Tag Archive | happy

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?.

 

Married men on Tinder

 

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The real identities of the concerned individuals have been changed to protect their identity and respect their privacy. Even shitty people deserve privacy.

So my mate WhatsApps me 3 days ago” Titi! Titi! Isn’t Funke’s brother in law married??” Me “yes” silence … she is typing “So what’s he doing on Tinder then”? Me ” nooooooo I’ll call you NOW”!! I finish my Squats with the worse form ever and get on the phone!!!!

Rewind selecta!

I saw how Tinder operated some months ago from my mate. My mate is single. In fact one of the very many enjoyable things we did once was have a girls night in with me going through her Tinder account, swiping left or right. Ohhhhh you don’t know what Tinder is or how it works? Really? okay a quick explanation. Tinder is an online dating app that matches couples based on their physical attraction to one another. It alerts you to other Tinder users who fall within a specified age range and gender and are within a certain distance of your location. You decide whether or not you like the look of a person: if you do, swipe right; if you don’t, swipe left and they’ll never know. If you’re both interested then Tinder’s messaging function offers you a virtual private location where you can chat and get to know each other better.

Tinder is a dating website! A married man has no business being on Tinder! Now this post isn’t about men who cheat. No. That is a boring subject. This post is also not about declaring that all men are assholes. That’s not true! There are perfectly decent men who don’t and will never cheat. And you know what, there are also perfectly decent, good men, who f**k up once, because decent people do shitty things. But this is not about all that. This is about a special breed of married assholes, so brazen, so disrespectful, so audacious as to advertise themselves on a dating App used by more than 10 million users!. This right here is levels!

So I called Dayo! The sister in law! Of course I called Dayo! Are you F******* kidding me! I said “Dayo! Is your brother in law divorced or mad?” After I recounted the gist Dayo started laughing! Dayo always likes evidence – she said ” do you have evidence?” So I sent the communal Dick’s Tinder image. She calls back immediately laughing! She says “Jesus! Is this how these men are behaving! please let me go on Tinder and check if my own husband is there ooo” I quickly interrupt “if you join Tinder and someone sees you on it and reports you! you’ll have to explain that to your husband who wouldn’t believe you where there looking for him! so better don’t start wahala you can’t finish” we both laughed. Should we tell the madam of the communal dick? Hell No! Ain’t no one like that chick anyhow …… and I’ve avoided drama in my life from time …… I’m only loyal to my friends sorry! And ain’t no one like that bitch anyhow 🙈🙈🙈

Big Girls Toys

I got married almost ten years ago, 10 years this July! I know right, it’s a whole decade. I had been dating my hubby for 6 years so although we celebrate our 10 year anniversary this year we’ve actually been together for 16 years. That’s a long time to be shagging one bloke! common, I know you were thinking it!. This is big girls talk abeg! And this shagging point is an important one which becomes more relevant towards the end of the piece so bear with me.

This whole marriage thing, it’s hard right? The sheer weight of domesticity can wear you down sometimes. And if you are a full time working mom I duff my hat to you. If you have young children and are dealing with school runs, homework, kumon, Au pair drama, mannnn it can be overwhelming right? Let’s not even start with in-laws :),  or the peculiar behaviour of men, you get the drift, marriage can be hard work, it can be boring and beautiful and hard!

Nigerian marriages are extra special; I salute the Nigerian woman who is unfortunate enough to be married to a sexist and chauvinistic Nigerian man. As if we haven’t got enough to deal with.  And before you all start abusing me or jumping up and down; I have not said all Nigerian men display these traits, just a lot of them!  I am talking about the type of man who believes that women have a specific role to play in marriage, and that this role is dictated by her gender. The type of man who believes respect is commanded and certainly not reciprocated. He is the type of man who expects to be cooked for and he isn’t prepared to wash the dishes. In fact if she kneels to serve him I bet he wouldn’t object! Didinrin.

This type of man decides when his wife can be modern e.g she can go out to work; but he decides how her income is spent – Hey listen, I was at a baby shower where one well educated Nigerian woman said her husband expects her to pay her wages into his account and she obliges; she even defended it by quoting the bible! listen I completely appreciate that different things work in  different marriages, but what if he drops dead one day?.  How is completely disenabling one partner healthy? Anyway,  this type of Nigerian man is so up his own ass he is likely to brush aside infidelity as one of those naughty things that men do,  but he will cry blue murder if he hears any married woman has had an affair.  What really winds me up is when these men assume that women are innately monogamous; that we too never wonder about a  bit of variety. That we too don’t want a bit of escapism from the daily routines of cooking for him, our children, the inlaws again! actually  sometimes we too want to check out! We do. That’s the honest truth. The only difference is that some women are more disciplined. To all the women i know marriage is special,  a great gift, and we think beyond our own  instant gratification.  Most of us would rather explore the variety within our marriage than jeopardise our family for a flimsy extra marital affair.

When family life gets a bit much we plan girls trips away, and we talk!  And  once we’ve opened a bottle of wine  or three we talk more freely! We talk about sex, all types of sex, we talk about men cheating, women cheating, dirty weekends,  and big girls toys. On one occasion I was gobsmacked to learn that I had been dulling! I had no toys! No big girls toys! As my friends talked about rabbits, cockrings  and various objects small and large, designed to pleasure, my eyes began to pop!! and there I was thinking my ish was the shit.  So I did what any wife would do, I went home and said ” everybody is having better than us SB”, my hubby  laughed,  we talked, or rather I kept saying ” we need to spice things up, we need to spice things up” . But just as it probably happens in every home we forgot about it, we went back to our familiar sex and all talks about big girls toys were shelved.

Then one day, out of the blue he came home singing ” happy birthday to you daddy buy something for you oh oh oh daddy buy something for you” hi five if you know that tune. I stood smiling “what!!!!” is it a bag!!!! (Typical naija chick!) Nooo  it was a rabbit! Now I must admit I didn’t know what to make of it, weeks had passed since our conversation but I really wanted to understand what all my friends were going gaga about. Let’s just say, toys can enhance a good sex life.  Now some of you will read this and think for goodness sake! Too much info! I think not. I am writing this piece because I am very aware that as we women get older,  we become less visible. The longer we’ve been married; complacency creeps in. It is important for us to remember that even as wives and  as busy working moms we are also desirable sexual beings, with our own needs. Sex toys are not for everyone, but if you want to try it go for it, I’m still a bit too shy to rock up into a  sexshop! But the Internet is your friend! Otherwise let him go and get it!