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Is this what you do all day? He asked me incredulously one day when he returned from work and I was trying to fill him in on the latest celebrity gossip in town. “Is this how you spend your days? Watching TV, reading blogs and spending time on social media?”
I was slightly upset because I thought he was being accusatory, so I mumbled some kind of weak defense to get him off my case and saved my sweet gist abeg. I didn’t lose the uncomfortable feeling it brought up within me in my more lucid moments though.
This was September 2015, and in that season, it was starting to fully dawn on me that I was jobless. You see, I had quit a career at an international organization, complete with opportunities for travel, to be a mom. It was a huge sacrifice to make in order for my new family to work. We were in a long-distance marriage and I worked not just away from my husband, but also away from any stable family support network, so I didn’t have much of an option but to pack up and join my husband with my new-born.
I swore I would get back to work, but as days went on and I found myself adjusting to a new life on an Island isolated from the rest of Nigeria, which was where my husband worked, reality was setting in.
And that self-fulfilling prophecy was winning. I felt that way. I acted that way. I projected all of that to the world.
I am not saying that your husband should treat you bad, but trust me, men want you projecting more than I was projecting then, and I am thankful my husband showed me who I was fast becoming.
In truth, the television and my phone were my best companions and I invested myself heavily in matters that neither concerned nor bettered me.
Reeling from the import of those words “Is this how you spend your day?” I knew I needed to project better.
My reality was that I had to be at home and care for my son. I wasn’t jobless. I had a job. Or maybe three. I needed to invest myself in better, more productive activities, and invest in taking better care of my then almost 6-month-old beyond putting him in front of the screen all day. Finally, I needed to invest in running the home more efficiently.
First, investing in Eziaha
I have always been a reader, writer, and researcher. I started to read and write again. I would wake up, have a bath and look like I had a job to do outside the home. I researched extensively everything that peaked my interest. I believed I would go back to the corporate world so I tasked my brain, took online courses within and outside my field of learning, read materials on parenting, home making and went on a weight loss journey where I ultimately lost 30kg. I even brought out my final year course work and project and did refreshers on them. I soon realized I didn’t have enough time for media, both traditional and social, as I did in the past.
On the home front, I became a better manager. With less pressure from social media, I also put less pressure on my husband and the domestic finances. Yes, I was not contributing actively, but I realized that if I helped my husband manage it better, we could have savings and some extra money to pay for some premium certifications I aspired to. He would be even happy to make an investment in that as opposed to asking him to buy some kind of fancy milk for my baby just because someone popular was talking about it. In fact, I recall that I moved on from store-bought purees to researching on homemade semi solids for my baby, better alternatives which freed up money to invest in other things.
As a result of all my reading and researching, I started to have more meaningful conversations with others including my husband. I could help my husband reach better decisions on some matters. He could confide in me because I brought something extra to the table as a result of investing my hours at home.
I was no longer lazy. I was fruitful right at home. Because I invested in me, I started to project better. And today, even though I run a home-based business, a direct result of all my investment, I consider my highest calling to be a domestic queen, an epic one rocking my life as a wife and a stay-at-home mom to the fullest.
Dear domestic queen, you would notice I used the term “investment” a lot. Something most people would not use in the context of “staying at home.” But can I challenge you to be intentional about investing your hours at home?
I am not saying never put on the TV or visit any social media site (though, like me in that season, some of us may have to do a time-based screen detox). What I am saying is for you to strike a balance and make some investments in you. I am tempted to list a couple of things you can do at home, but I recently learned from a friend and big sister Dr N, a BellaNaija reader herself, that we need to point the destination of the horizon to people and let them figure out how to get there.
So, dear stay-at-home mom, what are you projecting?