Ghana Photography

About two weeks ago after hosting Home Affairs on Joy FM, I got a call from a distressed young woman who said she was in dire need of a family life counsellor. I tried to calm her down because she was very hysterical and upset. She was hesitant when I asked her to share the challenge with me. She was hell-burnt on talking to a counsellor. I asked her why she didn’t want to talk to me and oooooh, I was glad I asked. She says “Auntie Edem, I respect and admire you a lot but you will not understand.”

Why do you think so? I inquired. Then she responds “Hmmmm, not to offend you Edem but you see, most of you who sit on the radio and TV have near-perfect lives. You people don’t go through the things some of us go through. You people make up most of the stories just to be able to connect to us…That is why I said you will not understand.”

I found myself sounding like an ambulance as I kept saying “Wow…wow…wow…wow” before bursting out with a good laugh. She wondered why I was laughing and then I said Amen to her assumptions. Of course, who won’t love a good, soft and near-perfect life? I’m actually working to achieve that kind of life so I said yes! yes! yes and amen to her assumption!   

I assured her, “I understand her not that I will understand.” Somehow, I really wanted to hear her out and support her. I asked if she could make the time so we could meet up. Fortunately, she lives on the road to my way home so we met over breakfast and talked.

The long and short of it is that Bella, 35, is a working mum with two children and she is not getting the support of her husband. She is overwhelmed with work at home and does not have enough to hire a nanny. Call the mother of a six and four-year-old a single mum if you want, Bella can’t afford to have her mum or any relative come live with her so yes, she is overwhelmed and simply wants someone to talk some sense into his husband. Indeed, she looked quite exhausted and worn out for her age and I agree she was stressed. When she was done telling me her story, I asked, “So this is what you thought I won’t understand? I need you to trust all the coping ways I will suggest to you but before then, I need you to know that I understand. Yes, I do”.

Before you think I don’t understand, I do. I have four children in the same succession as yours with a set of twins in there so I understand. I lost my mum at age 15 and my mother-in-law before I had my first child so I understand the no-help situation. My sister had to put her home on hold to come to assist and teach me how to handle a baby for a couple of weeks and by the third week, I was on my own so I understand.

When they were much younger, I did not work for seven years and I was overwhelmed. I let myself go and I lost myself completely and weighed 130 kilograms. I sat on the floor to breastfeed two babies at the time with the other toddler needing attention and crying so I understand.

I was at one point pregnant and had a set of twins who were a year old and a three-year-old to take care of all by myself so I understand. I did everything that had to be done – going to the market, cooking, cleaning, hospital rounds, and just everything else. There was a woman who came in to support me with washing and cleaning. She was very supportive but she also had her own children to raise so she did just what she could. She moved on and from then, I tried house helps who were just one trouble to the other so I understand.

I had graduated from the NAFTI film school with first-class honours but there I was stuck at home and saddled with home and child care. I felt like a glorified housemaid. It was an emotionally torturous place to be so I understand.

She wondered where my “Boy” was in all of these…well, he was there…equally overwhelmed. He was a young man in his mid-30s at the time who was saddled with a wife, four children and a father to provide for. He had to take on extra jobs to be able to provide for everything. Remember, I could not work so everything means everything. From accommodation to diapers, hospital bills, baby food, utility, clothes and just everything. Our relationship was strained, my brother Pastor Sam and his wife provided us with some counselling and supported us in prayers but the marriage was very challenged. So, I understand.

Guess what? By this time all she was doing was muttering “aww, awwww, awwww” forgetting her own wahala and now knowing I understand. Yes, I understand.

I was tired of not contributing financially, I was tired of looking up to my “Boy” for everything. I was tired. We chatted and he agreed that I could start a creche from home so I did after going for the required training. I loved it, I withdrew my children from their schools, started with them, got a few parents who were happy that it was a home school and gradually, it grew. After 10 years, I relocated it from the house and then six months after then, COVID-19 struck and it had to be put on hold…So yes! I understand.

Joy FM came along within those 10 years of the creche and fortunately, I started off with flexible working hours; 12 pm to 8 pm. I made breakfast and lunch, did school drop-offs, and came back home to make lunch for the kids in the creche and dinner for my children before leaving home by 10:30 am. I had a house help to assist with the cleaning and receive the children when they returned from school. This arrangement will work until the house help pulls a fast one on me. They are a necessary evil. So yes, I understand.

Managing ill health in the family is a story for another day.

I am the team lead at Joy FM presently; Programmes Manager to be precise. Ultimately my responsibility is to achieve and maintain market leadership and ensure a versatile high functioning, productive and competitive Joy team. I am also tasked to adequately manage and maintain key talents who will deliver on our business objectives of delivering large audiences to our advertisers. Tough job but I love it and I am highly committed to duty. I will share my leadership journey with you soon. Until a week ago, I had not had help for the past six months so I am up at 4 am, commune with my God and head out to the kitchen to make breakfast and lunch for the family and prepare my meals also separately because of my diet plan. I finish and tidy up and by 5:30 leave for the gym. I am dome from the gym by 7:30 and head to Joy FM. I understand.

By this time, Bella was calm. She realized she was not alone. She was better disposed of now to listen to me on what to do and how she can cope It is not to say that we should suffer and glorify it as hard work and be labelled as superwoman, in fact, t I hate it. But What do you do under such circumstances when you are alone and don’t have support? Go about wailing and throwing our hands in despair? No, you brace it and keep finding ways around it until you find that equilibrium and respite. Did I think at the time that my husband was not being supportive? Oh yes, I did. When the baby cried at night and he does not help, I hated him more but later when I calmed down to think things through, I said to myself, I was being unreasonable for expecting him to help so much with baby chores.  

He worked different jobs apart from his regular just so we will be provided for. He got tired but will be up the next day and go again. I would call him and give him a long list of things to buy on his way back. Yes I know he stayed out sometimes to cool off before getting back but yes, he is human and was finding ways to cope too. We were in love and married but we did not anticipate this magnitude of work that took our lives away. I dare say, there was no strong support system for us as well. Love alone does not make a happy home, your lives will be challenged in ways you will never anticipate until you get there but remember that, there are people like me who have walked the path and understand and can be of help. I understand.

Of course, your mental health and general well-being will be challenged within this period; I have been depressed and have been on anti-depressants and therapy because there came a time I could not cope well. I opened up to Dr Osafo, who got me a shrink to support me. She helped me and I have coped better and I am doing well, I had a whole new perspective on life and I got spiritual support that grounded me and I must say, I am happier, my marriage and home are thriving and God continues to be our help. So I understand…

In the next edition, I will share some practical coping mechanisms that I shared with Bella with you and I am happy to say that, she is doing better already…

 I UNDERSTAND!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there!!!

#WorkAndFamilyLifeBalance

#Thrivinglives

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.