Tag Archive | family

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.

Stop taking relationship advice from men

 

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I wish women would stop taking relationship advice from ‘men’. And by this I mean men who are unqualified. These men are not Counsellors, Psychotherapists’ or Psychologists. They don’t know JACK about you or your partner.  But they are perambulating as relationship experts on social media and even on TV. Some of them are labeling themselves as lifestyle coaches with little qualification to show.  And worst still, a lot of these men have terrible track records of being awful partners to very many women. And you know what? Some women are doing it now too, they are on Facebook live, Instagram live! Talking about how you ought to ‘do’ your man!

Don’t get me wrong we can learn so much from other people, but in my opinion the tell-tale signs of a fraud is when you hear their advice predominantly directed at the woman; cook more, serve him, kneel when you serve him, have sex whenever he wants, pray for him, fast for him, he is your father. Have you ever wondered why these advisers direct their opinions 9and that’s all they are opinions) at women.  Why aren’t many more relationship advisers targeting men with these half baked advise. I’ll tell you why, because it is easier and lazier. Telling women what to do, and how to do it still fits into the traditional norms of many patriarchal society.

I am not a relationship expert either. I am just a married woman concerned about the wrong messaging and the abuse of women under the guise of marriage, and our own complicity as women and as a society in this abuse. All I am saying is that marriage should for the most part be enjoyed, being realistic and mature about its ups and downs too. And as a woman it is  not your sole responsibility to keep the marriage going, it’s a joint effort. You did not stand at the altar alone, you did not marry yourself, and before anyone makes reference to that  Yoruba proverb ‘Obinrin lo un di ile mu’  which translates to ‘it’s the woman’s responsibility to ‘hold’ her home.  We are not listening to that bullshit anymore. It has always and will always take two to make a relationship work and any advise that predominantly shifts the responsibility on the woman is wrong and dangerous.

I have observed that in the best relationships ‘power and responsibility’ doesn’t lie in one place, it shifts. Sometimes the husband is in the driving seat, and sometimes the wife is in the driving seat. I know that this idea of shifting ‘power and responsibility’ goes against the grain of how we as women have been raised especially in Nigeria.  But it’s what I have observed in my own personal interpretation of healthy relationships. In those relationships, the man is the head sometimes, and sometimes the woman is the head. No one sits on the throne forever! And no, healthy couples rarely sit down to carve out when the man will be the head, or when the woman would be the head, it’s probably more organic, falling naturally to where the couple’s strengths lie.  I am always adamant that in the healthiest of relationships a woman cannot always be in that submissive lane, nor can the man always lead. I warn you, if you stay in that submission lane for too long you will become redundant, a doormat.  And if you think you can constantly be the leader, you will morph into a tyrant, and in time lose your captor.

People often challenge me by saying their parents have been married for 50 years and did it the ‘traditional way’ – and some would list barmy things like (no lie I’ve heard all of these):

  • My father didn’t eat yesterday’s stew so whatever my mom was up to she had to cook fresh everyday
  • My father can’t eat pounded yam with lumps so my mum would have to remake it
  • My father didn’t let my mum work
  • My father had affairs but told my mother she was number 1

Often, children from these backgrounds appear to accept that their home traditions is the natural and right order. Never have I heard them question  the physical or emotional damage these imbalances might have had on their mother and even them. In fact they will argue that their mothers were happy, because she always looked happy or rarely voiced her discontent. But  how many mothers burden their children with their deepest unhappiness? And  one cannot judge happiness by the length of a marriage in a society where there is little support for those who leave their marriages, even under cruel and dire conditions; little support from the state, little support from the church, little support from the family). To point to length of marriage alone would be TOO simplistic. Being married for 50 years is not a goal. Being happy, feeling fulfilled and feeling accomplished whilst in the marriage ought to be the goal?.