Motherhood: This Holy Sweet Grail…

Oh! Motherhood!Mommy and cub

A Happy Belated Mother’s Day 2015, everyone!

At least if you claim to be a mother. And to all the baby mommas, momma-daddies, daddy-mommas, grandmas, surrogates, birth mommas, godmothers, and everyone else who shares motherhood! Proud of you!

I had a superfood Mother’s Day!

Child and I started out with a light breakfast. Too light, I cannot exactly remember what we had. I know there was a cereal, somewhere. For breakfast, I probably served eggs and waffle,  maybe? I had tea, most definitely, as a routine!

Yes my friends, I was asked to produce breakfast on Mother’s Day, by ‘the powers that be’!

“Mommy, I have been waiting for breakfast a longtime!”

Excuse Child of Mine (CoM) for not getting the memo, that mothers are “Off Duty” on Mother’s Day. I let him know my expectations for next year; who will assume the traditional role of preparing breakfast for the other on the same. After all, CoM will be a year older and wiser? Uhm, so the world thinks 😉

After breakfast, made and served by my skillful hands, we hangout for a while. Then headed out for our “special Family Day-out”, of playing with pottery and painting at Poke-A-Nose. It was a reserved splash, “Mommy & Me pottery” with Teas and Pastries. But don’t believe the hype about the “Teas & Pastries”! The ‘Colony’ was not left with any “High Tea” or “royal pastries”! So, they ‘faked’ up own version of “Ice Tea and cookies”. Who serves ice tea for pretty occasions, I wondered!

Still, mission accomplished! Then on to lunch at our fav place, of legged, shelled and crabbed things, slithered down the throat with apples and vanilla cream. Memories are what they are made of! I must say, though, that plate was not worth the $$ drained out of my kitty😭😭. Thankfully, CoM’s $5 win from the Earth Day Kids Dash, chipped in for the dessert, and wiped away a few 😭😭! 😀

Still, something about celebrating that golden day -Mother’s Day, sores my heart, each time. On Mother’s Day, I felt as joyous, as I felt sadness. I love the works of my brain and hand, particularly CoM. Yet, I felt a moment of sorrow and loneliness.

Perhaps it is having to repeatedly do things, all by myself and for myself? Perhaps having to be the Center of Attention for CoM? Perhaps it’s the exhaustion from thinking about the responsibilities of parenting? Wondering if you are making the right decisions, right choices, or providing the right guidance? Afraid of whatever details you might be leaving out, for his proper growth? Guilty of not being able to provide as well as you should? Guilty of your life circumstances? Half-full glass?

But then, when he just kisses and hugs me, and says, “I Love You Mommy. You’re the best mommy in the entire galaxy.” I can’t help, but feel overwhelmed with joy, holding back my tears, for that feeling of a job well done!

The start of the week post-Mother’s Day, life was not going trés good, and the week did not start well either. Painful reality of uncertainty about the immediate and future life, physical, emotional and mental displacement, and insecurities, all pilled on me as the day wound down. Not knowing what tomorrow is gonna bring, and how big, good and fast, tomorrow will bring our way.

Thinking about the life we never had. The life we had, the life we have now, and the life we wish to have, becomes overwhelming for me. More so, as a mother raising a child on her own, and striving for the best for her child. Moments can steal all the passion, commitment, courage and determination to succeed, to do the best, and stay on task.

There are trying moments, gut-wrenching, with plenty of self doubt. But they also arouse the most self-reflection, and energetic recollection of oneself. A reminder that, I have been there, done that, and came out strong. A reminder that, I can still dust myself up and try again. A reminder that life never completely gives up on anyone.

For now, I am going to keep working on being the best mother. I am gonna work on celebrating each Mother’s Day with Child. Making motherhood one of the best jobs I have done. I want to enjoy every bit of this journey, while hoping the best to come out.

I will remind myself that, life is not always about bliss. There are low moments, followed by tides. There are moments of joy and moments of cold. As the week progressed, I felt much better…not great…but better. Perhaps that is a score in itself. What remains true is the love I have for CoM, and the joy of the Holy Sweet GrailMotherhood!

Mothers, It is O-K not to like your kids, Sometimes!

Image

Here is my question to  mothers: Ever felt you tired or resentful of your children? When you don’t wanna listen to them, play with them or give them
any attention?
[what an UnPC question, right?]
It’s called “IDENTITY CRISIS“!
Maybe fathers might relate to this question too. Sorry I cannot tell, because I have never been a father. Well, I have been a mofather, i.e., playi
ng both roles as father and mother to my son, for most of his five years. Yeah Yeah, you know it already:)
I am writing this note because, time and again, I get into those moments of not wanting to pay attention to my son. When I just wanna be by myself, do my own stuff, type away on my laptop, catch up on news from around the world, and enjoy my Facebook moment. Those times when I just wanna pick up and go. At times, I have resented the clock ticking 16:00hours during weekdays, when my son gets back from school and I need to pick him up from the bus. I confess that sometimes, I feel better dropping him off at the school bus stop in the morning, then going on to do what I love – morning jog, reading, work and “me time”.

Yesterday, it just hit me really hard. It was Friday night, so no school over the weekend. And we were home just the two of us…So, we had a lot of time to ourselves. But I did not wanna be all that my son had. I did not wanna be responsible for his entertainment. I do a lot making sure he has what to eat, he’s bathed, dressed up and goes to sleep calmly. I just don’t wanna become his “playmate” every other time! And last night was much harder on me.
But my son didn’t get it. He kept sharing with me the toys he was making from his play dough. He kept asking me question, and engaging me in his play script. He wanted me to play along with his toys. He kept asking me that he wanted me to answer or guess the answers…! He wanted to involve me. I just wanted to type away.
ImageI cried because of the guilt I felt for not wanting to play with my son. I cried because I felt guilty for wanting to be alone. As mothers, we are generally expected to want to be with our kids all the time. We are expected to love our kids unconditionally. In fact, some mothers often castigate those mothers who say, they do not want to be with their children. We throw HEAVY stones at mothers who give their children away to foster care or abandon them in hospital or to their fathers or grandparents. We denounce mothers who drown their children, who want nothing to do with their children. Yet, we rarely question fathers who just sit down and burry themselves in a newspaper or TV, instead of making dinner, bath, dressing up their children. As society, including mothers, we do not apportion similar blame to fathers as we do to mothers.
So, I wrote to my BFF and shared my feelings and sadness. She wrote back to me:
“you need to look on mumsnet, there are so many women also saying this same thing. it’s about identity, you’re not just B’s mummy, you’re d the person too!” 
 
Oh! that made me feel better! By the time I receive this note, my son was asleep and as I watched him sleep in my bed, I enjoyed all the beauty in his silence and fell in love with him again. I had done my crying and was back in love with him. But my BFF’s words fortified my feelings of love and devotion to my son. It was a re-assurance that, I am not just a selfish biatch! I need to have my life back. Before I was a mother, I was just me….the globetrotter, runner, worker, happy girl….It was all about me. Since becoming a mother, it is all about my son 24-7. It has been like this for most of his life. And like my BFF brought to my attention, plenty of mothers go through it…
 
Besides the note, I watched the “Pregnant Man” on OWN’s Where are they now? last night, which gave me a better appreciation of parents and commitment. A woman-to-man-expectant mother-single dad on three…more than I would be willing to do! That selflessness gave me a renewed appreciation of my son and commitment.
 
So, today, Saturday, we had a great time. We went to the park and played. Initially, I did not wanna be the one to play with my son. I want him to play with himself or other kids…not mother. Perhaps because I grew up with plenty of neighbors my age, and all the kids I knew played with fellow kids not their parents. So, he climbed up and down, went on slides, as I sat aside…He still tried to involve me. I followed him around. He was happy; he enjoyed himself and enjoyed his mother being there. He rode his bike and climbed around again in the park. He rode the rodeo, as I sat in the coach, on his instructions, and he rode me around. We went back to the car, had fruit, homemade juice and coconut yogurt. We took out his scooter and he rode it with a helmet. I did not have to remind him to put on a helmet. he reminded himself – and told me, “It is dangerous to ride without a helmet.
 
Then he got me onto something even more exciting. He led me to the play field, and started running around, stopping at the base. He told me to run as well, to the base. Then I learned that the base meant, “baseball”…I asked him whether he learned that at school. He said, “No! Daniel taught me.” [Daniel the Tiger]! Oh! I love you PBS…maybe TV does not necessarily rot all the brain! More power to you PBS. And we batted and threw the ball. We interchanged roles; he batted, I threw the ball; he threw the ball; I batted…. Moreover the activity involved my favorite sport – running….All my uncomfortable crumbs vanished. After 15 rounds of batting and throws, he won… We went onto the swings. He was happy. We swing together. 
 
And the day is done. And I feel much better, much happier as a mother and much committed. Good night love….of my life….
Image

So what, if I wanna be a ‘Trophy Wife’?

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:

house·wife
ˈhousˌwīf/
noun

1. a married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework.

Or what Alexis on Image  termed….
  
tro·phy wife

noun
informalderogatory

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 Image] 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!