Tag Archive | faith

Motherhood can be shitty too

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My son and I at 8 weeks old

 

Motherhood can be joyous, but it’s shit at times too. And because most people gush about the good bits, please allow me to assure you that there are shitty bits too, and that’s okay, it’s part of it too.

A shitty start

When I think back to when my son was 8 months old I shudder! I hadn’t slept in over 8 months. The Gina Ford instructions which helped me put some structure in place, just didn’t seem to work so well with my son. I was cranky and highly irritable. I felt like a zombie, morning, noon and night.

As the lack of sleep rolled from weeks into months the quarrelling between my husband and I intensified. One day as we were preparing to go to bed I said “if that boy wakes up and you don’t go and get him I’ll throw him out of the window”. We both ended up laughing and admitting that we weren’t copying very well, and that this was a shitty period, a period that would pass. And it did pass, but other shitty periods have since replaced insomnia.

Babies are boring!

Gosh! Babies are boring! I used to stare at both of mine thinking “do something”. Why don’t t people talk about the boredom; changing nappies, constantly feeding, watching daytime TV, and expressing milk! If I was warned about how boring and isolating being a new mother could be I’d have made an effort to join those mother/baby groups!

Children are not always cute and cuddly and nice. My daughter is as moody as I am and she is not always a joy to be around when she is in one of her moods – her father would say ‘ignore her jor’ but my personality finds it difficult to ignore, so I probe, which makes it worse, and we both end up getting even more upset! She is not even a teenager yet!

Sibling Rivalry

And then there is the sibling rivalry, the fighting and bickering which always drive me crazy! My son would scream “She said shut up to me mama”. My Daughter would scream back “he said I’m ugly”. They are always trying to compete with each other; they how many sweets I’ve shared out, my daughter says I favour him over her, my daughter thinks he is spoilt, lazy and poorly educated! Yes she said that “Mama you should change his school, he is poorly educated!”

If you think this is all trivial, perhaps you don’t work full time, or you don’t commute from outside of London into London on a daily basis. One fight after a long and knackering day can set off a full blown adult meltdown. And you know what, I don’t rush home every time thinking ” I can’t wait to see my children” on some occasions I have snuck into the house, crept up the stairs to relax for just 10 mins before announcing my arrival. I’ve hidden in the toilet on more than one occasion! Sometimes it’s just too much.

And then there is the worry. I am not a worrier naturally, but now I worry. I worry about bullying. I worry about racism. I worry about them getting hurt. I worry about secondary school entrance exam. I worry that my son is short.  I know! But short men ‘get as it be’.

I worry about raising compassionate and well-grounded children. I worry that my daughter doesn’t seem to have many friends at school; is it because she is one of only two black girls? Is it her personality? My son only has the one best friend in the whole world, a friend he loves more than “ice-cream”.  What will happen if this this boy leaves the school? I worry.  And all that worry makes me feel anxious, exhausted and it is aging.

And then there is the guilt. I feel guilty that I work full time. I feel guilty about going to the gym. But the thought of not going to the gym just paralyses me!! How would I cope? Exercising relaxes me, it is my coping mechanism. One day my son grabbed my feet and said ‘don’t go to the gym’ I almost caved in, but then remembered that this boy may be off to University as early as 18! And if my children where anything like me they wouldn’t look back. I need a life outside my family to survive my family (I like that sentence!). Motherhood can be joyous but it can be shitty too. People don’t feel comfortable talking about the shitty bits. Perhaps some mothers never feel as I do, but for those who do, there is nothing wrong with you, group hug.

My Daughter, my love.

Sometimes I look at my daughter and think can’t we just go a whole day without quarrelling, and sometimes we manage it, especially when her brother is not around. My daughter reminds me how complicated and multi-layered females are, how complicated I am too. We are so different yet so similar. She knows for sure that I love her to the moon and back and I know she loves me. If I’m down with the flu she will come to my room more than 10 times to check up on me – the son is on to the next person (Omo eran). But do we always get on. No. Sometimes I remind myself that we are not meant to be friends, I am her mother.

When you are a mother of young children you are practically a career, and carers get tired, carers feel low, carers need support. But again our culture muffles us when we try to articulate that it is not all rosy. We are told to be grateful because some women are fasting from dusk till dawn in the quest for children. But to acknowledge that being a mother can be challenging or shitty is not tantamount to wishing one didn’t have children. And as women we do ourselves and others a disservice when we know the truth but allow societal pressure around ‘perfect’ muffle this truth.

 

Apologies this was late, but you I’ve been very busy

 

Next blog up – keep up! the one about the in-laws!

 

 

 

Marriage, Motherhood and In-laws can be sh**

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Something about turning 40 this July  emboldens me to be more vocal about the things that matter to me, so today I’m inspired to write about the reality that marriage, motherhood, and in-laws can sometimes be shit. Let’s take each as a standalone topic.

The one about marriage: I recently said marriage was overrated on my Instagram page. Some may highlight the irony of my own marital status, but I don’t think it’s a dichotomy to say Marriage is overrated while being married. You can be in a good marriage yet believe that it’s overrated because it doesn’t measure up to the fairy tale and happy ever after stories we were sold.

I don’t want to digress, so let me focus on the reasons I believe marriage is overrated. I’ve learnt and seen a lot to make me conclude that there is something fundamentally warped and obscene about how aspects of the Nigerian ‘culture’, or rather, how entrenched  interests within the culture conspire to place unacceptable levels of control on the Nigerian wife. As a consequence, husbands, even good husbands, are emboldened and empowered to indulge in excesses that are detrimental to their wives, children and the wider society.

Marriage is overrated because in the privacy of girl talk, in that safe space where females open up and talk about things they really ought to take to a therapist I have heard too much. And if you really want to learn about the extent of the decay in Nigerian marriages, and the ‘cultural’ acquiescence  of the accompanying  stench, then do join the Facebook Group FIN (Females in Nigeria).

The decomposition 

Couples are living in separate rooms but attending church together. Husbands have families outside their matrimonial homes but their wives are advised to pray. Wives are being told to do whatever it takes to keep their families together, even at the detriment of their own mental or general wellbeing. Successful wives are told to downplay their success least it offends their husband. In the face of domestic violence, the church will advise that ‘God hates divorce’. Parents are refusing to provide a safe haven for their battered daughters because ‘what will people say’. Wives are told to not argue with their husbands because this is what leads to him hitting her.  Wives are being told that as long as side chicks remain on the side all is well.

Husbands are absolving themselves of raising their children because they are lazy; but he is excused as ‘traditional’’. Husbands are absolving themselves of financial responsibility but we are told to accept it because you know ‘till death do us part’. Some wives can’t go to the toilet without seeking permission from their husbands. Some marriages are sexless, completely sexless; 6 months, one year, two years of no sex. Wives are advised to treat infidelity like a mosquito bite – a mild irritant, instead of the first signs of decomposition that it is.  Wives are supposed to be subservient and respectful of husbands who treat them poorly,  they are expected to  love unconditionally even in the face of multiple betrayal and loss of confidence, often in the most public manner.

And our ‘elders’ have let us down. The church has been complicit to a large extent. The sermons are mostly directed at wives; all the things she ought to do – but all she does will never be enough when there is such a huge imbalance, and where excessive indulgence is permitted by the church. And we are silenced when we protest at the sexist attitude of the church – we are called pagans, unbelievers, ‘do not touch my anointed’.

We are taught to cover up the shame of infidelity but who ought to bear the shame?. We have fostered a culture where husbands are mini dictators and where we are being told that it is our responsibility to bend over backwards to accommodate this head of the family dicta.

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Raising children is not enough. 

Wives are lonely, wives are sad, wives are having nervous breakdowns- they feel invisible, and this invisibility only gets worse as they get older. And when they grumble to friends, friends offer an unhelpful ” it is well” or tell them to concentrate on raising their children. But raising children is not enough for most. Raising children and having hot sex are different things, and you cannot have hot sex when all is not right in your marriage. You cannot have hot sex when your husband is sexing everything else. You cannot have hot sex when someone is mistreating you or when you feel disconnected. Forget hot sex, you cannot continue to love a man that shows the world that he doesn’t love you through his infidelity, his disrespect, and his dishonor. And I’m really sorry the love between a man and a woman even in marriage is not unconditional! I cannot love pain, you should not love pain. I cannot love sorrow, you should not love sorrow. That’s not love. That’s Stockholm Syndrome!

What is the point of highlighting these issues without solutions. I do not have a solution. But I know for sure that we need to start talking about dysfunctional marriages, the bundnce of them, and the fact that it’s not okay.

We need to talk for the protection of our children and for the marriages of the future. We also need to challenge our culture or traditions especially when it is silent in the face of abuse to women.

Love

Titilolami

Tomorrow let’s talk about the shitty bits of being a mother.

More than ‘I do’ and a Womb

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When I was a younger lady living with my now husband. My dear Aunty came round to give me some advice. She was not happy with my living arrangements. I had expected her to go down the morality of living in sin route, but she didn’t, instead, she asked if I was going to marry this guy. She said ” A man can always dust off his shirt and leave, but what would you do after?” This was the point where I stared at her, I didn’t want to argue because I liked her and still like her very much, but in my mind I was thinking ” I’ll move on too innit”

The problem wasn’t just her question which some may excuse as being ” out of love” but the loaded presumption and sexism in the question. That I, a female, would struggle to put my life in order if my partner decided to leave. You see, there lies the problem, particularly in the Nigerian culture, until we believe and teach our daughter’s that they too have  options and choices; the choice to move on, the option to opt out, until then, we are belittling their existence and even sending dangerous messages for them to settle for much less and not to live fully. We are asking them to stay in abusive  and unhappy homes.

Sadly, my Nigerian culture fetishises marriage more than even love or ironically a happy marriage. The pressure is on young ladies from the age of 25. And after marriage it’s children. and wow betide the woman that seeks to leave an unhappy marriage because she is UNHAPPY. I have heard the laughs. How can she be unhappy, he pays the bills, he takes care of the children .. what is there to be unhappy about.

And when a woman hasn’t had a child or children in a marriage, the misery some  will endure  from external busy bodies! A post for another day. Whether you are married or not, have children or not. You are doing the “sisterhood” a great disservice, a huge dishonour if you proclaim (for you can have your beliefs but keep them to yourself) that our purpose or worth in life is confined to two things; marriage and children – above all. My strong belief is that our uniqueness, value and worth isn’t tied to either marriage or having children. We are unique and valuable simply because we exist. Not because we are married, not because we have children. We must, must, must, drum this into our children both boys and girls.

Sunday Sunday Church

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I’ve never understood why it bothers other people that I don’t go to church. By other people I mean mostly Nigerians who are christians.  I sense the discomfort my laid back response of ‘no I don’t go to church’ evokes.  Most inquisitors will hurriedly change the conversation; a few might ask “are you a Muslim?”.

I have concluded that these people are not  interested in my salvation.  What it is, or rather what I think it is, is that I belong to a culture that doesn’t accept people who choose to deviate from the norm or question the status quo. For all the education, integration, and exposure, we are still mostly comfortable with things that are familiar, people who share the same values and aspirations, do the things we do, how we do it – perhaps this is intrinsically what  human socialization is.

I do not underestimate the significance of congregational worship. I get it completely. It just isn’t for me. And I wish people wouldn’t convolute church attendance with faith, because we all ought to know that both are not the same.   I often detect silent judgement, the questioning of my values,  and even my fitness as a wife and mother because i am not a regular church attendee – conservative nigeria.

For those who dig deeper and ask me questions I am honest. I’m just not that interested in physically attending church,  and yes I know Pentecostal churches are good fun,  but I haven’t been to one since forever. I don’t agree with most of the new Pentecostal teachings.  I don’t agree with prosperity teachings.  I don’t agree with generational curses.  I don’t agree with pastors owning private jets.  I don’t agree with the lack of female leaders in the church.  I don’t agree with the suppression of women. I don’t agree with the exploitation of women.  I don’t agree with the dogmatic pursuit of tithes.  I don’t agree with young girls volunteering for hours on end at the church.  I don’t believe in teachings that wouldn’t denounce domestic violence or provide shelter for battered women.  I don’t believe in demonizing  gay people. I don’t believe in leaders that wouldn’t stand and fight for poor people.  And I just can’t brush this all aside by saying I will attend and focus only on the word of God, because I strongly believe that the word and the teaching  should be entwined.

I tried the Church of England for some few months and I tell you it was so boring I  wanted to cry! Now Angligans ought to learn a thing or two from the Razzmatazz of  Pentecostal churches.  Do I miss going to Pentecostal churches? Yes, sometimes.  After all, the motivational speeches of pastors can be powerful and mesmerizing.  But more than that there is something comforting about worshiping with people who share the same faith, hope and aspirations. But there is the thing, apart from faith, I  find that  increasingly I do not share the same hope and aspirations as most of my fellow church attendees. I am not wielded to the dream of monetary prosperity or more and more and more blessings. My deepest prayer is to become less needy of  material wealth, less a follower or pursuer of consumerism. I want to seek and  delight in the simplest things.   I am looking for that church that emphasises the humility of Christ, one that teaches me to forsake material pursuit for spiritual growth, and without dangling the carrot of worldly wealth. I need teachings that encourages and challenges me to recognise my abundant blessings , be content with it, and focus more on being a blessing to others.