Balance for Better

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You know sometimes we just say things without thinking. We sound condescending without knowing but I try to help some people do a brain check. Now, this is not a rant, but it may come off as one to those I am referring to who read my status and that’s fine. If you want to learn, take this positively. While we are still in the international women’s month let me just leave this here. The theme for this year’s International women’s day #IWD is “Balance for Better” I think I should contribute to this Balancing conversation because some of my married female friends and acquaintances don’t seem to get the memo of Balancing for Better, they use the easiest excuse of being married to make cheap excuses. So come with me…

Months ago, a married woman requested for a meeting and I told her I am available at 3 pm, she responded that I should make it earlier as her children will be returning from school by then. So I told her I am only making out time to see her as I was working on a tight schedule. So she said you know I am married with kids so I can’t do late afternoon, you don’t have kids you are rushing to😳 I was shocked by her tactless response, so I asked, did you just say that? So you think I don’t have a family to go back to..? Interesting, you are the one asking to see me. You are looking for a job, you have not started yet you are making excuses that you have to be with your kids. Eh ya!Mother of many Nations.

 

 

Years ago, I visited a married friend, we were once 5 and 6. I wanted to drop off a bag I brought from the UK for someone in her neighborhood, so I asked her to keep the bag, I will pick it up the following day, my friend said she can’t keep my Bag because her husband is not around. I was dumbfounded, while I was trying to regain my speech she added, “You know say no be me get House”, My jaw dropped, I didn’t understand, I still struggled to say a word. She went on to say, you are not married, you won’t understand. So I said yes, I don’t understand, you are sounding like a housegirl in your house. She kept saying “you won’t understand”, I saw a troubled young woman. I was crying inside.

She pleaded for my understanding and offered to keep the bag but I must pick it up before her husband returns from work at 9 am. So I told her it is wrong for you to keep my bag without your husband’s Permission. I won’t be the reason for you to have a dispute, let’s pretend we didn’t have this conversation, I will be praying for you because I don’t understand your kind of marriage. She also mentioned her husband barred her from having male customers, she was mainly into male clothing before marriage. This happened in 2013, that was the last time I saw her😟 I occasionally send her birthday wishes. I feel sad when I think about it because people who knew us in Church thought we were siblings.

I have seen different married women make cheap excuses because of marriage but I was inspired to talk about it because of a conversation I had with another married Friend today. She called me yesterday for a request related to her sister’s NYSC, so I told her I have actually stopped making such appeal, people only call when they need things like this. I declined but I acted on her request because the person involved is a nursing mother. So I got it sorted and sent her a message with details of the point of contact. She called later to thank me and I told her my mind that I was actually reluctant to help. She rarely gets in touch unless it is a request. Her response was also tactless.

So she responded, “sorry, no mind me nah…I’ve been busy with the kids now”. I responded, interesting, I don’t have kids, so maybe that’s why I look out for people. Umu okwu! Anyway, she tried to explain that she didn’t mean it that way and I assured her that I am not angry. I honestly don’t get offended but I am just worried how women use being married and having kids as a quick excuse for anything under the sun yet we want to balance for better. OK. Now before you join the ” you won’t understand because you are not married” gang, just hold it there! I don’t have to be married to know these things, most of us are shaped mostly by our parent’s experiences and family values. So come let’s talk…

 

 

My both parents do not have University Education, my Dad didn’t go to secondary school, he attended extramural classes and wrote the General Certificate Examination (GCE) while my mum went to commercial school and studied secretariat studies. This is just to give you the level of my parents’ education yet they balanced for better.

My dear married friends each time you make excuses because you have kids, I start to wonder if you are single mums, did you get yourselves pregnant? If you are a single mum let me know and I will understand better. My Parents were both civil servants yet my Dad was very involved if not more involved in school runs.

In 1987, my mum was transferred to Akure. Her other colleagues had to quit their jobs because their husbands said they can’t be “baby nurse”, by the way, these are men with low-income yet they ended their wife’s civil service career. When my mum came home with the letter, he simply to her I will be with the first two while you stay with the baby as she was still breastfeeding. He didn’t even think about it, he would bathe my sister an I and get us ready for school before going to work. We lived in Fadeyi and school was in Ikeja. My mum’s brother would take us to school since it was close to his office and bring us back while my Dad was back home at 5 to do homework.

My Dad had to cook, wash clothes, do assignments, tell us stories and we ended the day with the Network News. This continued for three years, looking after his daughter wasn’t something out of the ordinary for him it was his duty. By 1990 my mum was fully home, but that didn’t mean my dad would abandon his duty. When my parent had the last two girls I saw my dad take my mum to the hospital and make food for her. He made NAN baby food and fed his daughters. So you can understand why I don’t understand when you make excuses because you are married. Is it that men like my Dad don’t exist anymore? If so, “problem they o”, Nso gbu di!

My Dad attended open day and PTA meetings, it was the responsibility of both parents to see our progress. They balanced for better. When we have a school invitation for an event, we gave the letter to our Dad not our Mum, most times they were both in attendance. So I have never heard my mum make excuses the way some women would use being married and having and kids as an excuse, that is not to say I am oblivious of the challenges women face. We need to help people unlearn some of these defeatist thinking.

Those who know me know I don’t wear a feminism badge, I just believe what is good for the goose is good for the gander. You are shouting feminism “upandan” on social media yet you use being married and having kids as an excuse not to succeed. You join those shouting balance for the better, well done. When the Hashtag #WifeNotCook was trending I didn’t understand because if your husband was dutiful in other ways it will be silly to expect him to cook if he can’t actually cook. If he can’t cook, can he do homework? Put kids to sleep, do the Laundry… His he domesticated in other ways?

My father did his laundry and ironed his clothes neatly, he didn’t think it was my mum’s or our duty. We even tried to help but he never allowed it. I have male married friends who do school runs and put their kids to sleep. These are men who have wives with good jobs, yet they are balancing for better. So each time you make excuses with your kids, I sometimes wonder if you are married yet living single and you also suggest to me that your husband is mean, inconsiderate, unhelpful and wicked.

To my friends in our association of unmarried women, what is going to happen when you finally become a Mrs? Her you going to join the gang of single-married-women who make excuses because they have kids?🤷🏼‍♀

I don’t know what people talk about when they are dating, I discuss these things, I try to know what shaped their experiences and the values they share as a family and one thing is clear, we are all raised differently, there is no template for fatherhood or motherhood but we should all be kind to our spouses. From Absentee, unkind, and inconsiderate men, O Lord deliver us.

Please if you are a single man who can’t look after your child, and support your woman please 🙏avoid me🙄 It is better to be single than marry and still be a single mother. If you are already in a singlehood marriage, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your husband. Let him see the beauty in getting involved in family life.

To the amazing men and women who balance for better in their homes may you continue to flourish. And to those I have used as a reference point in my notes, no pun intended. I hope this inspires you to be more. We hope that more husbands and wives balance for better. Thanks for enduring my long epistle, 😊

Francisca Kanayo Chiedu 
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