The beauty about learning is that, you become more exposed and develop plenty of questions. You question your “common sense” and natural laws out there. Yes, you do question positivism too. You no longer take for granted anything …and everything ceases to just be “normal”.
That’s the story of my life, too. I have learned to question all my learnings, the [mis]educations growing up and understanding of the world. I have also come to re-learn things I considered abnormal like traditional cultures, the position of women in society, men, marriage and religion. I have questioned my previous self-avowed “I am not marriage material”. And a recent incident I witnessed made me ask, “So what, if I wanna be a “trophy wife”? No I am not married, yet!
You know! I am a single, never-married woman in my 30s. I have amassed a chunk of formal education credentials, traveled the world, been in all places, met and interacted with folks from different echelon of society. Yes! that includes royalty, military, paupers, tree huggers and “Joe the Plumber”. I grew up under the strong stewardship of my mother, an elementary school teacher, who held it down for her household. My mother did not earn so much money but she brought into this world seven children, and supported them all through their lives. Of course my father was present and brought in more income than my mother – he paid our school tuition, all the way through college -for some but not all. He also brought food on the table, as and when he pleased, and provided basic necessities for some of my siblings but not all and brought in the income to buy land and build our family home. But my mother was the solid rock that fixed the family -aka CEO of Family Affairs. In many ways, perhaps my father would not have achieved all by himself without my mother. While my father was hiring agents to scout for land to buy, construct the house and shop for the family, my mother used her family contacts to secure the land for purchase, fetched and carried water and sand during construction of our family home, and went to her children’s visitation days when they were in boarding school. f
In fact, my mother still supports her children, and thinks she should shoulder the financial, emotional and family burden of her grown-up kids, sometimes to her detriment –in my opinion. In so many ways, my mother has inspired me to be a dare-devil, to go out and conquer and also ‘save the world”. Her work ethic and giving back to community and her family are always with me, and influence the way I engage with the world in which I live and the way I raise my son. She is very open to learning and venturing into new territories. Yet my mother stuck to one marriage for the longest time, regardless of whether she was getting any joy out of it. She managed all family affairs while my father was off to work, traveling and transferred to work in other duty stations, at home lying down or loafing in the coach or out drinking with the boys. My mother also diligently took care of her children and did all the housework, when she did not have a maid or when her kids were not grown. Yet, she never saw herself as a housewife, by wiki definition:
1. a married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework.
1. a young, attractive wife regarded as a status symbol for an older man.
In no way would my mother identify herself as a “Trophy Wife”…when she was still a young girl or now…..I tend to think Alexis confused “Trophy wife” for “housewife” or “stay-at-home mom”, while sharing how her future goals post-college graduation are inspired with how her mother chose to live her life. Instead, my mother objected to quit her teaching job, even though it was paying peanuts, when my mother suggested earlier on in their marriage that she stays at home to raise the kids. Perhaps we cannot fault my father: a) he grew up without a mom (his mother died while he was still breastfeeding); and 2) the mother who raised him stayed at home, while the husband went out to bring the butter. And it worked….To my mother, she was not going to give up the fruits of an education her father paid for, and the hard labor she put in going to school; she was heeding her father. And so, she influenced me growing up.
But as I delve further into this world – in time, in geographical space and in intellectual curiosity, I continue to question whether there is anything wrong with being a “stay-at-home mother”? And I respond to myself: Absolutely nothing! From my interaction with women across the geographical, social and intellect divide, it is increasingly clear that being a state-at-home-mom or rightly “CEO of Family Affairs” [thanks to my birth coach Kembe Nakiina] is a luxury only left to the rich in finances, family, intellect, self-esteem and self-actualization. I have plenty of female friends who are mothers in the South (Georgia, in specific) with MBAs, law degrees, teachers, and all sorts of training, who got out of their blue collar jobs and decided to stay at home and raise their children, while their husbands go out to work. I know plenty of others, like my birth Coach who took on careers that allowed them to work from home and give due attention to their children, because to them children come first. Yes, and this also happens with friends in Uganda (my COO) who quit corporate jobs with all the luxurious benefits to focus on family affairs.
Contrary to perversive misconception that these women are “servants to their husbands”, they do not see themselves that way. But this is not a luxury very available or affordable to unmarried mothers, like myself. While I have for the most part been able to spend more time with my son than hustling in a traditional office, this is not a luxury available to all women like me. I always told myself that I would want to spend the first year of my son’s birth with him, and I achieved it. Of course it cost me the financial in-flow I was used to; I quit my job and re-invented myself financially and socially. While I was not in Norway where a new mother receives a whole year of maternity leave after birth, and gets paid to have babies, I gained a lot of financial discipline and provided my son with the stability of being with me everyday for the first year of his birth. Following the one year, I moved abroad, and made sure that my work activities revolved around my son’s schedule. So, any client that sought to contract me knew that I had a schedule around when I would pick up my son from school, plus a day off to hang-out with my son. Of course, I was flexible whenever necessary. I stay-at-home or would not skip a bit If anything, they are “servants” to their children -because to them, their children come first. And No! They are not “just sitting at home wasting away time doing nothing. They are running family properties and businesses, like my male friends have told about their wives, breastfeeding their kids, changing diapers, preparing food, cleaning their households or supervising house help. Outside family business, they are attending their children’s school meetings and activities, when their husbands might be off to work or traveling, or not married at all, they are volunteering at social and community events at the YMCA, at the soup kitchen or recruiting voters, fundraising for their social groups, political candidates or veterans, and writing and spearheading petitions to improve their communities. Or they are taking a new class in crocheting, sewing, zumba, yoga, jogging piano, financial peace or traveling the world and writing a book. Why wouldn’t I desire such a job, to do what I love to do? I could start my own family business or social club, that I have always wished to do on my time. I no longer have to wake up at 4:00 am to prepare breakfast and lunch box for the kids, then rush out of the house like a zombie at 6:00am to drop off the kids at school, then to work for another person’s empire till 5:00pm, and repeat the same routine, every day, week, month and year. I may just as well carpool with other mothers or put my kids on the bus, then get back into bed for a nap, before starting my day as I choose.
The trouble with women like Ms. Emily [also from ] the key to women’s success is personal financial independence is that they ascribe to everyone who chooses an alternative path as ignorant, underachieved and without ambitions. Ms. Alexis said that she was raised to think about working and making money for herself. She got her first job scooping ice cream at 16 years. So, she angrily reacted to Alexis desire to be a “trophy wife” for her husband, raising children at home and taking care of the family home, like her mother did. By inference, she called Alexis’ mother “dumb”, who was seated right next to her -yet the attacked refused to give into “the angry black woman”, by keeping her poise and not challenging Ms. Jewish Southern [White] Redneck, But so what, that is her preferred hustle? If she is happy with that…so be it. Why should be berate and condemn others who want to choose their own alternative paths to a successful future.
Given an opportunity, I would stay to home, to make sure my son has all my attention, and make sure all family business is in place. But this is not the privilege of plenty of women, without the financial security from anybody else outside them. They HAVE to NOT want to go out and work for others. Some attribute the divorce rates to the strenuous life of working motherhood – struggling to balance family and work life- yet still central to the proper functioning of family life. After all, we all work to find a bring future with financial success and happiness. If happiness comes from “the trophy”….seize it!