12 Nov

When I Compare Myself to you…

Each week the Lord teaches me a lesson. Sometimes the lesson runs for weeks, sometimes it’s a short 2 -day course.

This week’s lesson started  when I came across a statistic that said 67% of Americans are blue collar workers as opposed to 10% of T.V characters. This means  about 90% of T.V characters depict people who are well heeled. While it’s nice to see so many of your favourite characters doing well in er.. T.V land, the problem is that it creates a false reality. Lucky for you if you live in the UK, you won’t have that false-reality issue. Have you seen EastEnders?  They go out of their way here to make sure the homes are run down, characters are in dire-straits and only ever wear grey jogging bottoms and puffer jackets. They live half their lives in smoke-filled pubs, gossiping or whining about their lives in the doldrums. It would appear the plot is thoughtfully woven to stop you from aspiring to be anything beyond working as a security guard at your local supermarket. Compare that to Desperate Housewives, or Dallas where the characters drive nice cars and live in suburban golf communities. They are NEVER without make up; blink and you’ll miss the slight glimmer of lip gloss even as they roll out of bed. They stop for a quick chat and tall latte at gourmet coffee houses,  opening  tiny sachets of sweet ‘n’ low and pouring in the contents ever so slowly with French -manicured nails. Oh, and they only stopped for coffee on their way to the nail bar. The bottom line of the research is (American) television makes people unhappy as they compare themselves to the characters and constantly fall short. I don’t know if the Brits have conducted a similar research but we all know what the result will be. A happy bunch of people. Theoretically.

I guess that triggered a series of observations for me. I discovered that I compare myself unfavourably to others a lot. The most obvious is found in my mothering skills. These are just some of my observations as to what some mothers have done that Toks did not do:

Post first day pictures of their little one with child holding up a large postcard complete with dates, etc.  At least I did take a picture, it’s buried somewhere on my phone providing #4 hasn’t deleted it.

Organise a coffee morning- we see each other every morning and afternoon, there aren’t enough hours between school opening and closing time. Never even crossed my mind!

Ask if anyone else has successfully logged into the new homework monitoring system – didn’t know there was one.

Ask how to make Mr Fox’s tail curl upwards for the upcoming Road Dahl book day- blank stare.

Keeping fit- close to half of the yummy mummies come kitted out in designer, sometimes matching sportswear complete with water bottles and heart-rate monitors. They jog home. I jog to the car. They are a wonderful group of ladies, glad to have them in my life!

I stumbled across a movie on T.V. The scene I had the patience to watch featured three siblings plotting to get their separated parents back together. These young kids discussed. They were well dressed. They ate cookies (which did not crumble unto the vacuumed carpet) and didn’t squabble and scream the words that mine do; ”that was my cookie! I had it fir-ir-irsttt ahhhhh!”

Besides life as a mum, I compare myself to other women in business. I had mixed feelings as I watched another mumpreneur grow her seedling to seemingly huge heights. We started our businesses in the same year, but she has rocketed and I feel like I’ve been left behind. That was until someone told me that things were not what it looked like. For starters she had a multi-millionaire for a husband and worked on her business for 4 years before she actually launched it. I haven’t complained since.

With all of this palaver I need to start a new blog. Pawpaw & Mango remains my first love but an additional one is needed. When I applied to add my business blog a certain organisation to join their network of bloggers, I was turned down on the basis that my business blog was of a commercial nature, promoting a business. They were right. So I was advised to start one that was non-commercial where I could promote my business ‘occasionally’, this was at the start of 2012. The reason I have held back is because I felt doing so will be denying who I truly am. I do love to drop the occasional pidgin or ebonics in my writing but  in the midst of bloggers like Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, and The Quick Brown Fox of Hampstead Heath , I’d stick out like a sore thumb. I am also not too keen on using the word ‘one‘ excessively in place of ‘I’, because one does not really speak like that. There’ll be no talk of eba and banga soup, or NEPA or Kumasi market. You get the picture. So I need an appropriate name for this new blog, I would greatly appreciate your input for a catchy, creative  one please.  Bear in mind I’ll be blogging along with others who go by names such as ‘down the laundry hole’ and other sweet sounding Enid Blyton-type names. While I am trying hard to be authentic and be me, I have to learn how to blog like these ladies do, is that comparing myself?

So this evening I came across an angry tweet conversation started by one of such bloggers and visited her page to see what the furore was all about. I discovered the playing field wasn’t as daunting as I thought. There are some writers I would not compare myself to, some do have a fine way with words. But the exclusive  network of bloggers isn’t really what I imagined. There was bickering, arguing, insecurities, grammatical errors you name it, she was there. They were being themselves.

Comparing myself to them certainly worked well in my favour, just for today.

So what should we name the blog?

26 Jun

This, That and Part Deaux of Church Wahala

It would suffice to say that the reason for a 2nd part to an April post is of course, my dealing with more church wahala. But I’d be lying, and as I already shared the lie I told in part one, I shall refrain from telling any more. Today’s thoughts and musings are enough to account for my er…intermission.

What hasn’t gone through my mind today? That’s like asking which models of cars drove during rush hour Third mainland, Brooklyn or Tower bridge. It has been a traffic jam of thoughts all day.

The four boys and hubby have decided to come down with a cough and cold, no doubt getting it before me so I’d be the one to nurse them all. I went from feelings of despair at the thought of waiting hand and foot on five men- little ones and large ones- to feelings of joy that I’m the presiding queen blessed to have them all in my life.

A friend changed her facebook profile picture to one taken back in her school days, I marvelled at how pretty she was then and still is. She appears to have perfect features- she’s from the Ashanti tribe in Ghana and has such a beautiful smile! Shout out to you Harriet O!

Son #2 found an unopened sanitary towel in the bathroom, opened it and brought it downstairs to ask what it was. After years of telling them it was part mummy’s make up kit, I told him what it was, straight-up! He knows all about the birds and the bees but I had omitted the towels part.

There are four people in my household who now use mobile phones, we also use the same chargers so there is sometimes a scramble for one. It is both disquieting and satisfying. On the one hand my babies are growing up too fast, the day is coming where we won’t be a young family any more- who am I kidding? The day has come. Son #4 thankfully anchors us to the coveted category of ‘young family’ as we sometimes go out with just him in tow, leading people to think he is our first- we love that. Yes hubby (not me) can be a fraud sometimes, he pretends to have just started a family. The thing is he looks like it too. On the other hand, it is satisfying because this is how it should be, things are progressing in the natural order. Babies should grow and one day turn into adults.

I miss my mum. Very much. She is an amazing, kind-hearted and selfless woman, it appears she has lived her entire life for us her children, and even now still places us ahead of any and everything else in life. I can only hope I do nearly as good as she does as a mother, if I do I’ll win a prize for the world’s’ greatest mum.

I spent Saturday evening with my dearest friend and sister, we watched the movie, Think Like a Man, and then gisted into the night. There is something about having a transparent conversation with a fellow sister that you really click with. I am so blessed to have a number of friends that share a connection with me on an unimaginable level. These are sisters I can comfortably call in the middle of the night without needing to apologise that I disturbed their beauty sleep. I am blessed to have some friends who are selfless and would go out on a limb and for me; and I’ll willingly do the same for them.

I have a half-finished post on the business blog, it remains half-finished because I started by talking about one thing, digressed and lost my way. With that admission, you obviously know where today’s post is going. Nowhere.

So to part deaux of my church wahala. Since the gist is stale, I’ll round it up by saying they incessantly texted and called us inviting us for one event or the other.

One day hubby ran into the man and he declared his undying love for us, shared how broken-hearted they were that we didn’t warm up to them. Don’t you feel the same way for us that we feel for you?’ He kept asking. And if you knew my hubby, he is not the touchy-feely type, Christian brother or not. He’s more like Jack Nicholson in the movie something’s got to give. We are friends, but no strings attached. So imagine his horror when this man went on and on, and in front of the shopkeeper too. Have we offended you? What if something happened to us, you would never have known. You didn’t even check on us. I will not yield to the temptation to type out the myriad of borderline expletives that went through hubby’s mind. Thankfully he didn’t yield either so they remained unspoken.

That’s been it, I am so glad to be back on Pawpaw and Mango- and yes I agree no one drove me away in the first place. I am excited about some help I’d be getting at work which should free me up to do what I love doing, writing.

Thanks so much for reading!

08 Mar

Why I haven’t blogged in a while…

There are many possible reasons for my blogging hiatus.

It could be because my neighbour across the street still has what appears to be a christmas tree complete with lights on his front porch. Or the fact that Josh’s words keep replaying in my head- ‘mum, see no car has hit me yet’. Uttered moments after I informed him that sticking his head outside the window of the moving car would most certainly get him hit.

It may well be because of my new friend who shall remain nameless. I tried desperately to get her to dicsuss her roots, she’s Nigerian and I was interested in the part of Nigeria she hails from. I love to show off my knowledge of the little-known parts, okay, one little-known part. She seemed rather uncomfortable, choosing instead to stir the conversation from ‘village talk’ to Britico talk.

Truth is I don’t know why I haven’t blogged in so long. I have had errr… ‘writer’s block’. Yes I have. I’ve been short of ideas, actually I have had ideas but they’ve been limited to single lines. That wouldn’t do for Pawpaw and Mango (which I just realized has no tagline, suggestions welcome). The single lines of course being the titles, like: The morning after the night before I took too many Ibuprofen  capsules and panicked while I imagined my stomach digesting itself as I recalled the story my dad told me of the man who reacted badly to Ibuprofen and lost no less than two pints of blood ‘before his very eyes’. Or- I wonder if my neighbour is an ax murderer, I have no reason to believe he is but you can’t trust anyone these days especially since he refers constantly to ‘Marie’ and we have never seen a ‘Marie’ or any semblance of it her.

I stumbled across a Nigerian Singer on Twitter. I’d never heard of her before she was trending that particular day, and like all normal folks I clicked to see what the fuss was all about. Apparently someone had called her ‘ugly’, I have no idea why she chose to respond to this person, but she started calling him names, vacillating between English and Yoruba.. Idiot, Oloshi! Your mouth is dirty! Seriously, on Twitter! That was the funniest tweet conversation I’d come across. But even that did not evoke a decent blog post.

My dear friend and fellow blogger Justjoxy has been writing a mini-series over on her blog. It was supposed to be a short story, at least that’s what she told us. Two parts at the most. Three postings later and we are yet to read the end. Humph! It is a very good read, would make you think before you wear your weave again. No she isn’t one of those activists for natural black afro. She’s an activist for rare species like giant king prawns sauteed in peppers and ginger, and the like. Which is precisely why I haven’t been able to write. I’ve been reading!

Thank you for coming back, I promise not to ever allow Justjoxy and her Sango priestesses stop me again, ever!

 

29 Sep

Lunchtime update

I’m working from home today because I had to wait or the washing-machine repair man. He has come and gone- without repairing the offending machine. I prayed that he would arrive early so I could still make it to the office- God answered my prayer, he came early. What I didn’t know was that I should also have prayed that he wouldn’t be chatty, that he’d simply fix the thing and leave with a smile.

He started by telling me he didn’t have all the parts. In my opinion he shouldn’t have bothered to come. But he went on to say that he had to log the call, blah, blah, blah. I permitted him. Next he proceeded to show me drawings of the washing machine, and all the different parts. He showed me the parts he had and the parts he didn’t. He then went on to explain why the missing pieces were essential. Mohammed then carried on, telling me what would happen if I continued to use it. He explained how one customer’s machine drum “was ripped apart like a can of sardines” when they carried on using it in its faulty state. Perhaps it was because I didn’t rant and rave about the wasted time that Mohammed felt the need to educate me on how angry I should be when I called Comet’s customer services to complain. “You really must put your foot down. You cannot afford to wait another 2 weeks for me to come back. Ask them why they are putting you through this. Write a letter to their head office. Don’t say I told you. Call first then write a letter”. I already knew that. But you see I have learnt that you cannot change what has already happened, and God forbid I waste my energy and emotions on ranting about something that cannot be altered. At this point I began to consider feigning disgust and anger, just so I could move on from there. It’s a sunny day and this might well be my last chance to wear my floaty summer dress. I don’t think I did a good job because my feigned irritation only seemed to spur him on. Finally he offered to show me the parts he had in his car “So I could understand the gross incompetence of Comet”. I quickly declined and said I needed to “GET ON THE PHONE RIGHT NOW!!!” and “SORT THEM OUT!!”

When you visit the PP website, you’ll be greeted by an orange bubble that allows you to chat live with me, or anyone manning the store. I smile when I hear first a ‘knock-knock’ which notifies me someone has landed on the homepage, and then get even more excited when the message notifier comes up for a chat. So that was how I felt some 15 mins ago when Bertha* came up with a chat. I haven’t met her before but she is a retailer in a complementary business, we send each other customers (at least I hope she does). Anyway, she asked if I attended Langley Girls School*. I said I didn’t and asked if I looked familiar (she had gone unto my Facebook page and seen my photo). She explained that she used to know a very sweet, very pretty girl like me called Toks, but she went to Nigeria after graduating from Uni. Her family owned a luxury apartment in Marble Arch (that’s how we roll!) She has been trying to find her for the last 10 years or so. After smiling bashfully at being called sweet (she doesn’t know me) and pretty (even photos can’t be relied on these days), I asked for her friend’s surname and promised to ask all my (Nigerian) contacts. Which is where you come in. Do you know any Toks F that is sweet and pretty? I don’t want to spell out her surname so my cover is not (completely) blown as my friend said she googles her all the time- but if you want to help, do let me know.

Of course the amebo in me couldn’t sit still and I wanted to do my own searching. I google everything!  So I came across a pretty Toks that sadly passed away recently. I start to dig and try to find out more about her, where she schooled, etc. Then of course I get really sucked in and find pictures of her sister, in-laws, etc. No I don’t watch CSI, I simply wanted to update Pawpaw and Mango with my findings. Nothing to report I’m afraid. I decided not to send Bertha the link to the late Toks’ page, just in case. I spread good tidings, not bad ones!

*Bertha- not her real name!

*Langley Park- not the real school either!

Thanks though for reading, I’ll keep you posted. Back to work!

17 Sep

The insanity test

Dear Rosemary,

It is 8:43am. I very nearly forgot that I need to pick child #3 up from his sleepover at your house.

You see it has been a blissful week. Child #2 went on a school camping trip on Monday and only returned yesterday, Friday. Five days with 3 children has had hubby and I wondering what life would have been if we stopped at 3. Of course we love all our sons equally and life would have been lacking a ‘certain something’ if we had just 3, but boy!  People ask me how I ‘do it with 4 boys‘, ‘boys’ is always emphasized. They think I’m superwoman. Or suffering from madness. Or both. Those who tend to accord me these laurels usually have one or two children and naturally find things very hectic already. My response is always the same. “When you have 3 children, adding 1, 2 or 3 more really makes no difference, so please leave them, I’ll be more than fine”,  I respond dismissively. The other mum will then look at me in awe, no doubt wishing she had my powers. Or mental condition. Or indeed both.

Well all that has now been proven to be inaccurate.  In the last one week, the scales have had a recalibration. Stress levels, down. Shouting frequency, down. Accidents, greatly reduced. Even whining is on the low.  On occasion hubby and I find ourselves calling one or all of the remaining  3 just to see if they are still in the house. Yes it is that blissful. This serenity isn’t being enjoyed across the board, i.e  in other homes that have one less child I mean. While the parents waited outside the coach seeing their children off, there were tears, lots of them. I didn’t see ours off, hubby did. He saw some mothers crying hysterically. Some trying to console their friends, all were about to suffer the same demise for a week. Hubby was baffled. In our house when one child goes away for a short period, we don’t cry, we laugh.

So Friday came and child #3 was off to his sleepover at your house- as you know right after school. We even had the privilege of a 1 hour window with just 2 children as #2 didn’t get back home until 4:30pm. Consequently we were granted an extra night as parents to 3 boys.

Clearly I am getting used to this. I love my sons and love them being around me. But are you sure you said one night and not two? Just asking. Sometimes I do get my dates muddled up.

Thanks so much for keeping our Zack, I would love to return the favour someday but you’ve pretty much just told me that I’m not superwoman. And that I’m mentally stable. I can’t promise anything, but er, ‘we’ll see’.

Yours most thankfully & worrying-about-life-going-back-to-normal-ly,

Toks

Thank you for reading, do come back.

08 Sep

A Culture shift

Following CNN’s award of the 5th sexiest accent to Nigerians, I suspect change will be coming our way very soon.

Here’s the tongue-in-cheek comment;

Famous tongues: King Sunny Adé, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Dignified, with just a hint of willful naiveté, the deep, rich “oh’s” and “eh’s” of Naija bend the English language without breaking it, arousing tremors in places other languages can’t reach. Kinda makes the occasional phone scam worth the swindle.

Don’t mind them, we are not phone-scammers.

Do you think we may at last start to feel comfortable with our accent? I watched a Nigerian movie at a friend’s barbecue a couple of weeks ago. It was a Yoruba movie with subtitles in English. The entire movie was cringe-worthy especially when they kept spelling many English words with an “l” inserted in it. Dealth. Belthday. A guest explained to me it was the “aso” way of speaking. Dealth. Okay o!

I attended my friends baby dedication on Sunday. It was a proper naija affair, packed with hundreds of people with aso-ebi to go. You see, the fan-fare was necessary as the twins were waited for for 16 long years. An awesome, emotional testimony indeed. I noticed quite a few of us had on English dresses topped with burgundy gele. I’m so loving it and have started to acquire a collection of geles for future events.

The boys are back at school, yes school runs have begun. Child #2 will be going camping next week for 5 days. To remind you, child#2 is the fashion conscious, it-boy. I have threatened to pack up some eba and banga soup to take with him.

You should see his face, I keep a straight face whenever the conversation comes up.

So mum what am I taking to camp?

Sweets, biscuits and of course Eba and banga soup.

Mum! I can’t take Eba to camp!

Why? Are you ashamed of your culture?

No, of course not. It’s just that I’ll look weird. 

Do you look weird when you eat sandwiches?

No, but it’s..

Ehen! Nothing weird about eba and banga soup. You love it abi? Or do you want me to stop making it?

No, but…

That settles it then. Eba to camp!

It is very hard to keep a straight face but I’m able to pull it off every time! He believes me. I hear him mumbling to his brothers about it. A few minutes later he comes back.

How am I going to warm it?

That’s true, I didn’t think of that. You can eat it o the coach on the way to camp.

Horrified look!

Yep! I’m on a mission to increase cultural awareness, what better place to start than at home?

Thanks so much for reading!

Glossary:

aso: Westernised Nigerian, usually used as a form of ridicule

gele: African head-gear- quite sizeable

aso-ebi: Outfits made from matching fabric to be worn by a group of people to an event

Eba: Staple food eaten in parts of west Africa, sticky, heavy and very filling

Banga: Nigerian soup made from palm kernels. Whatever you do don’t get some on your clothes while you eat!