Emer, an Irish mom in Uganda
Emer (28) is an Irish mother of twins Elijah and Zachary (1), married with her Ugandan husband Joshua and has been living in Uganda for more than 10 years.
Becoming a (Irish) mom in Uganda
Honestly I do not see myself as an Irish mom in Uganda. I just see myself as a mom! I have lived in Uganda for over a decade and it is home to me. I would not want to raise my children anywhere else at this time.
I became a mother when I was 27 years old. Joshua and I had been married for a year at that time and it felt it was time to expand our family. So when the pregnancy test turned out to be positive we made a skype call to my family in Ireland and told them the happy news!
Even though I have been in labour for 30 hours, it was not as bad as I thought it would be (or I have mentally blocked it out)…
The first 14 weeks of my pregnancy were tough. I did not handle the nausea well. But after that I felt great. I did regular yoga and tried to remain fit and active throughout. The last few weeks, before giving birth were hard though. Carrying twins was heavy!
Even though I was at the hospital for scans every 4 weeks, this could not prevent me from going into preterm labour at 29 weeks. Thankfully my doctor was able to stop it and I went onto bedrest for 5 weeks until my boys made their appearance after having been in labour for 30 hours. And even though it was tiring, it really was not as bad as I thought it would be (or maybe I have mentally blocked it our or forgotten…).
Every day is a special day, being a mother
I LOVE being a mother. My children make every day special. They give me a purpose and a reason to be the best person I can be. Even on a bad day one smile from my boys makes everything ok.
Especially when I see my child reaching a milestone; when they call me mama and when they are feeling unwell or tired and just need a warm mummy hug. When I hear other mothers speak I realise that only now I can truly understand what they mean.
Unfortunately motherhood also comes with the struggle for a good night’s sleep. Sometimes my boys decide they do not want to sleep at night. I am still figuring out how to deal with that.
Day to day life
At around 7 or 7.30am the boys wake me up. We change diapers, have milk and then the nanny comes. I go and get ready for work, play with the boys a little and then leave.
Generally I am home by 5pm and I give the boys dinner at 5.30pm. I usually meal plan, prepare and freeze on a Saturday or Sunday.
After dinner we play until around 6.45 or 7pm. For me, this is the most important time of the day. It really is our time and it really gets full priority. No other task is important. Then Joshua and I give the boys a bath, get them ready for bed and sing songs and read stories until around 7.30pm. We never want to miss this quality time. When the boys go asleep my husband and I have dinner and relax for the evening. Bedtime for us is usually around 11pm or midnight. Most nights the boys sleep through the night. If they can not sleep I cuddle them a little more.
I am blessed to have a nanny who adores my children. I can go to work during the day knowing they are in safe hands.
About 3-4 times a week I take 30 minutes to practice some yoga. Alone.
Toys for the boys, or for the parents?
Every Saturday we go out as a family. It may be swimming, to the park or for lunch.
My husband and I also love buying toys for the boys. I even think we get more excited about them than the children do! Honestly, at times the boys ignore the toys and choose to play with a set of keys, a water bottle or the tv remote or an empty box!
My husband and I had a very different upbringing. The toys my boys have are similar to what I had, but they are a lot more elaborate than what my husband had.
Children’s food and health
Until the boys were 8 months old I breastfed them. I did not necessarily want to stop, but the boys had self night weaned and I was away during the day at work. We decided to do Baby Led Weaning (BLW) with our boys from 6 months. They eat what we eat except for salt and honey.
During the week we eat breakfast together and the boys sit in their highchairs. They eat lunch with the nanny and we eat dinner together (or actually, they eat dinner, I generally have coffee and a snack). On weekends we generally eat out together.
We also try to keep everything as clean and hygienic as possible and we vaccinate as per schedule. And it seems to work, the children have luckily never fallen sick since birth! And if they do not feel well or when they feel sad, I comfort them by picking them up. Always!
When the boys do not feel well or when they feel sad, I comfort them by picking them up. Always!
My husband and I are responsible for our sons’ upbringing, with some help from the boys’ nanny, Joyce. Living in Uganda we are mostly on our own in terms of family. The childrens’ grandparents are in Ireland but do guide us when we are unsure or ask for advice.
In general our style of parenting is a gentle approach.
I was raised an Irish Catholic and even though we are Christians, I do not subscribe to any religion now. I do pray for my children and have faith in God. And we also have specific beliefs and values with regards to family, God and society that we daily instill in our children.
Besides that, love, respect, the ability to question everything and to look at things from a different perspective are the most important things we want to teach our children.
Raising a hand at our children is an absolute no-go!
Mom’s pride and worries
I worry about my children constantly. When we are in the car I fear for other drivers on the road. I worry about them being judged later in life for the colour of their skin. I worry about the world they are growing up in and how outside influences could cloud what we teach them within our family.
But also, everyday I see them grow into little toddlers. And the more I see them grow, the prouder I become. Every step they take fills my heart even more. I am so unbelievably proud to be a mother! I was hugely proud on my boys’ first birthday. Proud of myself, my husband and our boys for making it through the first year.
I would like it if I did not have to work so much, I would like to spend more time with my boys and I often feel sad and guilty when their nanny tells me about something new they have done.
Every day I am trying to be more of the mother that I hoped I would be. My boys make me try each day to be better than I was yesterday.
My husband and I are blessed to be able to afford the physical things we would like our children to have. And we have been able to fly them to Ireland on two occasions during their first year of life and introduce them to family. We get to spend time with them daily and we have a wonderful caretaker for them. So we are not doing too bad I think.
The biggest thing we offer them is our unconditional love.
Mom’s hopes and ambitions
I want my boys to grow together as brothers, to look out for each other and pick each other up when they need it. I want them to be individuals as well as twins. I want them to find themselves but remember the values that we have instilled in them. I want them to dream bigger than they ever imagined. And I hope they will still share the bond they share now while building their own families and experiencing their own destinies.
For myself I have always dreamed of having a husband and two children (I just did not know they would both come at once!). I am fully happy and satisfied in my married life. I share my life and my children with my partner and best friend who I know will be right beside me through thick and thin. I have a successful career but I am working towards being able to work less and enjoy my children more.
Most of our family live 5000miles away from us, so if I could bring them all here to Uganda that would be perfect!