It was a short trip. All my life I had been looking forward to visiting this country and yet when the opportunity finally came, I had to make it short because my brother was getting married.
So the plan was, I would arrive on Wednesday, speak at the conference on Thursday and return on Friday (no shopping!) in time to make it for the big ceremony on Saturday. ‘No problem, for my brother I will do this; he is worth it’, I thought.
Everything happened according to plan on the trip, well except for the shopping bit. At the time I had been saving for something very important later that year so I told myself no more shopping, not even for the kids.
Besides, I had recently shopped my wallet off on a previous trip and so surely, I would be forgiven if I returned empty-handed; I reasoned. However, on my way to the boarding gate, there was this really incredible shop with thousands of different arts and gifts. The shop literally kept calling my name! Rolling my eyes dramatically, I said to myself ‘fine! Just $100 and I’m out of here’
As usual, I got a few gifts for the kids. And then debated with two Shop Attendants on whether I should get a giraffe print tie or a t-shirt for my husband. Oh and I simply had to buy two lovely bead necklaces for my mother and mother-in-law. But of course, I couldn’t forget my two sisters-in-law, my brother-in-law and Housekeeper who were taking care of the kids while I went looking for money haha! Finally, I got chocolates for my church team and girlfriends’ kids. But just as I was about to go to the till I thought ‘wait, I haven’t bought anything for myself!’ For some reason, this thought irritated me! Why on earth would I buy something for myself when; 1. I was saving seriously. 2. I did not have a lot of money. 3. I did not particularly need anything? After what seemed like a couple of minutes, I decided ‘fine! I will just get myself this pair of earrings! *eyes rolling* I paid for the items, not particularly happy that I had made the final purchase but I refused to be angry at that moment. After all, I was on my way home and my big brother was getting married! What? Miracles do happen! Haha
A few months later, I had to return to this same country. This time it was a 3-day conference so I had 4 whole nights! ‘Fabulous! I will definitely treat myself this time. And then, of course, I will shop; the kids need new PJs’ I thought. So yes, I was really looking forward to this second trip to my dream country. On day one, I went on a tour but only because it was sponsored! Nope, I would not have paid to treat myself to it because as my friends like to say, I am ‘pepeh’!
On day two, I discovered a Mall close to the hotel we stayed at. With my shopping list, I marched straight to H&M looking for PJs. That was when I saw it, the perfect briefcase bag I had imagined for as long as I had fantasized about being a career woman! It was black with gold details, just perfect to match everything I had and go everywhere I went. Alas! ‘but Ama you know you don’t have money’ had to rear its ugly head in my thoughts again and as usual, I dismissed the thought of buying the bag right away. I went on and got the PJs from another shop and looked for some gifts for the few ladies I had at home.
On day three, I went back to the mall to check out the training pants I had seen at another shop the day before. It was perfect, except for the price haha! So I dropped it and went back to H&M, at least even if I could not buy the bag nothing stopped me from just looking at it. While there, I spotted a pair of Khaki pants on sale and I thought they would look good on my husband. There was even a matching t-shirt. Of course, I had to buy it, the man is a God-sent always being nice about my trips even if the inconvenience made him unhappy! Haha
That night on my way back to the hotel, there was a heated debate going on in my head; why on earth couldn’t I have the bag versus why buy it? All throughout the next day, the bag was on my mind as I packed, received a few visitors, made some sales of items I had sent to exhibit...basically I could not get it out of my mind. By 3 pm I was pacing back and forth in my room. ‘I deserve the bag! I have worked very hard for this money! I have bought gifts for everyone! How about me?’ My mind was raging! I stormed out of the hotel, hopped on the bus, went to H&M, bought the bag, bought another white top for me, and sauntered out of there feeling like the boss!
Oh my goodness! I will never forget the defiant feeling I felt as if I was some rebel! Well, I guess I was actually a rebel. I was rebelling against that voice which was always willing to spend on others except me! Come to think of it, this reminds me of a question my friend Frances had asked during one of our tete-a-tetes ‘why do some women eat the burnt part of food instead of throwing it away to make a new one for themselves?’ I wonder, why do some mothers walk into a shop to treat themselves only to come out with shopping bags full of children’s clothes? Why do some women break their backs to make good money but refuse to spend on themselves?
Recently I conducted a poll on social media to ask our network what they wanted us to discuss during our upcoming Dinner With The Girls-Kumasi (link here tinyurl.com/y7cpfjdw). I was so excited when more than 60% of the votes were for ‘Loving/Valuing ourselves as women’ It was very clear to me then, that self-love is quite difficult for some of us women especially mothers and the more I think about it the more it baffles me.
There is this exercise video I dance to, at the end of it the trainer says ‘and don’t forget to love yourself’ The first time I did that particular routine, I jokingly looked in the mirror and said ‘I love you’ and I kid you not, I started tearing up! Suddenly, I began to realize that I did not really love me. Else I would not have made certain choices that put the welfare of my mind, body and soul last. The sad part is how I expect everyone else to show love to me and yet do not even realise that I am not loving me.
And so for the past few months, I have been on a journey to discover what it means to love and value me as God sees me. It has been interesting; I have realized that it is actually easier said than done and I have to be intentional about it. Well for now, whenever that ‘voice’ which prefers to put me last pops up in my head, I ask ‘why is it so hard for you to love me?’, roll my eyes and treat myself like the boss! Haha Hey lady, don’t forget to love yourself!
Author and Founder of The Fabulous Woman Network
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