I was dismayed today when I was told I was a s***** mother. Well not me specifically but people like me.
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One young woman said once she had gotten married and started having children, she was going to stop working and devote her entire existence to rearing her brood. In her opinion, women who work and leave their children with maids or daycare have no business having babies.
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I felt like I had been slapped. I love my kids and I love my job. Should I have to choose? Can’t I have my cake and eat it? I suddenly understood the chagrined and pitying looks I get when I drop off my kids at school. In my work clothes every week day, it is pretty clear where I will be going. The speed with which I hustle the kids out of the car and into class and back, shows I am one of the Bracket .
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The school run at whatever time is murder and I look back at it during the weekend and wonder how I survived it. I start work at 8am but have to drop off the kids on the way. The first one off is the kindergarten one whose school gates open at 7:30am (if we are lucky) and I have to wait until they do. The Next is just a block over but the traffic by then will be so horrendous it will be 8 minutes after before I can drop her off. She starts school at 07:45am and a minute later she will be on punishment for being late. Then I have to fight and get back into the flow of traffic and get to work in 15 minutes.
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So why not drop off the 07:45 first? It will take me 40 more minutes to get to work instead of just the 15.
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I went for a sports day at my daughter’s school where I had produced my almost successful attempt at banana muffins for the teas and one of the teachers said, “You are the type of mother we like. Not one of those career women.” And I thought, wow. It just so happened to be one of my days off otherwise I would have dropped in for a few minutes and promptly gone back to work. The female teacher was at work though and she was judging career women.
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I love my kids and will have some more. I will probably be a basket case by the time they leave home, with school runs, bake sales, PTA meeting when I am knackered from all the above and a day at work but I will not apologize for who I am. And then they will leave the nest. And Who will I be?
the other day i saw a maid beat up a kid and stopped to give her a piece of my mind. her reason for beating up the six year old was because he had torn up a piece of paper the school had sent informing the parents of a trip that morning. i saw no sense in beating up a child over a piece of paper that can be repaired or failure of which one can always get another paper. the emotional trauma for the child will stay with the child forever. i must have looked mad because everyone else had just looked on and had done nothing or had egged the maid on. there is a tendency in our society these days of glorying in other people’s hurts which is really sad.
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it has been distressing seeing a video doing the rounds of a maid verbally and physically abusing a child. this is the danger a working mother faces everyday when they leave their children in the hands of a carer. it is especially hard for the mother of a new born to leave their baby at home because babies do not talk and cannot articulate what would be happening to them. the moment the child starts talking you thank the lord because now they can tell you where it hurts and what was happening to them all day long.
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when my daughter was about seven months old, she would jump for me whenever i got home. i vainly thought she loved me more than anyone in the whole world only to realise that she wanted me because i could feed her. though she could not speak, she showed me through behavioral patterns what was happening whilst i was away.
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used to be one could stop working, look after the kids watching them grow and then go back to working once the kids were grown. not so anymore. besides the simple fact that families cannot afford it (it’s all very well to say that people get organised and prioritise but we all know that is a whole lot of hogwash and another story for another day), things are moving at such a hectic speed that if you go off the job market for say 10 years, then getting back might be a pipe dream and you will end up just staying at home.
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so i will keep my fingers crossed that my kids survive childhood with minimum emotional scars and physical hurts. faith can move mountains…
in the beginning was the word. words have power
self-hate takes a while to heal. and before one can love other people, they have to love themselves first. the relationships we have today are because of things that were left unsaid.
I grew up basking in my parents’ love and the most stubborn little girl I knew. My dad called me scout after Jean Louise Finch of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I had a combative streak but I loved everyone and believed everyone was good. I dreamed I was going to change the world. Then life happened. I am still combative but I don’t end arguments with fist fights. i still love people and still believe they are generally good, but do recognize that human beings are capable of greater evil than they know themselves.
I have never backed down from a fight or a dare for my pains. It is this same trait that makes it impossible for me to say sorry. When I do say sorry, I really mean it. For the past decade that aspect of me had disappeared. Like I said, life happened. I became bitter and rarely saw the good in people. I had a job i loved which ended up being unsatisfactory because of structural problems and value differences in management. I ended up hating going to work. The old Fadz would rear her combative head once in a while but with time she too disappeared. After I had heard one too many times that this was my lot and I had to content with it, I took a vow that I would reclaim myself, take back what was mine. And what is mine is me myself and I.
When we apply labels to people, we take away their humanity. I am a person first, a woman mother, sister and daughter after. It is saddening that the self gets lost over time and we become time punchers, living from day to day just getting by. If I am happier with myself I will also make other people happy.
I am taking back tomorrow. I am taking back what’s mine.
How do you reconcile being a parent and being your own person? How can you be an adult when you are not done growing up?
My sister called me frantic that she couldn’t find my daughter at school. She picks up the kids these days because her schedule is more flexible than mine and takes them home. She was surprised (or not) when I told her to check with the friends to establish where she had gone and leave her at the school. I planned on picking her up after work. That was going to teach her for not being at the designated place at home time. She refuses to do any type of sport so she stayed for four hours watching other people enjoy themselves and when I got there she was an angry petulant mess.
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When I got to my sister’s, the first thing my sister did was tear into the poor princess and my mother had to rein her in saying I probably had been giving her a lecture all the way from the school (which I unashamedly had).
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My daughter is disinterested in anything. Does not like sport. (That I cannot understand!). Does not like reading. (SERIOUSLY!?). She is a walker; walks lackadaisically everywhere. Has separation issues; it took her five months to stop crying when I left her at preschool and it takes her a while to let go of a teacher (she still visits her grade 2 teacher and its almost the end of year three). She has no sense of time and teachers have complained of how she never finishes anything on time; she behaves as if the whole world moves at her pace.
I am not a fan of spanking kids (its hardly discipline the way some parents take the rod to their kids) but I am not for sparing the rod either. She has however managed to drive me to the ends of my patience. The rod doesn’t work. Neither do words but I do it anyway hoping it will get through one way or the other.
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There is a lesson to be learned about not being time conscious; your lack of care affects everyone else. This lesson coupled with the one about things not going your way all the time and the one about carelessness, is one that my daughter has to learn.
I am not done learning a lot of stuff. I make messes everyday; I literally need to constantly remind myself that what I am doing should be done this way. It doesn’t help that I over-think things, I’m highly excitable and quite stubborn. I get depressed quite easily too making me forgetful and unable to function (my cluttered and dirty car is statement of this); which necessitates my needing reminders to accomplish even the most basic of tasks. So I don’t blame my daughter for needing to learn and learn and learn the same things over and over again.
It’s just so hard for a parent where you are caught between being a parent and being a disciplinarian. Its harder for me because no matter how much I love my kids, parenting doesn’t come naturally to me – my sister says its a job for me and I don’t think I entirely disagree. I know some super moms have lips pursed and think I should burnt on a stake for being selfish but not everyone was born feeling duty bound to be a great mom.
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So my daughter and I will learn and learn and learn together.
Over the past few weeks I have done some soul searching in my search for who I am to better understand myself and become a better individual. I have known for sometime that I am a coward and unable to stand on my own and admitting this truth has set me free. I do not particularly like that part of myself. It is one of the major aspects of my character that I will work on to improve my well-being. I went home (kumusha) this weekend. Whenever I feel I am losing it, I go home to see my mom and dad. I took the bus. Bad Idea. I don’t like buses. I don’t like the smells, the rubbing of shoulders and other body parts, the noise, the music. The buses never run on time and it was raining so it took longer. Another thing I hate. They stop for what I think is no apparent reason. So if you have come from home and board the bus at 1 in the afternoon chances are you will only need a bathroom break in maybe 3 hours but why they would need to stop two hours later for people to eat and for 25 minutes is beyond me! I sat next to a nursing mother and had a horrible time. I am a mother of three and I am sure there are some assumptions I have made but never that I could just hand over my baby to a stranger whilst I looked for a diaper in the depths on my bag under my seat. I was shocked into inaction and automatically took the baby who smelled of unsavory and unpalatable nappy. Nappy is that distinct cloying nappy smell which can permeate everything and everyone. So there I was holding the baby as far away from me as my short arms could. It appeared as if I had been holding the baby for a long time but it was just a few minutes. I promptly changed where I was sitting because she immediately started changing the baby right there and then. She gave me dirty looks from then on, you know that look that says ‘you are a woman and you should not find poo disgusting’. As if!
I hadn’t been on the bus in a while and this being a chicken bus did not make the re experience a gratifying on. I had to make a connection at Chaka. Had to wait for the Kombi to fill up in the biting cold and it also started to rain. The mere 31 kilometers of dust road took almost two hours to cover and I was miserable by the time I got home. I have driven this route and it has only taken me three and a half hours instead of the five that it took me (minus the two hours waiting time in between).
The return leg was no better with a bus philosopher (drunk of course – is there any other?) getting on the bus in Chivhu. He managed to make almost everyone laugh (with his crude sense of humor), make me angry (because of his chauvinistic attitude) and frighten everyone (when he whistled – the sound managed to penetrate the din of the bus radio and the loud bass of my earphones – to drown out the repetitive music) before he got off, stumbling and falling on his face.
Don’t like buses. Don’t like the music they play. Don’t like dirty babies. Don’t like waiting. Don’t like doing stuff by myself. Don’t like not liking stuff. 🙂 Will learn to like stuff.
So word to the wise; take a jacket with you when you are going on a long journey – even when the weather report says its going to be fine out. And for the chicken bus ride, just sit and relax; the smells will not kill you, the bus philosopher will leave at some point and you will arrive when you do.