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A being, BEing

Mama Tolu works very hard, the quintessential Nigerian mother. She wakes up at 4am while the world still sleeps and the spirits are prowling to cook and clean. When its 5:30, she wakes up the entire household; children for school, husband for work. She deploys her 3 pairs of hands to dish everyone’s food, while matching mixed socks, doing the dishes as they get piled up in the sink and refereeing fights that break out when the children break out fully from their sleepy state.

At 7:30, she’s almost bouncing to get the kids to school and oh yes, there is herself to get ready because she probably has to get to the market or work by 8:30am.

“Strong woman! Superwoman! That’s what mothers do; they do it all for everyone.”

We say these words, you and I, and whether we mean to or not, we cement this notion that there is only one valid way to be a Nigerian woman; the one where the path is paved with self-sacrifice and living for others before ever doing for self.

It is why we judge women who work outside the home because how dare they leave their primary duty post of caring for everyone else. We raise our nose at women who get helps because they step into their humanness and say “look, this pressure is making me lose my hairline before its time. I ain’t no superwoman and I can’t do it alone.” With our eyebrows just so, we wonder why they can’t be like their mothers who did all those things. After all, they didn’t die and why do women these days complain so much anyway?!

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Balance for Better. This period is an important time in history where ideologies are being learned, unlearned and relearned. There is space to look around us and inside us and bring to question some of the beliefs that we have, seeds that were planted through our lives and have grown strong roots to become trees that tower over us.

The empowerment of women through the provision of sustainable infrastructures and revised solutions to drive a world where there is gender equality and women have a voice at the center is important. But none of it will matter if there are no sustainable structures built internally.

We need to disavow the thinking that if we want something that is ours, the individual, then we’re being selfish. We need to reshape the mind-set that tells us that being one thing is all that we can aspire to; mother is a role that we play, but it does not have to be who we are, and we don’t make that distinction enough.

I came across a post on the internet yesterday where apparently, interviews had been on for 3 days to fill a role and consistently, when asked what remuneration would suffice, the women who were interviewed quoted lower than men with the same qualifications for the same role. It’s conditioning, and that’s on you, on us, to rewire.

As the days give way to the next and the months add up leading to the demise of another year, I am learning to critically look inward and pull at the roots that depend on me for survival yet are holding me rooted in places where I don’t want to be, whether that is in the way that I think of my place as a woman or the way that I define and interact with the lives and choices of other women. Do you see?

So today, I want to ask that you redefine the Nigerian definition of what being a woman is. Is it a definition that creates space for you in all your imperfection as a human? Is it a definition that wholly considers who you are as a woman without the title of daughter, wife, mother, sister, and friend? Is it a definition that accommodates your shine without somehow diminishing your womanhood?

Is it a definition that serves you?

There are so many ways to be a woman, and there is no one right way to be it. So while you’re a being, allow yourself to also BE – human, with all that (that) comes with.

Happy International Women’s Day, Ladies! Can you see the arch of the rainbow? The world is more colorful for your presence in it!

I create worlds with words. I think the universe is a canvass, and I want to paint it with the color of my dreams.

31 Comments

  • Reez

    This is such a delight to read. I’m particularly happy about the new movement fueled by people like Jade, who consider women’s issues dire enough to impact a change. God bless what you do, Boo!

    Happy International Women’s Day.

    • Jade

      The movement is as old as time, boo. We’re lucky to have had the women before us.

      Happy International Women’s Day, love.

  • Reez

    This is such a delight to read. I’m particularly happy about the new generation of people like Jade who take women’s issues so dearly.

    God bless you, Boo.

    Happy International Women’s Day.

  • Lara

    You’re so right about the learning, unlearning and relearning. I can feel the change in the air, really. We’re beginning to use our voice in ways that serve us and help us to blossom into the beautiful flower we were always meant to be.
    Thank you for the part you play in this, Omolara.
    Happy International Women’s day, Queen.

  • Precious

    “Is it a definition that wholly considers who you are as a woman without the title of daughter, wife, mother, sister, and friend?”

    Redefining who I am as a woman first is a whole mood. We don’t hear this enough.

    Thank you, Tawakalit, for this message.

    [I can see my picture on your page. I have blown:-)]

  • Chidera

    “There are so many ways to be woman, and there’s no one right way to be it. …….BE…”

    The story in the first paragraph was very vividly captured. Reading through this post, I thought to myself that truly, you taking the step to get this website up and running was definitely one of the best decisions you made. The beauty and content you put out in writing couldn’t have had a better platform. The online and offline community you’re building is phenomenal. The conversations and insights, amazing.

    May we learn, and relearn, and unlearn. May I have the courage to do those, to be, and to become.

    Great post Omolarrs. As always, I celebrate you, today included.

  • Deborah

    Wow, its amazing how you write so deeply. You’ll be known for wonders Lara.

    Happy international women’s day.
    May we learn to BE- human with all that comes with it.

  • Taiwo Ajidagba

    You a are such a delight Lara. Thank you for inspiring us with your words.

    ‘I will always remember I have to be human too ‘ Happy International women’s day to us all.May we always have strength to carry on.

  • Cheenahsir

    As usual, my attention was captured from the first sentence.
    Keep BEing for us.
    May women be more appreciated through our collective Active and Visisble efforts.
    Happy International Women’s day.

  • Qudus Oyindamola

    To all the Mama Tolu out there, you are our heroes. This is an amazing piece. I love the way you infuse the importance of sustainable structures on the system, in order to ensure the sustainability of women voice and cause.

  • Mmachi

    It’s amazing how we all have grown and how when we voice out our opinions they are laddened with so much truth.
    In the corporate world, the single women at the top are deemed to be overambitious and proud because they do not have a man and are deemed no able to ‘settle down’ in a home.
    They spit the words like an abomination and belittle the few women who have worked their ways legitimately to the top.
    The list is endless, but I pray we get this right soonest.
    Sorry my post came in late but this was too good to ignore!
    Keep soaring sis💜

    • Jade

      Thank you so much, Mmachi. 💜.

      There is so much that is wrong with the systems we have built and how the realities of women work in those systems.

      But we’re learning, and knowing better and that’s something to be proud of in our quest to do better.

  • Temi' Adelana

    Truth be told it’s a lot of work to balance for better!
    But then it’s also our choice to balance for better… As a lot depends on this. Our mind – set needs to be in charge of this woman game and also play it appropriately.

    I hope we see the need to change the game from the usual and now INNOVATE FOR CHANGE. thank you Tawa, this is surely a mind – searching and very enlightening piece.

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