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Mothering Sunday 2014: A Mother’s Choice

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She said she was ‘only a stay at home mum’ as she avoided making eye contact with me. I felt bad all of a sudden, it seemed as though I had attempted to open a can of worms that she may have wanted to stay closed forever. The word ‘only’ in the statement and the silence in her voice after I asked what she did for a living seemed to stir something up within me, about the labour of motherhood.

The tale of the working mother vs the stay at home mum is not a new one.
Many women are vocal about their opinions on what method is right and what method is wrong. Many working mothers feel guilty that they are not 100% available when their children are growing up. Whilst some working mothers ask the question; ‘so what do you do from 9-5 when the children are at school? Watch the television in your boubou?’

Obviously, some stay at home mums brand working mothers as selfish, ambitious, and sometimes as undevoted parents. Whilst some of these women silently wish they could actually have some sort of work outside the home.
Women seem to be the main culprits when it comes to criticising their fellow sisters. We criticize too many personal decisions; mothering skills, breastfeeding in public, losing track of their children in the supermarket, children crying in first class on an airplane, chubby toddlers,or my pet peeve the fact that their child won’t stop wailing in in a restaurant. Many times, mothers are never to blame for these situations, and are often as embarrassed as the judgmental observer.

Recently, a friend of mine told me that she and her boyfriend had gotten to a stage in their relationship where they were talking about marriage and kids. She was very happy to share this news as she is convinced this is the man she is going to marry. They are so very cute together I have to tell you; they’ve even picked wedding dates and selected baby names well in advance. However, he wants her to give up her career when she has these children. He wants a wife who will be fully present to raise his children, as he fully capable of ‘bringing home the bacon’.

When she told me this I almost started to panic for her. You see, my friend is a career girl, she is driven, she is motivated, and she has worked really hard to get to where she is today. So when I asked her if she was ok with this idea, she said to me; ‘Of-course not! That will never happen’. I remained silent.

Women have been told several times that they cannot have it all; a husband, well-adjusted children, a trail blazing career and time to pamper themselves. Having it all is a myth; that society has tried to sell to us over and over again. I believe women can have all those things, as long as they truly want it and are willing to work for it. Even though nobody can have it all, we can have a lot of several good things, but it is impossible for anyone, male or female to have everything good. There has to be a balance; that is the law of nature. However, choosing a career over your children or your children over your career should not be one of those things that determine whether you have a balance.

You may say that I am biased, because I was raised by a working mother, who was herself raised by a working mother; who as a working mother raised five working mothers. I somehow feel this to be part of my family heritage, just as it might be for someone else to be a mum who stays at home.

Several times in my life when I have spoken to my mother about career woes and future dreams, she would always remind me that as long as I was doing something I loved, I would be ok. She would remind me of the lady who had been selling her tomatoes at Alade market in Ikeja for several years. One day whilst my mum was buying tomatoes from her ‘customer’; she heard someone call out ‘MAMA DOCTOR’! And she turned around. Lo and behold they were talking to my mum’s ‘tomato-seller’. Yes oh, she had been working and saving to send her only daughter to medical school in Lagos.

The woman’s daughter had recently graduated and started working that year and everyone at the market was very proud and excited about it. ‘Their daughter’ was a doctor! They were elated and had to tell the world!
You see this woman had done this on her own merit, with no help from any man. She had sent her hardworking daughter to medical school to help her fulfil her dreams. My mum assumed that she was going to be leaving Alade market seeing as her daughter was now a doctor, but she exclaimed ‘Ah Kilode? Ise ni ogun ise!’ (Suggesting that she won’t leave the market, as hard work is the medicine for poverty)

To some, that may seem to be another labour of love, but I think she still enjoyed her work. Being around her friends, meeting new people every day, being a silent witness to the lives of others! (Trust me to romanticize everyone’s job!)

So back to my friend and the lady I met who said she was only a stay at home mum. I cannot judge you if you feel that being at home is what is best for both you and your children. So don’t judge yourself either.

Do not put yourself down because you have made a choice for yourself and for your family. As long as you are true to yourself, and love your children as best as you can, I’m sure you’re doing a good job!
Happy mother’s day to all the women out there, who are raising the leaders of tomorrow we love you and more grease!

Photo Credit: midgs.com
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Damilola Ogunrinde is a lady in training who loves to write about anything and everything. Her passions are varied and range from sitting at home reading Jane Austen to Parasailing on the pacific! When she isn’t reading or hanging out with friends, she is in the kitchen baking something sweet!

Damilola Ogunrinde is a disruptor who loves to answer the questions you are too afraid to ask. She is the curator of the African Card game for couples and friends African Lovin' Follow African Lovin' on social media @loveandtrivia

22 Comments

  1. chikita

    March 30, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    awww lovely piece dami! Happy mothers day to all our mothers.. <3

  2. hassanat

    March 30, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    this is a wonderful piece,i am inspired.though i am not a mother but of course i am a future mother and this something every woman should read.

  3. B

    March 30, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I can totally relate with d “career woman” syndrome, am a wife, a mother $ a practising lawyer . Believe me when I say it is not easy. There are days I just want to scream cos no matter how hard my day has been, I still have to cook $ take care of d home. I really don’t have to work cos my hubby is comfortable but dere is something gratifying about” hussling”.

  4. temitope

    March 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    nice piece. Well, I personally believe its whatever rocks your boat as a woman and mother. It should also be noted that the husband is an important key factor here, a man who doesn’t want a woman to work so she can stay home and look after the kids must be willing to her an agreed sum as a salary which will course exclude money for housekeeping, the children so she doesn’t have to run to him every time she needs money to buy something for herself. @least that’s my own opinion and for me to agree to this ,the man has to be rich enough , not that its easy but its all about understanding between a couple. But ladies, whatever the case is, working mum or stay at home mum, ensure you have some hidden cash or investment somewhere (no matter how little) that you can always fall back upon in the case of unforeseen and future circumstances.

  5. Dr ng

    March 30, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Yeah,women are the lst to criticize their fellow women wen it comes to issues concerning motherhood.what rocks one’s boat may sink another’s.dnt give up ur career to please somebody only for u to scorn @others who choose their career.life is all about choices,choose wisely n be cool with d later consequences.#no hating,no jealousy#

  6. Pade

    March 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day, interesting piece so talking to me, my husband aunt yesterday was asking when I would quit my job to face my children and really I gave re the answer never, not because I love to work but the fact that in this day and age women can no longer take the back seat. I know I contribute a great deal to the family by the fact that I have to cloth myself and indulge in my luxuries, if I should add my lifestyle to what my husband contribute then we might never move forward. To sitathome mums I really envy you would love to be like you but my larger than life lifestyle would not permit me.
    NB: maybe when my hubby become a politician and the money is more than enough I will reconsider, but till then, I will keep working to keep up with my lifestyle.

    • sigh

      March 30, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      My sister, i no dey judge you oh but please, do you work just for yourself and your material needs? That’s it?

  7. always happy

    March 30, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Temitope… no vex oh but can you please enlighten me about “hidden” cash or investment somewhere. why must it be “hidden”, is it a taboo or is it not permitted culturally.

    • temitope

      March 30, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      Sweetheart, by “hidden” I do not mean that it should be kept as a secret to the husband. Hidden in this context means money kept somewr safely like in a fixed deposit or sometin. You know we women and shopping, so I’m just advising thaat while buying all dose expensive bags n shoes, we should remember to keep some money aside in the case of unforseen contigencies. I used the word “hidden” to refer to putting the money safely in a place where u can’t get easy access to it cos its so easy to keep money aside and end up spending it on that lastest prada bag.

  8. Dr. N

    March 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I think d stay d point for me, is we should not be apologetic about our decision. Whether u work or stay home, feel no need to justify yourself. You made d decision, so hold up your head! Which one is “I am only a stay at home mom”? Except I am kidding among friends. I would say, with pride, I chose to stay at home, what do you do? That way, d attention shifts to d other person. Let her boast about her accomplishments. I will tell (if I have to) , of how well adjusted my kids are because I am there for them. Though that would be only to defend myself if she pressed me. Great read.

    drnsmusings.wordpress.com

  9. Dr. N

    March 30, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    # I think the point not I think the stay

  10. anonymous

    March 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Can’t imagine myself staying at home nd waiting for a man to cloth nd feed me.
    Its working mother all d way…God will sure teach me ow to take care of my kids.

  11. omalichaspeaks.blogspot.com

    March 31, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Beautiful piece. Mother’s really rock! Every mother should be so proud of themselves- working moms, stay at home moms, single moms etc.

  12. omalichaspeaks.blogspot.com

    March 31, 2014 at 2:43 am

    **proud of herself

  13. Patricia

    March 31, 2014 at 2:47 am

    To all mothers out, pat yourselves. On the back, you are unique,lovely and a tower of strengths. Thank God for your sacrifices and labour of love in shaping our tomorrow and raising the future generations. You all rock.

  14. Stephanie

    March 31, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Lovely one
    blogsvila.blogspot.com

  15. stay at home mum

    March 31, 2014 at 11:54 am

    For me been a stay at home mum was not a choice but happened to Me as a result of losing my job just before I got married n tried severally to get another one but nothing was forthcoming. Intially I used to be so ashamed to say I was a stay at home mum coz I was brought up by a very hardworking mum who instilled such values in me. I have always worked even when I was in the university. But after having my daughter n been able to dedicate my time to taking care of her, I am much more proud to say i am a stay at home. But I still long to work after my children have been raised to a particular level.
    NB: I do not lack a single thing, my husband provides my every need without asking. In short I have total control of all the money that comes in. I take holidays outside the country like twice a year. Even with all this I would still like to work, hopefully soon.

    • tinkerbell

      March 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      My dear you are one of the lucky ones!!! Very lucky in fact. And I salute your husband for doing that for you. He is a good man. If he was not doing all those things for you especially giving you control of the family funds, you would not be a very happy person. Over time, it will ruin your self-esteem, confidence, sense of worth/value, etc, etc…Just got off a brief stint of being a stay-at home mom and I ended up very unhappy. After my experience, I can confidently say that if the man does not treat the woman this way financially, it will harm the individuals involved and the marriage relationship. It takes a certain type of man and woman to make the stay-at-home-mom thingy work well. For me, I found that somehow my needs were not being met…there is nothing like having your own. Work ennobles…

    • TheresaO

      March 31, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      First of all, I must commend Damilola for a well written article. It is balanced and non-judgemental. Well done dear!

      I am also a stay at home mom and I know it was something I never ever wished for. I have always been fiercely independent and I vowed to earn my own money. I had heard too many stories of men who maltreated their stay-at-home wives, to do any different. But life happens and so I found myself at home with two small kids.

      It was difficult initially with regards to not being able to buy things I want or getting my requests turned down by hubby. Because he is not rich, he was prudent with money, unfortunately I interpreted this as stinginess. I would feel sad and wish i had my own money. My self-esteem was low and I felt ashamed and jealous when heard about my friends careers. It was after a while that I realized some important lessons:
      1. My self esteem should not be based on what I have but who I am. I am a unique person loved by God, endowed with talents, and made for a purpose: to be a blessing to my family & the world.
      2. I realized my motives for being a career woman were wrong. I wanted to be able to control everyone, even my husband. As a married woman, especially a Christian it is not such a great idea.
      3. God made my husband head of the home, not me. I am to assist him and respect his authority. Granted he is human and so makes mistakes, but I am to forgive him and support him. When it really is bad, I ‘report’ him to God. It saves me unnecessary stress because God is in charge. I often find myself peaceful and my husband always becomes better.
      4. My husband loves me even when he doesn’t always give me what i want. For instance we have a lovely home, but i wanted a new car. It wasn’t necessary, we couldn’t afford it at the time and the public transport is good where we stay. So he refused. This would have caused unnecessary quarelling before, but now I know better.
      5. I am doing a job being a stay-at-home mom and saving good money we would have spent on nannies. So why should I loose my self-esteem? My kids are yet to start school, so I am also a teacher to them, I take them to the parks, library, toddler-groups, get their vaccines, do crafts, etc. I am busy! But the greatest satisfaction is knowing I, not some stranger, gets to mould them in their formative years.

      I hope to go back to work after they are old enough to be in school. In the mean time, I also home based businesses. So I am teaching myself new skills like baking, sewing, etc. I refuse to feel bad for being a stay-at-home mom. It is quite a hectic job! 🙂

  16. jaz

    April 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I started working right after uni, even through my masters degree. I was able to go on holidays, rent an apartment and contribute my quota towards our wedding. I quit my job when my 1st child was only 6 months cos the company started owing it’s staff and there was no future for the company. It’s be four and half years since and I ve not been able to get a job despite my qualifications. I ve become Deskilled. On the home front all is well, God has been kind. Hubby is providing for the kids and I. We go on annual vacations to different countries, eat out frequently, acquire properties. Yet I’m not a proud stay at home mom. I ve done different types of businesses from home but not making much profit. I know my kids are well adjusted and my home is stable and cool. Hubby very supportive. I just cannot wait to get a job, go for conferences, write papers etc. I even dress up professionally to run errands. It’s that bad.

  17. FunkyW

    April 2, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Dammy, what a beautiful writeup! My mum left her job left when the third born was some months old, she said she couldn’t bear leaving her children with househelps, my dad was comfortable enough and the plan was to continue working when her children were older.

    But after about some years, dad’s business wasn’t doing so well. Mum’s home based businesses were yeilding very little profit and she tried to get a job in vain. Till date she talks about how she would have risen in her career had she waited, moreso, the higher you go the cooler it becomes, how she could have at least waited a few more years to collect gratuity or gone back to work shortly after she left. I think if she could, she’d make a different decision; the children may finally survive it unscathed
    and the mother may have only unfulfilled dreams ahead.

    I’m very grateful for her presence during our fomative years and I think that whoever is considering leaving her job should have a backup plan incase things don’t go as planned. There should also be a salary (no matter how small) from her husband especailly if he makes all the financial decisions. The decision to leave work is not easy but we all have different paths in life.

  18. seyiakano

    April 3, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Well written piece I must say. Been a single guy who has always admired the ambitious and goal-getting women who have done their very best to contribute to both career and family development, I’m many times tempted to wish for same. The key take away for me, is not about staying at home, because there are many stay-at-home moms that do not have time for their families either; engaging in one trivial issue or the other. What I think matters the most is the attitude of the woman towards enterprise (either as an employee or small business owner) and the development of her person. As much as I admire the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, who have made giant strides even in male dominated industries and still hold their families together, I remember the words of Anne-Marie Slaughter in her piece “Why Women Can’t Have it All” ; theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-cant-have-it-all/309020/ ; I realise that it’s never an easy thing for any woman. The role of the man is key in helping a woman strive to have it all and I always pray to be that man when the need arises. Beautiful piece I must say, once again!

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