But How About Mama?

I love New York City, and one of the reasons why I love it so much is that this is a concrete jungle and in the concrete jungle, there is no illusion of the white picket fence idea or measuring who’s grass is greener. This is a hustling ground and nothing is given or done for free. You pay for it one way or another. Thats the kind of place for people like us. Mothers who are caring, nurturing, kind, humble yet big time hustlers at heart.

The down side to being a goal getter when you are a solo mom is that it brings a lot of anxiety. I made a promise last year that I will always be truthful with you on my blog. These few months have been an eye-opener for me. In my moments of thought I felt the pain and anxiety of a mom like me, I wanted to hug her and tell her “I fell you mama”. You are not alone in your struggle.

When we hear about anxiety, we usually think its all about too many bad things happening at once. No, it is also about having too many good things or potentially good things happening all at once. The “thing” or reason it self is not the anxiety – that could actually bring you joy and happiness, the problem is having multiple things happening at the same time. Your joy and happiness is tainted with anxiety and this is why it is hard for people like you to get help because no one will understand. You are having the time of your life. You have this and this happening for you. Starting a new business is a good thing, having a small business already going on is a good thing, having a family is a good thing, having your good friend get married and her asking you to be her maid of honor is a good thing, having your parents come to visit is a good thing but having them all happening all at once or needing your attention all at once can cause you a lot of anxiety.

Society make us to think we are good at multitasking and yes that is true, no one can be making dinning, helping the kids with homework, sending clients emails, dealing with staff issues like a mother. But when you are starting a new business while running a new business, in a new place while navigating your way through your new environment, and helping your kids navigate this new way of life too and worry about the emotional implications of them missing their old friends even though they are making new friends and doing well, it gets too much.

As mothers, we are cursed with perpetual worry. We worry if there is nothing to worry about, I mean it can’t be right for everything to be going on this good, what is the catch or when is it going to all go bad, we worry currently for the future for things that are going ok now but might go wrong later. We are blessed but we are cursed with that burden of worrying.

It is not a bad thing, another way to look at it is that, that constant worry is our guard, our checker, our rational self that knows yes it is cool to live in a world of bubble, roses and unicorns but the reality is that things do go wrong, things will stop working, you will get rejections and disappointments. But you are tough, you are strong. You are a beliver. That is your truth so hold on to your truth. Use your worry and let it work for you.

When everything is all happening at once and you are feeling anxious, anger can easily set in. Why do I have to be the one making all the sacrifices. “But how about mama”? This is for my solo mamas who are keeping the forth while the husabnds are working. You sometimes resent him for having the freedom, peace and quiet to do his work, there is no child to answer their 10994th questions or something to sign at school that you could have sworn you already signed or one parent things to attend or a baby to change her diappers after only just changing it like a minute ago or a sick child to attend to. You want to have all the peace of mind to think, develop and build your business.

Why does it have to be you making that sacrifice to juggle it all. Contrary to popular believe you don’t love the ‘strong-woman-can-do-it-all’ title. You don’t even want it, It wasn’t a choice for you. You had to be it. If things were different of course you would want it the easier way, but life isn’t always easy, what’s the fun in it. You won’t appreciate things if they were that easy. You ever wonder why you live a life full of gratitude and you are always hopeful and love to enjoy life? It is because of all the struggle you have been through. You come out on the other side stronger and you see the world differently.

Mama have her own dreams too that go beyond changing diapers and attending PTAs. Mama had dreams when she was a little girl. Yes she’s had some of them but she is still not there yet. Mama wanted to change the world and make it a better place just like you. How about mamas dreams.

You sometimes resent the same family you love and that you would give your life for, but then you look at them and think, “it is you I’m doing it for”. If it is them you are doing it for, then lets do it for them. What is more important to us moms? The kids. The family. Yes we matter too but they matter more, we are cursed with this motherly thing. But we are blessed. Do you remember when you prayed for what you have now? Maybe not all of them, but something you wanted 10 years ago and you have it now. Do you remember their giggle for the siliest thing that isn’t even funny?

When they wrap their hands around your neck. Do you remember the wet kisses of a toothless baby on your face? That’s my favorite. You push them away laughing at the pool of drool on your face while hugging them tight. They can’t say they love you yet, but the way they look at you, smile and sheepishly turn their face away says it all. I love it when my baby is having her milk, playing with her hair and trying not to smile because even though she’s not looking directly at me but she knows I’m looking at her. She tightens her lip around her bottle nipple and her cheeks are puffy from concealed smile. She is trying so hard not to smile! It’s just so beautiful to watch.

Yes you are beyond tired and exhausted, you don’t have the time to even go to the gym or time to go for that bra fitting you have been meaning to go. You are a mother. You are their mother. This is your calling, this is your one true duty. Nothing else. The duty of a mother is beyond birthing the child and making dinners and other things we do or have someone else do for us. It is the sacrifices. The selfless act of putting their needs above yours. You may not even feel the tingling kind of love people have come to describe what love is, for your kids but making that daily sacrifice to put their needs above yours is the definition of love.

Kids will grow up, new businesses won’t be new forever, eventually it will find its momentum and a system in place where it will not need you as much. Then you would have time for those catching ups, those long hours at the mall shopping, those hours sitting at the nail saloon to have your nails and toes painted. Yes others might be doing it while running a business, do they have kids? Do they have the number of kids you have? Do their spouse work in a different state or country? Do their support system live far away? These are all rhetoric questions that we cannot answer, remember why I love New York in the beging, stop looking at the grass of your virtual or real neighbor. You do not know their story. You know your own story. Your own situation. Given the same opportunity or support they have, you might do better, but work with what you have right now. Be proud in the process. Not of, but in the process. The journey not the destination. Every little step you make is something bore out of your hard work. Given that you are doing it while raising your kids single handedly. Tru,st that process. You are on to something. Keep doing your best. That is good enough.

Remember the beginning and where you are now. Small progress is better than no progress. When my baby was newly born i never had time for full on makeup. These days i find myself doing my makeup and even applying mascara and she is playing away with her toys as supposed to having to carry her with one hand and do my makeup with the other free hand. I look at her and i get emotional, it reminds me that these struggles are but for a little while.

The Bible says count your blessings and name them one by one. List the things you see in your kids that means love to you. Maybe it’s them making breakfast for you on Sunday. Or sharing their cookies with you. My son keeps a snack from school and brings it to me. I told him his teachers might think we have no food at home and we laugh about it. I encourage him to continue. Your babies might be too young but they have a way they show love too. Do you notice they always want to put your nose in their mouth. That’s them kissing you. Your labor of love is not in vain and you matter too. Just not right now. Right now you are in sacrifice mode. Give give mode. Anxiety mode. Feeling unappreciated mode. But these times don’t last forever. When you are done raising your babies, you will have ALL the time in the world to invest into your business. That little time you have that you are investing in it right now is ok. This is what you can do with the kids. They will grow up and go to college. They will find love, get married and form a family of their own. And you will be proud mama. Proud that despite all, you did. You. No one else. No one helping you. You will be there for your kids and help them raise their kids because you have been through it and you understand it too well. You will be successful in business and in your family life. Because you endured these period when it was tough. to

I love you mama,

xoxo iRene

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.