Overcoming Mum-Guilt: How Three Young Ladies Are Winging It
Returning to school while actively parenting can be quite challenging. Many women experience a sense of guilt, criticism from their family and loved ones, and occasionally from themselves. While several mothers have experienced "mom-guilt" at some stage---which can stem from a variety of factors including the belief that they should be doing more, constant comparisons, feelings of inadequacy when they are unable to provide a certain way of life for their kids, and, of course, when they have to ask for assistance with kids during work hours—a number of mothers who have been in that position have also emphasized the significance of ensuring it is not a dominant emotion.
As a wife and a mum, making the decision to prioritize your own future can sometimes feel like a challenging balancing act for the well-being of your children. One might be inclined to believe that prioritizing personal growth and development implies neglecting others. One might ponder: Will my children receive the necessary provisions? Would they understand me? Will I be excluded from their life-changing experiences? Will their every recollection of me involve me sitting in front of a computer?
On the other hand, there are also questions that come with anxiety like; Will I recall what it means to study? Is it not too late to get back to school? Am I not too old? How do I balance this with my responsibilities? Would it be worth it?
Document Women interviewed a few women who shared their experiences of starting a family, balancing responsibilities with education, career, and parenting, and the significance of having a supportive partner. These stories shed light on some challenges they had to face, sacrifices that had to be made and the determination to pursue their dreams as well.
Ojo got married at 24 and says she had her first daughter the year after. She says she was not privileged to go further her education after her undergraduate degree in Computer Science, due to financial reasons, and when she tried picking up a job, it was difficult maintaining it.
“I tried to, but I was relieved of my job and couldn't continue further. It wasn't easy because the urge to go back to school is still there. Anytime I see someone younger than me graduating from postgraduate school, there's this thirst for education that always sprouts.”
Now, with her daughter a little grown, she says things have become easier, as she currently works as a Secretary to the Chaplain at a University in Nigeria.
“God has been helping me, though not that easy. My sister is living with me, and she's helping in her ways. My husband is very supportive. There's no format to this thing. My children's school is just a stone's throw from my office, so it's like we go together and get back together.”
Adding that “ I went for what I love doing,” Ife does not feel like she had to settle because of her kids. In fact, she also says that women should “please start school before marriage; that way, your husband won't have a choice but to keep supporting you. And for those like me, don't give up; keep moving. Go to school, get those degrees, and be who they think you can never be.”
She also added that, although furthering her education past undergraduate degree did not work out for her as she had hoped, women can have kids, return to school and achieve their dreams, “It might seem difficult, but before you know it, time will pass, and you'll look back to those times and wish to have been what you aspire to be. Please combine the two, get help when necessary, use money to do most things at home. The Lord will help us all.”
Shuqroh says she married at 23 during her final year and got through the semesters with a baby bump. From her experience, she believes it would have been easier getting through school before having kids. “I’'ll advice women to chill and please finish school before kids, it's wasn't an easy one for me with pregnancy. Almost failed my core course but alhamdulillah."
When asked how she balances a career life with kids, she says there really is no format to it. “There's no manual oo, I just do what works for me but sis, it is a great deal. Especially for women like me with no help. I don't burden myself with all the works, I do what's important and schedule others for a later time. Although I used to strive to do all before but my body don tell me.” She also added that while her dream was to become a teacher, she later went for business since it made her available for her kids, “Teaching has been my dream for the longest of time. I studied Education with the hope of chasing the dream but sis, I don't think I can cope with kids and pregnancy while teaching. Because teaching requires putting in your all, if you really want to make impacts and not doing it for the money.”
“I'm into business and I have a sales rep, I go to shop when I'm done doing what I feel like in the morning.”
She however stated that “for women trying to get back to school, JUST DO IT. People will always talk, some will get tired but some won't. Just look on the brighter side. Anytime you feel down or low, try visualizing yourself in your graduation attire, plan all the paparazzi in your head and smile. God gart you babygirl.”
She left us with the view that the secret formula is finding what works for you, “...some people do both career and family together and they're doing absolutely great. But each person will have to find what works for her. Outsource as much as you can, laundry, cleaning, stocking the house and even food when the need arises. But all these depends on the kind of partner one has.
Where there's a will, there's a way surely.”
Halimah says her first marriage was at age 25 and then her second at 28. She says she is not ready to have kids yet as she intends to have some marital balance before they come along. In this moment, she is taking the opportunity to build her career as a research consultant and event planner as well.
“My career is very important to me, and so it's to my husband. I don't feel the need to put it on hold.” She also adds that “if it's possible to finish schooling before settling down or having kids, i think you should. If you can also merge it, do you. The most important thing is to be sure it's what you want and you're ready for it. More importantly, marry someone with an aligned goal as yours.”
When asked if she had to switch jobs or career path to better suit her life as a wife and mother when the time comes, she said, “I maintained the career I had even before I got married. Although my work entails a lot of travelling so I'm working on minimising that to also be more available for my husband. We had conversations surrounding it before we got married, and I think we're good.”
Nonetheless, she added that while she struggles to minimse her travelling, she understands that it is what works for her marriage, “I still travel, right now I'm on a trip away from home. But instead of the usual 2, 3, 4, weeks and more i spend on a trip, I've made peace with only going for trips that won't last more than a week unless on rear occasions. I'll outsource the rest or let my team handle it. I don't necessarily have to be there all the time anyway. I just mostly travel because it's a hobby of mine as well.”
She further advices women to “consider taking that risk if it doesn't cost you any pain. Let yourself be loved because life is really very long. You'll surely make sacrifices, but let it be with someone willing to do the same for and with you.”