Posted in 5 THINGS, Culture, Motherhood

5 things that grind my gears! Motherhood edition!

Sometimes, we say things to others without thinking about how they might feel about what we have said, the state they’re in, what they might be going through e.t.c. So, I decided to address some of those things in a new series I’m calling ‘5 things that grind my gears…..’

To start us off, here are 5 things that grind my gears…. Motherhood edition!

  1. Why is this child so skinny? Aren’t you feeding her? 

What I say : *Laugh* I’m feeding her ma

What I want to say: Excuse me ma, all babies don’t look the same! I feed her when she needs to be fed and I don’t need you questioning my abilities. Also, not that it is any of your business, but she doesn’t stop eating. She eats throughout the day and on some nights gets up for her nightly fix of Weetabix/Bananas. Please mind your business.

  1. Your daughter is how old? What are you waiting for? You should be pregnant already!

What I say: *LAUGH* soon ma, soon!

What I want to say: I love my child and I recognise that she is a blessing. However, I am still trying to get through the fatigue that comes with carrying a baby for 9 months, the pain of contracting for over 36 hours, pushing her out and now trying to take care of her whilst also keeping my mental health in check. So, I’m sorry that I’m not inviting you to a naming ceremony yet, but I’ll have another baby when I am ready. Until then, please leave me alone. 

  1. The stress of Motherhood has really made you lose weight oo  

What I say: *Laugh* No oo, I’ve been exercising ni.

What I want to say: I have been working really hard to be a “yummy mummy”. It’s very difficult to find time to workout whilst trying to balance everything that comes with motherhood. I’ve been sacrificing much-needed sleep and pounded yam to try to keep my body in the best shape possible. I understand that I may not look like your idea of what a mum should look like and I appreciate the fact that you recognise that I have lost weight, however, I do not appreciate you discarding my hard work and making assumptions. So, unless you have something positive to say, please mind your business. 

  1. She’s _______ old, she should be ______

What I say: *LAUGH* 

What I want to say: SHE WILL DO IT WHEN SHE’S READY! 

  1. Why is she shouting? She must be very naughty!

What I say: She’s not naughty

What I want to say: I find it quite annoying that after spending 5 minutes with my daughter, you feel fit to tell me, her mother, that my daughter is naughty. She’s a toddler and I don’t appreciate you labelling her negatively based on the 5 minutes of toddler-isms that you have seen. You don’t see her sweetness in the morning when she asks me how I slept (even though she kept me up all night). You don’t see her independence when she insists on helping me cook or when she says ‘I want to do it myself…’. You don’t see how caring she can be when she sees me upset and asks ‘what’s wrong mummy?’ You don’t notice how observant she is when she role-plays. You see a child that is ‘naughty’, but there are so many reasons why she may have been displaying ‘naughty’ behaviour at that time. So, if you do not have something positive to say about my daughter, please mind your business!

Moral of the post: If you don’t have anything positive to say, then say nothing. If you’re truly worried, find a way to pass the message on without making us feel inadequate.

Till next time

-A

Posted in Culture, Empowerment, Relationships

New you, New Wife?

Hi everybody, hope ye are all having a good week so far. My week started off well until I came across a certain scene in a Nigerian movie. This particular scene really annoyed me, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, as you do, I decided to talk about it.

My mother-in-law was watching a Nigerian movie and I happened to walk in on a scene in which a husband was explaining to his wife the reason behind him marrying another wife. Basically, this man married another wife because he felt his wife was not suitable for his new role. He had been elected to a certain position in the community and felt he needed a more learned woman by his side.

I can understand why he felt his wife might not be the most suitable candidate for his new position. His new role put him in the public eye and required him to interact with the public. If seen with him, she will be forced to speak English, which she was unable to. However, I’m not sure that marrying another wife is the solution. If his current wife is not holding it down the way he wants her to, then why can’t he support her to be the wife he wants her to be (assuming she wants to be that wife). Instead, he chose to marry another wife, forgetting that she didn’t speak English when he married her.

marital growth

I’m just tired of hearing about men marrying new wives because they refuse to support their wives to be better. Yes, the Islamic religion permits a man to marry more than one wife (This man wasn’t a Muslim btw). I am not disputing that. However, marrying another wife to replace another seems selfish to me, especially if the things she lacks can be achieved. These women have been through the worst with you, choosing to basically replace or dump her when you reach a certain milestone is just lazy and selfish. He was very happy being married to her until he was promoted to this new role, so why isn’t she good enough now.

I’ve heard so many silly reasons for men wanting to re-marry; ‘I want a younger wife’, ‘her body is not as toned as it used to be’. They forget that they are the reason her body isn’t toned, they forget that she was young when they got married.  If her body isn’t as toned as it used to be, encourage her to exercise. In fact, exercise with her and get rid of your belly. You don’t see women re-marrying because their husbands now have pot-bellies, so why is it okay for men to do it? Marriage shouldn’t be a ‘you’re good for this aspect of my life’ thing. The person you marry should be good for every aspect of your life. An example is Goodluck Jonathan and Patience (ex-president of Nigeria and his wife). Patience wasn’t as learned as her husband but she was still known as the First Lady of Nigeria (although, I do think he should have encouraged her to improve her English to save her from ridicule). I believe that marriage should be a loving partnership in which both partners support and encourage each other to be better. Your marriage should encourage your personal growth. Your partner should be your cheerleader.

That said, I’m not going to completely put this on men. As a person, it is your duty to improve yourself in any way that you can. At the end of the day, no one can care about you more than you care about yourself. In order to make sure that life doesn’t leave you behind, you need to continue to work on yourself. The woman in the movie took things into her own hands and started to learn English part-time. I didn’t stay to watch the rest of the movie but I wouldn’t be surprised if her husband came running back to her beaming with pride.

Till next time

-A

 

Posted in Culture, Relationships

Standards

Speaking to several friends/sisters about marriage, I noticed a common theme; most of them were being advised to lower their standards when it comes to men, in order to find a spouse. For the purpose of this post, ‘lowering standards’ refers to saying ‘Yes’ when you’re not completely happy.

I can understand the pressure to reduce standards when it comes to marriage. Unfortunately for us, especially in this part of the world, there is a scarcity of ‘husband material’. Yes, husband material. There are more women ready for marriage than there are men. Men our age are either not ready to settle because they are not ‘there’ yet or they aren’t finished playing the field. As well as this, the men that are available are not necessarily what we want.  So, when a ‘good enough’ man comes around, our family and friends encourage us to ‘go for it’, even if it means lowering our standards because another ‘good enough’ man might never show up. As well as this, we have the added pressure of our biological clock. As our mothers would say, ‘your clock is ticking’. We are always reminded of our age and how it may affect things in the future such as bearing children. So, ‘do what you want to do quick’. Of course, this advice comes from a good place, for the most part. Marriage is a huge deal in our culture and it is their dream and happiness to see us married.

yin and yang

However, I have to disagree with marriage under these terms; lowered standards. Marriage is many things. It is a beautiful dream but it is also hard work. It can be difficult, frustrating, stressful. There is a huge difference between being married and being happily married. Lowered standards can be that difference sometimes.  When I reflect on conversations I have had with women who are unhappy in their marriage, I realise that they all say the same thing; the signs were there but they chose to ignore them and settle. In marriage, you will have to compromise on some things, the man you marry shouldn’t be one of them. Everybody’s perfect man differs. What is good for me isn’t necessarily what is good for you. Compatibility is very important in marriage. It is so important that you share the same core values, are able to understand each other and help each other through whatever life throws your way. Marriage is difficult enough, you do not want to add more pressure to it by having a spouse that is not on the same page as you.

Before getting married to my husband, I had several conversations with him. These conversations dealt with things we knew we wanted from each other; things we knew we couldn’t compromise on. We spoke about our day to day lives, our goals, our expectations of each other and our understanding of our roles. We spoke about religion, ambitions, children. All these conversations gave me insight into the man he was and whether he suited me. Learning from my past, I made sure that we shared the same core values not excluding humour. Funnily enough, one of the main things we talked about after Islam, was cleanliness. It’s very important to the both of us and so needed to be addressed. From these conversations, we decided that we were compatible with each other. So, although we have disagreements, our ideas on important issues such as raising our daughter is very much the same.

When thinking of whether to settle or not, I’d advise that you have a list of realistic things that you cannot compromise on; things that are absolutely important for you to make your marriage what you want it to be. This will help you to deal with the pressure and keep yourself in check when deciding on a spouse.

Remember it is better to marry ‘late’ than to marry wrong. Be patient. Think of the end goal, your happiness is important.

 

Till next time

-A

 

 

Posted in Culture, Relationships

A Year and counting…

Hi everybody, hope ye are all having a great week. This week, I’ll be discussing what I have learnt in my marriage so far. I have only been married for a year and a month, so I still have a lot to learn. But here are some of the things I have learnt so far…

  • Marriage is NOT always 50/50- Marriage is not always 50/50. Sometimes, it is 70/30, sometimes it is 60/40. There will be times, more often that none, when one partner will need to do more than the other in order to keep the relationship afloat. Sometimes, your partner just doesn’t have 50 to give. In cases like this, it is important that you pick up the slack. A perfect example is my pregnancy. If you have been following my posts, you would know that I had a terrible time and my husband had to step up greatly. He was doing things that I would normally have done as well as his duties in the household. The main thing is that the relationship was kept afloat. If he had done otherwise, our relationship probably wouldn’t be where it is. Pregnancy is an obvious one. How about a situation where one partner can’t give 50 percent because they are simply tired? If one waits for the other person to put in 50 all the time, things won’t get done. However, if each party gives in the best that they can in order to make the partnership work, the likelihood of things getting done are much higher. If the relationship is important to you, then you should go in with the mentality of wanting to put in the best you can everytime to make things work.

“And one of His signs is that He has created for you, spouses from amongst yourselves so that you might take comfort in them and He has placed between you, love and mercy. In this there is surely evidence (of the truth) for the people who carefully think.” (Quran 30, Verse 21)

  • Love takes work- In the beginning, there was love. Fiery passionate love. When I got married, things got busy really quickly for us. I went back to finish my postgrad in the UK a week after we got married. My husband went back to work. I fell pregnant while doing my postgrad and he fell into the role of the travelling – doting husband. We went from the honeymoon phase to ‘I need to catch a breath’ phase. As you can imagine, things were emotionally tiring for both of us during this time. However, I noticed that it was the little things that kept us going. It was the little things that we did for each other that kept the love going. It was the ‘I took out the bin because I know you hate taking bins out” or the “I bought you werthers because I know how much you love them”. It is the work that we both continue to consciously put in that filters our long days with love. It is the mentality of “what can I do to please my husband today” or “what can I do to please my wife today” that allows the love continue to grow.

happily ever after

Good men are for good women and good women are for good men.” (Quran 24, Verse 26)

  • You get what you put in: If you want an extraordinary husband, then you need to be an extraordinary wife. Just like everything in life, you get what you put in. A great man deserves a great wife and vice versa. We all want the best for ourselves but in order to get the best, you have to put it in your best. If you want a husband that goes the extra mile, you need to be a wife that will go that extra mile. You cannot expect breakfast in bed from a man who barely gets food when he comes home from work. A great man will continue to be a great man if he is supported and appreciated by a great woman and can even become a greater man and vice versa. Show your appreciation for your great man through your actions; saying I love you doesn’t always cut it.

 

  • Other relationships can affect your relationship: If you’re Nigerian like I am, then you know we come from a culture where you don’t just marry the man but you marry the family. Personally, I have always liked this aspect of our culture. I used to always say that I wanted my husband to be able to feel comfortable visiting my family without me having to be there and vice-versa. However, having these close-knit relationships means that arguments and differences can happen. I have found that situations, where a spouse has to deal with recurring differences between his/her partner and another close family member can impact the relationship. It can get tiring having to sort disputes and arguments especially when both sides feel they are in the right. Try not to put your spouse in a situation where he/she feels they have to choose between people that they care about; it can add pressure and stress which can then filter down into your relationship. As well as this, in trying to not take sides, it can cause the build up of walls in a marriage.

 

I’d love to hear your opinions. What have you learnt in your marriage or from others? Tell me in the comment section below.

 

Till next time

–  A

Posted in Relationships

Hitting reply.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter – Martin Luther King Jr. 

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Domestic violence is such a sensitive topic. It isn’t one that I feel capable of talking about. However, I had to respond to this post. So, I’m hitting reply.

‘And of his signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them..’ – Qur’an 30 V21

Violence is NOT a part of marriage. Love, trust, honesty, compromise, challenges e.t.c is a part of marriage. Violence is NOT. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Marriage is a sign of maturation.  When a man refers to his wife as his ‘baby’, it is generally as a term of endearment. He wants to care for her and protect her, as he should. That’s generally what people do when they care about someone. They don’t treat them like children that need to be corrected. If you feel like you’ve married a child, maybe you should have waited a few years before marrying her. Or you shouldn’t have married her at all.

I know of marriages that have managed perfectly without domestic violence. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have troubles. It just means that the couple chose to treat each with respect rather than like punching bags.

I also know of marriages that have managed with domestic violence. I have seen the impact on the women involved. I have seen broken women. I have seen sad women. Yes, your marriage may have lasted for over 9 years, but it doesn’t make it a successful marriage. Quantity is not quality.

You say domestic violence is overrated. I say that it is underrated.  What you don’t realise is that domestic violence is more than the physical harm that is inflicted. Various researches have said that psychological wounds of domestic violence linger after the bruises heal. You beat her up and you apologise. She accepts your apology and you move on. The physical harm heals and it is like nothing happened. But something happened. You disrespected her. You humiliated her. You degraded her. She might not have the physical scar to show for it, but the emotional scar is there.

Take a look at your wife. The woman you married. The mother of your children. You are not her daddy. You are her husband. Look at her. Tell me, she is the same person you married. Tell me, that her self-esteem is just as it was when you first married her. Tell me, that your consistent beatings have not had any negative impact on her. Tell me, that your 9 years of marriage has had a positive impact on her emotional well-being. Tell me that if you had never hit her, she would be the exact same person she is now.

Then, if you have any, take a look at your children. Tell me, that the constant disrespect that you show your wife has had no impact on them. Tell me, it doesn’t upset them to see their mother bruised. Tell me, they enjoy seeing their mum cry from your beatings. Tell me, that it has not affected your relationship with them. Tell me, that your sons aspire to be just like their father. Tell me that your daughter wants to marry a man just like you.

‘Children living with domestic violence suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the impact of living in a household that is dominated by tension and fear’  – Domestic Violence Prevention Centre. 

If you’re able to tell me all these, then I might say that the past 9 years of your marriage is something to celebrate.

You say domestic deaths are accidents. There is no such thing as a domestic death. Death is Death. Falling down the stairs is an accident. Falling down the stairs because my husband pushed me down the stairs is NOT an accident. What’s the excuse? ‘I meant to push her, but I didn’t mean for her to die’.

I cannot tell you how to run your marriage and I will not tell you how to run your marriage. However, I ask that you take a good long look at your wife.

Domestic violence might be a part of YOUR marriage. But it doesn’t have to be a part of everyone else’s.

Till next time

-A

Posted in Culture

Put the dunlop away…

Hi guys,

Hope you are all doing well.

Today’s post is going to be about the typical Nigerian way of bringing up a child.

I recently went to a naming ceremony and there was something the Imam said that stuck to me. He said, “Be friends with your children, or they will find friends elsewhere”.

From personal experiences and observing other families, I have noticed that children are brought up with fear and threats. It is the Nigerian way. Fear and threats are used to make sure that children are kept on the straight and narrow. When I was younger, you wouldn’t dare look your parents in the eye or even think of talking back to them. You hear parents bragging about how strict they are with their kids ‘my Tope wouldn’t dare do that, she knows I’ll deal with her’. All a parent would have to do is look at you, and you’d be shaking in your Dunlop slippers.

This system worked in Nigeria for various different reasons. It is a part of the culture. The system is used everywhere in the country including schools. Everyone is singing from the same hymnbook. So, wherever you go, you’re fed the same mantra ‘if you don’t do this, you’ll have me to deal with.’ You can’t seek solace anywhere else, as you’d only hear the same thing. You get in trouble with your parents. They report you to the rest of your family and they give out to you. Next, you’re reported to the neighbours, who give out to you. Next day, your mother drags you to school to report to your teacher, who then gives you more punishment.

Here, the way children are raised in the western world is completely different. Threats and fear don’t always work. If anything, threatening them is only going to push them away further, because of the different avenues they have access to i.e social services. Although, the Nigerian system is done with love in mind and the aim is basically trying to bring up the child to be the best they can be morally and in all aspects of life. Bringing up a child with fear in this part of the world only puts a wall between a parent and a child. Here, you give out to the child and they get upset. The child then complains to a person who might not necessarily understand how a Nigerian home might work. The person condemns the way the child is being treated and gives the child a ‘safe place’. A young child does not see threats and fear as love. They are too young to understand that it is coming from a good place. Especially when they’re getting cuddles and freedom somewhere else.

I don’t completely disagree with the Nigerian way of raising children. But I do think the Imam did hit the nail on the head. “Be friends with your children or they will find friends elsewhere”. Be softer with your children, so that they don’t run into the wrong arms.

What do ye think?

Till next time

-A