Celebrating East African Writing!

A Single Woman’s Guide to New Motherhood by Doreen Baingana

1. DON’T DO IT! Your life as you know it will end. Period. Ok, if you think your genes are so great that mankind will suffer (no cure for AIDS, perhaps) if they are not replicated then do this: have as much fun as you can for at least twenty years, stay out ‘til 6am, go out until you are absolutely sick of it, because you are going to kiss this life goodbye forever. Ok, for at least one year. And after that anything you do will be colored with guilt for neglecting your child. What fun!

2. TIME: This is related to point 1. I really must warn you: if you have a full life, you will have no space to squeeze in your kid. Something will have to give. Nobody tells you this. You will still have 24 hours in your day; mothers are not given more hours, which is so very unfair. We should get at least 30. So either you won’t sleep (you don’t sleep anyway for the first six months so that’s ok). Or you won’t write your next book, or you will be a nasty shadow of yourself at work, or your baby will be neglected. You choose.

3. GENES: (The baby’s I mean; it’s no longer all about you, sweetheart.) If you can, and I know this is very difficult, choose a man who is smart. And handsome. You want a cute baby, don’t you? There’s nothing sadder than an ugly little yelling brat! However, despite a pretty mum (you!) and a handsome hunk for a dad, your genes may play tricks on you, and baby comes out like the uncle you nicknamed Gorilla! Oops! It’s a gamble, but what isn’t? Luckily, your hormones will affect your eyesight and your baby will be the cutest one on earth ever.

4. PAIN: as in avoid it. Go for a ceaser, unless you are a masochist, in which case, push, baby, push. Despite what they all say, pushing does not make you love your child more or make you a better mother or give you a pass to heaven. Not even a US visa. It may be “natural,” but so is death and pimples. Instead, you can choose your kid’s birthday (25th December, Obama’s birthday, 1st Jan, your own birthday. Play God, why not?) Get a load of pain killers and lie there in medicated bliss as you are cut up, and voila! You will hear that first wonderful squeal! (Before a lifetime of not so wonderful squeals, shrieks, yells, etc.) Make sure you get enough of those lovely pills for afterwards, and “milk” your invalid status as much as you can before you and your baby become old news, i.e. in a week!

5. Get a maid. Or go crazy with fatigue. The choice is yours.

6. ZOMBIE: For the next few months, nothing else is going to matter except your baby. As you are single, you won’t have a man to ignore, abuse or blame for not doing anything, or turn from disgustedly when he wants to “play”, so count yourself lucky. And forget that smart creative brainiac you used to be who knew why Gaza was being bombed yet again, and what was going on in East Timor. You will not know what is going on down the street from you. You will be in a daze. Some love it. Some don’t. You won’t know which group you fit in until it happens. You will spend many hours just sitting there as your baby feeds and when you are not dozing off, you will have no new thoughts to think, after “What a cute baby.” “Oh such cute toes. Oh, five of them on each foot! Oh, his mouth his opening! He is yawning! Ooooooh!” “Look at his cute wet bum, or wrinkled hands, cute, cute.” Just accept that your brain will shrivel to the size of a slug and be as active. Motherhood is martyrdom. Don’t say you weren’t warned! 

7. LIQUIDS: Your life will be saturated with smelly milk (from YOU!) leaking breasts, yellowish soft poop, urine everywhere, damp clothes and diapers. Slime, slime everywhere. You will swim in it in your dreams. There are worse things, like, like, ok give me a minute …

8. DELEGATE: Did I say get a maid? I’ll say it again. Get a maid. Get someone to cook for you as well. And wash all those cute little blue or pink things with bears and hares and balls that you bought that are now full of slimy poop or smell of old milk, i.e. of you!

9. VISITORS: You don’t have to see them, though they may bring you news of the outside world, so that’s not too bad. Take naps as often as you can, ‘coz they will just pop in. IGNORE their advice. It will come in streams, floods, tornadoes, tsunamis, all of it contradictory at best, unscientific at worst. It’s simpliest and sanest to ignore it all. 

10. WORK: Most of us have no choice but to start working again at some point. As career oriented as you once were, you will feel like you are abandoning your baby the first time you leave the house without the little bundle of crap, er, joy. Remember, you are merely a mum, not God. Someone else may do a better job at looking after your baby than you. Imagine that! Don’t work too far away, or own a car or just suffer. What can I say? 

11. YOUR BODY: Hide it, please! Tight tops over sagging bellies is very cruel to the rest of us. Baggy tops were made for a reason. Think camouflage.

12. DATING:  Very hard to do while hiding your body as per 11 above. You may not be able to leave the house. Your baby will look at you with huge pleading eyes, and cry as if he will expire without you. You will realize you are the worst mother on earth for spending the whole day at work and now daring to spend the evening away. You do not deserve your wonderful child! That load of guilt is just not worth the zero to two percent gain from man-hunting. Stick this on your mirror to read on Saturday night: “Been there, done that, got the baby!”

13. TIME: Sooner or later the little brat will grow and leave the nest and you’ll get your life back and discover that actually you have no life to get back! Help!

14. GET ANOTHER?    

Doreen Baingana is the author of Tropical Fish.

5 comments on “A Single Woman’s Guide to New Motherhood by Doreen Baingana

  1. Peterson
    March 6, 2009

    any advice for single men? they could very appreciaated my many and by many i mean me!


  2. Osas
    March 6, 2009

    Advice for single men: don’t get pregnant.

    See: that was an excellent advice. Clear, sound, and very easy to follow. 🙂


  3. Christine
    March 6, 2009


    Thats really interesting, entertaining and true. Good piece of advice…just on time for my Siz Rachel.

    Peterson, I think for men, the guide shall be titled ‘A Single Man’s Guide to new Fatherhood…don’t try this at home’.


  4. Jojo
    March 10, 2009

    what a bleak view of motherhood! I am soon to be a mother (like really soon…) and i can’t wait to prove it all wrong. watch out for my series on my new life with my bundle of joy.


  5. Hey
    March 10, 2009

    This was not actually bleak. I thought it was funny, honest and cynical – a good read at least something that does not read like a new age guide to motherhood or whatever


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