Wanja Kavengi: I have never established a connection with my son. I was depressed throughout his pregnancy; I didn’t want him. I was depressed after his birth; I didn’t want him. I was depressed while raising him; I didn’t want him. He felt like a bother, like a burden, like an unwanted guest in my house, a painful thorn under my sole.
I wasn’t able to love him like a parent would a child. I created an emotional distance between us and never offered him compassion and warmth. I shouted at him all the time. I refused to understand him.
It was cold. I neglected him and never prioritized him. He was an afterthought, a “by the way”. I didn’t play with him, I didn’t laugh with him, I didn’t eat with him, I didn’t watch or listen to anything with him, I wouldn’t go anywhere with him, I didn’t spend time with him. I didn’t empathize with him.
I was a stone-faced bitch to him who always told him no. I didn’t want him. I couldn’t stand him. I didn’t fulfill his obligations on time and it would take me a little too long to notice he needed a haircut, a little too long to realize he needed new clothes, a little too long for me to see his shoes were worn out, a little too long to buy him a toy.
I took a little too long to pay attention to him. I ignored him from the day he was born. I have been unkind to him, treated everyone else kindly, and been mean to him. I have kept a great distance from him. He doesn’t even call me “mum” anymore.
He calls me Wanja like everyone else. Because instead of treating him like my child, I’ve treated him like everyone else. It is not once that curious people have enquired if he is my pesky little brother because we don’t have a mother-child bond.
Anyone can see he is an angry eight-year-old. He has a wave of deep-seated anger in him, a perfect reflection of the anger I have had for him, anger that I felt for myself.
I refuse to face my own anger and unleash it onto him. I blame him for my own insecurities. I blame him for my own mistakes. I punish him for how my life has turned out.
I have solely made him an anxious, cantankerous child.”How long does postpartum depression last?” I Googled the other day because try hard as I may, my feelings for him haven’t changed. It has lasted too long.
I still don’t know how to care for him. My mother is a better mother to him. In fact, she is the best and only mother he has had in these few months we’ve been under her roof than all the 8 years I’ve been with him. I don’t love my son.