I quit my job to be stay-at-home mum for 12 years
SUSAN KETER, 53, quit employment to bring up her six children. Now all grown and successful, she doesn’t regret it, and is proud of how her children have turned out. Here is her story of great sacrifice, resilience, and patience.
Kwach Wakhisi @PeopleDailyKe
Susan Catherine Keter’s journey to motherhood, raising six children was no mean task.
“I got married when I was totally inexperienced as far as dealing with children was concerned. I am the last born in our family, so I learnt about parenting on the job.
I must say it was challenging to chart my own path,” she begins. As she figured out her way around, Susan encountered what most new mothers experience, she was criticised for not doing things one way instead of another, especially by parents who were more experienced than she was.
It is these hurdles that led Susan who had graduated with a Bachelors degree in Education at Kenyatta University to quit her job as a bilingual secretary to take up full time parenting.
“When I quit my job, I was expecting our second baby and my firstborn daughter, Sally was hyperactive and needed a lot of attention.
She would often destroy things around the house and I had no idea what hyperactivity was, hence I would end up punishing her to make her behave like ‘other children’. As a result we both got frustrated,” she recalls.
She is, however, glad that God was faithful, because every new baby that joined the family was accompanied by a promotion for my husband,” smiles Susan who marked 30 years of marriage on April 7.
She describes holding her children in her arms for the first time as one of the most fulfilling moments.
“Watching your child’s milestones from the first steps to the first tooth cannot be described in words.
I have enjoyed watching them grow into responsible adults, and now they are taller than I am,” she laughs.
Her biggest challenge was her children’s health. “My second born suffered foetal distress and the birth complication caused damage to certain areas of her brain. So, throughout her childhood, she would get irritated fast.
It was only after she was diagnosed with depression at age 12 after comprehensive history of her life that the root problem was unveiled.
The foetal distress, caused the behavioural problems in her early childhood. “It was painful to learn that our daughter had been judged harshly and often punished in school because of struggles that were not of her own making,” she says.
Her fourth born son got critically ill just before his second birthday hence necessitating an emergency operation. At that time, Susan was in the first trimester of her fifth pregnancy.
“Our next son was born seven months later and had a birth defect in the gastrointestinal tract. He required life-saving surgery during the first week of his life,” she says.
All these vulnerabilities from prenatal and postnatal factors and the health complications triggered Susan’s depression.
Susan speaks out strongly against controlling and punishing children simply for being children.
“Children have to be trained and not punished. Nurturing children is about instilling the right values in them, not trying to control them in the name of discipline,” she offers.
On the joys of motherhood, Susan is always delighted to witness the achievements of their children.
Now between 17 and 29 years old, they are at different stages of their lives; her firstborn, Sally is a website developer, her second born, Sarah works at a plastic surgery clinic, her third, Sam is a software developer, her forthborn Steve is a fitness trainer and rugby player, her fifthborn, Seth is in university and also plays rugby.
Her last born, Sandra, is in Form Four. “Seing my children being succesful brings so much joy to my heart.
Sometimes I come across billboards on the streets of Nairobi that are the work of the company run by my son-in-law and my daughter and feel proud of them,” she beams.
Susan who now works as a tranformational and business coach started rebuilding her career when her last born was two yearsold.
“I worked in the mental health field from 2007 to 2012 and was one of the founders and first CEO of USPKenya, an organisation for consumers of mental health services in Kenya.