Written by UJE
Urged on by perfectly orchestrated play of events, I started a new chapter of my life. I stepped out of a world described as perfect by some. The corporate world - full of intrigues, power play, adventures, awards, disappointments, rewards and celebrations.
I have been locked in this glamor and glitz for 10 years after which my heart yearned for more - not sure what that was. Would it be right to drop the somewhat fat paycheck for the unknown? No, not the unknown; because I knew God will take care of me. But would I feel disappointment when I run into that former colleague who is now a global figure and I a stay at home mum? Would I be called a weakling for not balancing work and raising kids? Will I be able to inspire my daughters to drive to their full potentials? Will they think I settled for less or will they appreciate the sacrifice?
Looking back on the times that have gone by I realize how blessed I am to have made this decision and not for a moment will I take it back. It was not an easy road to tow; however certain events and relationships brought to a full glare what was imminent if I continued in career path. I had to juggle been a mother of three beautiful girls (then), a minister in church and working in a fast paced multinational company. Traveling for conferences and meetings came with the job; I had a live in nanny and an extended family member as home front support; and my mother had to come in at some critical moments also ( e.g traveling out of the country two weeks after having a baby). Where is Dad in all these you may ask? He also has a demanding job but more flexibility than I did; so he worked a lot from home to help me meet up with commitments at work.
Two relationships stirred my heart toward this down played job; a new neighbor I had when I moved house and my sister in law. They were both full time mothers and very committed to it. Whenever I had the time to sit for a few minutes with them; I was amazed at the level of details they had concerning their children’s education, the attention paid to little details of their lives and also could not help noticing how confident these kids were. At most times, these two offered me the support also I needed as our kids were in the same school. I remember forgetting once to send my driver to pick up my daughter because I was caught in planning an important meeting! My sister in law dashed off to the school before I could even ask for her help.
Did I hear someone say it’s about being organized? You could be right; however I was beginning to get tired of ‘outsourcing’ my responsibilities to others. My first daughter was struggling with poor self confidence. I had begun to notice she was always timid and would rather bear a pain than speak out concerning what was causing the pain. At the point of my decision she was slowly developing ulcer as a result of delayed and denied meals and snacks by my home ‘support’. She was selectively harassed and threatened. It didn't stop there – her immediate younger sister was given preferential treatment and made to act as a spy to make sure she I don’t get a report of these happenings. This created a gulf between both sisters which I noticed.
It’s been three years into my new life and every second of it has been worth the leap of faith. My first daughter who found it hard to accept the fact that I will be home each day she returns from school has blossomed into a self confident out spoken little lady. She and her sisters are a great team –as I watch them play, argue and act out their princess roles (lol) my heart is lifted in a prayer of thanksgiving. It was an investment of time; supervising home works, participating in school activities, preparing and packing healthy snacks, praising every small achievement, pushing for more and most of all praying about everything – especially the relationship among them. I have seen siblings grow to become strangers as adults – it all begins from unpleasant childhood relationships. I was determined to have my children closely knitted in their spirits.
Though the journey has been replete with beautiful happenings it is not without its challenges. For the first six months I sometimes wished I had an office to escape to. I had the adventure – as someone called it of not having a live in help for the first two years. It was part of the decision made by my husband and me to help build our relationship with the children and their self confidence. During this period, I came to appreciate that five letter word SLEEP! After establishing a bedtime for the kids; I created my ‘me time’; just me and a cup of hot tea on the couch.
How did I cope with the financial transition from earning a salary to earning smiles? It all comes with been aware of your attitude to finances and how you have decided to run your home with your husband. I made sacrifices – minimized the gold drift, the power suits buying,. did the school runs, miscellaneous runs personally. Like Dad says; while I didn’t bring home a salary; I plugged a lot of outlets in our finances. I know there’s a lot of financial pressure out there; meeting up with skyrocketing school fees, over priced designer clothing, holiday budgets etc. however none of these is worth the damage that can be done to a child who lacks the attention and care of a parent.
Quietly I withdrew into my room - it is a haven at times like this. What a long day - a full day with my kids. I think I call it a full day not just because of the 24 hours but the nibbling thought of tomorrow not been a school day. The children are on this short but energetic holiday called a midterm break! This time there's no loving Sunday that breathes out a beautiful Monday - that day that you rush home after school runs and want to throw yourself on the bed again with reckless abandon.
Being a mother of five uniquely fashioned kids - yes you read right - has taught me a lot about how God looks at us. Oh are they so amazingly different! Given that four of them are same sex, one would have thought there would be more similarities than differences. From waking up in the morning to going to sleep at night; their characters scream " mum, I am me and not my sister!"
Let me take you through the routine, beginning with my first fruit . Rohi detests siesta, and it is a daunting task to get her to lie down. However when she finally sleeps, she sleeeeeps! Her rising in the morning to prepare for school is done in a slow motion which only the movie production team can match. And it happens in phases - each phase apportioned a few minutes. She never gets up and go straight into the bath. There’s the awake and blinking phase, sauntering around the room phase recounting a dream, the “ I’m in the bathroom but doesn’t mean anything is happening” phase.
In all these, she’s somehow works out the timing and makes it to the car with everyone else when it is time to go – at her own pace. After many screams, threats, spanking I have come to accept her for who she is and now we make jokes about it. After the acceptance, talking her into adding some speed where necessary has become easier. Probably her calm way of approaching life is what endears her to every little child that comes in contact with her. She has a way with children and whenever they visit they tend to remember her name first.
My second daughter (professor) is the opposite. She’s the prompt to do child. Wakes up at a tap, gets into the bathroom without nagging, dresses up and sits to wait for the others. The same routine happens when she gets back home from school. Everything is done in a businesslike manner – even playing games with her siblings; which of course doesn’t always work out smoothly. She hates losing so it is never really a game. Her nickname comes from her strategic ways of getting information she wants without asking the direct question. She’s the only one that can make same request in ten different ways! And ask you a barrage of questions that lieaves you questioning all you have ever been taught. For example if a newspaper is held together in the middle will it stop been a newspaper? Why is it not done that way? If she perceives you could be embarrassed by her question; she glides beside you before she lets it out. A deep thinker and also a caring child, she will notice the slightest change in your mood or the slightest discomfort you feel.
My third we call her the chicken bender. The name shouts what her first love is – food. However she doesn’t eat all you set before her but will always remind you of what needs to be served for each meal. She's my fashionista in the making; if there's a new name for accessorise it will be her name! At this tender age of five she is already the wardrobe manger of her younger sister who is three. She bathes her and dresses her up in her own colours. She could be moody and when the moods come I gently nudge her to one who has patience for those periods - her dad.
My fourth damsel; is so sweet and "cute" (her sisters' word). She was our baby before the final baby came along! You would think you have seen it all with three children; but this one brought more sunshine into our lives. One testimony I have of her; she's the only one among her siblings who as a toddler wakes up with a laugh - yes not just a smile. She made the early morning bath and preparations to school so easy because she would laugh and act some drama all the way. God knew I needed it to be easy this time around and he made it so.
Then the Prince of the house -did someone say long awaited? No he came at the right time. He is going to be a gentleman - at least my Professor has promised me that she will ''teach him not to be rough like other boys''.
I always a get a big “O” look when I mention that I have five kids. It is not a monumental task as we all make it seem (smile) .They do grow and become more helpful (did someone say when?). My princesses can be most delightful especially on their special surprise days – the days they clean out their room so much that a room in a five star hotel can’t hold a light to it! The English breakfast (in bed) days to celebrate mothers’ day... The little gestures that make me look back and say it’s worth it, makes me look forward and say it’s going to be glorious.
My sojourn as a stay at home mom has made me realize that to create your dream home there has to be some sacrifices. Every woman's dream varies so I cannot tell you giving up paid employment is the best thing to do. I can only ask that women REALLY evaluate the impact their jobs have on their children’s’ lives knowing that most of it may be irreversible. Findings have said that once a child is six; the character is already formed and cannot be changed. I have a personal experience that could make me say this is a fact. However this is not the truth; because God’s word is the final truth – and it says “Anything is possible”. Albeit I would rather form, than reform.
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