It’s mother’s day again and every year around this time I think about all the amazing mothers that have helped us to accomplish so much. I think about how life has changed since when I was a child. I think about the sacrifices of women in times past, and the sacrifices I will undoubtedly be privileged to make for my future children. It is exciting to think about, and somewhat terrifying. Will I have to give up my career when the children come? Will I have to sacrifice my dreams to help my husband accomplish his? Will I have to become the manliest woman I can be just so that I can get to the top of my career? Those are some of the questions that keep running through my mind, and when I got the opportunity to interview Mrs. Elizabeth Ebi – I knew I would have to ask her all those questions.
Mrs. Ebi is a beautiful, intelligent, calm woman of poise and grace, who has made it to the top of her career, and yet still finds more grounds to break. I was really impressed to find out that she had been running FutureView Financial Services Limited, an investment banking company, for so many years, and that she is the first female stockbroker licensed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. But perhaps what was most impressive to me was that she is married to Mr. Ernest Ebi, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and she has managed to raise three wonderful adult children. See, one of my greatest fears as a future mother is realizing when my children are adults that they are monsters and they don’t want anything to do with me. And then here is a woman in Mrs Ebi who has learned to manage the challenges of Nigeria so well, while maintaining a healthy marriage and raising children who cherish and adore her. I knew I had a lot to learn from this woman, and boy was I right.
What are some of your concerns for younger mothers in Nigeria?
I haven’t been as fortunate as I’d ideally like, to study some of the younger mothers closely, so I don’t have much to say specifically. But one thing that concerns me these days is how mothers today are raising our children. These days a lot of the younger mothers live so far away from their jobs, spend so much time commuting, and then while on the job during long work hours, leave their children to unpredictable strangers to train and take care of them . During my time as a young mother, this was a major concern for me. My husband and I knew, even though then we were financially thin, we had to make sacrifices to ensure we lived closer to our places of work. It provided the proximity to rush home for lunch and allowed us to keep an eye on the children’s welfare while saving about four hours of commute to and from work. The flexibility and the opportunity to spend more time with the children made it a worthwhile decision. .
How do you balance having a career in Nigeria and being a wife and a mother, remaining feminine and strong at the same time?
I have maintained a career in the financial industry for over 34 years, had my children during the first ten of those years. Unfortunately, the infrastructural decay in Nigeria was existent then, as it is now. I just had to make it work. When I had my first baby, I was married and committed to being an amiable companion and lover to my husband, a dedicated scholar and a professional at work, all at once. I had to learn to prioritize and outsource some of the activities that I could. There would be some events that I wouldn’t have to attend the whole time, but I could send my children ahead with a trusted caretaker and then join them for perhaps the last hour or so. I would use the hours when my husband and children were asleep to accomplish some of the tasks that I couldn’t complete when they were awake because I needed to spend time with them. And that’s one thing I never took for granted, I always made efforts to spend time with my family. Whether it was attending an event, going to church, trips to recreation centers (then, the only one they loved was Ikoyi Club), doing homework or just spending time together reviewing activities of the day., I made sure we spent quality time together.
What are some of your favorite memories with your children?
I have had two different opportunities professionally to work with two of my children. Working with them was simply bliss. Purest collaboration. I can trust them to provide support and brilliant ideas making the workday more pleasurable. Just watching the children of yesterday making decisions and accomplishing major feats on the job is quite a delight. Even in their independent endeavors, I remain so proud to watch their character, poise and composure. Recently, our family celebrated the traditional wedding of my first daughter, where I was honored as her mother – that was quite exciting for me. I was certainly proud to be the mother of that day. Come to think of it, I have quite a lot of good memories with all my children – growing up and winning laurels in school graduating, achieving major milestones while chasing their individual passion professionally. The impact they continue to have in their immediate circles and their communities at large, is very inspiring and I’m utterly blessed with my shining stars. Again, I am proud to know my husband and I have raised true leaders in their own right. I love them dearly.
What would be your advice for young mothers?
Children today are “E-Children.” They are so different from when we were growing up. As mothers, we have to learn to relate with and manage them. We have to continuously learn to keep abreast, read books, go online and learn from successful people. We just have to stay committed to learning. We have to constantly grow, and keep ourselves healthy, attractive, available and supportive to our spouse. We must always know and play our role in the family regardless of professional accomplishments and accolades. We must not abdicate our responsibility to family, but always strike a healthy balance between the many roles we play as mother, wife and professional. It will always be a constant balancing act.
During this season, what are your thoughts regarding the Chibok atrocity and the missing girls?
I can’t even begin to imagine what these mothers and daughters are going through. We need to pray more for this nation, the girls and the mothers. I sympathize with these mothers, and can’t even stomach what the girls are going through. The Boko Haram terror is now out of control. They have attacked our “present” and now they are attacking our “future.” The Federal Government must mobilize the required support to end the Boko Haram terror. I pray that God will bring justice to our situation in Nigeria and Boko Haram will end. I add my voice to those pleading and praying for the safety, protection and freedom of our daughters. I pray especially for God’s consolation and peace for their dear mothers.
Any final words?
We should thank God for the opportunity of being mothers, vessels of honour used to build a man – subsequently a family, a village, and then ultimately, a nation. Our roles as mothers are very important and fundamental to every successful life as well as that of families and nations. The Bible in Proverbs 31:10-31 captures the essence of motherhood. I therefore call on all mothers to arise to the supreme call of motherhood and excel in their roles as wives, mothers yet not slacking as career women or business women. Marriage is collaboration and not competition which must be expressed with love regardless of the challenges we face. Mothers as builders have a responsibility to help and support our spouses and our children to achieve their purpose in life while working out our own purpose with “fear and trembling.” It is hard work, but we should continue working at it – keep trusting God and standing on His promises that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
It is imperative during this period, especially as mothers, to remain prayerful, reflect and remain committed to learning and growing.
Happy Mothers’ Day!
Osayi Emokpae Lasisi is learning to be wiser everyday, you can connect with her on Twitter via @Iyasostuff