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

DO BETTER NIGERIA!

ANGER. RAGE. DISGUST. HURT. PAIN. HEAVY. BETRAYAL. LET DOWN. SHAME.

These words don’t even come close to describing the turmoil in my chest right now. There is so much awareness being brought to issues that have been going on for so long ‘behind closed doors’, I’m struggling to cope. I have refrained from saying anything because I don’t feel I have the right words. Instead, I have spent the past few days sharing links, posts, tweets, campaigns, petitions etc in solidarity with our fight. However, tonight I struggled to stay quiet. 

As a black woman, I’ve always been aware of the racial injustice that we as black people face. I am not blind to it. I am lucky to not have overtly experienced it but it’s there. It’s in the way people look at me when I laugh too loud or in the way they ask me why I’m so well-spoken. It is in the way they tell me to ‘calm down’ when I am trying to speak up for myself. So, I am aware that we will be judged firstly by the colour of our skin before anything else. I am aware that the mere colour of our skin is a threat to several out there. And like so many of us, the images and videos that I have seen over the past few days have enraged me. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the systemic racism that has been put in place to keep us from changing our narratives. The more information I get, the angrier I get at myself for not being quick to realise the impact of these malicious behaviours on my people. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the people who care more about power than they care about our lives. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the people who have chosen to oppress us to make their lives easier. The point is, I AM ANGRY. WE ARE ANGRY. WE ARE TIRED. We are at war and we’re ready to stand up to our enemies. 

In standing up to injustice, we need to call out the injustice within our own communities. Recently, the rape culture in Nigeria has been all over social media. Rape happens everywhere. It’s sad but true. There are sick men everywhere*. Sick men who think the way a woman dresses, walks, speaks, where she visits etc is a reason to rape her. Sick men who force themselves on women just for being women. We know these men exist. We know these men are sick. These men sicken me. But what sickens me more than these men are the communities who have raised these men to believe that they have the right to a woman’s body without her consent. Men AND women bashing other women/girls for ‘putting themselves in situations’ that have caused them to be raped. What situation gives another person the right to violate you? I won’t get into it but when you look at the stats, it is very clear that nothing stops anyone from being raped. It could have been YOU. WE need to do better. 

Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.

– Kurt Cobain

The pressure that is put on women in our community is ridiculous. We are blamed for everything including being abused by our male counterparts. From birth, we are groomed for the sake of our male counterparts; dress responsibly so that the boys won’t look at you, learn to cook so that you can be a good wife, educate yourself because no man wants a liability etc. YOU raise us girls to be strong, independent, educated, responsible etc. On the other hand, YOU raise irresponsible men who are unworthy of the women that YOU have raised. Men that choose to satisfy their sexual urges without a care for the impact it has on us because YOUR ACTIONS have taught them that we exist solely for their sake. And in turn, YOU are telling the strong girls that YOU have raised, that no matter what they do, what they achieve, what they wear, these men will ALWAYS come before them. I AM ASHAMED. Nigeria, we need to do better. 

I plan to do better and you should too. We need to raise men that are worthy of the women that we are raising. We need to raise men that understand our struggles as women. We need to raise men that will fight for our struggles as women. We need to raise men that will hear our cries. We need to raise RESPONSIBLE men. So, start in your homes. Give your sons responsibilities; let them make dinner, let them do the dishes. Teach them respect. Teach them that they are the only ones responsible for their actions and those actions have consequences. Hold them accountable. Teach them just like you teach your daughters. 

To my sisters who have suffered and continue to suffer from the hands of the irresponsible men in our community. The community that should fight for you has let you down. I see YOU. I hurt for YOU. I support YOU. You are worthy!

DO BETTER NIGERIA!!!

Till next time

-A

*There are sick men everywhere. Obviously it’s important to recognise that this role can be fulfilled by a woman also, however this is a minute minority and generally not the case in most occurrences. Therefore with relevance to my point, I am going to discuss said sick men.

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