Life is Not All About Work…..

Suddenly, a wave of sadness engulfed me….for a moment, as I sat down in the Library with Child of Mine [who by now you know I refer to simply as, COM], pondering over “The Absurdity of my Life”. Well, perhaps it is not all absurd, thus the quotations. I have COM to keep me moving, thinking, believing, and brightening up my days. I have no more tears; they dried out since taking on COM. Now I cry dead tears, mourn internally, all the while, wearing a smile around him. How can I allow him to see me break down? I need to keep his hopes up. OR so, I tell myself.

Ok, I take that back; in fact I have tears, but not for my absurdity. I cry about anything related to him. For instance, I cry when I think of him returning to school, I cry when I put him on the bus on the first day of school, and on some mornings. Sometimes I cry when I wake up before him, and have to leave him to go out for a run. I cry, at the thought of him growing up and going off to college. I cry thinking about whether I am a good mother to him, and if I will raise him to be an astute guy.

Today was one of those days. The heatwave got to us, bringing a rush of responses in my head, in case one asked about me. “Well, my life isn’t worth sharing. The absurdity does not make sense. Yes, I have this and that experience.…plenty to talk about. I have a recollection of plenty of exciting words, with thoughts, energies…powerful additions to life, society and to the human experience. But it is also in a web, a sea of complicatedness. I will spare you the details, but I imagined myself responding to anyone who cared to ask about me.

Then I remembered the words a corporate mogul on a TV show I watched, “Life is Not all About Work”. Totally stolen from my thoughts!

By work, he meant, the hustle and bustle, the paper-chase, growing corporate bodies, stocks, and financial superstardom.

Life is also about the paying deeper attention to our relationships, smelling a rose, listening to “the dull and ignorant,” and taking inspiration from other people’s miseries.

Life is Not All About Work reaffirms to me that, perhaps I am doing the right thing, spending plenty of time with COM, chaperoning him to Day Camp and Overnight Weekend Camping, entertaining his young buddies and relatives with, impromptu “picnic at the park”, summer birthdays in the park, swimming at the pool, or offering myself to babysit and take care not just COM but the same number of children like my mother had. Either because their parents are not available, need an extra hand, or they are dealing with ill loved ones.  FotorCreated SUmmer 2015

In all these challenges, engagements and sacrifices, I draw plenty of lessons, and comfort in a seemingly bleak tomorrow. I am also re-learning to rely on my biggest assets, my strengths, stamina, optimism, creativity, social upbringing, mental forage, hunger for learning, reading and sharing, intellectualism, networking skills, love for the outdoors, adventure and the sprit of giving.

I take time to recall plenty of lessons my mother instilled in me, directly or by default. Among which are:

  • Better to keep your mouth shut. No one will blame you for thoughts unsaid.

– Those obsessed with respect, overwhelm them.

– One without shame is a fool. [She attributed this to my grandmother]

– In another person’s house, your choice is to slave. 

Obviously, there are better English phrases/proverbs with similar meaning to mine above. However, I prefer to present mine in a literal interpretation of my mother’s words. For instance the last one could be rephrased as, “A beggar has no choice” or “Silence is Golden” or “Respect Thy Master”…She is a great inspiration to what I do, what I pay attention to and my commitments.

I am grateful that I am spending time with my son, and providing him plenty of opportunities beyond what money can facilitate. As the summer draws to a close, I reflect to all the accomplishments we have made together or with family and friends. With a very humble budget, but a big heart and strong drive. At the start of his First Grade year, one of his “Resolutions” from a class exercise read, “I wish to go on vacation this year.” I am grateful that I was able to make that happen for him.

On his last day of school, I got him off the bus and onto the bus to New York City, and train to Legoland Discovery Center. We spent our first weekend in New York State, between Westchester County and Brooklyn, NYC. Phenomenon experience, plenty of excitement in one weekend!

At Legoland, we built bridges and apartment blocks, built and raced cars, flew on a jet. He spent plenty of time in a bouncy house, while I spent some “Me” time reading and fb’king. We spent quality time hopping from
store to store, including playing with electronics, in ‘his favorite store of all time,’ the Apple Store, while I charged my phone.

The weekend came to an end with a trip to visit cousins in Brooklyn, went to Brooklyn Bridge, Park, walked on top of rocks, eat free food, and enjoyed a free Skloosh. Moreover, COM had a chance of going on a whirlwind through NYC subway, from Port Authority to Time Square to Penn Station. He quickly learned that, “NYkers are not friendly to others. They do not say hello.” COM is smart!

Out of New York, went off to Palmyra, PA, Lancaster County, to visit my family, since my mom was visiting us here from down south (Georgia).  Exciting, quality and fun family time: Hershey Chocolate World and Harrisburg, PA State Capitol, and ran through the corn fields of Lancaster County. Back to the Poconos, and before long, another road trip to Accokeek, MD, on July 4th Weekend, for a cousin’s birthday. I, got to ‘sneak away’ to meet old friends in Wash/DC.


While it has been a period of pre-longed sickness in the family, it became an opportunity to shine through, unexpectedly. I have stepped up to support the family, torn apart, depressed and absorbed in caring for the sick. Turning lemons into lemonades, by practicing my momma adorned skills of patience, humanity and caring for others. Kids have especially been central to my heart and hands, as well as the entire household.

Impromptu picnic in the park, just because we had salad, watermelon, pitta bread to make pizza. Watched the kids play in the park, and made sure they funNED out together, as cousins get to do all summer long at grandma’s house. More fun picnic in the yard, swimming at the pool, playing board games, putting on “The Big Game”, painting girls’ nails and playing games boy play, Hello  Wii U!

Summer bebe means summer birthdays in the park, our an annual fete, with plenty of friends and family. The Ninja within us came out! And if you are a wonderful, sociable, kind and humble child like mine, you get more birthday party invites, with free pass into Crayola Factory! More adventures, more friends, and more exciting moments.

In other news, Scouting just got more fun, with a week-long Day Camp at Camp Minsi, where we got to try out new stuff for the first time: archery, slingshot, building pirate’s treasure chest and telescope, playing cannon balls with marbles, sail-a-ho, making square knot, treasure hunting and fishing, and swimming in the lake (COM has swam in pools, oceans and seas before).

Oh yeah! Even got a chance to “raise the colors” (National Flag); how cool is that! Then weekend overnight camping at Knoebels Camping Ground, with Saturday spent jumping on and off rides at Knoebels Amusement Resort, with new-found friends.

We participated in the Summer Reading Program at our local youth library, and read our way to the “Wall of Fame”, scooped plenty of badges and gifts for 1,000+ reading minutes. Very little of ‘Paws n Pages’, since one of the lovely therapy dogs COM reads to got put down [shhh], and another underwent an operation that puts him out for recovery for a while.

In athletics, we added a new sport, Soccer, and successfully completed the YMCA Summer Soccer Camp with friends and new friends. Learning never stops! And Yes! We are now blue belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, going onto Red stripe, and before long, We will be Red belt. What a year!

No, we are not financially wealthy; we are simply committed to engaging, achieving and growing. Hopefully, COM will continue with some or all of these activities for many more years into the future. Hopefully, it will influence his commitments in life, and future life trajectory.

Throughout these experiences, I am learning and recalling many lessons, and gaining more appreciation for Small is Beautiful!

Never Say Never, also continuously reverberates in my ears, especially now that I am a mother. Eight years ago, I would never have imagined myself hanging out, or letting COM hang with gun-wielding folks.

But Time is Of The Essence! I attribute this kind of growth to becoming a mother. Though, thanks in part to Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, where I learned about the “Role of Force [in International Relations]”.

Whereas I still do not subscribe to the notion that force justifies the use guns, at Fletcher I gained a renewed familiarity with those who take to guns to resolve disagreements. I still do not understand why, a five-year old kid gets a BB gun as a birthday gift from the parents.

Still, I am no longer locking myself away from opposites, nor jettisoning those friendship away from COM, as long as it is clearly understand, “We do not entertain guns as toys or seek to gain expertise in shooting with a gun. Archery or Sling Shots, we shall try. Fotorcollage Summer 20152

Most importantly, I am learning to appreciate every slow-down in professional advancement as opportunities for grow in other areas, such as health, fitness and wellness. I wake up very early in the morning to work-out and keep myself in good mental and physical health. No wonder, my child thinks I am a “runner by profession”.

My runs are my avenues for releasing unwanted toxins, creating new ideas and running away from sadness. On one of my morning runs, a thought came to my mind, Never think of your challenges or life choices as a failure, but life’s lessons and trajectories. Otherwise, you will spend your life, comparing yourself to others, and growing bitterness. You will also lose sight of the important achievements and milestones you make, when making hard choices and while making life adjustments.

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In the Middle of Everywhere!

Have you ever felt stuck in the Middle of Everywhere?

In the Middle of Everywhere

In the Middle of Everywhere

Imagine for a minute that you are stuck in “space”. Let’s call that space, a basement. There is limited natural light, it is really cold in the Winter, floods with melting snow when Spring comes, hot in the Summer. For most part of the year, you cannot tell day or night, except by the hourly talk of your alarm clock or when your TV announces the news. Since you are in constant fear of missing your daybreak due to lack of sunlight, you have to keep some kind of artificial light on 24-hours. You decide, the lead light will be the cheapest.

Though, none of the solutions seems to work because you still feel stuck in a basement. You are losing yourself. You are losing your creativity, your energy, your imagination and your umph! Every idea you come up with, seems to evaporate right before you put it on paper. You really don’t know where you are headed. You go to bed everyday, with a promise to wake up and accomplish at least one goal per day. Yet, the energy dwindles from you half way into your goal of the day!

Stuck in the basement, you are losing your sense of direction. You are losing your confidence. You are losing your trust in miracles. You begin feeling that  life has given up on you, and connived against your flourishing and success. Yet, you cannot get back any time, minute or second that has gone by you.

The basement is swallowing your pride, as much as it is enhancing your bitterness. The basement is stimulating your delusion and destabilization more than your boosting your determination. The basement is where dreams no longer come true, where dreams die, dreams become confused, and entangled in mourning, regret, bouts of sadness and soul searching.

You want to get out of the basement. You vow to get out of the basement. You give yourself a timeframe to quit the basement. Yet you no longer seem to know how the paths to tread. Or perhaps you know, but the basement has eaten up your courage to get out. The only time you step out of the basement is for a cup of tea upstairs, or go for a run outside or to the bus stop. Or perhaps you are embarrassed to show your face to the world that has held you up, expecting a lot of you and from you. You would rather shut your face away from the world that expects high performance from you.

You are in the middle of everywhere, yet you are alone and lonely. You do not wanna be alone, yet alone is when you feel the most relaxed and humanized. What else is there to live for? The basement reminds you of all the responsibilities you have incurred in life. The knowledge you have and continue to amass, which needs to be put to use for yourself and those in your life. The basement reminds you to show it appreciation for shielding you from the wrath of the world, and give back to the world. The basement is where it all unfolds-folds-unfolds again. Yet, you cannot fold yourself up forever.

There is no noise in the basement, except for the occasional rotation of the extra fan, turned on when it is really cold, or the TV or clock at the top of the hour. The basement offers a huge place to breath ideas, recapture them before they disappear from your imagination, escaping your little fingers. Put them on paper, transport them into virtual reality, into other people’s spaces.

In the Middle of Everywhere is where your creativity should come back to life. Move out of the basement, hit the streets and never look back into the basement. You will be a giant, again, In the Middle of Everywhere….Everywhere but the basement!

Re-testing my Mental Stamina

I am re-experimenting with my mental stamina. I am sure you are surprised that I say, “I am re-testing my mental stamina!” Especially if you know me, since I am always testing oneself. After all, my running routines are always a mental test; going out for five miles, and coming back 20 miles later! Running in single digit temperatures, after a snowstorm and the hottest of summer. Even my family balancing acts are a mental test with the relations involved, the activities I engaged in, the people I am around and my commitment to super-excellence for my son [who, bless his soul!] sometimes I think I am demanding too much of him😘).

Anyway, this experiment, which is now a day old, going on two today is not exactly new in my life. Though it has been a while since I did and kept to it with perfection. That was when my child was a toddler, and I had more flexibility, and more support managing and caring for him. I did not have the daily routine of cooking, cleaning, bathing and caring for me. I had family to support (that time I lived in Uganda). I had people who really cared and supported me, and I could genuinely count on!

Right now, I am the father and mother and grandma and cousin. I am the unassisted and overwhelmed jack-of-all-trade! At a time when my geographical, economic and social spaces are completely weighing down my emotional, mental and physical stability. I am very good at shrugging off visible pains and agony in the public, trying not to hang personal linen out in the public.

For my own sanity, and to spare my son and my family’s name. I use mental health to dissuade myself from going crazy, bitter or tumble into a permanent wreck. I will go on a run to recover from a slump, to clear my mind and break anew. To remove myself from a situation or from peoples causing sadness and grief to me, and to feel good about myself. In sum, I run for fun, to feel wild, free, young, liberated and centered. I consciously avoid self-labeling as “depressed”, to avoid getting trapped into any such a situation. Yet, I cannot stop myself from self-labeling as, “flabby and nasty looking”, if that is how I feel, increasingly more and more.

I went through a]nother] life transformation last year, to live a life [again] for my son. Of course change is not always desirable or positive. Certain change is painful!, extremely painful! Particularly, one that causes loss of all safety-nets, and increases chances of dependence, vulnerability and shame. Story of my life. So, for the last year, I have transfigured, stuck in the mud and tasted lots of bitter tomatoes. All that packaged in a “nutty professor suit”, and increasingly weighing me down and under! I am trying to get myself out of the ditch, using my very best adornment – mental willpower. Hopefully, I will succeed in fighting off all the temptations.

Yesterday, Tuesday, October 28 was the first full day of the beginning of a re-experimenting on myself. Mission accomplished! I did not feel any special cravings or uncontrollable desires, surprisingly! And yes, I had to run my childcare shift: pick up from school bus, to Taekwon-do/Taekwondo class, then back home. I felt quite weak and tired throughout the day, but did not have the opportunity to take a nap. Yes! I also dosed off while typing up these notes, and fell asleep again in Taekwondo class. Good thing, I woke up in time to drive back home. Did good on that.

Homework had to be done, and dinner prepared. Too low on sugar, but mission accomplished. I literally could not stand anything or anyone. But drank water and stayed the course. Hopefully, this is doable for many more days! I wanna try 20, couple of many days. We’ll see how it goes. Otherwise, Day Two (Wednesday, October 29) is going  much better. I am still going on #Teamu20days challenge. 

I would like paid work that works with me

They say, “Beggars have no choice”. So, I guess I am not part of that lot!

 

Why should anyone define themselves as beggars, anyway? Just because one is looking for paid work, does not make you a beggar. In any case, I think it is of strategic importance for “beggars” to have choice, lest they accept any and all toxic addition to their lives. Which seems true for many beggars: they pick their target audience carefully, typically around a busy intersection or subway; they  hold well-written placards asking for donations visible to even motorists inside their AC SUVs, and advanced beggars know to offer something in return – “food in exchange for any kind of work” or “god bless you for helping feed me and my children”. 

 
In my case, I want paid work that works with me, in terms of my schedule, my life and my responsibilities. In fact, I have achieved most of my career success taking this stand -of job, academics, personal choices that work with me.  It might not have come without pain, agony, sweat, disappointments and endurance, but what else doesn’t? No one wakes up to run a marathon (although I have kind of done that a few times); everything requires dedicated training and commitment. 
 
Similarly to most of my career advancements based on taking unconventional risks and making unpopular decisions, that have amazingly served me well! I have travelled the world, learned new subjects over and beyond my formal and informal classroom experience, made new friends, influenced plenty of people and mentored generations. I am fortunate to say that my previous employers have outstanding memories of me, however short-lived my work experience with them was. They will tell you that I am the most indefatigable, creative, imaginative, wittiest and personable colleague they have had the privilege of working with. I, too have fond memories of my employers, my professors and my colleagues. They taught me so much about professional commitment, they allowed me to venture out into new territories and trusted me with their work; they allowed me unfettered time for career and personal growth, on their clock, and mentored my writing, research, advocacy and activism. Beside, they supported me with time, money and personal resources, opening up their “binders of VIPs”, from which I tapped in advancing my professional, scholarly and academic careers. I think I have returned the gratitude by mentoring others, giving and dedicating myself to committing to unconventional work.
 
Among my most memorable employer is the women who introduced me to the world of refugees, to which I was oblivious hitherto. Although, I was born in a country that hosted generations of refugees from before I was born, most of us grew up not making much of ‘foreigners’, unless they were white or Indian. True, she paid me peanuts, but allowed me to travel the world and attend seminars for my career advancement, all on her time, and still paid me a monthly salary and sometimes gave me a travel allowance. As her personal assistant, she positioned me in places with high-level international dignitaries, who later secured me scholarships for international training. She taught me to write for public audiences, using the print press, and fundraising proposals to donors. She sowed the seed in me as a grantseeker, by taking me to fundraising meetings with international funders. She gave me the tools to become an institutional memory for establishment and sustainability of organizations, when she made me co-creator of a successor body to our  project on refugee rights. She made me feel very special, when she said I was the first Ugandan woman (then I was still a young girl) she had met who was not shy, who knew and perfectly stood for what she wanted, because I walked into her office and asked for a joy even though there was no job advertisement posted. When she asked me if I could bring my resume in two weeks when she was back from Oxford, to her shock I had my cv on a floppy disk in my bag, that I handed over to her to print out immediately! Just like that, I got my first ‘higher and long-term’ paying job while still a university student. Not only that, I successfully negotiated with her to work part-time and allow me use her office space and equipment to type up individual cases of prison inmates from a student volunteer project I headed, and in exchange investigate if there were any refugees on our visits to detention facilities!
 
Prior to that, I had had the privilege of being mentored by a distinguished law professor and scholarly activist, who stated a human rights center at the university with a component of practical training of student human rights activists. I was paid for three months as a student intern and sent to an NGO to learn practical skills of human rights activism and office work. The rest is history! Soon, I volunteered to coordinate student interns and the center staff, then I mooted and effected the idea of founding a prisoners’ human rights project, which I headed until I left the country. I convinced professors at the law school to donate pro bono time teaching human rights activism to university students beyond the law school, recruited student interns and volunteers to take visit places of detention, interview inmates and staff, and document conditions in prisons and prisoners’ human rights abuses, and partnered with legal aid and human rights organizations to take up court cases of incarcerated persons pro bono or help in family tracing, petitioned the government human rights agency to release persons on undue detention indefinitely or automatic bond, and ran radio and TV talk shows discussing conditions in prisons. At a time when human rights activism and student internships and volunteering were literally unheard of within universities, i grew the prisons project into the most popular student initiative on the university campus and among organizations and government human rights bodies. I was the “energizer bunny” back then, in all things voluntary service to the community, including spending December school-break fundraising and building a primary school for children in rural Uganda. The rewards were hefty, including fully-funded international travels and training, unlimited access to glowing letters of recommendation, unsolicited nomination to roundtables on national, regional and international human rights concerns, respect and admiration among my peers, and everlasting mentorship and friendships that I enjoy to date. 
 
Due to the strong foundation and mentorship never to be afraid of engaging on unconventional wisdom, I have been able to venture into terrain that I might never have chosen in the first place. For instance, while motherhood was nowhere on my “to-do list”, I took up it up, and challenged myself to have my baby all natural without any pain-relief medication or epidural during labor. I achieved my wishes due to disciplined pre-natal preparation using the tested “Bradley Method of Natural Child Birth”, and delivered a health baby. I stuck to the same kind of discipline, post-delivery, making sure that baby comes first alongside work, good health, proper feeding and all social engagements. Although I “played-pause” on “formal employment”, l re-enter a career later on that facilitated being a single traveling mother/scholarly researcher/community mobilizer.
 
I have not had a typical 9-5 job since having my son, yet I have been able to deliver above and beyond to all my professional employers and colleagues, and left everlasting memories. In any case, I have always worked beyond the usual eight-hour day shift, putting in late nights, very early mornings and weekends not because I do not have ‘a life’ – after all, I have traveled on vacation with child, run everyday, joined my social groups to weekend runs and out-of-town get-aways, and fundraised as a resource mobilizer and donated to worthy communities and individuals, and trained rural communities to monitor and demand accountability for public service delivery, especially in areas of child health, education and social infrastructure, and challenged communities and my social networks to mobilize and donate own physical, monetary and in-kind resources to re-build our communities instead of waiting for perpetual empty promises from central government or handouts from international groups. 
 
Now that I am back to my other geographical space in America, and I am sinking my hands, faith and hard work in “finding paid work that works from me”. That is, accepting of my status as a single mother, raising a toddler, and committed to being in his life. My plans for my child and career ambitions do not allow me the luxury of being in the same space with his daddy nor the support of my larger family. I know I have to make it work, like all single mothers do – working two or three jobs while striving to put food on the table for their kids, clothes on their backs and books and educational materials. Yet, I know one-size does not fit all. On my part, I am good at selling my services to achieve professional satisfaction and fulfillment, which is the approach I seek to pursue in order to earn an income, while allowing me time to raise and grow with my son. I would like to afford the opportunity to attend my son’s school activities, take him to weekend sports activities, education trips and holidays, make him meals at home and prepare him for school while at the same time not sacrificing financial and professional accomplishment. Observing children raised by maids with an age disconnect from the children or goal disconnect from their parents, makes me shudder, when they spend most time raising children on TV and indoors, as opposed to allowing children to create their own play through imagination and outdoors activities. Since my son has a restrictive diet, which is not very compatible with mainstreamed feeding and eating habits of ‘fast foods and snacks”, taking over most children’s diets in our society. 
 
These might seem trivial issues to plenty out there, but I strongly believe that they are central to a child’s upbringing. I observe in my geographical space, many couples have chosen to dedicate one parent as a “stay-at-home” or “work-from-home”, especially the mother, while the other [especially father] goes off to formal office 9-5 career. This affords their child[ren] a stable presence and full engagement of a family member. I am already talking to several colleges and university, who might be interested in developing partnerships for student international training and study abroad. I also have my eyes on international fundraising for grassroots community development, a field so dear to my heart and central to my professional and scholarly experiences.  

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!