The lovely Benita Okojie became a bona fide star when she released her evergreen track Osamudiamen in the 1990s. Now a mum, the FABMUMNG team recently spent an afternoon with her and got a rare peek into her life . In this interview, the soft spoken Edo state- born singer shares various lessons that appeal to mums of all ages.
What was it like becoming a mother?
I think the early stage of course was overwhelming, I knew that my life had changed forever for good. I had to share my time with the new baby. It wasn’t easy because it was not something I was used to, it was a new experience for me and I thank God for the Joy of being a mother. It can be also be challenging and I understand why people have post partum depression because if you don’t have people there with you the feeling might be overwhelming for some people.
My mum and my sister were there with me during labour. My husband was also there but had to go get some items. I don’t even want to talk about labour.I was just really glad when the baby came out because I was there for 17 hours. I looked at my baby and I was like that huge guy came out of me but I thank God for counting us worthy of such a great blessing and having our families supporting us with prayers meant a lot. There were times the reality of being a new mother set in and I would go quiet. My mum would say baby blues and smile. I’m grateful for an amazing family system. Every one was helpful one way or the other. Thank God, baby A and I have grown since then.
What are some of the processes that helped you as a new mum?
My mother understood the dangers of not allowing a new mother have people around her because she may slip into depression .So she knew how important it was to have people around me. That did me a lot of good and I knew that it was easy for me to start feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I also tried as much as possible to talk when I wasn’t feeling good and I realized the more I talked about it the better I felt. There were times I realized I had to pray about these things and having people around me who supported me and prayed for me and friends who kept checking up on me and made me feel better. I kept telling myself this is a blessing, this child is a blessing so get over it and celebrate this gift so I eventually started talking to myself and I got better.
So you didn’t slip into post-partum depression?
I didn’t, that’s why it’s important to have people around you. There were moments where I had people around me and I’ll go quiet for a while and when they asked what was wrong with me I’d tell them nothing. Then I didn’t really feel like talking because I felt when they are done gisting I’ll go back inside and face my own joy and at the same time the challenges that come with it. But because I had people around me those quiet moments didn’t last.
So who were your support system?
My mother in-law, my mum, my sister and my sister in-laws. I just had so many people around me.
What can you say really prepared you for motherhood?
I don’t think anything prepared me for motherhood, honestly, the pregnancy stage was a process for me; there were days where I felt very good and there were days I was nauseous. I remember I bought lots of books; I would read and do almost all they said in the books and they’ll be like enjoy this time of pregnancy because by the time the baby comes out you wouldn’t have time to yourself and I am like what do they mean by that. They were actually right because after the baby came out of me, if I had to go out I had to consider the baby. I have learnt to plan my schedule and make sure I am at home at certain As a new mum, you learn to manage your time efficiently such that nothing suffers for another. I’m now a planner and I’m amazed at how God has helped me to spend my time wisely on what matters as I strive to achieve a balance as a mom, a wife,an artiste and other interests I have.
Are you saying what helped you so far was planning?
Yes, deliberate planning, that means if I have to be somewhere I already plan for it hours before. I know that at this time I should be back home to him and I also understand it’s important for me to go out with him. I also have mummy and son time with him, read him stories and it’s a lot of fun. I know how important it is to spend/cherish every time you spend with your child because he’s not going to be 1 or 6months forever. He’s going to grow and what you’ve deposited in him is what will help him, as he grows older. We tend to spend more time with him (myself and his dad).It’s important for us to plan our schedules well so we can create time to be part of his everyday life.
So how do you create time for yourself?
I try; sometimes, my husband and I go out, my mum comes to babysit. I understand its okay to actually have some time for myself. It’s okay for me to go out even if it’s just for a few hours; it doesn’t mean I am not playing my role well as a mother. I’m human so it’s okay for me to do something for myself. Now that he is a little older I am consciously trying to create time for myself.
How old is he now?
He’s about 6months so it’s easier now. Even sometimes when am at home, I still get things done. I get alone time when he’s sleeping and do stuffs that are pending. There are times when he is playing and I put up cartoons that take his time for 20-40 minutes and I can do a lot with that time.
Do you have a nanny?
I don’t, it’s something I have considered before but I don’t think it is something I want now because I have support from my family. My mum and my mother in-law help a lot. They’re both eager to take care of Baby A. Anytime we have something to do. we can drop him off.
Do they all live close?
My mum lives close; my mother in-law lives not so far away. I just check up on both of them and plan which would be easier for me.
Would you say being on your own and working for nobody has helped you?
It has helped me a lot because if I was working for someone I probably would have taken him to crèche probably at 3months but I never really wanted to do that. It is also good that I am not working for anyone so my time is really flexible because I work with my own time.
In what ways does your husband compliment your parenting?
He’s learnt a couple of things and being a mother doesn’t mean it’s all on me. I try to do what I can as a mother and he will support in the best way that he can. He’s very supportive in taking care of the baby. When he was 3months I had started attending programmes and going for ministrations . He helped with our baby. He feeds him and helps with diaper change.
Does he bath the baby?
No he has not started that but I think if I am not around he’ll have to do it.
You literarily grew up right in front of us, and I know some people can’t believe Benita is married…
It’s funny, I am married and I am a mother… people still say ‘you know that small girl ‘(Benita) and am like am not a small girl am a mother and in fact someone’s mother. Lol. It’s funny because it is like people fell in love with the little girl that I was years back and its fine. It is part of my story it’s what has gotten me to where I am today the fact that I did something back in the day and people appreciate it. It simply means it impacted lives and I have God to thank for that.
How about people calculating your age?
The Age thing? I don’t bother myself again o. Lol. If you know my age fine, if you don’t then no problem. Am at peace with it I will grow and what’s more important is that I continue to make progress and impact lives to the glory of God.
Your music career, is it still on hold?
It’s not on hold really, I had worked on songs but the only thing is the videos are not done yet. The last song we worked on, we are working on recording videos soon. The only thing now is to record more and promote the songs out and get it out there so more people can hear them. We are on it and God will helps us.
My style is decent, comfortable and chic. Anything that will make me comfortable. I put on.Because I am a mother, it’s a lot better now. Thankfully, I got some really nice clothes that complimented me while I was pregnant. There were pictures that people thought I was pregnant however, I wasn’t at that point sef. Lool.
Did losing your pregnancy weight bother you?
I think after I had the baby my tummy went down I was watching my weight but my mum and my doctor told me no matter how hard I want to look slim I still need to eat and then if you’re not eating well you will feel dizzy and tired. I didn’t have much of an appetite but later got my appetite back and enjoyed good food jare.. Both before and after pregnancy I didn’t gain so much weight. It is just a conscious thing as a woman you just want to look good after pregnancy but you need to don’t have to hurt yourself during the process. A balanced and healthy meal choice is key.
How do you balance your role as a celebrity mum?
I try so much to leave social media out of my own life, social media is social media and my life is different from that. But I recently started sharing some stuff about motherhood and I am sharing, educating hopefully and learning from other mum’s like me. . I definitely want to share my truth but I am very diplomatic about what I put out there So, I am very careful and I am very grateful that I have followers who are like family and sharing with them is so interesting.
I try so much to leave social media out of my own life, social media is social media and my life is different from that. But I recently started sharing some stuff about motherhood and I am very careful about how much I put out there.
What are some of the factors you considered when you were making the choice of your life partner?
I knew I have a relationship with God so I knew I had to look for someone who has a relationship with God as well. And I also feel I could discuss everything about anything with my partner because marriage is such a long time and you really don’t want to make the wrong choice or wrong decision. I made sure I shared my believes and values with my husband while we were dating so there was a lot of things both of us knew was obtainable. We were friends so we already had a level of understanding before we started dating. I also wanted somebody that supported the things so my interests don’t die.
Do you by any chance know if you have a particular parenting style?
I don’t even know. I might be extra. Lol. Recently someone said how’s A.Y and I was like my son’s name is Ayotunde because you have the idea of the name you want to give your child and try to shorten your baby’s name. And I’m like haaa. But that’s not what I call him na. Hahaha. but you can’t force people you can only advice. Lol. I’m thinking out loud . I pray and hope I am a great mum because my mum did a great job raising my siblings and I.
Can you tell who would be stricter between yourself and your husband?
I think I would be. My husband is pretty cool but I think we will both balance and compliment each other as parents. I have also come to understand that it’s not only about being strict. What’s more important is bringing a child in the way of the Lord. We are committed to God teaching us parenting the godly way so help us God.
I know you share an extra bond with your sister but now that you are married do you still share that bond?
Yes, always there and always will be there. My husband actually knew how close I was with my sister before we got married. He was actually friends my sister’s friend first. They were good friends already. Certain things changed but it didn’t affect the relationship I have with my sister.
She introduced both of you?
No she didnt; we were friends but not close friends. He was close to my sister. So nothing really changed. Now that my son is here my sister is obsessed with my son and she happens to be a chatter box and we actually love to have her around. She’s playful and my son likes it when she is playing with him. I don’t think anything has changed, I don’t think anything will change as far as our relationship is concerned. We are family.
What are some of the virtues your mum instilled in you that has shaped you?
There are so many. My mum made us understand that when you have a relationship with Jesus then you’re good for life. She’s taught me that as a woman your dignity and intergrity important; you can be virtuous and you don’t have to seek other people’s validation. As a woman, you can stand out when other people are conforming. She’s an adviser and I learn from her daily.
Do you think work life balance is a myth?
I don’t think it’s a myth. It is possible. I don’t know if you’re talking about 9-5 but if you’re your own boss, you can still be a good wife and a great mother. I think it is possible. I am not there yet but I know it is achievable. I know some mums that work 9-5 and are doing a great job.
How can this be achieved?
Managing your time very well means avoiding distractions. If you don’t let go of those distractions and not disciplined then it would be difficult. There are days when I had to caution myself and or go off social media to get things done and spend my time wisely. I do try my best in managing my time effectively. If you let go of those distractions and are disciplined. You’ll have a good balance.
Who is a fabulous mum?
A fabulous woman has God as source and her anchor. She is a wife, a mother and a go getter. A fabulous woman seeks to achieve great things.; she has found her strength in herself. Goes after her goals and achieves her dreams. A fabulous woman will do everything to make sure she brings up a complete child. When I say complete I mean spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. E.t.c.
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