The lizard and the Iroko tree

This may sound very KanyeWest – to be honest you there is nothing wrong with any of us giving ourselves a pat on our backs for our good hard work.

Remember that Nigerian proverb I shared some weeks ago? “The lizard that jumped from the high Iroko tree said he would praise himself if no one else did.” Well, I am going to give myself a pat on the back this morning for building The KemiKids Brand and for having the courage to stay in my lane.

So, this morning, I was tidying up photos on my computer and this photo came up. In this photo, I was instructing my Lore, my younger daughter on how to get the shot of our “Love” bum bag. Looking at this photo, It made me realise how far I have come from June 2015 – when we launched  KemiKids brand with just 20 tote bags. It made me really proud of myself. From winging it to building something!

KemiKids is not a global brand yet but one day, we’ll be – we are not in a hurry. Why am I sharing these thoughts with you? Because I want to encourage to go for that thing that you really want to do (but you’re too afraid to do it). Go for it. What is the worst that can happen anyway?

Have a fab Sunday

A little hustle on the side

Last year, I wrote a blog post  asking if women should have a little hustle on the side just in case, one day, their partners or husbands (they rely on) announce to them “I don’t love you anymore.” Or even, they may not love them anymore. Just like my friend who can’t stand her husband anymore but feels helpless because he has all the money. She gave up everything to look after her kids. She is still in her doomed marriage – she feels helpless.

A lot of mums did not like that blog post. I still don’t understand why? Maybe you can help me.
Yesterday, my daughter had a creative writing homework. She was told to write about helplessness. As you know, I am very blunt with my daughters and I don’t bullshit them. I used that opportunity to convey to her again that she must not give up her independence for anyone. If she or her sister chooses to stay home with their bundles of joy, they can still hustle on the side.  That is why the internet is a great thing. The internet was not only created for you to show off how great your life is on Facebook but to also be entrepreneurial.

People we love are humans and can disappoint us. Only God is faithful. Some of us are lucky that we meet loyal and kind partners… Some are not so lucky. They have been burnt.
I know you’ve heard me say this a great deal, (that is the only experience I can draw from) I am Nigerian and lots of Nigerian women have a little hustle going on. Why do you think that is? They have seen their mothers disappointed and helpless; they know that it is not a good place to be.  Whether you like what I am saying or not, the fact remains that you don’t want another human being having control over your life.

My prayer for us is that we’ll never be in a helpless place. Have a great day.

Yvonne Xxx

 

Surviving Motherhood

Motherhood, photos and winging it

I was looking at some old photos today and I came across these ones. This is me and Favourite Daughter Number one, baby Ola. Ola is over 9 years old now. In this photo, she was just under a month old. I know she looked older but when she was born she was the size (if not bigger) than a turkey.

The day after she was born, I remember sending my husband to the shops to buy new baby clothes for a three-month-old baby. All the clothes I had taken to the hospital for her were too small.
I didn’t have a natural birth and thank God for that…she would have damaged my down below. She was a bbaby.
Looking at this photo made me realise that I was just surviving motherhood. I was not really living. I can’t remember how I was feeling. As a mother, I didn’t know what I was doing, I had no family help. It was just my fabulous husband and me winging it.
In this photos, you can see how tired I looked. I must have fallen asleep. I remember a good friend sending me a text advising me to sort myself out. She thought I had let myself go. She complained about my looks. I was angry with her. Looking back now, I had every right to be angry with her.

Today, I look at my daughter and I am glad I made all the sacrifices I made.

So, if you are a new mother and people are telling you to sort yourself out, make sure you tell them to F%# OFF. Your concern right now is to enjoy your baby and wing motherhood. Motherhood is a tough job. It is a cliché but our kids do grow up pretty quickly and you can’t get that time back.

Yes, I was fat. Yes, I gave up my career. And, yes, my hair was a mess but back then, I was just surviving so it did not matter. And it still doesn’t matter. But, why should it?

 

Prayers

Prayed up

In the middle of the night sometime last week, I woke up and said a prayer. And I prayed pretty hard. Not wanting to wake up my husband, I whispered my problems to my creator. I asked for help with the two things that were bothering me.
You see, in the past, when I had lost control of things, I prayed and it had helped. I must stress that sometimes my prayers are not answered but most of the time it was. For me, anytime I need guidance or I am in deep trouble, I pray. I lay it out there. It is not a religious thing; it works for me so I do it.

I remember Oprah Winfrey once telling her audience how she got the part of Sofia in the film The Colour Purple. She talked about how she prayed and sang the song, “I Surrender All” over and over again until her desire to desperately be in the film was dissolved. Immediately this happened, she got the phone call offering her the part.
For me, one of the things I wanted was more exposure for Kemikids. I wanted more people to discover the amazing thing we are doing. And guess what? It is happening faster than I can imagine. God is doing it because I have surrendered all to him.

I was wondering if like me,  do you pray when all avenues are covered and you don’t know what to do? When things are out of control? When you are tired of fighting? What is the difference between prayers and meditation?

It is that time of the year

It is that time of the year when we are beginning to think about what we’d like to do better in the New Year: we are now thinking about our new year resolutions for 2017. Not me.
Last year, I made a decision not to make any resolution because I have never been able to stick to them. It made me feel like a failure. So, I don’t do resolutions anymore.
If you are one of those people who make resolutions and stick to them, I’d like to congratulate you and say, “More grease to your elbow.”
For me, Instead of making resolutions, I now make a gratitude list of everything I am thankful for. I also make a list of the things I have achieved in the year.
I believe we can’t do better in a new year without showing gratitude for what we have already achieved. It is not possible. Try doing something different this year, it may just work for you. Yvonne xxx

Mama Necklace

Sacrifices Mamas make

Every Saturday, my daughters go swimming.  At the start of this weekly routine, I went along (with John) to watch them learn to swim. However, I stopped going as my business demanded more of my time.
Today,(despite been busy and not planning to go again) I left everything that needed to be done and went to watch my daughters have their last lesson of the year.
I went along because one of my daughters asked me to. This is a big deal for me because my daughters never make me feel guilty about running a business which means not giving them a lot of attention. My daughters are my biggest supporters. They want me to do well. So, asking me to come along to watch them swim must have meant a lot to them. So, I went along and I am glad that I did.

Since starting this business, I have really not been a fab mama to my daughters but thanks to John, our home is still ticking along. I am sure you know this but being a Mama is hard. It is full of different emotions. Being a mama and running your own business is even harder because you make a lot of sacrifices. Sacrifices that you may regret in the future.

If you are a mama and you are thinking of starting your own business, my advice is to go for it. But remember that you’ll have to make some sacrifices. Are you okay with that? What sacrifices are you willing to make for your business to succeed?

Yvonne

 

Ready To Speak Up with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses how make-up gives you the power to be Ready To Speak Up, in partnership with No7. Joining Chimamanda in conversation are presenter Gemma Cairney, chef Gizzi Erskine, broadcaster Cherry Healey, journalist Sali Hughes, author Louise O’Neill and entrepreneur Sarah Willingham. Discover their thoughts on how the transformative power of make-up gives them the energy and confidence to show up, speak up and make a positive impact in their worlds.”

Back to school

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It’s so strange how the season just changes on you. One minute, the sun is so fierce, it makes the surface of my dark skin burn and the next minute, I am pulling out a cardigan to keep warm.  The one thing I love about this season (apart from it marking a new beginning) is the shopping for lovely back-to-school items.

For the past three years, my daughters and I have a new back –to-school tradition; we make a special trip to London for a new pair of Dr. Marten school shoes.  I find that it is the only pair of school shoes that last a whole year without them falling apart mid-year. Plus, they look really cool.Every year, I toy with the idea of getting myself a pair as well. Maybe next year…

Yvonne

Learn to learn

Danish mum of three, Mie has one of the most beautiful timelines on Instagram. On her timeline, she captures and shares photos of  beautiful moments with her family. When she wrote a content about learning. I thought it would be useful to share it here especially for mums who are a bit worried about how their kids are doing in school.  So here it is. Yvonne 

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I found a book today called ‘Change your Mind’ by Rod Judkins  just read some of it and wanted to share it with you guys.  Learning is not about creating a store of knowledge. To learn, the mind has to be free to flit anywhere it chooses, like a bird. The mind can not learn for a purpose. It has to explore in an open-ended way. The point of learning is growth, and a mind, unlike a body, can keep growing until we die.

Connect with Mie on Instagram

An important Journey

Blue and black bags (1 of 4)

Later on today I’ll be going on an important journey.

I moved to England 20 years ago and I’ve never gone back to my former home, Kano Nigeria. Today, (because of a sad event) I’m going back to Kano. I’ll be taking this trip without my husband John or my daughters Ola and Lore.

I left Nigeria when I was a 23-year old. When I left, I sadly did not know what I wanted from life. Looking back now (even though I thought I did) I had no ambition. However, I was sure about one thing – come what may – I was going to get a degree in Law from England and I did.  I was very  sure of this because I had something to prove to myself and my father.

You see, my father did not understand why I was abandoning my studies in Nigeria to move to England. He tried to discourage me by threatening me that he was not going to pay for my university fees if I moved here. And he did not. I paid for my degree myself.  He also predicted that I’d never get a university degree because I’d fall pregnant and have babies out of wedlock. Not that there is anything wrong with having babies out of wedlock except in the hypocritical Nigerian society, it is a no-no.

Blue and black bags (3 of 4)

Blue and black bags (1 of 4)

As I write this post, I’ve not packed my bags yet and I did not sleep well last night. I’ve been overwhelmed by so many emotions.  Fear is the overriding emotion that I feel. So, what am I most afraid of? I honestly don’t know. However, I know that I am going to miss John, Ola, and Lore terribly. This is the first time I ever been away from my daughters. I have never had any reason to be away from them before. Hopefully, John will take advantage of this great opportunity and create irreplaceable memories with them.

Why am I telling you about this journey I’m about to take? Over the next weeks, my blog post may be a bit personal. I’ll mostly be writing about me and my experience in Nigeria. It may (or may not be) of interest to you but this is an important journey for me and I plan to write about it.

Yvonne xxx

My Life – Beth Johnsson

Mum of three and Field Co-ordinator for Reverse Rett, Beth Johnsson is an incredible and a beautiful woman – I am honoured to know her. After her daughter Hannah was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, Beth and her family are now very involved with fundraising for research to help speed treatments and a cure. Beth talks motherhood, the future and rice cakes.

Beth Johnson (1 of 1)

What time did you wake up this morning? 5.45am, to the sound of a 6-year-old saying ‘Can I open my presents now?’!

What is your daily routine like? Depends on which job I’m doing that day. If it’s a teaching day then it’s up and out at 7am, school by 7.30am and then lessons, meetings, marking until 3.50pm when I dash to pick up Hannah and get back to the boys for 5.30pm. Then it’s all about the children for a couple of hours until bedtime and stories, then once they’re asleep it’s back downstairs for marking, planning lessons and all the usual teacher stuff. If it’s a non-teaching day then I’m on the morning school runs and then settling down to Reverse Rett work until it’s time to collect the kids and start after-school and evening routines again.

What did you have for breakfast? Erm, never eat breakfast. Sorry Mum.

What food do you live on? Chicken, giant rice cakes, marmite and sugary tea (not at the same time!)

Do you have a pet name for your husband? Nope. But if I call him by his name he knows he’s in trouble!

How do you manage/balance work and family commitments? Minimise sleep.

Beth Johnson (5 of 5)

What do you like most about being a mother? Wow, that’s a tough question. Where do I start? There’s just nothing in the world like it is there? I still feel like I’m not a real one somehow, it seems too incredible to actually be the mum of three small humans. Nothing beats that first moment when they’re placed in your arms, but I feel like that moment is repeated every time they slip their hand into yours, or put their arms around you. It makes everything else fade away. I also love just watching them, especially when they don’t know you’re there – watching the boys chat together or work out a new game, or when they hug Hannah or help her with something or try to make her laugh, that’s priceless.

How did you meet your husband? We were both in Sydney and started the same job on the same day, fundraising for Amnesty International. It took a while before I realised he wanted to be more than friends!

What do you like most about yourself? Erm. I’m stubborn, which can be a terrible quality but can also be good. I don’t give in to peer pressure or give up on things which I’m passionate about.

What is your greatest strength? The same as the above. I’m relentless. I’ve been criticised for it before, but it can be a useful thing too.

What word describes how you live your life? Hopefully.

What is your hope for your kids? That they are safe, healthy, happy, and good people. I want them to have the courage and the support to pursue the things which make them happy and to stand up for what they believe in. I want them to have empathy and kindness as fundamentals, but also the strength and determination to do whatever they can to make the world a better place. I hope they get to grow up in a world which is kinder than it appears to me to be right now.

What is the best advice you have ever been given? My Grandma passed away when I was 10, but I always remember she used to say that you never regret the things you do, only the things you don’t. I try to keep this in mind and to be ready to take the leap of faith to do things which scare me. I don’t want to wake up in 40 years’ time and wish I had.

Beauty means… Self-acceptance and Compassion.

Beth Johnson (1 of 5)

What do you wish for the future? I’m a worrier and can stay awake for hours worrying about the future for my children, on a personal level as well as on a global scale. I think I would have been this way to some degree anyway, but the experiences we have gone through with Hannah have made me more fiercely protective, more cautious, at the same time as more appreciative of all the amazing things we do have. So there are so many wishes for the future. Ultimately, I want to watch all my children grow up and to see them become independent, happy, good people. I wish that one day I will hear my daughter’s voice again. I wish that I will see her run and play and know that her future is as bright as any other child’s. I wish that they always have each other and that the love I see between them now holds them together always, no matter what life throws at them.

If you want me to truly answer the question thinking about the wishes and the worries I have right now, today, I would have to say that I passionately wish that Britain can remain part of the EU, that we can find a way to rebuild our broken society, and that the far right views and attitudes which are now being expressed by the minority, can be prevented from becoming the dominant force in our political landscape.  This scares me a lot.

What lesson has your daughter taught you about who you are?

That I can cope with things I never thought I would cope with and that I can love more fiercely and unconditionally than I knew was possible. As my first child, I suppose she also taught me that I can be a mum and that it is the greatest privilege I know.

What lessons have your sons taught you?

So much. They’ve taught me that children are more resilient, accepting and wise than most grown-ups, that nothing should ever be taken for granted, that time together is more important than all the toys in the world, that enjoying the moment is more important than capturing it, and that it is physically impossible for small boys and socks to stay attached to each other . . .

Never leave home without…

Baby wipes.

Beth Johnson (2 of 5)

What was the last book you read?

‘Room on the Broom’ to Hannah last night!

Half-way through ‘Regeneration’ (again).

When was the last time you danced?

Depends on what you mean by ‘dance’ I ‘dance’ around the living room to Olly Murs and One Direction a lot, to keep Hannah amused (she laughs at me, not with me), so if this counts then it was yesterday . . .

Follow Beth on Twitter

Beth’s Blog is  HERE

Reverse Rett Website

You’ll be supporting Reverse Rett when you buy one of our totes. Click here for our store 

A good mother is a good enough mama

To be a good mother is to be a good enough mama. A good enough mama is the mum who knows that her attempt to be a perfect mum definitely guarantees her unhappiness. No child wants an unhappy mum.

What does a good enough mama know? 

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1) She knows not put too much pressure on herself to be a perfect mother since a perfect mother does not exist. And even if she does exist, she must be very sad.

2) A good enough mama understands the difference between ‘good enough’ and ‘not enough’.

3) A good enough mama understands that the world is imperfect, and it does not revolve around her child. So, her child is benefiting from her imperfect parenting. Plus, she recognises that whenever she disappoints her child and the child comes through that experience, the child gets tougher and acquires grit.

4) A good enough mama knows that she is a gift to her child and believes in herself.

5)  A good enough mama knows that her parenting business is to tend to her kids with love, patience, effort, and care.

6) A good enough mama is real. Sometimes, she gets resentful of the whole motherhood thing because it is hard.

7)  A good enough mum encourages her kids to do things for themselves. She knows she’ll not always be there for them.

8) A good enough mama accepts that (as much as she wants to), sometimes she is not capable of providing her child with the best.

9) A good enough mama does not hang out with friends who add to parenting insecurity and to the self-doubt that crops up once in a while.

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It takes some time to be a good enough mum: it is a process and you have to be patient. When my daughters were babies, I was at their beck and call as it was my duty to make them feel safe, loved and secure. But as they have grown older, I still feel safe, loved and secure without running to them whenever they shout “Mama”. The level of attention I gave to them when they were infants is now unsustainable.

How do you grow to be a good enough mum? From my experience, you have to stay connected to the woman you were before you became a mom. I have learnt to take at least 10 minutes a day for some quiet reflection to myself – this has helped me to trust my instincts.

Shop here for our “GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER” tote bags.