Several years back, I listened to an amazing older woman share her transition story from a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) to the founder of an NGO focused on women.
When I first heard of her through a friend, who had spoken glowingly about her, I had thought it was a case of over-hype, but when I finally met her and heard her story from her lips, and saw the proof of her work and impact, I felt blessed and so happy she had chosen to not only serve her family but had turned her compassion for the female folks into structures that see her touching more lives.
It was a strong reminder that we all have our place of calling and assignment, and when we are not functioning there, then we feel unfulfilled and our sights are always set on the horizon, in the hope that something better will come up.
I will call her Juliet. She was barely out of secondary school when she got married, and she couldn’t be happier with her choice. She got married to a man 10 years her senior, but he was the stuff of dreams. He was, however, a very traditional man; he believed his wife shouldn’t work outside of the home and Juliet agreed. She was already pregnant by the time they had this discussion, and their plan was to have the babies close to each other in age, so Juliet had, in her view, quite eventful years to look forward to.
As a very traditional man, he performed his role as breast winner and supporter of his wife. They had their first three children within 4 years, and took a break of 4 years, before finishing up with a set of twins. It was in her period of waiting that the itch to do something outside of her home took hold of her. She tried to push it to the back of her mind.
She discussed it with her husband, but it was an idea he struggled with it. He convinced her that it was because the children were older and no longer needed her as much as they used to. He used the opportunity to broach the subject matter of having their fourth child, so she would have someone to occupy her time with. What a man’s way of thinking!
Juliet agreed, and that was how they started TTC, and what they had expected to be a singleton pregnancy turned out to be a twin pregnancy. Juliet loved being pregnant with twins, and for a while, her restlessness was kept at bay as she was consumed with preparations for her babies.
Unfortunately, when the babies came, rather than savour her new experience as a mother of twins, she was consumed with a passion to help women dealing with issues of abuse and the attendant pain. She had friends who were in direct contact with women in difficult situations as a result of their work, and they would always off load on her, in search of answers, and just because they knew she loved to hear such stories.
The more she heard these stories, the more she felt the urgency for the work she needed to do. She began to sing the song to her husband’s hearing. She already had the plans for the foundation, which she shared with her husband.
After months of talking about the same thing almost every single day, her husband asked for time to really think about it, and they reached a possible compromise.
Less than a week later, she was invited for an interview in a government social services unit. Even though it wasn’t what she was looking for, she went, and behold, she came back home with instructions to pick up her employment letter in two weeks.
She spent a year in that office, and it simply made clearer the mandate for her assignment. For the one year that she went out to work, Juliet blossomed. Yes, she didn’t spend as much time as she used to with her family, but she couldn’t have been happier. She was making an impact, and that was what made the whole difference for her.
Juliet went on to register her non-governmental organization, and the last time I heard, celebrated her 15th year anniversary and it seems her passion for what she does grows on a daily basis. She is forever posting on social media the latest training she has acquired, as well as that of her staff, and the structures she is putting in place to build a legacy that will last beyond her lifetime.
And her children? They are all so grown, and some of them have even been bitten by the bug of their mom’s lifetime pursuits, that they are dedicated to the same cause as she is.
Her supportive husband clearly shows the value in marrying a man who truly understands that loving someone could also mean letting them do whatever it is they want, as long as it’s not wrong. Theirs is one of the wedding anniversaries I look forward to on social media, because there’s always something to learn from her posts.
Being a stay-at-home-mom obviously didn’t cut it for Juliet, even though she tried to deny it for years, while she raised her children. But again, thank God that, she got so dissatisfied that she did something about it.
Note though that everyone’s life is different; everyone’s situation is different, so because, Juliet didn’t find fulfilment in being a home maker, doesn’t mean that another mom wouldn’t.
Mothering is perhaps the most important job in mankind, but if we lose focus on our assignments because of it, many more lives would remain untouched.
And what a shame that is.
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