Power Outage: A Perfect Moment

On the last Monday of each month Lori at Write Mind Open Heart posts about a perfect moment she has had. She says, “it is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one.” I really love the idea of being mindful of perfect moments and dwelling on them when they happen, so this month I am participating. To read other perfect moments or to link up your own, visit Lori’s post.

The electricity (and sometimes lack there of) at the conservation project here has been a real adjustment for me. Other projects we have worked with have used solar power and have been off the grid so as long as you managed your power, you were never without it. When we have worked in start up projects and my husband was building the headquarters, we didn’t have any power but we were set up not to need it and we didn’t expect it. Here we are on mains power through ESCOM (Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi), their tag line is “towards power all day everyday.” All I can say is that they have a long way to go to reach that goal.

The power always seems to go off at the most inopportune times and we rarely know how long the power cut will last. I have numerous memories of nursing Kooks in the hundred and twenty degree heat of October, her sweaty little body adding even more heat to mine as I held a little battery operated fan that sprayed a tiny mist of water and alternated between cooling myself, Kooks, and Boo trying to will the power back so I could put on the air conditioning. There are also the days I get everything into the crockpot, something I purchased specifically because we have mains power, first thing in the morning and am so proud of myself for checking dinner off the to do list so early in the day only to have the power go out an hour later. I have a love hate relationship with ESCOM. Having ESCOM allows us to have air conditioning, a luxury that I really appreciate and that was not a possibility with solar power, but it also means that a power cut is a huge inconvenience because I expect to have power all day everyday – I’m not on board with this towards deal.

Apparently I don’t take power cuts very well and a string of obscenities often flow freely from my mouth when the power goes off. I found out what I sound like when my parents came to visit last year. We flew to Durban for a beach vacation and when we were on the runway just about to take off, the lights in the cabin went out and everyone got quiet and Boo, who was two and sitting on my mother’s lap, threw her hands in the air and shouted, “Oh for f**k sake!” It was not my proudest parenting moment. I was in another row and pretended that I didn’t know Boo or my mother. I might have covered Kooks’s ears and said something like, “can you believe some people?” I have gotten better with the obscenities in front of the kids since then. Now they usually just shout at the sky, “why ESCOM why!” or sometimes just “uh oh ESCOM!” One time Boo suggested that ESCOM go sit by itself until it could behave.

So this brings me to my perfect moment. My kids are acutely aware of how much a power cut distresses me and so they have taken to grabbing their toy tool kit and climbing up on the kitchen table trying to reach the ceiling fan with their hammers and screwdrivers to fix it. It’s really adorable to watch and a touching role reversal to see them trying to make it better so that I don’t throw a tantrum. The other day Boo had tried in vain to fix the power and was just about to give up when Kooks grabbed a hammer and stretched up on her tippy toes. Just as she reached her maximum height possible we heard the power click on and the fan started to turn. The look of shock and then excitement on Kooks’s face was priceless and she basked in our cheers as we confirmed that she had in fact fixed the power. It was a magical moment and it was perfect. Now when Kooks comes whining to me that she can’t do something, I remind her about how she fixed the power. If she can fix ESCOM, she can do anything.

Perfect Moment


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16 Responses to “Power Outage: A Perfect Moment”

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    LOVE this story! “Oh, for f*ck’s sake!” I know that exact same thing is going to happen to me someday. Your kids are so precious.

  2. I love this post!

    I remember flying to visit my parents in Nicaragua for the first time. I got there and there was no power AND no water. The power came back on eventually (it was a very similar situation to ESCOM, I believe) but we didn’t get water for a week.

    How wonderful that this became a perfect moment – and I love Lori’s idea of recording a perfect moment that is perfect because you make it so.

  3. Suzy says:

    Oh power outages drive me crazy, but here in the US I know they just aren’t the same as where you are. Our Nicaraguan friends tell us about their power outages that go on for weeks.

    I love how your perfect moment was your kids trying to fix the power for you. What a sweet moment!

    (Visiting from PMM)

  4. That’s fantastic. I’m smiling ear to ear at this story.

    I love how you’ve turned ESCOM into your very own epithet. And that your kids try to keep you from having a tantrum. And that they felt so empowered by the timing of the power!

  5. Shannon says:

    If Kooks can fix ESCOM (oh how I loathe ESCOM) then she is truly a miracle worker and can look forward to great things in life.

  6. Kathy says:

    Love this post! I was laughing out loud relaying your story to my husband! I know I tell you this all the time, but I so appreciate reading your post and getting a glimpse of life (specifically yours) on the other side of the world. I can’t imagine a power company that strives “toward” having electricity all the time! That is too funny! Like Lori, that is awesome the way you and your kids refer to ESCOM and how the girls try to help you through those losses of power. We have only been without power for an extended period a few times in my adult life and it was so hard. I can only imagine it were coming and going semi-regularly. Anyway, thank you for sharing and so glad you were able to find perfect moments in your power losses.

    P.S. Your story of being on the airplane really cracked me up! Still laughing in my mind thinking about your little girl’s reaction! 🙂

  7. Justine says:

    This is FABULOUS!!! I love both Boo’s obscenity and Kooks’ powerful hammer. What an empowering, magical moment for a child to experience!

    My daughter “blows” traffic lights from red to green for me. Isn’t it precious that they want to fix the world for us, too?

  8. Heather says:

    Too brilliant. And so sweet of the kids to want to fix it for you.
    Here in SA we have Eskom. It really depends where you live as to how bad things are. My work used to be so bad. Our home is actually fine. The first place we lived also had cuts. One year they had this “bright” idea to do “load sharing” – certain evenings without power. Apparently it did more harm than good so we haven’t had it again. My hubby’s work has a generator at least.

  9. LOL!! I had tears in my eyes. Thanks for this funny story. It made my day!

  10. Shannon says:

    @ Heather ESCOM Malawi does load sharing, at least in Lilongwe. Every flipping night the electricity goes out for 3 hours just at dinner and lasting until after the kids bedtimes. Thank heavens for generators!

  11. Jjiraffe says:

    Rad. I love the “For F*** Sake! moment.

    ESCOM and the “towards power” is an interesting motto. The qualifier of “towards” implies that they’re trying but might not deliver?

  12. Mel says:

    I love this story so much! Though now I feel guilty for complaining about our power outage this summer 🙂 You sort of forget how good you have it, how a single 5-day power outage compares to literally not knowing minute to minute what you’ll be able to accomplish due to a lack of power. I’ll take the 5-day anyday over not knowing. I don’t roll well with surprises. So I applaud you AND I get the need for cursing.

    Though I cracked up at this: their tag line is “towards power all day everyday.” All I can say is that they have a long way to go to reach that goal.

  13. St. Elsewhere says:

    Well, they tagline must be an aspirational one.

    I hate power cuts too.

    LOL@the effect we have on our kids.

    And the pictures are priceless.

    I must say, I was taken aback, reading your blog: it seems that your location itself adds an exotic touch to your blog.

  14. Becky says:

    The plane scene= literally laughing out loud!!!

  15. Claire Lewis says:

    i try to instill the same “you can do anything” in Tabitha… until the other day she said she wants to be a giraffe, not a pretend one, a real one because “they only have them in Mfuwe, not here”

    from another wilderness mama in North Luangwa NP, Zambia

    big hugs to those girls Jody, hope we can all catch up again with the tribes xxx

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      So funny Claire – it would be wonderful to get everyone together again. I can’t believe how long it’s been and that I haven’t met your littlest ones yet. Hugs to all of you too!