I was at an event recently; actually, it was an event that I hosted for stay-at-home moms, or domestic queens like I prefer to address us as, when one of the speakers said: “Eziaha is even making it tush. Most people will call you an ordinary housewife sef.”
We laughed, but I didn’t lose sight of the seriousness beneath the joke.
“Ordinary” is really what people will qualify this your stay-at-home mommy season as. Sometimes, the ‘people’ is even your husband. He has probably asked you this question, or a variant of it: “What do you even do at home sef?”
Maybe as a result of all these, you have started to shrink. You turn down some family gatherings because you know they will ask what you are now doing, and you are dreading that moment when you have to say. “Nothing.”
School reunions, or any social event that brings together your classmates, are a no-no for you. I mean, everyone will come with their cars and business cards, and some will even come with their babies. And they didn’t lay down their jobs after they became a mom, unlike you. Going there would just further ingrain the inferiority complex that you already feel. Better to sit at home jor.
Or maybe you have even started to tell lies, or half-truths. You stay behind after functions claiming that someone is coming to pick you because you don’t want others to see you have to jump bus. You make up a business that is not exactly real and claim that is what you are doing. Or mention courses that you really are not doing, but, hey, you had to use it to save face.
My favourite ‘save-face’ was “Oh I used to work in the United Nations, but I took a break to have a baby and I will go back.”
I knew I wasn’t going back just like that. I wasn’t in between jobs. I was jobless, outside the home, and a full time stay-at-home mom. It, however, always seemed like nothing, or not important enough, so I had to always pad it to raise my status in the eyes of others.
If you can relate with any of these, I too can.
It just left a sour taste in my mouth to say I was only a stay-at-home mom. It also started to create anxiety in me because it felt like I had multiple personalities and wasn’t sure which one to present per time, especially when the situation required consistency.
“Do I stick with the story that I am doing some professional courses before I get back into the labour marker, or say I am on an extended maternity leave?”
My sister, living a lie is really exhausting. And not worth it. It may lead you to start to make decisions that a better frame of mind would have rejected. If this is the case for you. Let’s work to fix it. I walked that road and I am in a much better place.
The first thing I’ll ask you to do is to sit and have an honest meeting with yourself, during which you ask yourself some questions and answer with sincerity.
First, how did you become a stay-at-home mom? Was it a condition that left you without a choice, or an elective decision you made even in the face of options?
For me, it was a condition. The way our family was set up in two different states meant I could no longer work and raise my son at the same time. I had no choice, something had to give and my career gave.
For some of you, maybe you lost a job. Or there was a relocation. Or you could not manage the tension that came from balancing your work life and new mommy life, so you quit.
Or was it an elective decision? You wanted to be home for a while, have kids and take care of them adequately for maybe three years, before getting back to the labour market. Somehow, three years have become five years with no end in sight.
Whatever led to your current situation, figure it out sincerely and then move on to the next step: Is there something you can do about it right now?
A sincere answer to this question will save you further anxiety. If getting a Master’s degree or professional qualification will help you get back to the career you were building, then start the process and go for it. It even makes you more fruitful at home as you find another project to pour yourself into.
If getting a domestic help or enrolling your child in a crèche or pre-school will allow you balance better in the work place, then do it, and plan your return to the labour market.
But until that materializes, you must be at peace with what is currently your reality. A friend of mine, while in this waiting period, suddenly birthed a business from something she had been doing casually at home. Now it is her main business. Even if this is not the case for you, make up your mind to enjoy the present without coveting the past or future.
On the flip side, if there is nothing you can do about it right now, my sister, is it not better that you fully embrace this season and start to find ways to be fruitful and effective right at home? What you are doing at home, for your kids and husband, is epic work even if the world does not recognize it yet. If you are doing it right, one day the world will.
The reason you are still letting people look down on you is because you are looking down on yourself. You are still stammering when you say you are a stay-at-home mom. I even think it is in Nigeria we generally don’t say this with confidence. An average American who is a stay-at-home mom will introduce herself as a stay-at-home mom and even state the number of kids she has with pride.
This thing is a matter of perspective, and has little or nothing to do with money. A positive self-image doesn’t necessarily depend on how much is in my bank account or whether I took an Uber, a bus, or drove my own car.
I recall this friend I had in school who lived in one of the low-class areas of Lagos. Her wardrobe was lean but she carried herself with class and respect no matter what she wore. Whenever a conversation veered towards where she lived, she would proudly mention the place. If you didn’t know it, you would think she just called Banana Island. Today, her situation has changed financially and her class has remained the same. We don’t find our worth in material things, so don’t reduce yourself just because materially you cannot meet up.
I know social media brings the pressure and it looks like everyone and their dogs can afford to live la vida loca. Every time, you are calculating and calculating budget that never balances, but still my sister, keep your joy. Live life on your own budget.
If you jump and get a job when you haven’t even taken care of the main reason you had to quit working in the first place, frustration will get you back out of there just as fast.
You see, seasons come and go, but there is good in every season. There is someone who has been dealt the exact same hand as you were dealt and has made an impact right from home to the world. The best thing you can do is fully immerse yourself in your season. Only then will your eyes be open to see the beauty and possibilities that abound there.
Until then, be proud of what you are – a stay-at-home mom or domestic queen.
Write me at eziaha(at)eziaha(dot)com let me know what you think.