“Overcoming loss I experienced as a child into love—a love so much to share with anyone willing to receive.”
Children remember so much that parents and guardians do, say, behavior. They remember how parents/ guardian make them feel. If you have made a child feel loved, appreciated and important you can be certain that despite any other things you do, you have made a positive impact as a parent/ guardian. This is a lesson that I can say caught up with me in my as I grew up, as a child losing my father at that tender age when I barely knew him, stole security and confidence that children that age enjoy .
I am the second daughter in my family, with an older brother and little sister, the middle child who always have to fight for almost everything, beginning with attention from my mother and for my place with my siblings.
I had to learn how to make my presence felt, my father passing on did not help my situation as my mother had to leave us with her mother – while seeking for employment in the city. My grandfather, married a second wife who had an older child than all of us, let me just say since the day they came to that homestead the stay became intolerable. My grandfather God rest His soul, was one strict authoritative person, he never entertained children playing and screaming all over the place since he needed a quiet home.
I was raised under very strict rules by my grandfather, my mother told us it was how they were raised, and felt sorry for her, If he instructed something done and for one reason or another you forgot or did not do it right, you would go get a rod that would be used to discipline you and one knew better than to bring a small one, because you would be in for a worse beating, after bringing the rod making about ten laps around the homestead then lie flat on your tummy head on the floor, hands on the side and wait for the number of beatings that would land on your behind, if you dared made as much as a sound he would start a counting a fresh. As he disciplined he did not expect you crying but say thank you with no tear from your eye despite the pain that you felt.
I was not going to let the pain bottle inside and ended up being beaten over and over until he got tired and he did not get tired very easily. As for my siblings they are so tough that with time they would be beaten but would never shed a tear, in case my tear glands are so super active I tear even when I laugh. In my mind because I was so afraid of his beatings I developed fear towards him and I would avoid seeing him as much as I could, having not had a male role model to look up to, his experience as a male figure in my life did not nurture my development.
I looked forward to when I would see my mother, and tell her of all my grievances, however, when that day came he would be first reporting how indiscipline we were and had to put some sense into us and especially me. I would asked my mother when we would go back to our home since we did not seem to be welcome there and ask her if someday my dad would come back so that we would go stay with him like other children from school and church, I always had questions in my head, and I kept asking her and grandmother whenever I had the opportunity-why did he seem to hate us so much but they had no answer.
I longed for my father’s return, just like I longed for my mother who would go and come visit, it was heartbreaking when I never saw him but only in photographs, being told that he was gone and would never return was something I did not understand at that age. I Longed to call someone dad like other children my age. I had no one to threaten bad kids that I would report them to when they harassed me, like most kids do “I will tell on you to my dad or mom that you did this and this to me”. In my case big brother would chip in though he was not that big, since he was only two years older than me.
I would go to church every Saturday with my grandmother, oh she loves church, so we would never miss church for whatever reason, in the children class commonly known as Sunday school, taught me so much about the love that God had for us that he gave his only Son that we may live. So I kept asking God to bring back my father and see him every day and have a family like other children have. I kept hoping that someday this prayer would be answered.
In the meantime, back home my step-grandmother’s kid made our life a living hell, she would steal our toys, she would beat us up, make us do all her chores, whenever my grandmother was away, and should by any chance any of us do contrary to what she wanted, she would start insulting us, and reminding us how we should know that we did not belong there ,she would make up things to my grandfather just to get us beaten, this went on for a long time so much so that it became unbearable.
I started reporting the happenings to my grandmother, but there was nothing much she could do, considering she was a woman of few word, I had to develop survival tactics. I avoided seeing that kid, or playing with her or talking to her lest she make up things and get me beaten. I hid most of the time with my small sister behind the house, whenever my brother was away on errands and my grandmother was away. I lived in constant fear of what would happen if we played and made noise that would irritate my grandfather and get us beaten.
As we grew older, during holidays we would go to the city to stay with my mother, she would ask my uncles to host us for a couple of weeks, but the treatment there was similar in a way with my grandfather’s. I don’t know which is worse physical beating or mental torture, at my uncles my cousins would call their dad -for a kid it’s easy to also refer to the name as the word is frequently used in the house.
I remember once referred to my uncle as dad and my cousin laughed at me telling me not to call their dad - dad, adding salt to injury asked me why we did not have our dad, and why we did not stay at our home with our mother and father like them. My aunt would come home with snacks enough for her children not caring about us, sometimes the cousins would share, but most times they would eat it all in our faces, leaving us salivating, there were some special food that were made for them and we were not to eat, it made me wish I had my mother and father bring me the things that my cousins enjoyed.
In some occasions, relatives made us do house chores while our cousins sat down, and ordered us around. Some would introduce us to their friends as orphans from far off village they are helping. I even overheard one asking what would happen to us if our mother died. I admired them welcoming their parents from work with hugs, sitting on the couch holding and playing with them, I could watch in admiration and only wish.
The void my father left was so deep and deepened after my mother had to seek for employment in the city. It was like losing two parents and left under the care of guardians. The void created insecurity in me, it made me constantly wonder what would be next should anything happened to my mother. These thoughts, unfair treatments and injustices caused damage to my wellbeing.
I resulted to sucking my thumb to sooth myself whenever I felt sad and alone, am told it’s a habit that developed after my dad died, this went on throughout my childhood to my teenage life, also began bed-wetting through to upper primary. I did not have compassion or affection, I found it difficult freely embracing my loved ones or saying I love you. Making and maintaining friendships a challenge all together.
Having gone through these challenges as a child, getting children of my own was something that I did not consider, fearing should anything happen to me they should not go through what my siblings and I went through. But time heals all wounds and with the right attitude I have overcome fear, bitterness and anger.
Looking back on my life, I would tell a child going through similar pain or worse, to embrace the challenges and be strong. Today, this girl is a woman pressing on and not letting any negativity and oppression keep me from achieving my dream. I am a graduate and mother of two beautiful children. My children love and show me affection every day I get I love you and hugs from them and it’s such an amazing feeling.
No matter what you have been put through, or may be going through be courageous to confront your fears. What counts is your goal and don’t listen to negative people who destroy you inside, don't give up. Keep pressing on, and you will triumph, you will feel content and give hope to those who know and hear your story.
Above all, learn to show love and care to children that cross your path, you may never know what they are going through. Parents out there whether single by choice or by loss of a partner try as much as you can to be there for your children, you play a role in the person they become in future. I have overcome a number of the negative things inflicted on me as a child - there are few that I am working on and determined to overcome to better myself, my little angels and for everyone in my life journey. I am on a journey to freedom.