Depressed? Try shopping


I used to think retail therapy was man’s overrated invention to encourage binge shopping among depressed and lonely women. That was until this day when I walked into Nakumatt Mega supermarket feeling edgy after marinating for hours over a problem I had no solution to, only to walk out of the shop three hours later having forgotten my troubles and 5k lighter.

When it comes to relieving stress, retail therapy competes closely with a pedicure or massage or if you are a foodie, a glass of wine followed by icecream with chocolate dips.

Luckily for me I keep a “desire list” on my phone so that even my impulse buying is sort of pre-meditated. I just need enough emotional push to spend money and mostly on a pair of shoes or cute mugs. On this day at Nakumatt, I ended up buying gifts for my son who had an upcoming birthday, things I would have had to buy anyway, and some stuff for my kitchen.

So why does shopping act as a pick-me-up? Some say it is because it puts you back in charge of your life. There you are on an aisle, deciding if you like this pretty flowered blouse or the chunky necklace better or none at all and if you’re going to pick this and leave ghat. You are back in control. You are the boss. And unless you are stupid shopping, you are actually buying things you like or need or are getting to know more about the stuff you need, stuff that could change your life or that makes you happy. For example that icecream machine or the coffee maker you have been bugging the shop attendant about for the last half hour. You are moving forward in one bit of your life – like in acquiring a new sofa or another pair of shoes to match with your yellow dress. You are achieving a goal. Yes, ticking down a shopping list is achieving a goal in my backyard.
But window shopping works too because it empowers you. When you try on a dress you, know what works and what doesn’t even when you are not taking the dress home. When you check out the p rices of casseroles and dinner sets and smart TVs, you are gaining information that makes you a smarter shopper. You are gaining control. You are empowered. You are making steps forward in an area of your life however inconsequential.
Between a party, bingeing on TV series, burying my nose in an icecream tub and window shopping in pretty stores, I lean heavily towards window shopping, whether for books, clothes, appliances, furniture or homes. If I can’t access a physical store, catalogues work fine as well as does Pinterest. I’m I the only one who loves browsing through catalogues of shops I might never walk into or of homes I can’t afford right now anyway?

I hate those mhindi shops where a nosy attendant follows you around like a bloodhound on a trail. Do I look like I am about to fit a pressure cooker in my not so scrawny behind? But then again I saw CCTV footage of a woman who shoplifted a 32 inch TV and put it under her dress.

Retail therapy is escape and distraction at its best but it’s also about visualising the future and equipping yourself with information as a future buyer. And it doesn’t hurt to treat yourself to a pair of shoes, a lipstick, nail polish or some earrings over your lunch break. Just make sure the items were on your wish list to start with.

Had a rough morning? Try walking around a mall or flipping through a catalogue of the things you love.


Bath time=fun time


I look at my two little munchkins splashing water on each other in the bathtub and smile. I am taking this time to breathe and enjoy time not refereeing a fight between the two. Bath time has a way of uniting these almost sworn rivals as they seek to extend their stay in the water.

Splash! And the younger one tries to wipe a stream of water from her face. Little Missy is receiving a little too much of the rough play from the brother who has more splashing capacity and accuracy. I warn the little chap to play gently as a duckie goes splashing through the water narrowly missing Little Missy’s head.

I watch the water puddle on the floor grow bigger from all the splashing but right now, I am not complaining. Because for the next ten or so minutes, this bathtub is my best baby sitter and entertainer. The children will be busy, happy and warm as they chase after toys and splash water on each other and me and create bubbles. The bottle of Johnson’s Bubble Baby Bath and Wash that I impulse bought is well worth the look of glee on my three-year-old’s son when he finds a tub overflowing with bubbles.

But bath time isn’t something we always looked forward to. Both of my babies were scared of water when they were newborns. My son would scream the roof down and leave me all sweaty and frazzled longing for my mum-in-law to come and give the bath. One day an older neighbour found us basking in the sun and seeing the little tot in my hands she commented: “Is this the little person who cries that much every night?”

I explained that he hated bathtime.

“Do it when you are both relaxed and keep the room warm. Then before you dress him, wrap him up in a towel and breastfeed him,” she advised.

Soon after my friend found us bathing and when she saw the basin she lamented, “Is that the water you are washing him in? No wonder he is crying. Add the water.”

And she was right. Immersed in a basinful of water, the little chap saw his legs float and started kicking in excitement. There was enough water to play with and swallow. Thank God for that zealous shopping attendant at Biashara Street who insisted I buy the Head to Toe No Tears wash. It really meant no tears from soap.

I wash my children just before bedtime because that way, I can let them mess their clothes and hair while eating knowing we have time to remove the grime. I have also found that they sleep faster after their bath.

Because bathtime is mummy time, I have to ensure I am home early to avoid rushing or even skipping the bath. This is our time to bond, talk about what is going on in their little lives and inspect their bodies for hits and accidents they may have had at school or while at play. This way I am not surprised by scars on little ankles or scratches on the neck.

Getting my children dressed still remains one of my biggest challenges because no sooner are they out of the tub, toweled and oiled than they slip off my fingers to run around the house naked, telling me how I can’t catch them.

“You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me!” The chorus rises.

I manage to put on a diaper on the little one, almost holding her down with one foot to stop the wriggling. But as I grab a vest she runs off again, giggling. It drives me crazy and despite the threats I issue, I know I will sure miss this when they are grown up. I remind myself to cherish these moments. I run after Litle Missy, tickling and distracting until I can get her into a warm romper.

With one down I hoodwink the older boy to stay still by promising him a massage. He quickly lies down and I slurp fragrance-free aqueous cream all over his back and massage his head and shoulders and legs. Because he particularly has dry eczema-prone skin, I prefer to use this to avoid flare ups.

His sister meanwhile has received a generous coat of baby oil that leaves her looking all shiny like a new coin.

Soon everyone is dressed and I take the older boy to bed, read a Bible story or poem, pray and tuck him in. His sister stands by the bed watching. Then it’s off to cuddling and booby time with her until she drifts off to sleep soon after.


This article was first published at Mums Village.



Would you fight for me?


I was told of a funny story. A young woman was greatly angered by her husband. So angry was she that she told him she needs to go back to her mother’s house to cool off. He asked for her forgiveness but she insisted she needed to be away from her marital home to cool off. So he let her go. Traditionally, a man is supposed to give the woman a few days or weeks to cool off and to miss her home before he goes to pick her up from her parent’s house with a token. This man however enjoyed his new found freedom too much and didn’t go to look for his wife. Worse still, he quickly replaced her. Word quickly reached the first wife that while she was in her parent’s house, the man had married another. Everybody blamed her for leaving her home “yet she knew wanaume wa siku hizi hutaka kubembelezwa.”

Clearly she didn’t expect that turn of events. Was she that easily replaceable? Where is the love? Where is the commitment? Can people walk away that easily? I wondered.

I know some women who are like this man; they seem to move from marriage to marriage without a blink of their eye. Some are barely into their 30s but are on their third or fourth marriage. Poverty and ignorance drive them from one man to another. After a few months of marital bliss things once again go south and they hop to the next marriage. Are these even marriages? Where is the commitment?

A husband is cheating. We advise the wife to kick his philandering backside out of the door. A man is not providing for the family and spends the whole day watching TV. We tell her to pack her bags. A woman is disrespectful, lazy and full of vitriol. We encourage the man or support his decision to get a second wife.

Why is it so easy to tell people of walk out of their marriages? Would we make the same decisions faced by the same conditions?

What does ‘for worse’ look like in marriage? Does it come clothed in neglect — a man who puts everyone and everything before his own wife and children? Does it look and smell like poverty — a lack so bad you cannot even afford underwear for your wife?

What does till death do us part mean? Should we be even making those vows when the death we are referring to is the death of lust or love or of the bank balance or of looks and character? Feebler things have torn marriages apart.

Are we to stay committed to the man or woman we married and to the vows we made when he/she has become a philandering and lying derelict straight from the pits of hell? Do we stay committed when the person we gave our life to turns us into a physical or emotional punching bag?

Are we to remain faithful even when he becomes a thieving public servant or conning pastor, when his character rot makes your skin creep? Does commitment come with a disclaimer: until she becomes lazy and fat and ugly, or, until he loses his job and can’t match your income for the next century unless he won a SportPesa jackpot? How about when all we want are children and her womb refuses to give forth? How about when a little boy is brought and left at your door by a raving mad woman, the result of the passions of his youth or stupidity?

Do we sometimes wonder if the burdens we bear are too great, if we got ourselves way in over our heads, if this union we are in is there to teach us lessons we are refusing to learn?

I don’t have these answers. For me, I just remember I walked down the aisle to John Legend’s “Stay with You”.

“I’ll stay with you through the ups and the downs
I’ll stay with you when no one else is around
And when the dark clouds arrive
I will stay by your side
I know we’ll be alright
I will stay with you.”

That’s what I pledged on my wedding day. Also I remember that on the morning of my wedding day, I dedicated a home-made video to my soon-to-be-husband declaring along with Randy Travis that I was gonna love him forever.

“As long as old men sit and talk about the weather
As long as old women sit and talk about old men
If you wonder how long I’ll be faithful
I’ll be happy to tell you again
I’m gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, amen.”

Unless you married your first love ever, you have been in a relationship where there was no commitment; and it stinks. Not knowing how long that was gonna last, wondering how much was safe to invest physically and emotionally into the relationship and for how long, not knowing what the other was doing when they were not picking calls or replying to your texts for days or weeks, wondering where you lay in the space in their heart or if you had already been replaced and by whom…

The beauty of marriage is commitment. Seeing people weather storms together; grow up together; build memories, a home, a legacy together; grow old together… I love to read the “Vows that last” column and see glowing faces of couples who have stayed for 50 plus years.

Commitment is about doing all that you can to be true to your marriage and spouse and to the vows you made. It’s about big things that we know little about — like unconditional love, sacrifice, persistence, forgiveness, faith, hope, countless prayers, more hope and faith. It’s about small day-to-day things like coming home at the end of the day or making him dinner even when your every fibre hates him…

Where human strength fails, God gives grace. God is the third strand of cord in the rope.

Let us not be quick to renounce the vows we made. Let us not be quick to pack our bags in anger. Let us not seek to revenge for harm done with another younger and hotter and faster. Let us not give up as long as we have God in the mix. He will not let the enemy have the last laugh.

“Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
And then commit
To never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees.

Love is a shelter
In a raging storm
Love is peace
In the middle of a war
If we try to leave
May God send angels
To guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for.”

Would you fight for me? I will fight for you. I will never give up on you.