When I first started blogging just over 4 years ago one of the first blogs I read was Catharine’s which was called Withenay Wanders. I loved reading her blog and the support I would get from her on mine. She was always there with a kind word or advice in those early days of motherhood.
It’s now my turn to support her and introduce you to Catharine who has only gone a written a book!
So please say a big hello to Catharine…..
In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree
If only bringing up children was easy.
I had wonderful images of soft, cuddly babies, giggling and gurgling. I had hands held as
we walked to school. I had long chats about things that matter.
I’ve had all of those…but also the smelly nappies, the toddler tantrums, the stomping and screaming, their inability to extricate themselves from small screens or games.
Then again, I also might not have taken on marriage if I’d really understood it meant moving to Africa. My husband had always wanted to go but I remained in denial. Then he got the funding to do research (to do with the immune system and malnutrition in children – no, I didn’t understand it either) and we were off to Zambia. By then, ‘we’ included a 2.5 year old toddler and a 7 month old baby.Who would take on motherhood if they knew all that it involved?
The children were a large part of my anxiety about going. I’m married to a paediatrician but somehow he is never around when they are actually ill! What if they got malaria? Now I’ve watched Mary and Martha [a one-off special on BBC1 about ten days ago, in advance of Comic Relief] and I know that malaria kills children. Hundreds of them. All the time. No wonder I didn’t want to go.
I should have been grateful. Part of why we moved to Lusaka was because it only had a risk of malaria for six months of the year, during the rainy season. We arrived in June (just as the cold of winter hit – honestly, daytime temperatures were only 19 degrees centigrade!) and I quickly had to get used to mosquito nets over the bed. I hated how restricted the conical shaped ones made me feel, and that they meant I couldn’t read a book before going to sleep. My children found it easy to tear holes in their netting, which didn’t appease my anxieties.
Even Happy-Birthday-Daddy was to try to prevent mosquitoes getting into the house. Happy-Birthday-Daddy was a lavender plant. I had been told that mozzies didn’t like strong smells (and that was why repellent worked) and so I bought my husband a lavender plant for his birthday, which was to be planted outside the bedroom window. The fact that there was little soil, a lot of shade and no water there was beside the point! It was a very excited toddler who named the flower – one of those delightful occasions when a child’s saying sticks. Miraculously, it survived for longer than you might think.
In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree is a journey of discovery as I settled into a new culture and a new way of life, and (of course) motherhood, which is enough of a journey for anyone. It also offers a glimpse of some of the beauty of Zambia, with its rich wildlife, stunning scenery and wonderful people. And, it turns out, a pretty perfect place to bring up young children.
Though it doesn’t stop them screaming…
The blurb on the back cover:
Organising her husband, toddler and babe in arms, three suitcases, two rucksacks, a pram and a travel cot onto a plane ready for a new life in Zambia is complicated enough. Given Catharine’s fear of malaria and tropical diseases and the anxieties of moving beyond the reach of friends and family, she wonders how she was persuaded to move at all. Then, just as they approach the airport, it appears that they don’t have their passports.
In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree is a heartwarming and thought provoking tale about Catharine Withenay’s first year living abroad as an expatriate wife. She chronicles her family’s adventures as they settle into a new culture far from home. Nothing is as simple as it should be, from buying furniture to getting a haircut. As she copes with motherhood and the injustices of poverty and healthcare in Zambia she wonders: could she ever come to call this place home?
Catharine has variously worked as a waitress, shop assistant, general office employee, church lay worker and accountant before taking up a career as the wife of a doctor. In her spare time she enjoys playing the cello, watching cricket, preaching and winning at board games, but not all at once. This is her first book.
How to buy it and be in touch with me
In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree is available on Amazon from Monday 18 March (in the US or UK).
Follow Catharine on twitter @c_withenay
I have a copy of In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree to giveaway to one lucky winner.
Just follow the instructions in the rafflecopter widget below.
Closing Date 16th April 2013
a Rafflecopter giveaway