With Umi Spotlight, we are sharing the best of what other mothers have figured out both in their motherhood journey and in life.
On this edition, Mide Omotoba shares with us some of the beautiful memories she still holds dear from when she was a kid, the things she is most proud of as a mum to her lovely kids as well as her go to recipes for quick meals for them. Read more about her here
Going back to the way you were raised, are there any styles of parenting or traditions your parents raised you with that you now also do with your kid(s)?
My parents are always present while I was growing up. Never too busy to show up for anything. I remember being in boarding school for 5 years and they never missed a visiting day, every first Saturday of every month. And even after I got married, they are just phone calls away, still very present. I am doing that with my children. Never miss anything that has to do with them as long as God continues to give me strength.
What about your upbringing would you prefer not to repeat with your own journey as a parent?
Nothing really. Though I am quite vocal and show physically how much I love my children. I woke them up with hugs and kisses this morning. I kiss them goodnight every night, even if they are already asleep before I’m back from work, I whisper in their ears how much I love them and give them kisses. I never had that while growing. I have parents who love me and would do everything possible to get me what I want, but not quite expressive of saying “I love you” and “I’ve been thinking about you while you were in school”. My mum says it now though, now that she has got grandkids who say it a lot to her. My dad still struggles… Haha!
What attributes of yours or that of your husband have you began to see in your kids?
I have got two children with different temperaments. My daughter is very outspoken, both to strangers and friends, just like my husband. In any group, she unconsciously takes the centre stage. My little boy is quite reserved. Would mingle only with familiar people and take his time with strangers, just like I do. Though that changes sometimes too. Last Sunday, he said “Hi” to everyone he met while walking down from the church to the mall.
What was postpartum like for you? Did you have help? Were there any complications with your mental and physical health? And if there was, how did you deal with it?
I had help with postpartum. Though I had pregnancy brain for a while. I would forget the simplest details if I don’t write it down. Physically, I was alright except for the sleeplessness and exhaustion that came with it. And my mum helped with that.
How do you relax? What is self care for you?
Before marriage and kids, self care was reading. I read a lot. Now, I watch movies a lot. Most weekends when I am not working, I think of a movie to watch with hubby.
What has been the hardest period of motherhood for you and how did you deal with it?
The hardest for me was when they were babies. I would say, the first year. When the kids were totally dependent on me for everything. Motherhood is a blessing that tires you out …haha! Then potty training and weaning them wasn’t for the faint hearted.
What was your favorite thing about having little kids?
They brighten up my day. Nothing matches their innocence, pure joy and happiness.
What was the best advice you got about being a mother to your kids?
It was from my mom. Having babies in Nigeria where everyone has an opinion and wouldn’t keep it to themselves can be overwhelming. She told me to always trust my instincts. If anything flashes through my mind, no matter how silly or serious about my children, it should be taken seriously. And also to trust the Holy spirit. A simple “Help me, Holy Spirit” has helped me countless times in my motherhood journey.
What’s your go-to recipe for when you need to fix a quick meal for your family?
Back in Nigeria, I would say bread and egg sauce. But since moving here, I cook in bulk so there’s something in the fridge or freezer to thaw for them to eat.
How do you discipline your kids (instead of beating them)?
I haven’t been a fan of beating. And after moving to a country where it’s considered child abuse to beat, I don’t do it. I take away screen time and withdraw some of the fun stuffs. But my children are really well behaved except when fighting over toys.
What’s your happiest childhood memory? What was the most important thing in your home when you were little?
Family time especially, during festive seasons.
What would you prefer your children’s memory of their childhood to be? Love and laughter. Family time as well. We are starting and building new traditions and going on vacations too.
What are you most proud of in your motherhood journey?
I think my proudest moment was when my daughter was voted in as a school councillor in her class. I see in her a born leader and I am careful to nurture that. Then I’m proud of being responsible for two little humans. I am proud that they get to look up to me and are dependent on me.
Who are you, aside being a mum?
A daughter, a sister, a friend, and then an Activities coordinator.
What was your experience with healthcare when you were pregnant and during the delivery of your kid(s)?
Quite good. My husband’s job provided a good HMO that covered every expense, down to antenatal medication and the simplest of things. So we were able to choose one of the best private hospitals where we lived for the birth of our two children. I had my own consultant ob-gyn from antenatal to postnatal care. So I had really quality care.
What are your thoughts on family planning?
Did you plan your kids or did you just go with the flow? I believe in intentional parenting. And to effectively parent the way I want to, then children should be spaced accordingly so there’s enough love, attention and resources to go round. I planned my children.
If you could do something different about your choice of career and family life, what would it be?
Nothing really. I can’t complain. I am grateful for this stage of my life and the pace I am going.
What advice(s) do you have for new mums in Africa?
Trust your instincts. Get as much physical support as necessary. Never say no to help, you don’t need to impress anyone. Look after yourselves too.