20 Surprising Things About Parenting in Kenya

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

This week, our Motherhood Around the World series goes to Nairobi, where Tara Wambugu lives with her Kenyan husband, Jesse, and two daughters, Claire, 4, and Heidi, one and a half. Here, she explains how Kenyans refer to their elders, the pleasure of outdoor bathing and 18 other surprising things about living in Kenya…

Tara’s background:

Jesse and I always planned to settle in Kenya. When we started dating 10 years ago, while working for the humanitarian aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières in Uzbekistan, I told him I wanted to live abroad long-term, and he said he hoped to eventually move home. Luckily for us, raising our family in Kenya met both of those goals. I now stay at home with my girls and write a blog about my life here.

We live in Kilimani, a neighborhood with a suburban feel, where we rent a house. When we first moved here in 2011, I was struck by all the beautiful tropical flowers. The gardens are teeming with jacarandas, poinsettias, hibiscus, frangipani and nasturtium. Nairobi is known as “The Green City in the Sun,” and it’s full of bright, leafy neighborhoods. For me, the smell and sight of flowers is quintessential Kenya.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya


On culture shock: Despite having worked and lived before in very basic conditions in Africa, we both experienced some culture shock when we moved to Nairobi after spending a year in England. During our first week, we had power outages, a water shortage and a massive ant infestation in our bedroom. Both of us were kind of freaking out because we’d quickly become accustomed to well-established infrastructure and services in Europe. I remember waking up for one of Claire’s night feedings, and realizing there were thousands of ants crawling all over my feet and up my legs!


On being a multi-racial family: Even though mixed-race couples in Kenya aren’t as rare as they used to be, people are surprised to see a Kenyan man married to a white American woman. We sometimes get double-takes. Usually it’s just curiosity, but it can be unpleasant. For example, security guards occasionally assume Jesse is my taxi driver.

It’s really important to us that our children see plausible versions of themselves in their toys, TV programs, books and schoolmates, but it’s not always easy to achieve here. We once saw another family with mixed-race children in a local restaurant and our older daughter, Claire, was so excited she jumped out of her seat and shouted, “Mommy, look, that girl looks like me!!!”

We were astonished by how hard it was to find black baby dolls for our kids. You’d think it would be easy in an African country, but the stores here are stocked full of only blonde-haired, blue-eyed dolls. (I wound up finding a black doll on Amazon.)

When we go to visit our Kenyan family in their village, Claire falls right in with the local children, even though she looks different and can’t speak Kikuyu, Jesse’s tribal language, or Swahili as well as they can. However, they’re fascinated with her hair, which is a different texture, and curlier, and every time she comes home she has a GIGANTIC Afro from all the children running their fingers through it!

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On addressing elders: It’s discouraged to address an elder by his or her first name here. But, rather than calling someone Mrs. Smith, you call her by the name of her first-born child. I am known as “Mama Claire.” I think this is such a sweet way for children to address adults respectfully, but without feeling too stuffy or strict. It also makes it much easier to remember other parents’ names on the playground! I always remember the children’s names, so I can easily just call a mother “Mama Mya,” if I forget her first name. It is a sign of respect to be referred to as “Mama Claire,” and I love it. (Somehow I expected to dislike this tradition, thinking I’d feel a lack of personal identity, but I found I adored it from day one.)

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On superstitions and sayings: Many Kenyans I’ve met semi-believe in superstitions or enjoy repeating the quirky wisdom of proverbs. For example, in some tribes it’s considered bad luck to talk a lot about an unborn child, because it can leave the baby vulnerable to bad spirits. A friend told me her family feared bad luck when they saw baby clothes she’d washed on the clothesline before her baby was born.

Owls are also considered by some to be bad luck. If you hear an owl hooting near your home at night, it is believed that you will soon suffer a death in your family!

Apart from superstitions, I’ve heard many Kenyan proverbs about parenting and motherhood. Claire is really tall, and my mother-in-law looked at her one day and said, in Kikuyu, “Mwana ndaigirirwo ihiga!” I asked her what that meant, and she told me, “A child does not carry a stone on its head!” I wondered what it could mean, and she explained: Children will always grow, no matter the circumstances, even if you place a stone on their head.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On corruption: Even though it’s not at all uncommon to encounter demands for small bribes in the regular course of life here, Jesse and I have a family policy of never paying bribes of any kind. A few years ago, a city servant responsible for collecting parking fees confiscated my car keys and threatened to put a boot on my tire if I didn’t pay him a bribe! I asked what law I had broken and demanded to go to a courthouse so I could settle any legitimate fines the legal way. He became very angry with me and threatened that a court-administered fine would be exponentially higher than the small “cup of tea” he was asking for. I was furious and stood my ground. Ultimately, he returned my keys and left me alone. I was shaking with anger and frustration at the end of the exchange, but proud of myself for not contributing to an inherently corrupt system.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On the magic of safaris: We love taking safaris (in Swahili, safari simply means “journey”) to places off the beaten path, and Kenya has so many amazing spots that are largely untouched by tourists. When our older daughter Claire was about 18 months old, I took her camping at Lake Elementaita in the Great Rift Valley. We decided to take a walk around its perimeter for a picnic lunch. I brought my travel hammock with me, and we strung it up between two acacia trees on the far side of the lake. After lunch, we climbed into the hammock for an afternoon nap. An hour later, we were woken by the sound of cow bells. We peered over the edge of the hammock to see that we were surrounded by cattle being herded by the Masai tribesmen. It was one of my most magical moments in Kenya.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya


On appreciating animals: Our children are lucky to be growing up in an incredible environment for appreciating wildlife. At four, Claire can tell the difference between a gazelle and an impala and can spot a giraffe from miles away. Jesse takes the kids outside every day after work to put out birdseed in our garden. We have bronze manikins, streaky seed-eaters, variable sunbirds, bronze sunbirds, olive thrush, hadada ibis, and firefinches who all come to eat at our feeders. Claire can already identify dozens of East African birds.

Because we have a national park nearby in Nairobi, we can go on a game drive whenever we want. Giraffes, zebras, elephants and rhinos are all typical animals for our kids. I remember once when visiting our family in the U.S., someone asked Claire to name an exotic animal. She thought for a while, and then said, “A squirrel!”

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On family rhythms: Living so close to the Equator, the sun rises and sets at almost the same time every day in Kenya, no matter what time of year it is, and it becomes part of your daily rhythm. Our kids are very early risers, often waking around 5:30 a.m., and our day starts early.

One of our favorite family traditions is giving our kids an al fresco “bush bath.” We bring a plastic basin whenever we travel in Kenya, and treat them to a nice soak overlooking a river, or the savannah, or the Great Rift Valley. I love letting them splash around, surrounded by nature and spectacular landscapes.

On pregnancy: Pregnant women and new mothers are treated like goddesses in Kenya. You never have to stand in line, you never have to wait for a seat and and you never have to carry anything. Perfect strangers will always offer to help you!

Also, all the women in my mother-in-law’s village fussed over me as a new mother. Everyone made sure I was drinking enough liquids, and offered me njahi (black-eyed peas) and uji (fermented porridge) around the clock. These foods are believed to boost milk production, so they were encouraging them morning, noon and night and would even send me to bed with a thermos full of uji, so I could drink it all night long. I felt very pampered.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On childbirth: Our family is incredibly fortunate, and we aren’t confronted by the kinds of struggles faced by many Kenyan families. For example, maternal mortality is very high in Kenya. The World Health Organization has said that for every 100,000 live births in Kenya, 400 women die from complications during childbirth. To put that in perspective, in the U.S., that number is 28. These vulnerabilities in Kenya are due to lack of access to decent prenatal care, good hospitals and obstetric services. Claire was born in the U.K., but we had Heidi in Nairobi and we were so lucky to have an amazing doctor and to deliver in the top hospital in Kenya. I had every confidence that my baby and I were in the best possible care. Many Kenyan mothers do not have that privilege.

Moterhood Around the World Kenya

On picking a baby name: There’s a lovely naming culture in Kenya, and particularly in the Kikuyu tribe, where the first-born daughter is named after her paternal grandmother. We decided to adopt this tradition for our girls’ middle names. Our eldest’s is Naymbura after my husband’s mother, which means “born during the rains.” She was born in the U.K., so we think it’s beautifully befitting! The second-born daughter would traditionally be named after her maternal grandmother, but we wanted both girls to have Kenyan middle names. When Heidi was born, we decided to give her the middle name Makena, which means “the happy one.” Her name also fits her perfectly.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is the norm in Kenya. Public breastfeeding is welcome everywhere and actively encouraged. In fact, if you’re in public and your baby starts to fuss, strangers will say to you, “Mama, give your baby nyonyo, she is hungry!” (“Nyonyo” is the Swahili word for breastfeeding.)

There’s a beautiful, slow Swahili lullaby that Jesse and I always sing to the girls when they’re tired that speaks to the role of breastfeeding here:

Lala, toto lala
Mama anakuja, lala
Lala, toto lala
Alete maziwa, lala
Lala, toto lala
Maziwa ya toto, lala

It means, “Sleep, baby sleep… Mama is coming, sleep… She is bringing milk, sleep… Baby’s milk, sleep…”

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On the community village: The adage “it takes a village to raise a child” is taken very seriously in Kenya. As such, your children are seen as everyone’s children, and everyone’s responsibility. Those in your generation will be known to your children as “auntie” or “uncle,” whether or not they are actually related. I had always known about this, but I learned after we had our own kids that this also extends into the grandparents’ generation! When we first introduced our baby to my mother-in-law’s sister, I said, “Claire, this is Auntie Salome!” Salome frowned at me, and said, “I’m not her auntie! I’m her grandma!” It made me laugh that everyone from my mother-in-law’s generation was to be known as “grandma” or “grandpa,” because there is no way my own mother would ever agree to share her title with anyone!

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On baby wearing: I completely fell in love with baby wearing here, where it goes back for generations upon generations. Everywhere you go, you’ll see women carrying their babies in a leso or kanga, traditional African cloths with Swahili proverbs written on them. Kenyan women usually wear their babies on their backs, and it’s a beautiful and practical way to carry a little one — the ultimate multitasking mother tool.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On food and drink: Kenyan cuisine is all about meat and starch. Ugali, a doughy mixture of boiled cornmeal, is the favorite staple for all Kenyans. It’s often eaten with a meaty stew and some sautéed kale. Kenyans seem to intuitively know when it’s ready, though I’ve been told that I always undercook it. My sister-in-law told me to throw a bit of the ugali against a wall to see if it sticks, but I haven’t tested out that method yet!

Tea is a really important part of Kenyan culinary culture and one of the country’s major crops. People love to drink tea at breakfast, throughout the day and after most meals.

Many Kenyans hate cold drinks, so when you order one in a restaurant or bar, the waiter will ask you if you want it warm or cold. Everything, from milk to beer, juice to soda, can be served warm in Kenya. This is a habit that starts at birth, because Kenyans fear that children will fall ill if you feed them cold things. When our niece comes over to play, we heat everything for her, even ice cream! And whenever our kids have colds, our housekeeper tut tuts at us for serving them cold juice, straight from the fridge!


On eating manners: You’re only supposed to shake hands or eat with your right hand here (Kenyans traditionally eat food with their hands, not with utensils.) This is because you’re supposed to use your left hand in the loo, and many traditional Kenyan loos don’t have toilet paper, but rather a bucket of water for washing.

On American culture shock: While our kids seem to be cultivating American accents, they stick out a bit culturally when we’re visiting family in the U.S. On a recent visit, my mother asked Claire to put her plate in the dishwasher. Claire looked puzzled, and replied, “What’s a dishwasher?” She is also completely unaccustomed to air conditioning, and can’t stop talking about how freezing it is whenever we are inside. A woman in a Starbucks once asked Claire why she was shivering, and I said to her that Claire had never felt air conditioning before. The woman looked at me like I was crazy.


On gender differences: Boys and girls, at times, are treated differently in Kenya. Teachers and nannies have often told our daughter, “Claire, you should not climb that tree. Girls don’t climb!” Or, if she breaks into tears over something, people have told her, “Claire, don’t cry. Pretty girls shouldn’t cry.” I’ve never seen anyone tell a boy not to climb, or that handsome boys shouldn’t cry. There is definitely a double standard.

President Obama visited Kenya this summer, and in his speech, he talked about the treatment of women and girls in Kenya, and about the fact that some Kenyan girls are not sent to school. He encouraged Kenyans to leave behind their traditions that treat women and girls as second class citizens, saying, “Any nation that fails to educate its girls or employ its women… is doomed to fall behind in a global economy.” I’m looking forward to see if his message has impact.


On play: Some Kenyan parents arrange play dates for their kids, though it’s not as ubiquitous as it is in the U.S. In more rural villages, however, children are free to roam about the neighborhood on their own outdoors, and play freely without any adult supervision. Whenever we go to visit Jesse’s family in their village, we find bands of children roaming around together and having a ball.

Soccer (or football, as Kenyans call it) is THE most popular sport, mainly played by boys. Even in the poorest villages, boys will make ingenious homemade soccer balls out of plastic bags, rubber bands, and twine. Or they will make themselves elaborate toy cars out of scrap wire and bottle caps [pictured above]. Jesse has tried to teach Claire how to make these toy cars, but she has already become too accustomed to store-bought toys. I fear this art will be lost on our children.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

On discipline: There’s a fascinating paradox I’ve observed in Kenyan parenting. I’ve never seen a Kenyan child throw a tantrum. Ever. I’ve often wondered why Kenyan children seem so much better behaved and more respectful to adults than a typical American child (or, at least, my own children!).

Part of the reason is that Kenyan children rarely hear the word “No” from parents or caregivers, so they have nothing to throw a tantrum about. You’ll see parents offering young children exactly what they want in order to keep the peace — a soda, candy, a toy, a snack, dessert before dinner, TV until long after bed time… you name it. Jesse and I, on the other hand, sometimes engage in epic battles with our girls over tiny things, usually because we’re trying to teach them they can’t have everything they want.

I’ve thought about it a lot, and it’s unclear to me whether one approach is more effective than the other in the long run.

Motherhood Around the World Kenya

Thank you so much, Tara!

P.S. The full Motherhood Around the World series…

(All photos courtesy of Tara Wambugu, except close-up of baby on mother’s back and Tara reading to her daughters, by Natasha Sweeney; eating ugali, babywearing women in the street and boys with handmade toys, by K. Kendall.)

  1. Essie says...

    Oh my gosh, your kids are adorable!!

  2. Wow so great story,ama Kenyan lady married to a polish but we live in Switzerland.we plan on moving to kenya too ,thanks for putting light in his eyes because my was a bit afraid of how life can be in Kenya and with children.nice article

  3. Oh, I loved how you depicted our parenting. On the eating part though, it’s only ugali we eat using our right hands. I don’t know about using the left hand in the loo, I can’t and I am Kenyan, I use the right one. Somalis and Ethiopians use their hands in all their meals.

    Traditional toilets in the village don’t have tissue paper because some leaves called “maigoya” in Kikuyu were traditionally used. They would be growing next to the toilets and you could pluck as you went into the loo. Nice read and I will be reading more of your world on mamamgeni! Karibu nyumbani mama Claire and your photos rock!

  4. Nathan Gitonga Nyaga says...

    Wow! so well written! I am Kenyan married to an Indian and your stories are almost like ours…you have written without prejudice….Inspired!

  5. Ju says...

    Very beautiful country. I visited Kenya for my son’s wedding.
    Very beautiful and pleasant girl.
    The wedding was beautiful the cows, the singing the dancing. You can tell at first that this is true African beauty. There was a smaller wedding here in the US the groom my son is not Kenyan. After weddings thank you notes or cards are normal. In West Africa the couple will visit the elders that played a role in the wedding. With technology these days a few lines to say thanks. But in the case of my Kenyan bride after the wedding all communications and contact with the grooms family stopped. I find that very different. Thank you is an international language is what I thought, and did not understand this behavior. However in reading this blog, I am having second thoughts about the influence of upbringing in my daughter-in-laws behavior.
    I would like to ask opinions on whether the practice of letting children do what they want when they want in childhood impact what we are seeing in our Kenyan bride?

    I would appreciate if some of you can please give me feedback on Kenyan daughter-in-laws, son-in-laws on family relationships after marriage. Are there any customs that place value in the community and parents that gave birth to the husband. Do you welcome your husbands family in your homes. Are there holidays you share with extended family especially the Luo tribe. This will help better understand the Kenyan culture , and find ways of improving relationships.
    I love all the beautiful experiences about family life in Africa that are highlighted here, these are the values that make me proud to be an African. Yes it takes a village!

  6. My best part..”lala mtoto lala…….

  7. Thanks for sharing, very educative write up indeed.

  8. Londa says...

    I have a 7 yr old. I was thinking about sending him to Kenya to live with his Aunt for a lil while. Do u think this will be a good idea? I’m from Texas his dad is from Kenya .

  9. Thank you for sharing. So much of your experience I have been curious about. What an amazing family you have. I am currently finishing a fantasy manuscript about a girl of mixed race living in Kenya. It is for middle grade readers. So thank you for your insight.

    • Emily, keep me posted about your book! Sounds like my girls could relate to your story… :)

    • JNK says...

      Hi! I’m a mixed race girl that was born and lived in Kenya in childhood until my white English mother had had enough and quietly emigrated taking us with her. It took another 24 years before I visited and met my father again.

      Whilst I don’t wish to live there again I visit when I can and live traditionally with my huge family there. It’s a gentle reminder of the hardships and simplicity that many encounter.

      I’d love to read more from you as it’s made me fondly reminisce and I’ve become five again. Ironically I’ve read this by chance on the anniversary of my father’s death so touched me all the more.

  10. NYAMBURA says...

    Aaaawww:)Thank you Tara for sharing our beautiful culture.Great article.

  11. Rachel says...

    I just wanted to say that I love the “Surprising things about parenting in…” serious – it’s so fascinating to read about different perspectives, cultures and traditions, as well as the similarities.

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Kenya has a unique way of life and only by living here can one enjoy it fully. Your everyday story is well told. Train your children the way you would want them to leave and in the future, the will never depart from it.
    And yes, a squirrel is an exotic animal


  13. Lovely article. We are also in a biracial relationship but both of us are originally from Kenya. My older daughter is Muthoni and runs a children’s lifestyle blog and in a month’s time she will have a sister called Nyambura!!
    Great shots btw!

  14. Karrie says...

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this series – and this one in particular. Thank you!

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview! It must be so wonderful to grow up in a beautiful environment and I really like the communal family feel of the villages!

    X Min,

  16. MichelleLG says...

    Asante, Tara for this beautiful post! I spent a month in Kenya for biology research in college (at the Mpala Research Centre in the Laikipia District) and so many of your observations bring back a beautiful flood of memories for me. The ugali, surprise encounters with Massai hesrdsmen and women with babies on backs trecking toward the river near our bush field site, the football (boys with tall socks pulled up over shins with no guards underneath). The increadibly musical quality to the Kiswahili language (I would love to hear that lullaby sung!). I was just teaching my own daughter the counting song I learned while there. I used to sing it to the children near the field station and they would laugh and laugh at the mzungu girl who only knew how to count to ten! Also the bribes. When we were there in 2004, I remember being a bit in awe and reverence that every government building, airport, etc had a framed picture of Kenya’s president (President Kenyata at the time I belive) and signs that read “do not give a bribe” and pictured a cartoon man with an open palm holding money and a big red slash through it. A beautiful, vibrant culture and people and landscape and you have portrayed it in a wonderful light. <3

  17. Gretchen says...

    I absolutely loved reading this. I feel in love with Africa when I got married and honeymooned there. I truly enjoy seeing glimpses of other peoples lives. Thank you for taking the time to share. What precious baby girls you have!

  18. kip says...

    lovely inspiring story,I also think you should write a book.

  19. This is so great. What an amazing blog series. I found you through the bloglovin’ blog awards and honestly I don’t like most of blogs that have been nominated. But this is the real deal!

  20. Tuga says...

    On matters discipline, the children learn at an early age how to ask for things and when. If we dared throw a tantrum, we would get the look, the dreaded look, the “I dare you” look. Good thing is, no one barely knew you got “the look”.

  21. Such a great piece on parenting in Kenya. Your positivity is infectious!

  22. Joanna, I just wanted to tell you how much I LOVE this series. Sometimes I reread the entries to help me decide where I should raise my future children. Lovely!

  23. Love these stories even though I don’t have children. As an avid glutton for information culturally diverse (just like the world we live in), I am always hearten to see articles which encompass other cultures. Love the pictures, pinned a few. Keep doing your thing. Much appreciated.

  24. Preeta says...

    What completely gorgeous children!

    I am from Malaysia and I was struck by how much parenting in Kenya has in common with parenting in Malaysia, which is altogether on the other side of the world. Too many similarities for me to mention every single one, but the ones that struck me most were: addressing elders (everyone in your parents’ generation is Auntie or Uncle, everyone in your grandparents’ generation is Grandma or Grandpa); superstitions; not consuming cold food or drinks and especially not serving them to children; eating with the right hand only; pregnant women or new mothers being treated like royalty. And the no-tantrums thing, as several native Kenyans have mentioned above — I wouldn’t be able to say for sure what the case is in Kenya, but in Malaysia, I would say it’s about 75% parents giving in (especially when it comes to food, sweets, toys, the idea is just give ’em what they want — not saying I agree!) and 25% the children’s abject terror of the consequences of a tantrum. Often, as one posted noted, those consequences are meted out in private. I think that sometimes as outsiders to another culture we see only the public face of it but not the price/cost of that public face. I feel this way about that book, _Bringing Up Bébé_, too, as I’ve lived in France for 9 years and I think French children’s “perfect” behaviour has some real costs that book doesn’t talk about.

  25. Kristen says...

    What if an adult woman doesn’t have children? She’s not “Mama X”, so is she called by her first name or Ms. Lastname?

    Love the stories and the photographs!

    • She would probably be called “Auntie so-and-so” or just “Auntie.” And an older man would be called “mzee,” which actually means “old man” and is a term of respect for all men in Kenya!

  26. Audra says...

    What a great piece! I dated a Kenyan man for 5 years, and would always wonder what it’d be like to move there and raise a family as an interracial couple. He had told me it’s one of the best places in the world to do that, because Kenyans are so accepting. Even though he and I aren’t together anymore, this insight was still fascinating to me. While reading, I was having so many flashbacks about what it’s like to be integrated into Kenyan culture, which I did here in the US with his family. They have some truly beautiful traditions. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tuga says...

      Audra, Kenya is really a beautifull place, I live in Kenya. Am glad you enjoyed the Kenyan culture.

  27. hannan khairil anwar says...

    am from malaysia and i’ve been reading your blog since i was 21 and now i am a mother with two children 6 years later. would love to hear an american mothers perspective on how it is living in malaysia. keep up the good work, absolutely love your blog especially the motherhood posts.
    take care!

  28. Ana says...

    I love these stories! I always have a smile in my face after reading them.

  29. Mimi says...

    Loved this! Thank you for sharing.

  30. kageni says...

    Such a refreshing article. And so much positivity about Kenya. Oh, and Kenyan chikdren hardly throw tantrums because they know about instant discipline- administered there qnd then at the smell of mischief.

    • Tuga says...

      Hahahaha….this is so true.

  31. Lusimba says...

    I don’t agree with the tantrum observation. I’m a Kenyan mother of two. I will tell you this, in public we will give our kids whatever they demand ie candy, soda etc but rebuke & punish in private. Between ages 2 & 7, we spank then negotiate after that age. Secondly, we eat with the right hand because that is considered normal. Lefties or left handed people used to be considered different & outcasts……sort of, so thet were shunned & severely punished for them to rectify to the right hand usage. Finally, on the use of toilets, i guess you haven’t traveled much. My grandmother lives in rural Kenya, she uses pit latrine. That is still a toilet. Otherwise, the article is an interesting read.

  32. KAS says...

    Thank you so much Tara! This was so fascinating. I can relate as I have a West African husband and I am a Caucasian American. We long to go back and live in West Africa so our toddler will know his roots and the unique freedom that is living in Africa. Thanks for the inspiration!

  33. This is such an amazing mommy blog!!! Always fascinated to read what other moms are up to, and this one is an excellent way to learn about more cultures. Tara shares her poignant views in such a relatable manner. will certainly follow this, and her blog :)

  34. June says...

    Being a Kenyan living in the U.S intending to go back to Kenya, I have to say it was great to hear an America’s point of view on Kenyan living and how well you have embraced the culture. Good read Tara.

  35. Jenny says...

    Thank you Tara for sharing this fascinating post! What lucky girls you have!

  36. How timely! I just made the decision to return home (Kenya) after having my first baby here in the U.S. This piece is right on! May I please inbox you on FB with some questions on handling the move?

    • Judy says...

      Mercy! Welcome back home… I took the bold step last Oct and I have no regrets. Most of all my son is enjoying it and he has settled.

    • Karibu tena, Mercy! Feel free to contact me either through the Mama Mgeni blog or FB page! :)

  37. Jamie says...

    This is such a lovely post. My favourite motherhood post yet! Just a note on maternal mortality rates – the US maternal mortality rate is considered high for a developing country. The rate is 13 in Canada and 6 in Australia. Puts Kenya’s rate of 400 in perspective even more!

    • Jamie says...

      I meant developed country no developing country!

  38. So interesting! Love this series!

  39. Mefi says...

    Safi sana! (Really good). I am from Tanzania, living in the U.S. and some of what Tara says takes me back to my childhood.

    I also experience some of the differences when I go back to Tanzania. I am Mama Shiraz to my parent’s staff. And I eat Ugali and wali. And my watoto (children) have been lucky to go on Safari.

    Loved reading this!

  40. Love this post! It’s fascinating to hear about motherhood in such distant places in the world, because beneath the cultural differences there is still such a universal understanding that I seem to relate to on an inner level.

  41. Love this! I lived (childless) in South Africa for three and half years, but so many things ring true…the respect to elders, the cornmeal food (in SA, it’s called “pap”), going on safari…makes me miss it lots!

  42. ashley says...

    I think you should write a book about this. I would love to read it and it would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift!

    • Katherine says...

      I would so buy that!!

  43. Lauren says...

    I think the comment about squirrels is really funny – and I totally get it. When I was in Kenya year ago with a handful of other Americans, we went to some hot springs and there were a bunch of people taking a picture of something, so we went to go see what it was. Alas, it was a squirrel. Coming from Wisconsin, we have tons of them, but it was really interesting to see people so excited to see a squirrel, which is rare in Kenya.

  44. Texas Jak says...

    That lead photo is so beautiful. I am a single, childless fan of Cup of Jo and this series has been my favorite for a while now. I learn so much about other cultures and about people in general.
    This post was a wonderful addition to an already wonderful array of stories shared. Thank you for sharing and educating all us fans!

    • That photo was taken at the Gatamaiyo Forest Nature Reserve, with a gorgeous sunrise over the Nairobi cityscape (the campsite was just 40 minutes outside Nairobi!). It was such a magical moment, and I was so glad my friend Laura was able to capture the moment!

    • Agreed 100%. I stopped following Cup of Jo for a long time (just lost a general interest in blogs) but this series has brought my right back — I just spent a good couple hours going through it! Really well done.

  45. Flavia says...

    As a Kenyan and a mum it’s very interesting to read this… it triggers abit of introspection:-).
    I however differ abit with Tara’s assessment of Tantrums/Discipline… When we were growing up we knew better than to throw a tantrum – the consequences would be dire. Today’s parents have loosened up a bit but I think it’s still the same logic. A parent can give a child just one ‘look’ and they would immediately think twice about the tantrum…

  46. Elli says...

    loved this! those little girls are so lucky to grow up there, with such interesting parents

  47. Calliope says...

    Kenya has been on my bucket list for years. I think I’ve put it off too long. These photos are so beautiful, I kinda want to leave today!

    • Karibu sana, Calliope! ;)

  48. Bianca says...

    Simply just love this series! I re-read many of them! Such a lovely family, living in a gorgeous setting!

  49. Cinthya says...

    I love these series! I think pregnancy, labor and the afterbirth period of supporting the new mother is so wonderful, and is a practice that would benefit new mothers here in the U.S, too. In Spanish it’s called “cuarentina” or “quarantine” and it’s meant to cover the post-partum period of 40-60 days where the health, rest and well-being of the mom is the focus of the extended family.

    I’m fascinated by her observations on child discipline. Not a mom, but I tend to have good skills to get kids to avoid tantrums without fuss and one of the ways I accomplish this is by rarely blurting “No!”

    I’ve been teaching violin lessons to compliment my income this summer, and have tutored children since my teens; I also watch over my nephews/nieces frequently and if the kids are misbehaving, I just talk to them as I would to a peer adult; albeit in a somewhat softer tone. I simply state what usually happens during such behavior and then ask them a questions, like “Are you bored? Me too” or “Try not to run too fast without looking; aunt C cut her knees many times when she was little”…etc, etc, etc.
    By starting a conversation, no matter how brief, you engage them and they will listen to you.

    The comment about air conditioning was too funy :)

  50. Lauren E. says...

    Not to get political, but this post reinforced my belief that beautiful wild animals should be left where they are, in the wild, as opposed to mounted on a hunter’s wall. Such a fantastic post.

  51. Jessica says...

    This is my favourite of the series yet! What a beautiful family, culture, and country. So inspiring in so many ways!

  52. This one was so fascinating! I admire Tara immensely! Thanks for sharing.

  53. Karen T. says...

    Well done! And Tara seems like such an amazing woman and mom. What an awesome life (but the ants! That would!!

    • Hahaha, I love a LOT of things about Kenya, but I’m not going to lie, the ants were not my favorite moment… :) Luckily, it was a bizarre one-off experience, which hasn’t been repeated since!

  54. I’d like to note how much I absolutely love this series. It is so interesting, even for someone without a little one yet! Thank you for sharing!

  55. I would like to disagree with Tara on discipline. A Kenyan child knows exactly what will happen if they try a tantrum because a small smack, pinch or even through war is allowed as long as they don’t get hurt and more still if a child trys something in public the punishment will be carried out in public and to spare themselves from shame they better behave.

  56. kennedy mutuma says...

    aaaw!!1st of all i have to say am happy for you and your family on the wonderful children u seem to be raising….they are blessed to have you and your husband for parents because you are engaged in their lives…it is a very inspired blog and i am learning the importance of my cultural activities for i seem to take them for granted. your words here brought my grown self to tears of pride and joy in seeing how being in our country has meant to you….all the best!!!

    • WOW, thanks so much, Kennedy! I’m so glad you were so touched by this post. Kenya is a wonderful place full of amazing people and traditions… :)

  57. Oh, I loved so much about this. Just fascinating.
    Imagine having all those birds in your back yard!? And I was giggling at Claire’s exotic squirrel. Thanks so much for sharing.

  58. Tess says...

    Fantastic post, definitely my favourite in the series, even though I may be a little biased. Well done Tara! X

    • Love you, Tess! xx

  59. P.S. My husband and I are also living abroad (no kids though) and currently on a “monthly country” adventure where we’re moving to a new place every 30 days. We’re planning to settle back down in the States in January, but posts like this are SO inspiring. Thinking we’ll need to take a detour to Kenya! ;)

    • Let us know if you pass through Kenya! :)

  60. I’ve sponsored a Kenyan child (well, now aged 21!) and her family for seven years now. I learned so much about her homeland from this post!

  61. I just love this series so much. I find myself reading section after section to my husband! So fascinating to see how other cultures live.

  62. JW says...

    I absolutely loved reading this!! But I think the other reason why kids don’t throw tantrums is because they know they’ll get seriously spanked haha :D I’m Kenyan and it happened to me a lot, and I see it when young children or even my small sister tries to throw a tantrum. You’re usually first given a scary warning look to remind you of what will happen if you choose to go down that road haha :D GREAT ARTICLE THOUGH! LOVED IT!

  63. Mabel Mwachirembe says...

    absolutely fantastic read, youve really captured how it is being a mom in Kenya,I just wanted to add onto what Tara said about children not throwing tantrums…In Kenya we wait for the cues on what the child needs,If they are ready to sleep they will sleep we dont force a bed time and when they choose to eat, be it desert we are just happy that the child ate something so no force feeding..unless its makes it easier as no one wants to be forced to do something they wouldnt want..and releases any pressure from the parents..once again amazing read!

  64. sarah says...

    loved, it i am a kenyan and a mom and everything you said is true. you have your facts right tara.

  65. Klara says...

    Tara, your girls are beautiful!

  66. prudence marule says...

    the parent name thing is true in South Africa as well. my mom is called “Mama Kabelo” which is a bit unfair since my sister and i are twins… but she came first so shes considered older.

  67. Mercy says...

    Tara seems to have such a beautiful heart too! One can feel it when reading this piece! Viva Tara and your beautiful family :)

  68. Loved reading this, seems a world away from Toddler starting Kindergarten this year and me worrying about school shoes…these kids get their baths outside surrounded by wild animals!! So much cooler ;-)

  69. Kieni Githinji says...

    On the discipline part when it comes to Kenyan children, I believe this has got more to do with disciplining of the children by the parents and community in general. This leads to children learning to be well behaved in public. Discipline varies from spanking to withdrawal of privileges.

    I am currently taking a parenting class and based on research that has been carried out if you discipline your child properly for the first 4 years then you may not have to actively engage in it for the rest of their lives

    • Is this THE Kieni Githinji, the radio presenter? WOW! Thanks so much for reading, and for your insights! I’m fascinated by this parenting class, and would love to hear more! :)

    • Sam says...

      i am a bit late on this but what a beautiful post! While many of these ring true I too was a bit surprised about the point that Kenyan parents gave away everything to their kids. To me it has more to do with the education and the authority Kenyan and ( dare I say African?) parents impose on their kids. From my own memory, I never saw my mum getting into the “friend” zone that some parents may get into these days and sometimes a simple “dont even try” look was enough to keep us from misbehaving. Rgds, S

  70. Pepeo Creations a company located in Nairobi sells African dolls. Check out the website for your next purchase of an African doll.

  71. These are my favorite posts, and this one in particular was so interesting! The story about her little girl thinking of a squirrel as an exotic animal is very sweet and really puts life into perspective.

    • Both of my kids are OBSESSED with squirrels! It’s so sweet, I love it… :)

  72. I really love this series – and what a beautiful family! I particularly loved the story about the safari trip (sounds magical)! It’s fascinating to hear about our differences and similarities. I grew up in South Africa and the picture of the cornmeal took me right back to my childhood (I could just about taste it)! We also had the same wire cars as toys. Thanks for the unexpected trip down memory lane!

  73. Indians have that same mentality about not serving cold beverages to people with a cold. I remember one time my mother and I were visiting family in India and I came down with a pretty bad cold and sore throat. All I wanted was ice cream to soothe my throat, and my aunt got into an argument with my mother – who, by the way, is a doctor – about how she shouldn’t give me ice cream while I have a cold because it would make me worse. It would have been hilarious if I hadn’t felt so crappy.

  74. Katherine says...

    This one is soooo good

  75. suzie says...

    My name is Nyambura, after my kikuyu grandmother, I grew up in nairobi with bi-racial parents… experiencing much the same as Nyambura and her little sister in this story. Really excited to see a post about parenting. My parents didnt have many of the amenities that this family had, but we had much the same life, afro’s, the attention, tea and family.

    very cool. :-)

    • WOW, my daughter is your namesake! And the fact that you’re also from a multi-racial family, you guys are like long lost twins… ;) I’m telling her about you right now!

  76. What a beautiful article. Thanks for this insight into someone else’s world in Kenya…delightful morning reading with my cup of jo :)

  77. lomagirl says...

    My friend has a good friend in Botswana that has a line of dolls for African girls- contact me for more info as I’ll have to search for it a bit.

  78. LOVED this post. One of my favorite if not my favorite. I spent some time in Kenya and yes, everything rings so true. I can feel Kemya through this post :-). Really fascinating!

  79. L.R. says...

    Lovely! This is my favorite yet. I really appreciate how she keeps her own privilege in perspective.

  80. Wangui says...

    This was nice, got me all nostalgic about home. I’m a Kenyan mom living in the U.S. married to an American husband. Just like you I wanted to live abroad and have some adventures. It’s really great that you have adopted to the Kenyan culture.
    I teach my kids a bit of Swahili and they experience the cultural food ( ugali, chapati etc)
    About the discipline, I live in a state that allows spanking and my American friends spank their kids. Oddly I don’t and I was raised with a lot of spanking in Kenya.

    Thanks for showing the beauty of our country and what a lovely place it is.

  81. Samone says...

    Loved this post. Curious to know, what is your husbands family’s views on female circumcision? Is this a discussion you’ve had to have?

    • There are only certain tribes in Kenya that actually still practice FGM, and fortunately, my husband’s tribe is not one of them (at least not now – maybe in the past!). So FGM has never been a concern or a conversation we had to have. I know some women and girls still suffer this terrible practice, and FGM was also part of Obama’s recent speech in Kenya about leaving bad traditions behind, and treating women and girls like equals in Kenya!

  82. jess dycus says...

    What a beautiful family you have, Mama Claire. Thank you for sharing what looks to be incredible, rich life you and your husband are crafting for your family.

  83. Very interesting to hear the insights on discipline! My husband is Indian and I find the same thing to be true of the parents I’ve met there (and Indians in the U.S) but at the same time I wonder is it more a middle/upper class phenomenon in both cultures, or actually true of the whole culture? Who knows. Definitely isn’t my style of “discipline”, but whatever. :) Anyway, beautiful pictures of your kids and loved reading this addition to the series- one of my favorites so far. Definitely admire the importance given to mothers & the normalcy of breastfeeding in west African countries too…

    • Archana A says...

      Hi Hannah! I’m Indian too – I think here the responsibility of disciplining our children lie solely with the parents. But since here too, the belief is that it takes a village to raise a child, grandparents, grand aunts and uncles feel it’s their right to pamper the child as much as they’d like. I’m guessing it’s because they don’t have to worry about being the disciplinarian! My husband and I are firm with our daughter because we know that it’s necessary, but I am constantly having to request my father to not spoil her with too many sweets and goodies!

  84. This is my favorite parenting around the world post yet! What stuck out most was the bad luck associated with talking about a baby before they are born. My grandmother recently told me that when her children were little it was bad luck to buy clothing ahead of their age. She thinks it was because so many children still died young back then and only having the clothes needed for that age was emotionally better for the parents if something happened to the child. I wonder if it is for a similar reason in Kenya.

  85. Angela says...

    This is ridiculous, but how do you get your baby on your back without help? I’ve always wondered how African women did and and how on earth I was supposed to do it! I can’t do it by myself with my K’Tan or my Boba!

    • Suzie says...

      It’s not that hard. Its easier than it looks

    • Haha, Angela, it’s a mystery of babywearing! Actually, there are a few methods… My favorites are the “superman toss” and the “hip scoot.” If you search those on YouTube, you’ll find great tutorials!

    • Muthoni says...

      Hi Angela,

      The easiest way to get the baby on your back is to bend at a 90 degrees angle, such that your back is parallel to the ground, place the baby on your back .. stomach down, spread the child’s leg such that each is on either side, put your leso/ khanga and tuck it in below the baby’s bum, then tie the leso with one end passing over one hand and the other passing below the other hand.

      Easy Peasy!! In Africa we start practising the art with dolls

    • Angela says...

      Just now checking back in my comment- thank you everyone for your help! I really appreciate it!

  86. Kris says...

    Loved this! Made me miss home! I cannot wait to take my two boys to visit! And the reason for no tantrums–you will get spanked– for the tantrum and for bringing “shame” to the family?! You may be placated with being given what you want, but you can only push those buttons so far. It is generally thought that children should not cry.

  87. Love love love this series!

    The cold/warm drinks thing stuck out to me, because it’s the same here in China. Whenever I order a drink at a restaurant (water, soda, beer), I have to emphasize that I want it COLD!

  88. love this series ! absolutely fascinating !

  89. Ashley Obando says...

    Really enjoyed this one! It seems like Tara’s kids are being taught to appreciate nature in a way most kids aren’t.

  90. Lauren says...

    I really love everything about this post, but I really, really love that photo of that lioness! How badly do I want to go to Kenya!

    • Karibu sana… ;)

  91. I grew up in South Africa and a couple of these insights really hit home to me.
    I grew up in a small country town where I was (mostly) allowed to go everywhere by myself or with friends. We would spend hours riding our bikes around town or playing in the park, as long as we were home by curfew. Many of my friends lived on farms and there we had even more freedom. Sometimes you would see the parents at breakfast and not again until dinner.
    We called everyone Auntie or Uncle, or Mr or Mrs. Even family members were not allowed to be called by their first name. This definitely makes everyone feel like family and like a big community. You don’t get that in a big city, atleast not in my experience.
    My family moved to Brisbane, Australia when I was 10 and the culture shock was huge! There are alot of things I miss about growing up in South Africa, even though Australia is a much more liberal and relaxed country.
    I love this series!

  92. I really like that point that Tara made on discipline, that she doesn’t know which method is best in the long run. It’s very sweet to acknowledge that your chosen system of discipline might not be the only way that works :)

  93. Marlene says...

    I was so excited to see Kenya featured in this series! My husband and I recently lived in Kenya for two years and we really are hoping to live abroad again when we have kids. This post represents so many things that I know to be true about Kenya – it is such a beautiful country and Tara’s words and photos make me miss it!

  94. This is so interesting. I love hearing about other cultures and how families are different around the world. I think it’s very interesting how Kenyan children do not throw tantrums in public..I wonder how the parents are accomplishing this? It also is refreshing that the children get to actually going outside and play sports instead of being inside watching TV or playing games on an iPad/computer!! xx

  95. Jillian says...

    This was one of my favorite posts in this series! So informative and interesting. I hope you make a book out of these one day soon :)

  96. Farah says...

    Beautiful post. Makes me want to hop on a plane with my family and visit Kenya.

  97. Loved reading this, especially as MSF is my dream career…thanks for sharing!

  98. Carmen says...

    Love this! One of the best so far!

  99. This is so lovely I read it twice. What a beautiful family~

  100. Eva says...

    What a wonderful series, I loved how Claire explains the various kenyan traditions and culture ..however the reason the kenyan children don’t throw tantrums is cause mostly cause they belive in the not sparing the rod..if u embarrass your parents in public a Kenyan mum will beat you right there in front of might get a pinching’s an old tradition but it works ..

  101. What a fascinating and lovely read :) So wonderful to understand that although people are living in different cultures, the underlying love and care are the same :)

  102. Completely fascinating- I love reading these!

  103. Emily says...

    Fascinating and beautiful account of your life in Kenya Tara!
    I’m in the process of re-reading “Out of Africa” before I start “Circling The Sun.” Isak Dinesen describes Africa so beautifully, and I can’t get enough of it right now. Very timely post for me. Thank you for sharing Tara and her beautiful family’s story.

  104. Janna says...

    I grew up in Nairobi and lived in Upper Hill. I miss it so much and consider it my home– thanks for sharing this. I love people having a better perspective on what life in Nairobi is like. The pictures made me homesick, and now I’m craving ugali and sukuma.

  105. Mary Jenkins says...

    My favorite one yet. She is insightful and warm; I want to be friends with her. I LOVED the anecdote about the hammock on the safari. That was an incredible image!!

    • If you want to see and hear what it was like, you can see the video we took on YouTube (it’s a bit shaky at the beginning – sorry!):

  106. Osquito says...

    Love this series, I’m glad it is continuing. :)

    P.S. In rural Borneo I grew up hearing women called, in the local dialect, “mama (eldest child)” too! I am so surprised to see this certain tradition echoed halfway round the world.

  107. Isabelle says...

    Wow, I really loved this one. Tara is so insightful. I especially found the differences between the way Kenyans treat boys and girls, and the differences in discipline, to be interesting, because they’re things I’m dealing with right now with my 3-year-old girl. We try to tell her she can do anything boys do, and thankfully, in our Canadian society, that’s usually accepted to be true. The discipline piece is fascinating. Though it would be great to live without tantrums, I too am doing as Tara and her husband are and trying to make sure my daughter knows she can’t have whatever she wants all the time.

  108. Lindsey says...

    I never ever get tired of this series! I went back an re-read several just yesterday! Please continue as long as possible!

  109. Jess M says...

    Don’t know what’s more beautiful, those little girls or the African setting.

    Love reading these posts!

  110. Thank you for sharing! I always find this series so interesting and educational. So dessert before dinner huh? Not sure I’d be able to give into that one on a regular basis! – Charlie,

  111. Jim B says...

    Tara, what an amazing view into your day to day lives with incredible pictures to accompany it. I’m so glad to hear that you, Jesse and the girls are all well.


  112. Kim says...

    This is my favorite of the series so far! Such a radically different culture, but I love how much thought Tara has put into which traditions work for her family and which don’t – and why! Thank you for this brilliant series.

  113. These posts are by far my favorite. I haven’t had children yet – that’s not something I see in the near-future – but, I love seeing women raise their children in various cultures.

    This post allowed a little introspection, as I had a completely different idea of how life in Kenya would be – more so because without traveling there all of my preconceived notions were based off of bias media portrayals. Reading this post was a complete eye opener. I hope this series continues on. The world needs unbiased 1st person accounts because there is an obvious void of it.

    Thanks for giving a beautiful glimpse into your world, Tara!! Your girls have a light in their eyes!!


  114. Maker says...

    Probably my favorite post yet in this always incredible series. So touching and beautiful.

  115. Chiara says...

    This post is just amazingly interesting !

  116. I love this series so much. I was born in South Africa, now living in the UK, and was amazed at the African-ness of East Africa when I visited a few years ago. I love seeing how expats view the culture of child-rearing in the places they find themselves. I’ve gained so many insights from the various stories you’ve showcased.

  117. Celeste says...

    I love this series and this post was particularly heartwarming – I had the privilege of visiting/living in Nairobi several times before marriage and kids. I can’t wait to visit Kenya again and receive the title Mama TJ, my older son’s name! My husband and I hope to move to Kenya for a couple of years when our boys are a bit older so they can experience life in a predominantly Black country (we’re African American). Thank you for sharing Tara’s story, I can’t wait to check out her blog.

    • Karibu Kenya, Mama TJ! :)

  118. Polly says...


    • Stacey says...

      You said it!
      Tara, this was fascinating and a joy to read. I look forward to reading your blog over a cup of tea.

    • Stacey says...

      Oh and the song really brought a tear to my eye x

    • You guys are amazing… :)

  119. jeannie says...

    This is one of my favorite motherhood around the world stories so far! I love them all, but Kenya sounds so beautiful. I also love the tradition of calling a mother “Mama Claire” or whatever the child’s name. Thank you, Tara!

  120. kelly says...

    this was one of the best posts in the motherhood series so far! absolutely fascinating!

  121. Dianah says...

    I love this!!! I am a kenyan living in the US married to anAmerican. Raising our son here is very different from how I thought it would go. His family took a while to get used to me carrying the baby on my back in a leso. The naming of our son was a major issue too with me insisting that his name should have meaning…..the list is endless.

  122. What an awesome series! I love how encouraged breastfeeding is there! And what a rich experience your girls are getting in their life Tara! Do you think you’ll stay in Kenya when your girls are grown?

    Her Heartland Soul

    • We have no plans to leave… :)

  123. Rebekka says...

    I loved this post! I’ve just visited Uganda 2 weeks ago with my little 15-months-old baby. The cultures must have many things in common, I loved reading about Tara’s life in Nairobi.

  124. Sarah says...

    This is wonderful! What a great look into life in Kenya.

  125. Vashnie says...

    This was such an excellent read. I am from South Africa & could relate so much to Jesse & her experiences, as many/most of the traditions in Kenya are quite similar here. Although I grew up in an Indian family, my cousins & I were frequently carried on our house keeper`s back as babies & having a bath outdoors is something I will always remember fondly:)

  126. Clare says...

    I lived in Kenya for 3 years after college and this post brought back so many memories! My husband and I are so excited to take our future kids there to visit someday.

  127. Maryse says...

    Fascinating. Once again. I love your blog!

  128. Roxan says...

    Fascinating! It looks so beautiful there. I really love this series and the opportunity to learn about daily life in other parts of the world. Thank you!

  129. Blake says...

    This is my favorite post of this series so far. I lived in Kenya for three months and fell in love with it….what a beautiful country. I would love to go back one day. Thank you for this post!

  130. Aga says...

    Love this post! Great that you featured an African country. This is the kind of environment I could see myself raising kids in, despite the fact that gender inequality and corruption are more definite in the global south. (And air conditioning, ice in everything that is already cold and no respect towards elders are things that irk me to no end living in North America!)

    • Yes can we please band together and turn down the rampant air conditioning in this country? It’s too cold everywhere, from stores to the subway to office buildings, and it’s also awful for the environment. I have a coworker who keeps a space heater at her desk during the summer and I’ve seriously considered getting one too, but it’s such a horrible waste of energy!

  131. yael steren says...

    I love these pieces! Also the clothes they wear have such vibrant colors! Simple and beautiful! xo yael

  132. Amy says...

    This post was SO interesting. I feel like I say that after each one. But each post is truly so unique, I absolutely love reading them.

  133. Frannie says...

    l love love love these :) Looking forward to the families I will “meet!”

  134. mm says...

    I dont have children, but love reading this series. I have learned so much!
    Beautiful family.

  135. I love getting insight on what motherhood means to different women in vastly different places of the world. It’s amazing the connectivity that can still be felt even though the environments and experiences might be different. It’s interesting to learn how her family’s multiracial identity was perceived by their community but in contrast how hard it is for her child to find a doll baby that mirrors her blackness. I think that kind of thing is important for a young child, especially a young girl so I love that she is adamant about her daughter having access to that sort of thing. Insightful read!

  136. wow, this is my favorite motherhood post yet! so interesting!

  137. Danielle says...

    I enjoyed reading this interesting post very much. I also like the photos. This is a great series; I am always looking forward to the next post.

  138. Martha says...

    Thanks Tara! You represented Kenya well!
    -another expat Mom in Nairobi

  139. mariz says...

    Lovely! I love this series. It’s just such a beautiful way to experience the world of motherhood. Kenya has to be one of my faves too.This would make an excellent book, to give to new mums and dads.

    • Amy says...

      It would make an awesome book!

    • Alexandra says...

      I was just scrolling down to comment that I would LOVE it if this series were made into a book!

    • Aga says...

      Yes, great idea!

  140. Di says...

    What a wonderful post. I am so impressed with the thought Tara has taken to understand her new home country and her affection and respect show in the way she thoughtfully describes the customs and traditions. As a foreigner living in the US, it often saddens me to hear some of the judgement passed on different ways of doing things in other places, including by some mothers in this series. Bravo Tara!

    • Georgina says...

      I agree! It really seems as though Tara is very open to other cultures and ways of doing things – very refreshing as a fellow non-American!

    • Olma says...

      I agree too. There is no judgement felt here from Tara unlike some other ones, just acceptance that things are different.
      Also, what a beautiful family, glowing from the inside out.

  141. Katie F. says...

    I like all the women in this series, but this is my very favorite yet. I lived in Kenya for 5 months pre-children. My husband and I want to take our daughter there and this made me long for family time back in that beautiful country!

  142. That outdoor bath looks heavenly.

  143. Meg says...

    My favorite Motherhood Monday post!!!! This was fascinating and Tara has such a beautiful family. Thank you so much for sharing these stories.

  144. KN says...

    What a wonderful post, and what a lovely family! My mom used to tell me “You’re growing too fast, I’m going to put a brick on your head!” so I got a laugh out of that part!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so sweet!

  145. I’m an Australian living in Nairobi – the same neighbourhood as Tara actually. It’s so lovely to read this interview with her (I’ve seen her blog before – I think we must have mutual friends!)

    While I don’t yet have children, my husband and I have a gorgeous black labrador named Rum. We had a neighbourhood party last year and following the ‘Mama Claire’ logic, one of our young Kenyan neighbours came up to ask, “Can I have a soda, Mama Rum?” It was very sweet and yes, a lovely way for children to engage adults.

    I know Kenya has got a bad wrap in the media at times over safety and security, but I think Tara captures many of the amazing benefits of living in this country. Thanks for including her story in the series!

    • Lauren says...

      Mama Rum! So sweet!!

  146. I am disheartened to hear about the corruption and double standards for boys and girls…so happy to hear that Tara was able to stand her ground when dealing with a parking violation and getting her car back! I loved hearing about the really sweet traditions of child naming and traveling with a little tub for insta brush baths in the equatorial heat! The family photos are adorable and the one of the lion taking a little yawn is precious!! xo


    adorn la femme

  147. Ashley says...

    These are far and away my favorite posts. As a mother of two with another on the way I find Global motherhood endlessly fascinating. This post in particular has been a favorite.
    Thanks for these. I am sure sourcing the mothers takes doing!

  148. This is a great post! I am pregnant with my first child due in September and I recently read “How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm.” It is filled with parenting advice from all around the world. Makes me feel better knowing that the American parenting is good, but not the end-all-be-all in terms of how to raise happy, healthy kids. A must read!

    • That book sounds fantastic! Just requested it from the library. Thanks for the tip!