A Week in the Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s “A Week In The Life” is a stay-at-home mum looking after a toddler. She talks about having to resign from her job while pregnant, the many ways toddlers try to off themselves and why she has no regrets even though some parts of her life are currently strenuous.
My day starts at this time for two reasons: either because my son took a late afternoon nap and he hasn’t slept yet, or he’s asleep and I’m boiling hot water and packing his food for when he wakes up around 3 a.m. to eat.
Thankfully, today is the latter.
The past couple of days have been intense: My son, his royal highness, has been refusing to sleep early, so my husband and I have had to take turns to beg him to sleep, sing for him, give him a night shower, and rock him to sleep under the AC. But, we didn’t do all that before he slept off today.
The day started with the voice of my baby waking me up around 10 a.m. In the previous days, my son would probably still be asleep by that time. And that’s why when I looked at the time after waking up, I started his day with a bath, a meal and general grooming activities. By the time I was done at 11 a.m., he was fully prepared to make my day a circus.
At one point, I was washing his plates from the morning meal, using my side-eye to monitor him, picking up after his mess and at the same time, considering running away from everything.
Before I blinked, it was 1 p.m. and I found myself changing diapers because he had pooed. Afterwards, I fed him again. Then I spent the next few hours fighting him for my phone to prevent him from smashing the phone or downloading weird apps and videos.
One minute I was hiding my phone, the next, it was 3 p.m. and I was setting the mood for nap time. Down went the blinds, up went the A.C, out went the diapers, into his tummy went water and then baby was gently rocked.
The moment I heard his first snore, I put him gently into his cot, tiptoed away quietly, and crammed all of the day’s chores into his sleep time. By the time I heard his first cry two hours later, I had already successfully washed, dried and ironed his clothes from the previous week.
Luckily, I didn’t have to hold him for long because his dad got back home a few hours after he woke up. From the front door, before he even had any time to catch his breath, I handed his child to him alongside baby food to feed to him.
After his meal and small rough play, he safely tucked himself into the arms of his dad. From then on, it was a waiting game for him to fall asleep. By 9:30 p.m., he was in dreamland. Then, my own day began and I could finally press my phone and catch up with the world.
Now, I’m up at midnight making plans for when he wakes up to eat in the middle of the night. Nothing serious. Just another week keeping up with a one year and eight months old baby.
The first thought in my head when I hear the voice of my baby this morning is, “how do mothers who work while raising kids do it?” Because watching an active toddler for 30 minutes is enough to drive anyone insane. Not to add the stress of a 9-5 on top.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve screamed “no, no, no” today. In fact, one of the first things my baby learned to say was “no, no, no” because of how frequently I say it to him. If I’m not chasing him, he’s chasing me. Yet, I’ll still be the one who needs a foot massage from my husband at the end of a workday. Children are terrorists and I don’t know where they get their energy from.
When I talk to more experienced mothers, I hear that this is still the “good stage.” Apparently, my baby is still going to pass through terrible twos and threes, which means he’ll still show me more pepper. The thought of this alone is enough to make me not want another child.
For this child, my life literally stopped when I got pregnant. I went from being the best salesperson for a particular product at an FMCG to being asked to resign at work the next year due to pregnancy complications. Nothing hurt as much as watching 6 years and 4 months of my life slip through the cracks because I couldn’t show up at work like I used to. What made it more painful was seeing my company not caring for my well-being as much as I did for theirs.
Outside of work, don’t even get me started on the weird pregnancy cravings: coke in a glass bottle and not plastic coke. Vanilla ice cream from Chicken Republic. Garri water. Cold Nutri C or Ribena.
Not to talk of pregnancy complications such as always wanting to vomit, spitting every day — and my husband having to regularly empty and wash my spit cup — and losing almost 7 kg of weight under two months.
I can’t imagine going through this again, especially now that this time I’ll have to look after two kids. Although, occasionally, when I think about how much I love my son, the love of my life, aka the terrorist of my life, I find myself reconsidering my decision.
We’re up early this morning. By we, I mean my son, his dad and me. Today is for spending time with grandma so mummy can have time off to run a few errands. Top of the list is to crochet a few beanies and scarves for sale as a supplementary source of income.
Since I left my job, I’ve been asking myself how women live and raise kids without jobs. While I recognise that this is a privileged stance, I still can’t help but wonder. The only reason I haven’t lost my mind is that I saved up a lot of money while I was still working a proper 9-5. It was just in late 2020 that I converted my crochet hobby into a side business for extra income and a sense of control in a chaotic routine. Even though the crocheting business is decent, I’m making plans to return to the corporate world in 2022 when my baby turns two. I’ve already started putting out feelers for a sales role in FMCG or a customer success specialist in a tech company.
However, nothing has come out for now. I know it’s just a matter of time before I hit my dreams.
But that one is in the future. Today, the only thing on my mind is how many scarves and hats I can make between when I drop off my son and when I have to pick him.
To the untrained observer, toddlers are adorable balls of goodness that can do no harm. To us, the initiated, these toddlers are tiny balls of energy bent on harming themselves.
This afternoon, I looked away for just one second and my child had scaled his cot. One minute he was inside and safe, the next, I heard gbim, watched him land on his arm and saw him run to me while crying. Thank God the arm is still working fine.
After that episode, he went climbing the glass table. As I was running towards him, he kept shouting “no, no, no.” In my head, I was like if you’re shouting that word, then you know what you’re doing is bad, so why are you still doing it?
During a diaper change, while I was disposing of the used napkins, this boy went to touch live socket. I was too shocked to react until after I had removed him from danger. Then, I had to explain to him why electricity is not child’s play.
As if that warning was not enough, this boy entered the kitchen and was playing with the gas cylinder.
The last thing I remember from today is calling my husband on the phone to come and carry his child before he kills me.
My mother-in-law is around, so today is a good day already. Whenever she’s around, I’m rest assured to get the necessary time off to breathe. After yesterday’s episode, I’m glad she’s around. I’m confident that between her shift in the morning and my husband’s shift at night, they can look after my son. I’m rooting for them.
Me, I’m focusing on catching my breath for as long as I can. Transitioning from wife to mother has been one hell of a journey. Sometimes I just sit down and say that this tiny grain of rice that was once in my tummy is now breathing, living, terrorising and I’ love it. This person came out of my stomach. That is, na me born am. Small me of yesterday is now a mother. Wow.
As much as I complain, cry, and fuss about the stress of raising a child, I don’t think I’d change anything if I could go back in time. For me, regardless of the stress, there has been no greater joy than seeing someone who is half of me and half of the person I love.
In fact, if you asked me to absolutely change anything today, the one thing I’d probably change is the TV channel. My mother-in-law put the television on Zee World but, I want to watch good-old Law and Order SVU to kickoff my relaxation.
I too am someone’s child.