Saturday, November 17, 2012

the culture of motherhood: fat babies part 3

My fat baby journey continues. (Catch up on the story with fat babies one and fat babies two)
I determined not to let my own insecurities about what to feed my baby totally paralyze me. I’m trying new things with Bronwyn, making an action plan for her food sources and thanking God for giving me enough grace for today. I’ve also decided to draw on what little knowledge I have to help encourage the women around me. We have a duty to build each other up, even when we feel weak. My neighbor lady Louisa is a well-intentioned mother, just like me. Last week before I went to town with our HBC clients, she gave me K20,000 and asked if I’d buy her a box of custard for her 9 month old baby Robert. I took the money but spent most of the morning in town trying to decide whether any baby should consume custard. I looked at the ingredients and saw that custard really is nothing more than cornstarch, salt and permitted flavorants. Eww. I assumed Louisa had seen custard somewhere and decided that that would be a good filler for her growing baby and that he would probably enjoy the sweet taste. I ended up not getting her the custard but instead showing her the box that we had in our kitchen (warm custard makes a nice pudding-like desert, and Jeremy and I like it!) and we talked about the ingredients. First I had to explain what an ingredient was and then I explained the difference between baby food and custard. We defined carbohydrates, vitamins and proteins. We talked about essential building blocks of a baby’s body. I encouraged her that there were foods in the village that could help her baby grow strong, and not just feel full. We listed some examples together and Louisa was encouraged by how many of those food items were in her fields! Bananas! Mangoes! Peanuts! Soybeans! Nutrition! As I spoke words to encouragement to Louisa, I spoke them to myself. “Food is available, Bethany. If she can gather these things and feed her baby, so can you! Your babies can grow fat together!”

Louisa was very thankful for the mini nutrition talk and returned the favor by giving Bronwyn a ten minute speech on how the life of a mother is very difficult what with drawing water and carrying the baby on her back and cooking food and cleaning. She told Bronwyn that it was her duty then to be a good girl and by nice to me and take care of me when I’m old. Haha. Bronwyn just sort of looked at her which prompted the comment, “I don’t think Winnie speaks Bemba.” “That’s ok,” I said, “She doesn’t speak English either.” To which Louisa replied, “I think she must speak Greek.” Well wouldn’t that be handy!
Anyway, I’m thankful for my encounter with Louisa and the healthy reminder it was that we – the women of the world – are in this together!

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