STAY AT HOME MOM VS WORKING MOM

As an adult mom with responsibilities and purpose, there is this big question we ask ourselves as soon as we are even thinking about starting a family. Do I stay at home and look after my kids or do I go back to work, get someone else to look after the kids, earn a living to look after myself and the kids and achieve my own personal fulfilment?

There is no one answer to this question and no right answer too. Regardless of what you choose to do, that decision is perhaps the best decision for you. Here is my personal experience and how I came about choosing the best option for me and my kids. Our personal situations and experiences does impact what we decide to do about going back to work or not.

I am a stay at home (I work from home, I have my own small business I do from home) mom. When the two older kids were very young, after my maternity leave (England is better than America for that) I was working full time, schooling full time and parenting full. I had a live in nanny, their dad worked in the London branch of his company so we always leave home together in the morning and come back together in the evening. The kids were between 0-2 and the live in nanny also helped with cleaning. I never allowed anyone else to cook for my husband and kids and I took the kids for swimming and their activities. This was going on ok until my husband changed job. We all want financial stability. If you are an immigrant you would understand the honesty. We always joke, that we did not leave our countries for the English weather. So when an offer that almost triples his wages came up, it was unwise not to take it. However, such lucrative job comes with lots of sacrifices and challenges. One of it being that he traveled a lot, so he is often not around. When the kids were younger, we always traveled with him sometimes but the older they got, the more we wanted to create stability. We can’t have the kids growing up with both parents not around.

I was raised by a single teen mom so basically her immediate family raised me. My mom went back to school and started her own successful business. We were comfortable but we never sat around the table to eat together – she would come home late at night when I was already sleeping, hell we even missed so many christmases together. Probable why I love Christmas with my kids so much. I could go on about the emotional and physical abuse I endured as a child from closest family members who were more than happy to bully me because they knew my mom wasn’t around to hold them accountable and my dad was never around anyway. Although I am healed from it, but I never forget about it. This really affected my choice in raising my kids.

Call me traditional, but my philosophy is that at least one parent has to be at home to look after the kids. I cannot stress how important this is. Money is not everything. You will not allow anyone to look after your most expensive assets. why allow strangers or even family members to look after your priceless kids? I say even families because, I worked in social service for over six years and from professional experience, 90% of the abuse to children, comes from people closest to them. We warn them about stranger danger, the most dangerous people to kids are their primary carers.

My husband being a typical African man, even though he is British, took the job hoping I would automatically love to stay at home. Anyone close to me, knows how much I love kids. I literally love them so much and mine are not exception. I love being with them. I don’t love the work part though, the cleaning etc. When you are a working mom, you are still a full time mom but someone else do the hard physical part. But when you are a stay at home mom, you do EVERYTHING and that is exhausting and tiring, the aches and chills. I can’t remember the last time I don’t take 200mg of pain medicine at night. Unlike how I may come across, I am also very career oriented too. To be honest, not necessarily career, but I am financially minded. I have been hustling, selling things since I was a kid.So yes I am maternal but I am also a firm believer in personal financial freedom regardless of how blissful your marriage or relationship is. Have your own personal bank account and keep putting small amount into it. Me allowing my husband to go work in this new company without opposition wasn’t because I was a submissive or gullible wife, it was a calculated decision. One I did with the happiness and comfort of my kids in mind.

Remember that at least one of the parents always has to be with the kids. How I chose who that would be was a simple calculation. Who earned the most? Unfortunately a lot of men still earn more than their wives. This means a lot of women HAS to be the ones to make the decisions to stay at home. I would love to be the one working but his wages was more than enough to cover all our expenses. If on just mine, yes we might have gotten by but it won’t be enough for holidays or anything else. That was how I allowed him without complaint.

You have to be pragmatic about these things. Yes we live in a more sophisticated world were women rule, girl power, feminism and all that, but this is your family we are talking about and you have to make the best decision ( not political decision) for your family.

Despite choosing to stay at home to look after your own kids yourself, you can still make some income. The truth is that it may not be self fulfilling or financially rewarding as if you were 100% committed to working outside the house. But it is something. My only consolation is when I see the kids striving. I am not talking necessarily about education alone but in terms of the values you wanted them to have. The bible says “raise up your children in the way they SHOULD go”… Your children, the mandate was to you the parent(s), no one can truly want the best for your kids as much as you do. There is also a way you might want them to grow. What value do you want them to have. No amount of detailed written down routine for the carer can instill that into them. Sooner or later the kids will say, you are not my parents why are you asking me to do this or do that. Which is true. We tend to listen to our parents more than our carers.

One thing I also remind myself when I feel like I made the wrong choice is that these years, are investments. They will not be kids forever and by Gods grace, once you get it right with them, you will never have to pay for therapy for them to undo years of abuse they may have suffered. Don’t get me wrong, kids who were raised by at least one of their parents are also messed up ( we are all messed up one way or another), there is just a good messed up and a not so good messed up.

I cannot over emphasis how important it is for you to look after your kids. I know some of us may not have the choice to make, especially if you are already a single parent or you honestly just don’t have it in you. I respect people who know themselves and are true to themselves. You have to do what you have to do. If this is your case, by all means do not feel bad about having to make the decision to go outside and work and have someone else look after the kids. Have that conversation with them, kids are not stupid, they will probably not like it but they hear you. I cannot attend this and that because it is only mommy that has to work so we can have food to eat, house to live and clothes to wear. Even be able to buy you that toy you wanted.

I tell my kids this when I have deadlines and yet they want me to do something (despite working from home, we also get guilt tripped so don’t worry). I also want you to know that by reading this, asking yourself the question of what is better for my kids, you are already an amazing parent. You won’t bother if you didn’t care. You want what’s best for them and sometimes that is good enough.

If you are 50/50 about it, you should know that there is also the option of taking temporary or lesser roles. You may not have as much money as you would have, but at least you will be able to spend more time with the kids. I have seen moms changing careers to become teachers or nurses so they can have that flexibility.

Lastly, that “life – career balance” is a myth. You can not joggle those two things successfully. One has to give. I hate seeing women on newspapers and social media, “mom of three running a Fortune 500 company, or when they say “she combines motherhood and running a successful business etc” Yes the fact is that she birthed three kids but the silent message that she’s a hands on full time mom and still able to run her business is all BS. The truth they don’t tell you is the amount of help, nanny(ies) they have, their mom and sister who regularly take the kids for piano lessons and swimming. Forget the one they had to pose for the camera for, their husbands who is fully involved. Their possible cook and cleaner.

They come back from work tired but the nanny is there to give the kids their bath. But the few days they do it they capture it for the camera on social media so that they can prove they do it all and are involved. If you truly do it all by yourself then you will know that the reality is that you don’t even have the time to get a camera to take a photo when you are busy giving them a bath, helping the older ones with homework, making dinner, reminding them to brush and floss oh let’s not forget you. You have to take off your makeup and drink your water and moisturize. It never ends. These are all staged photos. I am a blogger and and instagramer and that is the truth. When you are in the moment of motherhood, you don’t have time for photos.

When the world found out that Beyonce had three nannies for just the twins, there was a lot of gossiping. I loved her honesty. How do you think Kate Middleton in the royal palace does it? They don’t tell you the amount of servants they have and when people who are honest do, they crucify them. I think it is important that people know the truth. That because you do not have time to go to the gym and loose that baby weight doesn’t mean you are lazy, that because you didn’t get that promotion doest mean you didn’t put in the hours (what hours when you got kids). No one can have it all. Do not set yourself up to fail. Know your own situation and work with what you got. Putting the children first, choose what’s best for your family.

Christmas in New York City – Day 2

On the second day of Christmas, we went to see the nutcracker at the Brookfield Place downtown Manhattan.

It was spectacular, brilliantly delivered. The turn out was amazing. From young to old, they all seemed to enjoy it.

After the show, we went to have some crepes and hot chocolate

Then it was time to do a little shopping.

Connected to the Brookfield Place is the Oculus. You can do more shopping at Westfield there. There are also several coffee places inside.

When you are there, take a minute to take in the beautiful architecture and white fine lines.

Also stop and say hello to the snowmen.

Finally it’s time to go home and look forward to the third day of Christmas! I wonder what that would bring.

Christmas in New York City

I start looking forward to the next Christmas from December 27! It’s the most wonderful time of the year for me. There are several reasons why I love Christmas. It doesn’t mean we are often ready and I also understand it is just a one day celebration but the trick is to not worry about anything. Instead of waiting to the 25th we start celebrating from the 1st of December. It is all about the build up to the D-Day. The anticipation, the tease from hearing jingle bells on the radio on your way to work. It’s the excitement from seeing the trees light up as you drive in the cold winter nights. It’s the chill in the air yet you feel so warm in your heart. It’s the little things.

We started off December the first by first spending a cozy morning eating scrambled eggs and drinking coco by the Christmas tree. If we were still in England we would have been eating minced pie in the morning.

Then we took Lyft to Bloomingdales on 57th street Manhattan. First stop was the Ralph Lauren Store where you can skate and enjoy a courtesy cup of hot chocolate. Free.

You can go in with them or sit in the Ralph cafe enjoying your drink while they skate.

Next it was time to go visit Santa on the 6th floor.

You can get a professional photo for $21 or use your mobile phone. We did both.

Then we played with the giant little brown bag and teddy.

When you are feeling tired, take the elevator to the 8th floor to the gingerbread house which also has a restaurant along the way.

Finished the day on a high any ready for the second day of Christmas. Who knows what that would bring, whatever it is, I’m excited and looking forward to it!

Raising Racially Color-Blind Children.

Yesterday as I was going to my local DuaneReede to pick up milk I saw the new publication of Elle’s magazine titled “WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD”. Nowadays I don’t buy magazines other than my vogue subscription because I don’t have the time to read it, I just read them online. But this one was exceptional, because earlier on in the day myself and my 8 years old daughter had been talking about racism and institutional racism because of a movie we saw. She believed people were just people and we shouldn’t be judged by the color of our skin.

When my husband and I started planning our family, one thing we both agreed on was that we didn’t want our kids to grow up like we did. It wasn’t just about giving them the opportunities we didn’t have or protecting them from being emotionally scared, no. We didn’t want them to grow up thinking this world is divided into black and white. And the ‘in-betweeners’. We didn’t want them to see themselves as the political definition of being black. Don’t get me wrong they know their identity. If you ask them where they are from (before moving from the UK) they would tell you they are Nigerians. Nowadays they take that question quite literally and say British because we just moved from England to America but if you explain it to them they will say Nigerian.

The way we went about raising our kids to be color blind to themselves and others but yet having and being proud of their identities was to not use racial language with them and among ourselves the adults. Language is so powerful. Children do what you do more than what you say. They watch you, your passion and your message. In our household everyone is equal and welcomed. If we had episodes of experiencing racism, instead of internalizing it and thinking it was us (with the problem), we say it as it is. That person was a bully who is mean to others simply because of their differences. That difference is often not limited to the color of their skin. It could be their disability or social status, hair color or who they choose to love. It’s not you, it’s them and their personal beliefs stemming from ignorance.

Whenever the news channels were talking about racism (not in a forward thinking way but rather adding fuel to the underlying situation, so as to have news worthy content) we change the station. We protected them from advertisements like ‘Save the Children’ but showed them the importance of benevolence and giving to the poor. We also taught them that poverty knows no color or gender. They see white people begging and see us giving arms to them. That poverty is not limited to Africa.

Whenever we needed to physically describe people, we said it as it were. Blonde skin person (we had to be creative and I’m not saying it was our best efforts but it was better than saying “white people”), brown person or we would say Indian or Chinese or Jewish or my favorite one was when they say the person has a little bit of both, meaning dual heritage person or mixed race individual. You cannot not describe a person, we got that. But your language carries the true meaning of your purpose. Are you saying the black kid in the class or are you saying “the black kid in the class”?. If you meant the former then you could say their is a new child in our class he has black coily hair and dark skin, he is tall with short hair and he likes football. You are giving the person a physical description of the child not race of child connoting how different he is to you.

One more important thing was we never made a distinction about anything based on race. Prejudice. Not all Asian kids are best in Math, if you work hard you will be good or even better. Not all brown people knows how to twerk or rap. God knows I’ve tried to and failed miserably. What you can do and your ability has nothing to do with your race or gender. It is how hard you are willing to work and the choices you make.

Now it’s all good to be raised in this bubble of unicorns and rainbows. What about the real world. This was were I started to have real anxiety. Especially when they started school. I remember our first incident at their nursery – Lilliput Village in Essex. I was walking down the corridor to pick up my oldest daughter who was just 18months old at the time and noticed something. On the information board, a copy of Plan UK’s leaflets showing a poor Africa girl wearing torn down clothes with no shoes on, carrying dirty bucket of water and looking sad. You would think that is the school being generous right? But it was put under the description of “Africa” in the Equality and Diversity policy folder. Talk about irony. I was livid. I went to the manager politely and asked her why she put it there. Was that her interpretation of the representation of Africa? In the other section there was a picture of a white girl playing with toys looking happy, a Chinese looking girl playing but an Africa or black child is seen as poor with no clothes, food or water and depressed? I have had the opportunity of traveling to different parts of the world and I know for a fact that there are poor white people who don’t have good clothes and are walking barefooted in the freezing cold in small Eastern European countries and Asia.

That is not where that leaflet should be (although I have a different message for plan UK I mean talk about no respect for human decency for the poor, just because you want to beg for money. When cancer research UK are asking for help they don’t put a picture of a child with open stomabag on the leaflet). That leaflet should be (banned) under “our values – giving to the poor”. What was more shocking for me was knowing that several other parents including those raising brown kids, had passed through that corridor and never said a thing about it. Probably just like that ignorant manager they didn’t see beyond their unknown racism that that leaflet was wrong. In their subconscious mind that is how they see black kids so it didn’t register to them to challenge it. I did not only challenged it, (I grew up in Africa and that is not the ONLY image of myself or friends that I know of ) I demanded that it be taken out immediately. That is not the self image I wanted a growing little black girl to internalize and associate herself with. Representation do matter. Especially to a growing child who is just forming image about themselves.

Then they went into Primary school. I remember a second incident at Merryland primarily school. It was on October during the black history month. Now I could write a whole epistle on why I think that “Black History Month” needs to stop or reevaluate how it’s being taught and celebrated. I mean I’m glad at the stage my kids are now. They can think for themselves and they can ask questions and challenge bad practices. My daughter asked me a rhetorical question the other day. Why is it during Chinese celebrations they eat and learn Chinese things. During Hispanic month they color do art and eat Spanish food. Jewish people are the luckiest. They get a holiday (this is probably just limited to New York) but during black history month, wait for it, they teach them about slavery. I literally just laughed typing these. Not haha funny laugh but like how, I don’t want to use the word ‘stupid’ (language) but I mean how can anyone in this day and age still allow this. How is being black equal to slavery? Again those of us who were lucky to grow up in Africa don’t have this problem. Maybe that’s why they say we are overly confident. We are just normal. Since moving abroad I began to notice this idea of what being black means in places outside Africa. What’s even sad is how black people who are not first generation Africans have also accepted this. And no one is questioning the idea. I was so glad that she saw this pattern. Maybe there is a big propaganda to undermine us because they are scared of how powerful we truly are or can be. So they start young, brainwashing kids to not see themselves other than being a lesser citizen. I don’t believe in conspiracy theory but.. My kids learned about the holocaust from me, about when Britain was colonized from their dad. They don’t teach them these things at school. But a four years old already knows about black slavery. Not to sound insensitive but there has been greater tragedies that faces humanity and there still are. Can we move on already.

We don’t allow them to celebrate black history month. We teach them about black culture and celebrate inspirational black people everyday. I tell my son to dress like daddy or Obama and hustle and be disciplined like Micheal Jordan or Lebron James. Same with my daughter. So many successful beautiful black women. Most important we teach them to learn from everyone. Not just black people. Emulate good practices and behavior. If a white kid in your class is good at drawing, learn from him. My daughter self taught herself Spanish and loves the culture. Learn and get inspiration from “people”.

The reason we stopped allowing them to sit in black history class was that, my daughter’s second year teacher was teaching them during the black history month, that white people enslaved black people. Just that. No more information. It wasn’t even age appropriate in my opinion. Before hand my free spirited daughter loved and played with her “white” friends. She’s very sensitive. When she was taught this in class, she didn’t want to play with them anymore. She said they were mean people for bullying brown people that way. It broke my heart so much that I wrote a letter to the head teacher who was also unknowingly racist because of his answer. “I don’t think Ms .. is racist because she went and volunteered in Africa”. Really Mr head teacher(?) another one that makes me laugh is when they say “oh I’m not a racist I married a black person”. Ok Margrate. Let’s move on.

I say unknowingly racist because often times the person themselves are unaware that their words and actions are racist. People think being racist is bad and a big taboo. We have all been racist at some point in time. We have characterized someone based on the color of their skin at one time in life. I’m guilty of this. Likening crazy cat lady to only white women for example. What’s bad is when we act on that feeling, in ways that causes harm to others. Be it physical or emotional harm or even financially by paying them less. That is the ugly racism. So when I call the teacher, nursery manager and head teacher racist, I don’t mean they acted on it. It’s their unaware biasness evident in their actions.

We did not only send an email and had a sit down talk with the school. I re-educated my little girl that not ALL white people were colonial masters and not ALL black people were slaves. In history, the real history. Blacks owned slaves, whites were enslaved. I mean the Romans enslaved Britain for over 300 years. Far greater than the period when some Africans were. Besides it’s all in the past. Her friend’s family were probably not even rich enough to own a slave back then so they are good. Also that her friends were (probably) not like their parents, if they are nice then she should play with them. The next thing we did was to take them out of that school and relocate away from the suburbs.

I had to move. My idea about the world and how ‘we should all be a good global citizen and working hard to achieve our dreams irrespective of our skin tone’ was bigger than my environment. I didn’t have time to be educating people when I was working on myself and educating my kids on the real truth in order to build a positive and healthy self esteem for them. Like Mother Teresa said, if you want to change the world, go and love your family. Start the change there. Educate them on the truth. This is where language comes in. It’s is foundamental on how they grasp it.

If we can all begin to just see people as people and not how we have preconceived them in our little mind, the world might just be a better place for all. I tell them they are people. Just people in this big world. Be a good citizen. Do no harm. You are not a black person. That person is not a white person. We are all just people.

Before moving to America, it always sadness me when I hear on the news a young black boy has been shot dead. The news should be a 13 years old child was tragically killed. That way it becomes the responsibility of all to ensure that young people in the society are safe. And there is better gun control. And people in the poorer part of towns are supported to pursue meaningful things other than gangs and drugs. It’s not a black or Hispanic thing, it’s a human thing.

So you could see my delight when seeing this magazine that just called them “Women in Hollywood” not black women in Hollywood or brown women or anything that shows anything other than their talents.

The world is revolving, we are preparing our children for the future by teaching them coding and computer at an early age. What are we doing about who their colleagues are going to be in the future. They are going to be working alongside people of different color and backgrounds and we also need to teach them to be racially color blind along with coding in preparing them for the future. And we can start by changing our language.

How To Go Trick or Treating in The City

This may seem like a weird question but seriously “how do you go trick or treating in the city?” This was the question that was baffling my mind this last week.

You know I love creating experiences for my kids especially as we travel around a lot. Now that we are trying to settle in Manhattan, I want them to experience everything “normal childhood” comes with. But we live in an apartment and all our neighbors live in similar high rise apartment buildings with door men, security and what have you.

You can’t just buzz and wait for someone to let you in (I’ve watched too many CSI to know that’s not a good idea) and you can’t just wait aimlessly hoping someone holding candies comes by.

Luckily enough as I was running errands in town, I saw a lady going trick or treating with her son who was dressed as black panther (how cute!) I asked her and she said they just walk along the broadway (where the stores, banks and commercial offices are) and that majority of the stores give out candy.

She also advised that it is best to go before 5pm. It gets wild and crazy at night. Drinking, partying and New Yorkers being their fun loving self. Perfect I thought. At least we can be back for dinner and bedtime.

As soon as we got back from school, we went out trick and treating. We saw other people doing the same. The kids had a great time and I felt like a super woman ( polishes her halo). So if you ever wondered where people who are not living in suburbs go trick or treating, now you know!