The year had just begun. I was having sleepless nights because I had a two month old baby by my side. Things did not seem like they would be looking up in the near future. I had only written a chapter of my dissertation. I still had a long way to go. Having a crying baby by my side was not going to make that journey any easier. I remember three months before I was due, my supervisors had called me in and advised me to defer my studies. They had told me that working with a crying baby was not going to be easy and that I should think about postponing my studies. Tears flowed from the corner of my eye. I did not want to be a disappointment. I wanted to show them that pregnancy was not inability. I decided to stay and fight, rather than flee.
Now here I was, the year was just beginning and I had a thesis barely in its early stages, I had to find a way of going back to do tutorials, and I had to find a way to raise a baby. Being in a foreign country was even a greater hurdle to overcome since you have to pay so much for a nanny. Till this day, I still maintain that it is the Almighty who gave me the grace. At times I would look at the research I was doing and wonder what exactly I was hoping to achieve by studying such difficult things. At times I did not even know what result I was hoping for in the very end. I went back to work even before my baby had been weaned. During the pre-natal days, I stood in class for two hours with swollen feet in the name of doing tutorials. It was the perseverance from within. It was at that point in time that I knew that I could be strong. Everybody advises a mother to sleep while the baby sleeps, but how can you possibly sleep when you have to study, cook, eat, mark scripts, wash, all while baby sleeps for two hours? That is the time I knew that women can dig deep and still give more. That life taught me how to be selfless, how to mine strength even from your weaknesses.
If anybody ever asks me how I finished writing and correcting my thesis, I would probably tell them it was God and my supervisors. Every working mother knows how difficult it is to work with an infant crying by your side. Now picture having an infant, being in school, going to work, and most times not having a nanny. That journey is over and done. Graduation awaits in April, the kind that I might celebrate in absentia. The lessons I learnt during that period in time are forever engraved in my heart. I am here to let every woman know that no situation is too great for you to handle. That when you have reached rock bottom and your strength is fading, the only way is to get back up. That we can dig deeper, that we can achieve if we believe and work towards our goals. The pain that women are capable of withstanding, no man will ever be able to bear. It does not matter where you have been, it does not matter how far you think you need to go before you succeed, all that matters is that little step you make with so much resolve, with so much determination. You will get there, trust me. You will overcome and people around you will stare in awe, just wondering how that damn woman did it. It does not matter whether you have a crying baby by your side, your dreams need not necessarily be pushed aside, you only need to have the spirit, keep the faith, and someday you will run your world.
Written by Maureen Songa