You start your day at the crack of dawn to get your child ready for school. If you’re lucky, there are no tantrums or complaints, and they eat their breakfast. You head to a job you really care about, and work diligently, despite hearing the occasional passive-aggressive comment from a colleague about your flexible schedule. I am so proud of the little man I am raising even though most of the times I feel like I fall short when it comes to doing enough and giving time to my son. The kids of this generation count the times your absent, the basketball games you miss, the science fair that is scheduled on the same day as the board meeting and they take it all personal.
“Though motherhood is the most important of all the professions — requiring more knowledge than any other department in human affairs — there was no attention given to preparation for this office.”
I conceived Jesse when I had made plans for graduate studies and that meant that I had to take a break and focus on getting through the pregnancy and have a healthy baby but none of this meant that motherhood was going to enslave my conscience, limit my growth or get in the way of being the woman I always wanted to be.
Raising children in my community does involve the village chiefs, a loving partner, the nosy neighbor, relatives, a nanny and the school teacher and all these people have a scale on who a good mother is, how mothers dress, talk and behave and so I found myself constantly put on a measuring gauge of some sort and I unapologetically scored below average.
The bar to being a great mother and partner continually felt wrong mostly because, I could not measure up to any body’s standards. I still felt the urge to chase my career goals, to enroll for graduate studies while nursing a 6 months old, stop breastfeeding at 12 months and to marry when I wanted. Yes, I was a first time mother but not a rule follower.
Dear mothers who nurse children for 2 years plus I respect you, the mothers who drop and pick children from school daily I envy you and the mothers who have full time day jobs and make dinner for your family daily, I am so jealous.
I don’t want to break society rules but my idea of a working mother is to give birth, hit the gym, shade the baby weight, return to work in shape and work like the men. When you choose to combine motherhood and career in any way, shape or form, there will always be trade-offs, sacrifices and compromises and these can be rewarding as well if you are being crystal clear about why you are making them in the first place.
You can be a good mother and still follow your dreams. You totally can, if you so desire.
I am not available for evening school pickups because I work till late most days. I may not put him to sleep every night, I don’t cook dinner daily, I miss basketball games, I don’t know how to play computer games yet I love my child and my allegiance remains to him. My child has learned to respect mums job and contributes to helping mum pack for the next trip. We speak a language that only he and I understand which is our bond.
Society has conformed to all these unproven rulebooks on who a good mother is and that sometimes equates to grumpy, career stagnation, bad marriage and many other unpleasant things but I choose otherwise.
I am very intentional about my child, he is the centre of my life but my world does not revolve around him.Taking care of my career, my body and emotional health makes me a better mom. Too often society requires that the good moms’ personal needs take a back seat which is odd. It is not selfish to put myself in the front seat. Every time I take care of my dreams, I am happier and that puts a smile on my child’s face and I will not trade that for society norms.
We all differ in our personalities and even preferences. The choices that make us feel whole, good and happy at parenting are different.
I have no credibility with regards to teaching others how to be good parents given my little experience but I will say that you can be a great mom without giving up your life dreams. Parenting doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. You can be a great parent and be great at your job. Great parenting as defined by society is very subjective and so define what works for your family and make it work.
To those who love to critique and judge parenting based on unwritten rules, please keep the unwarranted opinions away. The world has evolved and the majority of the young working mums need your support, they need you to cheer them on and only provide constrictive feedback.