been a long while since I have been here, and I apologize for disappearing without a word. It has been an incredibly intense few months and things are only now starting to assume some level of normalcy. At first, Baby Mermy started to teeth and sleep went out the window for both of us. It’s an understatement to say that I felt like a zombie those days, smiling and entertaining Baby Mermy while yawning. Once those adorable little teeth poked through, sleep returned to normalcy and we were all feeling rather content. Until the proverbial poop hit the fan. As a consequence, we have moved from what we had once considered our forever-home and our city where Papa Mermy and I both grew up to a city five hours away.
I am not one to share dirty laundry; I firmly believe that certain tales of family conflict should stay within the confines of the family. However, I have gleaned some insight from what has happened behind closed doors that I think are worth sharing.
We should pick our village
A Nigerian proverb states: “It takes a whole village to raise a child”. This proverb reflects the cultural values of family involvement in raising children from infancy to adulthood. I’m sure many of you as parents have heard this proverb and possibly translate it to mean something specific in your own context. As much as I agree with this notion, I do question the de facto residents assumed to belong in this village.
The common-place assumption is that it would be all members of the immediate and extended family and close friends of the parents. I may have agreed a few months ago without thinking about it in greater depth, but now, having experienced the turmoil of family conflict, I would say that we need to vet out the people in this village that we want raising our children. Yes, these are family members and friends who possibly mean to do right by the child, but I believe that, especially in the early formative years of our children, we should look closely at the people we want around our children on a regular basis.
Morals, ethics, values, character are formed during the early years along with behaviour and habits; if the right people are not around our children, then that particular village is not the best place for our children to grow up. Some of you may be saying that our children will be exposed to the harshness of real life and human character during their daily interaction with the world outside the village, and I agree with you, but I disagree that they should experience that within the village. Here, they should be equipped with the tools to respond to the callousness of the world, learned from people with the proper character, principles, and morals as deemed appropriate by the parents, in a safe and comforting environment.
Too often it is assumed that parents will be grateful for help from anyone! That’s not the case, nor should it be. Parents should seek assistance, support, and help from the appropriate people. We should aim to listen to all, for even the fool has something valuable to contribute, but we should in the end only choose to implement the strategies of, and invite into our lives, those who will contribute to an environment deemed appropriate by the parents. This means that the parents should also be discussing what the right framework for raising their children should be. Papa Mermy and I have openly communicated the environment and framework within which we wish to raise our children and as such, very carefully determine whom we allow into our inner sanctum.
Some of you may think that we are being too strict or rigid. Perhaps we are, but I firmly believe in providing my children the best possible start in life and nurturing them as best as I can during these formative years. If that means being a bit strict about who they are exposed to in their early years, then that’s okay with me.
A stress-free home is essential
Stress can have a rather negative impact on growing minds. Although stress is not always a bad thing (for instance, it helps children learn to handle challenges, cope with frustrations, and learn to overcome obstacles), emerging research indicates that it can have adverse effects on a child’s mental and physical development, the repercussions of which are felt into adulthood. Therefore, keeping the environment free from toxic stress is important not only for the parents, but also their growing and developing children.
In the context of my familial situation, Papa Mermy and I felt the stress levels rising in our homes due to certain family members, and it was taking a heavy toll on us. We sat down and confronted the issue, discussed options and scenarios, and ultimately decided on a course of action to address it. It was not easy nor was the outcome one that we had hoped for, but it was necessary. To protect our family unit from the toxic stress that was continuously rising and negatively impacting us as a couple, we took the necessary action to place some distance between us and those who have caused the stress. It was a difficult decision but one that has ultimately allowed us to find peace and happiness within our home.
Let go of toxic people
You have been given one life, and it is short. No matter how long it may be in years, in the grand scheme of things, life is short. I have learned that it is not worth it to be surrounded by toxic people who bring you down, who take from you without giving anything in return, who cause you unhappiness and take your joy, who just take. No matter how difficult it may seem, taking back the power you have given them to affect you negatively will be incredibly liberating. Let these people go, regardless of your relationship to them. Let them go with kindness and compassion, but let them go so that you can find peace and happiness in your life. Life is too short to do anything else.
We are now settled in our new home and enthusiastically learning about our new city and its ways. Already, we feel a sense of peace and contentment that we realized had been missing from our lives for quite a while and that indicates to us that we have done the right thing. It’s always challenging to start afresh, but in so many ways, a new beginning is the only solution. And, we couldn’t be happier.
Have any of you experienced events in your life that have caused you to start fresh? How do you feel about it?
United in diapering,