Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.
Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their takes on everything from sex to politics right here.
Every housewife knows that being a housewife is a full-time job. Whether or not you opt-in for the role, it can be exhausting and overwhelming. But what happens when you don’t opt-in and all you can think of is opting out.
Half of the email you sent to me was about how much you hate the word housewife.
God, I hate that word. I can’t wait for some overly politically correct people to carry it on their head that the word is derogatory or something and shame all the people still using it. Why is it even a thing? What exactly does housewife mean? Stay-at-home mum is another fun alternative; at least that one is self-explanatory. Why are the words ‘house’ and ‘wife’ put together and why is it a title? It just makes no sense to me.
Would you prefer stay-at-home mum?
Wo don’t call me anything, just call me by my name. You get married and people forget what your name is. To my kids’ teachers, I’m Sade and Sola’s* mummy. Even to my parents, I’m now Sade and Sola’s mummy. To my neighbours, I’m the housewife that lives in Number 8. To my in-laws, I’m ‘our wife’.
Ok, Sade’s mummy.
I can fight you, better stop.
But seriously tell me about who you were before you were Sade and Sola’s mummy.
I was a size 6 baby girl, a first-class English graduate. I was about to get my Masters. Then go ahead to get a PhD too. I love to teach, I taught during my NYSC and fell in love with it. I was going to teach after getting my PhD. The plan was to go back to the school I got my first degree from. I had already built a rapport with the lecturers there. I was super outgoing, the life of the party. Too outgoing sometimes, but it was all fun. I had a ton of friends too. The plan was to remain baby girls, until we turned at least 35. I was the first to sell out.
I’m a 32 year happily married yummy mummy. Seriously, I might no longer be a size 6 but mo gbona. I have two kids, twins. They are 5 years old. What else? I’m also a stay-at-home mum for lack of a better term. I usually don’t define myself by that but I guess it’s relevant to this conversation. A lot of the plans I had for my life before I had kids are either on hold or pipe dreams now. I’m not going to sugar coat it, if I could go back in time I’d make very different choices.
What kind of choices?
Just staying on course no matter what. I don’t regret getting pregnant and subsequently getting married one bit. But I’d have stuck to my post-uni plans regardless.
How did you become a stay-at-home mum?
Between the both of us I’m not sure. There’s a mirror on one of the walls in our living room. Some random moments during the day I catch myself just staring blankly at it. Usually mid-chore or walking past about to start a chore. I just stare at myself for a minute. Asking myself how did I end up here. Not in a ‘I hate my life and I want to die’ way. I’m genuinely curious as to how I had a five-year career plan by the time I was graduating but right now I’m not even sure where my certificate is.
Let’s start from when you graduated and came up with that five-year plan.
I graduated at 24 which was a little later than most people in my class. But my dad is a military man so we moved around a lot when I was in secondary school. I did JSS2 and SS1 twice. I don’t know why I always feel the need to explain this thing; 24 is not that late. Anyway, I graduated at 24 with a first-class. I studied English, mostly because I didn’t make it in for Law, but I fell in love with the course. I barely had a social life. From my second year it was just me, God and books. The plan when I finished was to do NYSC, do my masters then do my PhD. I served, started the masters and then as Linda Ikeji said, I fell pregnant.
What came next?
Marriage came next. Our parents were not fucking around. To be fair we would have eventually married. The plan was to get married after I finished my Masters, then start my PhD. Kids were supposed to come after all of that. Even if it meant we had to adopt. Anyway, after we got married, I deferred my masters for a year. My pregnancy was very difficult and I needed a lot of bed rest, so the school thing wasn’t working out. The second plan was to resume the Masters after I had the kids. We had it all figured out; my mum was even supposed to move in to help. Guess what happened next?
My husband got transferred to Abuja. I wasn’t deterred at first. I was only a couple of months into the masters so I figured I’d just start afresh in Abuja, no big deal. We got to Abuja and from day one, everything scattered. First of all, my mum lives in Lagos. She said there was no way she was following us to Abuja, it was fine for her to move in when we were all still in Lagos and she could easily dash back to her house whenever she wanted, but Abuja was too far for her. Plus she hates flying. My husband and I said no problem, we’ll figure it out. I’d do a part-time masters which would take two years instead of one and he’d try to be home as often as he could to help with the babies. That was five years ago, I don’t think he ever changed a diaper once.
Sucks is an understatement. In the five years, we’ve been married, the only fights we have are about who should be doing what in the house and who isn’t doing what. I didn’t sign up for this; becoming a housewife was not the plan and it took a lot for me not to resent him for letting this happen to me. We had a plan before the twins came. We had been dating for three years. We spent two out of those three years talking about our life and career plans and this scenario was never discussed.
I’m sorry about that.
It’s just so hard and I hate that no one acknowledges how hard it is. Not even my husband because he comes home to a clean house, clean children and food in the kitchen. The last time I brought up the fact that I needed to go back to school he asked me why I couldn’t find fulfillment in raising my children. I didn’t speak to or cook for him for one month. He had to call my mum to beg me. As we speak, I’m getting angry again. I just couldn’t believe his audacity.
He dropped the ball with raising our kids because he knew I would always be there to pick up the slack. And that I’d always be the one to make sacrifices. After all, I was the one who gave up two masters and moved across the country, what was one more concession here or there to make? His job is demanding I understand that, but I keep on telling him that if he were a single father he’d have found a way to balance the two. I hate being a housewife. I hate that I don’t even get to say it out loud because people will automatically think I hate being a mother.
What happened to the second masters?
Oh, I started, but I couldn’t cope. Even with the part-time thing. I was missing classes, missing assignments and dodging lecturers. Three months in, I finally gave up. I decided to focus on raising the twins until they at least entered primary school. Then I’d go back. Delay is not denial abi? At least that’s what my husband keeps telling me. If you hear that I killed him that would be why.
The twins are 5 now, which means they should be in primary 1.
Yes, they just turned 5, they were supposed to start primary 1 in September but with this corona situation, I’m not sure what would happen. Either ways, they are entering primary school this year.
You don’t sound too enthusiastic about it
I would have been but guess what?
I’m pregnant again.