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“Maturity is the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive” (Wikipedia). I am a mother and I have raised children from the day they were born to adulthood. When a child is little, they are helpless. They cry when they need something. They run to mama when they encounter a problem. Someone else (usually an adult) makes decisions on their behalf as they are not yet competent to do so. But as children grow, they learn how to make their own decisions and how to deal with challenges. I remember the day I first met Grace. She knocked at our gate years ago when I was a stay-at-home mom. I went to the gate and found this good looking woman who looked like she had had a very rough life. Her hair was really beautiful but unkempt. Her dressing and the sun burn marks on her face clearly manifested a woman who was struggling to survive. I asked her what I could do to help her and she told me that she was looking for manual work. I did need some help with domestic chores so I decided to give her a chance. That was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted over 5 years…. She would come to our house once a week to iron clothes and do thorough cleaning. She was younger than me but we got on well. As time went by and she became comfortable with me, she started opening up to me. She was educated up to diploma level. She met her husband when she was working for a girls boarding school in Nairobi. The job required putting in long hours so her husband advised her to quit that job and build a business instead. He helped her to set up business supplying fresh fruits in the neighborhood. Her husband had a good job and he was responsible. Life was good. Within a few years, the family was doing quite well; they had constructed their own house at the husband’s rural home, which is less than 100 kilometers from the city so they lived there as her husband worked in the city and she continued building the family business. They had bought a car and that made work easier for them. 9 years into the marriage and with 3 children all below the age of 10, everything changed. Her husband got involved in an extra marital relationship with a colleague. That was when things started falling apart. He changed and became cruel to her, even beating her up over flimsy excuses. He told Grace that the other woman was the wife God meant for him, and Grace had been a mistake. One day during a heated argument, he took her academic certificates and tore them to many pieces, telling her that if she wanted to work, she could as well go back to college and start afresh. He refused her to drive the family car any more, and told her that she was in his house illegally and needed to pack and leave before something bad happened to her. Grace tried to hold on but the abuse only got worse. The haunted look on the faces of her terrified children was too much for her to bear so she eventually walked out with her children. She had no assets, no savings. She had invested every coin she made into the family, including the construction of the family home. She had no option but to go back to her parents with her children. She left with only their clothes even though a lot of what they owned was from the sweat of both she and her husband. The husband moved in with the new lady and because the marriage between him and Grace was a customary one, he eventually legalized the new union.

Life was very challenging for Grace when she started living with her parents. Relocating from her matrimonial home saw her close her fruits business because she no longer had the capital to start the business afresh in a new place. That was when she decided to start doing odd jobs here and there to provide for herself and her children. Grace worked for me for close to two years. She was very thorough in her work and honest. The first thing she did when she got some money was to enroll in evening classes at a college near her home. The certificates her husband destroyed were for diploma in secretarial studies. She opted to change to a diploma in human resource management. She worked very hard and completed her course successfully. A woman she did domestic chores for got her a job in their family business and she started her new life as an employed woman. She went the extra mile when executing her duties and climbed the career ladder very fast. Today, Grace is successful in her career, 11 years since she knocked at my gate seeking manual work. She has constructed a house at her parents’ home and has given her 3 children a good education. She has never remarried. When we encounter life’s challenges, it is normal to experience negative emotions ranging from denial, anger, thoughts of revenge, playing victim/feeling helpless, etc. Everyone – including successful people – experience these emotions. The difference between successful people and everyone else is how long it takes them to pick themselves up after disappointment. Some people mourn and play victim forever such that their lives get stuck at that spot. Some never pick themselves up and eventually die prematurely from some stress related health condition.

There are no guarantees in this life. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes we are repaid with evil for good deeds that we do. Sometimes we give our all to people who don’t deserve it. How soon you pick yourself up after disappointment will determine how successful you will be in life. This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter, Life and Health Coach, Trevo LLC, USA. Website: Facebook: Telephone: +254728999136

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