JUMOKE ADENOWO: CAN A WOMAN HAVE IT ALL?
I can’t promise to answer the question for everyone but perhaps a few women (and men) may be interested in my attempt. Whenever I hear “can a woman have it all?” the inherent male chauvinism in that statement hits me again. Why doesn’t anyone ask if a MAN can have it all? It’s actually a no- brainer. No one ever has it all; all resources, power, money. The laws of physics, economics and time-space dynamics make it impossible.
This means women (and men) should clarify their purpose first and determine what is most important to them in life.
What do you want to be remembered for? Don’t judge yourself, just answer sincerely. At the end of your journey do you want your obituary to read “she was a good mother to her children” and just that? This for some women is more than enough! And power women don’t judge them. They may be mothering the next messiah, so being a good mother is enough!
Would you rather some elements of your impact outside the immediate family reflects in your eulogy? This exercise brings clarity. Whatever you want to appear in your eulogy, you must begin to pay the price for now.
The debate about women about the role of women in the family and society being confined to child care only is a fall out of the industrial revolution when for the first-time machines were invented and the heavy machinery needed physical strength to operate in sooty, hazardous working conditions. Men were more suited to this physical work and it fell to the women, who without a doubt are the primary nurturers of children, to take care of the children.
Prior to this time, even from the Stone Age, even to our own pre-mechanized agrarian societies, all the family was involved in the family’s business. They all went to the farm together, with nursing mothers strapping their babies tightly to their backs, their baskets of produce balanced on their heads and their cutlasses and hoes tucked into the baskets. Stone Age cave men and women would find our debate ludicrous.
I need to clarify that my definition of work in this context is a woman pursuing her passion, and deploying her innate gifts and talents in the service of humanity for financial profit. I don’t refer to drudgery or grudging labour just for the money.
I also believe that in an ideal situation, the woman should be able to choose when to work – according to the seasons of her life.
If a woman is the designated primary care giver by reason of her physiology (that is she is endowed by her Creator with the equipment to bear and nurture children,) then it should follow also by this line of thought that all get God given “equipment” was created for a deployment. That means her brain is meant to be put to use, as are her inherent talents and abilities!
I notice that exams are not typically divided into male and female papers?
Do girls write a female JAMB while guys write the male version?
If educationists, then agree that men and women must be evaluated by the same yardstick and educated without discrimination why then would anyone think that the woman’s PhD in thermodynamic physics is best deployed in determining the temperature of eba and Ogbono soup? While the man’s own degree is best deployed in developing aerospace programs?
Growing up, no one told me I could not; so, by the time the women who should have encouraged Awesome Treasures tried to stop it, it was too late! I say this with all humility and an appreciation of the grace and gift of God in me I just do what I know to do…
we can’t seriously be saying that over 50% of the human race are condemned to living below potential and never being fulfilled? Are we saying womanhood is perpetually denied the right to pursue happiness?
Here’s a quote from the 1776 American Constitution: “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable, that all men were created equal and independent, that from that equal creation derive rights inherent and inalienable which are the preservation of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
There are some MYTHS which hold women bound and subconsciously dissuade them from fulfilling potential:
Myth 1: Children suffer because of other care givers.
US – National institute of child health and development in a study on exclusive maternal care vs children of working women discovered that children of working women do not differ from those of stay at home women in cognitive skills, emotional development, ability to build and maintain relationships and (this is the real unspoken fear for most women)
Myth 2: The MOTHER CHILD BOND is affected.
There is no reason for mothers to believe they are harming their children by choosing to work.
According to the UK journal of epidemiology and community health in a study of 11000 UK families, researching the effect of maternal employment and socio- emotional behaviour, children fare better socio-emotionally, especially the daughters when the mothers work.
An interesting fact is that stay-at-home women spend more time with children now than in the past. 11 hours a week on primary child care in 1975 to 17 hours now. The difference which the researchers found is that now we have more insensitive parenting. This is rapidly creating a weak, dependent and entitled generation.
There are other advantages to women working, when a mother works child care is shared between bother parents to an extent.
Fathers are more involved in parenting and they raise more confident daughters with balanced attitudes to men, and dare I say heterosexual males.
Professor Rosalind. Chair of Brandeis University says the effect on the woman is tangible as she has lower levels of anxiety if allowed to pursue her passion.
There is also a marked positive impact on her mental wellbeing, increased financial security leading to a more stable marriage (this assumes she is married to a secure man I guess).
This leads to better health (but I must confess though, that this study was not done in Lagos taking into account the traffic) It’s no surprise that the study surmised that in general increased life satisfaction was the outcome.
Personally, from 1999 to date dealing with thousands of women in Awesome Treasures Foundation and empowering them mentally and in terms of skills to engage in economic activities, without a doubt I have seen the positive life changing effects of a woman being productive in a space beyond her nuclear family.
My ladies have testified to a new-found respect from their husbands. I have seen a drastic decrease in resentment and envy of other women drastic reduction in ulcers, and PhD (Pull her down) syndrome!
Finally, I believe you can’t give what you don’t have – an unfulfilled mother cannot raise fulfilled children. She can’t raise balanced and well-rounded children who are able to take our continent out of the morass and the vacuum of leadership it is in. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
A note of caution though, there are conditions, if a woman sets out to fulfil all her potential. It takes wisdom.
First get your priorities right. We are relationship entered. There is no point losing your marriage if you have married a man who has made it a deal breaker in your marriage. You may have to wisely look for other avenues of expressing your gift. Perhaps not a 9-5 job. Perhaps you can work from home? We are women we are resourceful. I am sure you will come up with something.
We must be sensitive to seasons.
A tree has that much sense Hilary Clinton couldn’t have run for President while she was nursing Chelsea. A woman’s season differs from a man’s. It’s not either or; it may be one at a time.
Marry right; if you must marry, marry someone who believes in YOU. Your gifts and talents, your vision and your future. Don’t marry because the guy has a fine car or is rich or whatever other ephemeral reason people choose spouses for these days.
Marry someone who respects your intrinsic worth! Be prepared for marriage it’s not by force, girls don’t marry boys, mature men marry mature women. It takes wisdom to stay married and have it all you can be a lioness at work but when you get home metamorphose into a kitten. Why? There can be only one head in a marriage and I may be old school, but the man is that head and must at least feel he is the head no matter what rough patch he is going through. A double-headed creature is rightly called a monster.
Heterosexual men don’t marry men; don’t be a man, it’s not a competition. We are different but EQUAL, stay feminine, stay different.
You will need to recruit right.
Get the right team at home and at work. Get the right help all round (including domestic help) and treat them right. They are there to free you to be all you can be, they are your partners in progress if they are good partners, reward them accordingly, don’t be selfish.
Be very careful to follow your passion do what you love because it’s hard work.
Note, you can’t love what you are doing all the time. You must sometimes get through some serious boring, tough grunt work just to reach your goal of engaging your passion. Stick at it, it’s all part of the journey.
Running your own business may be a viable option for some women with children, flexible hours are key and this option while challenging and not risk free does offer some latitude in structuring your time though I must warn ahead – there are no closing hours.
My generation seems to have lacked women to mentor us in business, those coming some 6-8 years behind are luckier. I have a theory about that, but I won’t share it today. May I be bold enough to ask that women who are now in positions of influence should make life easier for those coming behind. You know what you suffered, instead of ensuring others coming behind have as rough a ride as you did, why not be a mother and not a rival?
You know you needed on site crèches at work, push for that for your nursing mothers. Remember what you suffered and determine that the younger ones will not suffer the way you did.
Don’t roll away the ladder after you have climbed it, please Big Sis – let others to climb up.
If you find help where you expect or not, Sisters, determine to be all you can be. Pursue your dreams, you owe it to yourself. You owe it to your children, you owe it to your country and you owe it your creator.
These words from Marianne Williamson best sum it up.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
About Jumoke Adenowo
Olajumoke Adenowo is a practising Architect and the Principal Partner of AD Consulting, she is the Founder and Coordinator of Awesome Treasures Foundation – a faith based NGO which raises Transformational Leaders. She is an author of several books (including The Mothers’ Prayer Manual) and the host of Voice of Change on radio. She speaks at entrepreneurial conferences (such as the Harvard Business School’s African Business Club Conference), and several faith based summits and she also serves on the board of several business concerns and social initiatives. She is married to Olukorede and they are blessed with 2 lovely sons.