Miriam Mawira is known all over the country… I met her several years ago while she studied at a Nairobi college and it struck me how well she was going through life – as if she did not have both arms. That night, I “called myself to a meeting” and asked myself why I complain.
Yet she doesn’t complain… and she is more abled than most people – washing her own clothes, cooking and eating her food, writing… and being a mother. I would not be surprised if I got her tilling a farm. All using her legs.
As you close your mouth, here is her motherhood journey in her own words, in the second part of The Bold Woman series:
I am a strong woman. I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself, nor let people mistreat me. I don’t respond to people who dictate to me or try to bring me down. If I fall I will rise up even stronger because I am survivor and not a victim. I am in control of my life and there is nothing I can’t achieve.
I used to fear giving birth because I never thought I would make it. When I received the news that I was pregnant I almost went into shock. How would I possibly go about it? I know I come off as a very strong woman, but, hey… sometimes life gives you a shock. Some of my friends advised me to do away with the pregnancy because they couldn’t figure out how I could carry it through in my armless condition but my mum was so excited about it and she told she would support me so no need to worry.
When I look back on my childhood life am grateful for the woman I have grown to be, I had little hope and expectations in life due to the numerous challenges I faced then, from a tender age I knew I was different, other children could ask me why I left my hands at home while others isolated me when I tried joining in games.
The adults would stare at me and murmur amongst themselves, not even bothering to hide their feelings – I could always see them sympathize with my mum who never shied away from taking me to public places. She taught me to do things with my feet like cooking, fetching firewood, washing clothes and dressing myself up.
Therefore as much as I was afraid of the pregnancy I knew deep within me that I could make it as I had conquered so many challenges before. When I started going for antenatal clinics I found that doctors were so friendly and supportive and they gave me special attention. There were moments I was overwhelmed with pregnancy related challenges and as a human being I had human fears, I used to wonder if the baby I was carrying had arms too.
This made grow closer to God. I consistently prayed that my baby WOULDN’T have any form of disability. that would have been a double catastrophe.
During my third trimester the doctor explained to me that my body anatomy was a bit different and I couldn’t give birth normally since my pelvic bones are short. So, I went through cesarean section procedure at Kenyatta National Hospital where I delivered. The nurses were very supportive and again, the pillar of my strength – my mother – stayed with me throughout, doing everything for me, and teaching me how to hold the baby. She was a very happy Grandma.
Maybe not very surprisingly, strife started developing in my 5 year marriage sometime later. It was only a matter of time before it all came crumpling down like the walls of Jericho. I did all I could to hold it in place… before it crumbled on me and I had to embark on a new journey – that of single motherhood.
You can imagine it’s not a simple journey. After the psychological, physical, emotional, social and economic battles, the reality of raising my son single-handedly dawned.
Wueh! I almost broke down into pieces then – I had to seek help from a psychological counselor! Through therapy, I dusted my past and rose again. I was up to the challenge! I owed that to my son, and my mother who had taught me to stand tall, no matter the challenges.
Sometimes I am glad I ended my marriage, and I would advise my fellow mothers especially those that are abled differently, please don’t persevere in abusive relationships because of fear. Be strong and be yourself. Speak out and if it’s not working it’s not the end of you. As you can see – did I die? 🙂
As a single mother with disability, the challenges are innumerable. Sometimes you find yourself in a desert of desperation, where love and support is simply not enough. But I managed to hold on… and my son is now 5 years! He is the best gift God gave me and is the reason I work hard every day, he has given my life a new meaning, he is so proud of me that when we decide to take a walk he holds my sleeve… and when we meet his friends he tells them to greet me through my legs!
He knows his mother doesn’t have hands like the other mothers. But he knows I am always there for him… just like he is there for me. When he hugs me and reminds me how much he loves, we feel as if we are in a bubble.
It is us against the world, baby! I am raising him to be a perfect gentleman – hardworking, loving, and one that keeps promises.
To my son, I am not disabled. I am a mother.
Here is the full photoshoot