“She is four years old. She is naturally loquacious but she was quiet that day. She looked unhappy. What’s wrong? She said, “Lisa touched my genitals”. Are you sure? She said, “Yes”. Was she helping you to clean up after you used the bathroom? She said, “No”. Was there something down there that she was trying to help you remove? She said, “No”. Was it at the front or at the back? She said front…”

This is just one out of hundreds of similar (and worse) narratives. We have heard horrifying stories of babies that were poisoned by nannies, toddlers tortured by house maids and preschoolers sexually abused by babysitters…

We need to be sincere with ourselves; staying at home cannot work for every mother. Are we not the ones clamoring for more female doctors, nurses, teachers etc.? Not everyone can work from home either. Some bosses/employers are so “babyphobic” that they find it so difficult to grant a reasonable maternity leave. So, what’s the way out?

There is no such thing as best childcare option for working parents. You have to weigh the risks and benefits of each and every method. You have to seek help from family and friends, colleagues at work, neighbours and other parents within your locality.

Some husbands are not helping matters. They encourage you to follow your dreams yet, for the most part, you are on your own. You have to be a superwife and a supermom at the same time. What about the single moms; widows and divorcees?

The family structure has crumbled because we have all moved to the big cities and we don’t want any extended family member to breach our privacy…

House maids will cost you a fortune. Trustworthiness is not written on their faces. Surveillance cameras cannot predict what could happen. Oftentimes, the damage would have been done…

Daycare centres cannot operate based on your whims. You give them instructions, they do something else behind your back. It’s a double tragedy for those who do shift work. It’s hard to find a reliable daycare that opens 24/7…

There’s also the fear of leaving a strange lady with the kids, while the husband may be at home. It’s as if some maids are sent on a special mission from hell, to unseat wives from their matrimonial homes!

We need a concert of efforts at the community level.
So many gaps to be filled.
So many questions yearning for answers…

Khadijah Sanni-Tijani


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