What kinda Life is This? The Life of a Working Lagos Mum
Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, sounded the alarm. Rola jumped up at the sound, it was 4:30am and another day had begun! She knelt by her bedside to mumble some words of prayer as she thanked God for another day and asked for strength to face the day. She walked up to the other side of the bed to give her husband a good morning kiss. “Good morning darling,” she said and still in a very sleepy state, he muttered some words which sounded like “Morning love” in return.
Rola headed straight to the kitchen and, as usual, selected her favourite playlist on her phone and hit the play button. She danced her way around the kitchen as she whisked the eggs, assembled the sandwiches, chopped veggies and blended fruits for a healthy smoothie. She glanced at the clock and realized it was time to wake the children up.
She dashed off to their room, woke them up, prayed with them and got them ready for school, as she shuttled between their room and the kitchen. Wow! No wonder women are likened to the octopus, juggling multiple tasks with their “many hands.” As the kids went down for breakfast, Rola confirmed that all lunch boxes were packed and then went ahead to get ready for work. She jumped in and out of the shower briskly as she barely had any time for a luxury bath.
Noticing her efforts to get ready as fast as possible, her husband decided to help reduce the pressure by offering to drop the children at school. This was a huge relief, as it gave her more time for herself.
As she drove to work, Rola had a mental playback of her morning so far, then she began to envision her day; the workload at the office, the traffic on her way back home and the thought of getting home tired and still having to prepare dinner for the family made her sink deeper into her seat. Rola caught herself in this downcast mood as the thought of her workingLagos mum life engulfed her and she immediately tried to shake it off by thanking God for the gift of family, however, she couldn’t help but think “what kind of life is this?!”
Hmmm, does Rola’s life sound familiar? Can you relate with her? Just like Rola ( a working Lagos mum like many of us), did you ask yourself that same question or something similar recently or even this morning? Are you tired of just going through the motions like Rola? Do you desire more from life than you are currently experiencing? Do you sometimes wish life could be fairer? Do you feel guilty having these thoughts? Would you feel less guilty knowing that you are not alone in this line of thoughts?………… Well my dear, indeed you are not alone! It’s normal and healthy to feel this way from exhaustion. Being a parent is the most tasking and rewarding profession and nothing tops being a parent than being a mum!
Albeit, being a mum does not define you; You are first and foremost an individual before you are a wife and/or a mother. You must care for your person first before you can take care of the family. This may sound selfish and absurd, as “mum” is synonymous to self-sacrifice. However, you cannot give what you do not have. If you do not take care of yourself (Physically, emotionally and psychologically), you will get to a point where you begin to resent your husband and children. Sacrificing your needs for your family serves neither of you. No doubt, there is the place of sacrifice in all relationships, however, we need to be able to create a balance.
Ashley Eder, LPC, a psychotherapist described the mother-child relationship as both symbiotic and parasitic. It is parasitic because your adorable and beloved children (parasites) depend on you (the host) for survival. Therefore the host has to ensure that she stays healthy for their sake. If you feel that you are doing too much for the family with very little time for yourself, it might help to have a chat with your husband and let him know how you feel. In doing so, be careful not to attack his person, appreciate his efforts as a husband and father and then gently put it to him that you would appreciate it if he could help out with a few things.
For some this may be fruitful, while others may not be fortunate enough to have understanding husbands. Whatever the case may be, mum needs to create time for herself. That sounds almost impossible because of the hustle and bustle in Lasgidi coupled with responsibilities at home. Be assured however that it is indeed possible; it requires intentionality and mindfulness. You create your world and you have to make conscious efforts to create the kind of life you want. This must be done realistically, taking into consideration your peculiar situation. No matter your circumstance, there’s a way to make it work!
Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be extravagant, you work with what you have. It could be as simple as treating yourself to your favourite snack once a month, getting your nails done (even though they won’t last long from constantly dipping them into water), to taking a couple of minutes just for you at least once a day and just breathe! If you live in one of those quiet estates, you could take a 15-30 mins walk and rather than think about dinner or the pending tasks, just take time to breathe and appreciate your surroundings (who knows, you just might see an ad asking you to trade the kids for some mommy time!).
Or you could just go sit in your car and listen to music. Practice being mindful about activities, no matter what. It could be while washing dishes, taking a bath, taking a walk or playing with the children. Mindfulness requires you to “be in the moment.” Consciously observe your sensory experience as you engage in these activities. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Whatever it takes, you have to maintain your sanity; your mental and emotional health are very important.
Dear mum, please endeavour to give yourself a pat on the back regularly because you’re doing a terrific job! Ignore the naysayers who may be criticizing you, they can’t do it better than you. Look at yourself in the mirror daily and say to yourself: I am a terrific mum, doing a wonderful job and I deserve to be happy too! My needs matter and refusing to acknowledge them does not serve anyone!
Gbemi Ogunrinde, Family Psychologist