“Why is it that you are only working two days a week, Now?” Say it in an African accent and you get the exact way the question was posed to me. I had begun my reduced career of being a part time stay at home Mum after my 6 months maternity leave came to a conclusion and my extended family did not like it.
I am writing this as a result of my reflecting on the post written by a mother on balancing her need to work against her need to look after her kids. Read it Here
People sometimes get this impression of African people being all about attachment parenting, stay at home mums and general warm fuzzy feelings of family and love but the reality can be vastly different.
1. maintain a run-like-clockwork home,
2. look after and produce obedient kids
3. Ensure they get a great education – Pay for said education
4. Cook meals
5. AND go to work to bring in the bacon (I still remember an African Man saying to me ‘ How is it fair that I should work and my wife should not?’ – Except he did not expect to be involved in any of 1 – 4 above)
6. Whilst being treated as a second class citizen in their own home and getting absolutely no support
It can be very stressful!
Needless to say, in those circumstances, it may be a challenge to consider stay at home mum-hood.
Do you feel that way? Do you long to spend more time with the kids but cannot see a way around it? Or maybe you are at home with the kids and want to do something else but cannot figure out how.
You are not alone.
Pre-Children, I had thought that I would return to work within 6 weeks of having my baby but as soon as V became more than a vague thought in the recesses of mind, I KNEW I could not do that. At this point, I was in £50k worth of debt (failed business ideas, over-exuberant attempts to share my ‘wealth’ when really I had none!, Just plain stupidity accompanied with overspending). In order to accommodate my new found desire to be a Stay at Home mum, even some of the time, we had to sell our house and do various other things.
I felt like a failure.
So, then I buried myself in V, tried to forget all my hopes and dreams, tried to be the best Stay at home Mum I could be whilst taking advantage of the flexibility being a pharmacist gave me. I could work reduced hours and still earn enough to get by – I thankfully got a role doing 25 hours over Saturday and Sunday. Tloml was in a Full Time University Course at this point so life was tough but we managed.
It was during these times, the questions kept coming from my extended family – Why not go back to work full time? After all that education, why not use it and earn lots of money? Being of African Origin, I was required to go back to work to carry on supporting my brothers and support my Mum more. It was also the done thing.
The truth is, they did not know the full extent of our monetary difficulties or else the calls to return to work would have been louder and a lot more forceful.
It did however make for ‘interesting’ times and ‘interesting’ conversations.
The thing is, I have sometimes felt an inner conflict between my African roots and my UK citizenship. In the UK, there are varying schools of thought on child-rearing and each side either fights each other or longs to be like each other. I personally believe in freedom of choice.
My choice at that time was to be mostly a stay at home Mum. I couldn’t completely see how I could do anything but that…
To be Continued on Monday.
What are your current choices? Do you feel an inner conflict or what challenges are you facing? Tell me in the comments or on Facebook ( I so love seeing your face ) and I might just address it in the next part.