Where do mothers learn all of the things they tell their daughters not to do?

I’m not usually a Facebook person. What?.. With all the posts, pages, videos, anniversaries, pokes, likes, notifications and even the cursory “Good morning Vivienne”! Alongside, a little sunrise emoticon in tow.. Like why are you saying hello??! No. Just no. I however used to be really into it back in the day when I had a handful of friends and before I discovered other social media. No offence against Facebook though. Similar case of preferring masala fries over regular fries. Nothing against regular fries.

So Facebook decided to remind us every single day of the things we did on it from years back. It reminds me of that fictional story: “The ghosts of Christmas past”. Facebook is so Scrooge! Who remembers posting about waking up, how cold your breakfast was, how much you loved Sugar Ray? And that club Mwendaz? Facebook does!

I usually ignore memories especially of my younger days when all I would care about was how soon the weekend would come by. Parenting and responsibilities have got a way of making you look forward to making more money than spending it.

Anyway I digress. So on this Sunday for no particular reason other than sheer boredom I decided to check out my memories and this is what I found:


As you can see it was very humbling to say the least especially seeing that I’m now a mommy!

One of my friends, also a mother was quick to taunt me with a: “yeah where do mothers learn all that?” And this question bothered me to no end. So after seeing some little boy, no more than six years old starring at my baby girl from across from where he was seated from us at church, ALL through Sunday mass, I finally got a light bulb moment about where mothers become all knowing.

At first I thought it was her toy. She’s got this cuddly doll that has the cutest biggest Polly Anna eyes. Frills and flashy colours everywhere. The dolls dress even crinkles to the touch and there’s a mirror as part of all that apparel. My goodness! As a child my play things were actually very basic. Toys nowadays are nothing short of works of art. You wouldn’t believe how she throws it away with so much boredom and nonchalance only to pick up a random item like a dead insect? If she wasn’t such a mini me there are times I’ve almost believed my suspicions that she could have been possibly switched up at birth. I digress. Again.

Anyway, so I thought it must be the toy and he wanted to play with it too.

It must be the toy. But it wasn’t.

He kept staring at her every move. It turns out he was fascinated by everything my little girl did. Even when I gave her her bottle he tilted his head sideways so he could still maintain eye contact while she nursed away. It was unsettling.

It wasn’t in the way he stared. He wasn’t looking at her the way most grown folk look at wide bosomed belles.

Like food.

I mean he’s only six at the most. He was just fascinated and curious about her. But the unsettled mum in me decided we needed fresh air and out we went.

I think he was just probably bored and my baby was the most interesting thing to look at in church that day but I had a moment of the infamous “mothers intuition“.

So how do mothers know??? They just know.

It comes from carrying a baby for nine months in your womb and having tears in your eyes when you listen to that first heartbeat on the sonogram. Surprisingly I didn’t cry through these moments. (Please don’t judge me). But I almost went out in a fit of worry and bought a foetal heart rate monitor just to make sure I could constantly check on my baby’s heartbeat after reading some random Google post about how unborn babies die from umbilical cord accidents. Yeah. You can laugh.

This thing called a mothers instinct comes as early on as when you’re on the street waddling because you could literally pop anytime and all over sudden the city council Askari‘s raid unsuspecting hawkers and you find yourself in a flash of a second, arms around you, elbows out, instinctively protecting your unborn from the running mob.

It comes from years of experience. I know this is the most boring cliché we hear while growing up but it’s the truth.

A mother just knows.

I used to think all sorts of things about motherhood before I became one. Like how I wouldn’t love my baby enough or how I’d roll over her in my sleep. Or how I wouldn’t be able to hear her crying in the middle of the night because I literally sleep like a log. But all that didn’t happen when I become a mommy. As soon as that little life starts growing within you, you become armed with mad maternal instincts.

My sister gets so frustrated when she’s been trying to put my baby to sleep for hours and hours. Then I walk in from work and in five minutes there’s either a chuckling happy baby or a sound asleep baby. “How did you do it?” She exasperatedly asks. I casually tell her that the baby was thirsty. “But I gave her milk and she didn’t want any!” She pitifully protests. She was thirsty for water. Not milk. Again she usually asks: “How do you know?!”

We just know.

I used to ask my mom difficult questions at times. Anything ranging from: What is a pioneer? Why is blueband yellow, Why can’t we touch the moon yet we can see it? To why are you and daddy not together. She’d try her best to answer what she could ever so patiently no matter how tired or how ridiculous my questions were. At times after she’d taken the toil and vagaries of everyday life, she would tell me: “because that’s just the way it is”.

I hated her during those moments.

I wanted to know everything. I thought everything had an outright answer.

As a seven or ten year old, there are no grey areas. Everything is either black or white. Purple or pink. No fuschia.

I’ll always remember her most solemn answer though. It was in the way she sighed heavily before she said it. As if I was burdening her with all the troubles of the world. She always had this look too when she’d reply to such questions. A sad forlorn faraway look that would make me to never want to ask that kind of question ever again. I never liked seeing her like that. To this particular response I’d never answer back or question. Oh, but I’d go sulk about it for days on end. Moods on swings. (It probably was the origin of my Facebook post six years ago) Her most profound answer was:

“One day when you grow up you’ll understand”.

My questions used to end whenever this statement was made. Because it literally meant grow up and figure it out.

Now that I’m older, I finally understand what my mum meant. Not EVERYTHING as I would like to. But I understand that at times there are things one can only learn from experience. From living and making your own mistakes. And suddenly everything you thought was either white or black becomes yellow purple blue! The greatest thing about this maturity is that you stop being so vindictive, judgmental and narrow minded about people and situations. You stop blaming everyone for everything that is wrong with your life and instead find ways to work with whatever life throws your way.

Sometimes we never get to completely understand but with time it all makes sense in the end. And if it doesn’t, I’ve also learnt that it’s not the end.

Time, to pass this too to my daughter. I’ll try my best to pass it on with as much love as was passed down on to me by my mother. I hope that she too will one day understand. And hopefully learn to tell her own daughter what not to do!

Remember to watch your words especially parents to be. You don’t want to have to swallow them years later like me. Stay graceful if it happens, in it together!  🙂


2 thoughts on “Where do mothers learn all of the things they tell their daughters not to do?

  1. I can relate to that. Mother’s knows best and can feel something is up! Years ago my son is only 2yrs old and we were in Kuala Lumpur hotel restaurant when a stranger looks at my son strangely. It is not a “oh so cute” look he gave my son but something more which is disgusting sorry to say. I just don’t want to make a scene but we were hungry so we just finished our breakfast and ignore it but I also watched this man from the corner of my eye. Yes, he probably was a “bad man” though he is with his partner or whoever this lady with him. Perhaps if it’s happen now.. I will probably be rude at him and he can deny whatever but I find myself more of a Lioness now than a tiger before. 🙂


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