Some Mothers do ‘ave ’em – Careers that is

Being a new mother and working for someone else is like a tragicomic Groundhog Day I’ve yet to figure out. Good luck to Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo who went back to full workday two weeks after giving birth. I hope never to run into her child in a dark alleyway as  he may suffer from a humanity-failure related condition in the future.

Much of the advice for working, nursing mums is just laughable.  The first year of a baby’s life you are basically a cow, eating, feeding, sleeping and stroller surfing at the park/mall.  Until you stop breastfeeding there’s not much more you can do. But people want to mess with your mothering.  Here are some gems I’ve come across.

– Express while at work (ask your boss for a suitable private room to express).

Can I ‘express’ what I think of this ‘advice’?  Breastfeeding is a complex skill and a tradition that should be nurtured and managed from generation to generation. It is not just a hand pumping exercise but an important bonding time between you and your child.  Firstly breast milk contains important live enzymes which are best delivered breast to mouth not fridge to mouth. The baby’s mouth stimulates your milk supply.  As soon as you switch to a pump even if it’s a chugging double hospital grade pump (which you’ll feel really comfortable using knowing your colleagues are on the other side of an MDF wall)  it’s the beginning of the end of breastfeeding.  Expressing in my own less than clean office, with the door wedged closed and my boobs hanging out was not one of the highlights of my work-life balance.  I’m sure that’s how I got an infection in my breast.

– Ask for flexitime.

What the hell is flexitime? A way for employers and mothers to feel less horrible about the fact that a new baby is without his mother 4 days a week?   Research shows no-one will respond to, stimulate and calm a child like the mother so to give your child to someone else for most of the week is not striking a balance it’s just inferior care.

– Let the housework go

But unless you want social services to take away your child  the laundry still has to be done, the trash emptied, dishes washed, food bought and cooked and the floor wiped clean so actually you can’t let the housework go. Not helpful.

– Sleep training

There’s very little you can do to sleep train a child who is teething, who has thrown off their covers and is cold, who is thirsty or upset, who has a cold and who just really doesn’t want to sleep alone.  Some children sleep very easily, some don’t – it’s a lottery.  Unless you want to find your child banging his head against the cot bars for comfort like a Romanian orphan you will have to pick him up when he cries most nights.  Co-sleeping can help or make things worse and much co-sleeping safety advice ‘try not to sleep heavily’ is just ridiculous.

– Ask to work from home

Noone really believes you’re working properly from home by the way – not even you.  Working from home is better than taking your child to the office but still doesn’t solve the issue of paying due attention to your child in the crucial first year, especially if you’re nursing and need to catnap during the day.

In conclusion, I do know some lovely women who have high-flying careers and adorable kids.  I don’t know how or what it took. I worked myself during my oldest son’s first two years – it was so hard and kind of fruitless looking back. Somehow we as women find a way through our tears and our laughter and any residual problems our children have as a result of us doing what we have to do.  In the UK there is adequate maternity leave which helps get a mother through the tough first year.  Nigeria is a hybrid society with a very child friendly traditional culture on one side and then a very hyper industrial culture on the other.  ‘Progress’ means there’s a trend away from family help towards Western style nurseries, but without the training, regulation and accountability. Most are full of cheap plastic toys of unknown provenance and friendly nannies who speak very little English because they’ve just arrived from some village.  A 24 hour nursery recently opened in Lagos which seems all kinds of wrong! Nigeria is a country making rapid strides to catch up with its destiny.  Women are a big part of that but when you have a career you sacrifice your time with you children.  There’s no balance.

 

 

 

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The world is not enough…

My agent used to say at times, ‘For such a smart girl (I was 16) you’re surprisingly stupid’.  Not sure what he was talking about – I wasn’t listening. I didn’t listen to anybody at 16.

But I do know that you can be the most amazing person in the world and none of it matters if you haven’t got the internal grounding you need to deal with the other less amazing people you are going to meet.

The suicide of L’Wren Scott,  has stayed with me.  Previously I had read her as a talented glamourous socialite turned fashion designer.  One of THOSE rich people living THAT life.  A legendary billionaire boyfriend,  fame and acclaim for her work. What could be better? I liked the fact that she was a diverse beauty, tall, dark haired, elegant and unusual. She was a genuine creative, hard working and not particularly fame hungry.  Then she hung herself and I spent some time reflecting on it – firstly the details, she seemed to have it all – ok she was $6 million in debt but secondly what did any of it mean – nothing.  A friend vehemently declared, women don’t kill themselves over money, they do it for love.  Possibly – Mick Jagger’s track record with women is poor. With all his resources could he not have been more of a support to his ‘best friend’?   But for her own part L’Wren’s reasons for suicide are tragic because most people find a way around suicide.  They leave relationships, declare bankruptcy and start again.    L’Wren obviously didn’t think she had anymore to give – ludicrous and what the world had given her (everything) was not enough.  She should have come to Nigeria.

I’ve felt low in my life before – like people are better off without me and once took an overdose of pills in a vain cry for help.  I’ve always had an irrational need for attention/external validation that I think has come from not getting it from my dad. He never harmed me in any way but wasn’t too bothered about me either.  It hurt a lot and it didn’t seem to matter how hard I tried at school, out of school – he just didn’t seem to care enough to engage with me properly.  It still hurts.

When I see someone like L’Wren commit suicide – it makes me recommit to shoring up my sons so that they can deal with what the world has to throw at them, so they don’t look to anyone else to fill their holes, just one of the reasons why I homeschool. It makes me recommit to my marriage so they can grow up with a mother and a father  who love each other in the same house and it makes me recommit to myself so I am not making someone else responsible for my happiness, so my self esteem is always intact.  Having academic success is great but it’s only part of the puzzle of life.    No success is worth anything if the world is not enough.

 

 

Things ain’t nobody got time for…

Since becoming a homeschooling mum I’ve discovered a really long list of stuff I ain’t got time for! Thought I’d share a few of them with you – don’t laugh.  Don’t ask how I ever had time for some of these things.

Working 9 to 5

so there's this after work event. Kiss the boys for me.

so there’s this after work event. Kiss the boys for me.

This was the first thing I really didn’t have time for. Luckily I had the choice to give up my job as a magazine editor. I really enjoyed the job but after having my second son it got to be too stressful trying to manage things at home while at work. I took time out and realised I wanted to be with my boys.  And a homeschooler was born…  I may return to some kind of  work at some point though.  Watch this space!

Facebook

funny-wasted-too-much-time-on-facebook-picture-mark-like

but let me just look at these new pics posted by someone I last saw aged 6

Cos Facebook is like the black hole into which your whole day disappears as you move from one friend’s fantastic birthday pics to your mums support group, to that really interesting article someone shared, to liking someone’s new volunteering page to – let me not even get started on that candy crush/diamond thing.

3 strand twists, micro twists, braids, manicures etc

so I really ain't got time for this

so I really ain’t got time for this

Special occasions aside, I don’t have time for all these twists, threading, braids etc. I barely have time to wash my hair right now and while I love natural hair and I like to look pretty I’m restricted to something I can do in five minutes.  

Girl chats

funny-girls-show-crazy-friends-talking

Remember before we had kids when we talked ALL the time…I ain’t got time for that now

Girlfriends are so great – love love love my girls but of course their kids are in school so guess when they want to have coffee mornings and heart to hearts at the back of the pilates class?  – yup when I’m ‘sposed to be homeschooling, that’s when.  As soon as the morning school bell dings, my phone lights up like a Christmas tree.  Sorry ladies.  I’m a homeschooling mum, my phone is on silent. I promise to answer your bbms and whatsapps when I have time for that. I still don’t know when that is.

Anything Kim K related

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Some people have all the time…

Can I be a famous, gorgeous reality star with an entourage of yes men and be paid private jet money for shopping and dating?  No?  Ok well let me just get on with this homeschooling then and no I don’t have time to watch reality show re-runs during the day.    In fact I’ve disconnected the cable as my son was getting too much TV time himself.

Maybe my personality is too addictive, maybe its cos I’m new to homeschooling and just need to put my house in order first but finding I’m really having to prioritise to follow my homeschool schedule.  What have you given up in order to homeschool?