Ups, downs of a highly educated stay-at-home mother

Sunday December 1 2019

Rosette with her husband Benjamin Wamambe and

Rosette with her husband Benjamin Wamambe and their children Ephraim and Esther-Joy. Courtesy photo  

By Daily Monitor

Rosette Mugidde Wamambe, who was born in a privileged family and grew up in Kampala, always dreamt of becoming a lawyer as a young girl. She was born to Alfred and Irene Joy Nasaba. She has six siblings.

Her mother worked at Uganda Commercial Bank. Wamambe says she leant budgeting skills from her mother.
She says she was influenced to become a lawyer by her father, who was meticulous in everything he did as a legal professional. Her father was a hard worker who encouraged effort but never demanded perfection. His diligence and commitment saw him climb up the ladders as a public prosecutor and finally as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). He later became the director of Law Development Centre (LDC).

“As is the case with many little girls, my dad was larger than life. I loved him and I loved everything about his career. I loved the way he dressed up in a suit, white shirt and black tie, his shoes polished to an almost-mirror effect and the briefcase he carried, in my eyes, a sure sign of his status,” she says.

Wamambe’s life rotated on an axis of going to law school, graduating and practicing Law.
“I would stand in front of the mirror and pose as I had seen my father and attorneys in the TV series do, firing questions and making profound statements with nonchalance that only lawyers can get away with. The dream was so vivid I could taste it and it was good,” she recalls.
However, the road to her dream was long, challenging and filled with unexpected twists and turns.

To Wamambe’s dismay, after her Primary Leaving Examinations, she did not make the grades to get into the prestigious Gayaza High School – the high school that would give her an almost automatic pathway to Makerere University’s Law School.

Her father instead took her to Namasagali College School – a school where some of the best female lawyers went. While at Namasagali for her secondary studies, she focused too much on her academics and gave little time to music, contemporary dance and drama – areas in which the school was famous for.

Advertisement

“I was not part of the performers. As a matter of fact, I was punished for missing many of the dance classes. I was so focused on my dream and wanted nothing that would distract me. Today, I regret not having taken advantage of the opportunity that was right in front of me,” she writes.
Wamambe was stunned when her Advance Level results did not meet the threshold to qualify her for a government scholarship to pursue a Law degree at Makerere University. Her father was determined to see his daughter study Law and he enrolled her under the private scheme at Makerere University School of Law.

“When I joined Makerere University, I worked very hard, reveling in the fact that I was one step away from attaining my dream. I have always been goal-oriented and this time my goal was to attain an upper second-class degree. I suffered yet another disappointment when I got a lower second even though it was a strong one…,” she says.

She graduated among the top 10 in her class of 2000, specialising in commercial law. She met her fiancé, Benjamin Wamambe, at LDC where she was pursuing her Bar course. He was a lecturer at LDC. They got married in 2004, and have two children; Ephraim and Esther-Joy. She undertook her clerkship at Sebalu and Lule Advocates, one of the largest commercial law firms in Uganda, who later retained her as a Legal Associate.

Rosette was later recruited by Total Uganda Limited, and she knew she had attained her dream. She really had and lived it, albeit for a little while. She also pursued a Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Development. At around the same time in November 2007, her husband took up an international appointment at the African Development Bank (ADB) in Tunis, Tunisia.

She abandoned her job and accepted to join her husband in Tunisia with their little children. She felt this move out of Uganda would help her find herself.

She says they enjoyed staying in Tunis, which blended ancient Arab souks and mosques with modern-style office buildings into one of the most beautiful and lively cities in Africa.

“I absolutely loved browsing in the local markets (called souk) where I found beautiful hand-crafted items and colourful fabrics. I also got introduced to a great variety of species. The influence of French and Arab culture is definitely evident in their rich and delectable cuisine,” she says.

It did not take long before her frustrations of not working as a lawyer emerged.
“Without realising it, my dream to become a lawyer had become my identity; this was who I was and what I lived for. My frustrations manifested in unproductive arguments and squabbles with my husband, many of which I started. My wake-up call came through a profound statement that Benjamin made to me one day: ‘Rosette, I did not know that your career was your identity,” she says.
Wamambe says this statement would later lead her to start on a path of self-discovery.

“If my dream had been to work and live as an expatriate, then this was the ideal life…”
She began her self-discovery journey by reading Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life and discovered that each of us is created with a specific role to fulfil here on earth. She also came to the realisation that fulfillment in life comes from serving God using the gifts and talents He has given us.

She also took several temperament and personality tests. Her temperament results showed that she is a choleric with a hint of a sanguine.
“I discovered that as cholerics, we tend to be determined, confident and assertive when it comes to accomplishing the goals we set. Sanguines, on the other hand, love to talk and tend to be motivated by fun. I found a lot of truth in these results, I love to talk and when I learn something, I am always excited to share it with other people,” she says.

Her husband got transferred to Ivory Coast. She and the children moved with him to Abidjan. She says reading a book called Fascinating Womanhood was the beginning of her journey of finding peace in being a stay/work at home mum and enjoying it.

“At the time, I was writing about human resource management topics in the Uganda Law Society Newsletter, a task which brought me immense joy and for which I later received recognition. After I set this goal, I suddenly realised I had never really given thought to what stay-at-home mums do in order to stay mentally active,” she says.

On February 24, 2016, she launched her “Fulfilled Life” blog in which she offers words of encouragement on the journey of life.
“When I started ‘Fulfilled Life’ blog, I knew I had found my purpose. The blog helped me to tap into the things I love doing most; reading and then sharing what I have learnt,” she says.

Wamambe says the Lord has assigned her to reach out, in love and compassion through her blog, to share the message that His people can live a fulfilled life, on earth as it is in heaven.

Asked to why she extensively quotes the Bible to illustrate her life story, she says: “I quoted the scriptures a lot because my faith is very much a part of who I am. I believe I can do nothing without God.”

Her family is currently based in South Africa, where her husband is currently working. She says going to South Africa felt like going home.
“There is a sense of the familiarity in this Southern Africa region. Many of the foods are very similar to those at home in Uganda, with the exception of peanuts and matooke. We moved to South Africa after I had made up my mind to relinquish my law career, with no debilitating side effects tugging my resolve. I now understand that my career was no longer my identity, and had started other interests that brought me peace and contentment,” she writes.

“Intellectually, I knew that my personal growth, when departing my law career and finding an alternative career, could only come by embracing change, facing the unknown and going through the obstacles, perceived and real. However, emotionally, I was still afraid, but I resolved not to let that fear paralyse me lest I end up doing nothing,” she adds.

According to her, living in the Fourways area in Johannesburg has opened so many doors for her.

She says: “It is a beautiful, quite affluent community in which many countries are represented. There are many expatriates, many of them having relocated here with their spouses and children. I have met several women who are expatriate wives, some of whom left lucrative positions to accompany their husbands to various stations around the world. Perhaps the peace of mind and my attitude to life has made South Africa easy for my family and I to adjust quickly and settle down.”

She observes that if one maintains an open mindset, expat life comes fully loaded with the joys of discovery.

“The opportunity to live as an expatriate is truly a privilege. You are able to experience another way of life, travel to countries you might otherwise never have visited, make friends with people from all over the world and expose your children to a truly international community at a young age, helping them cultivate an understanding of diversity, and the practice of tolerance, compassion and inclusivity,” she writes.
“Nevertheless, life for an expat wife can be particularly challenging. When you choose to temporarily leave your career and follow your husband as he relocates because of his own career, expat wife inevitably becomes your new identity,” she adds.
However, she has a word of caution to the spouses of the expatriate.

“It will benefit you greatly if you would make provision for your wife financially. Keep in mind that she had an income she lived and planned on before taking the plunge into the expatriate realm. I find that by having a monthly allowance assigned to me which I do not have to account for has helped me greatly. I am able to take care of small things such as buying gifts for family or friends without having to ask Benjamin all the time. This greatly contributes to my fulfilment in my role of an expatriate wife,” she says.

According to her, from having your baby abroad, to moving to a foreign country with one or more children, expat parents have loads to think and plan about in terms of healthcare, schooling, leisure activities, accommodation and play-dates.

She observes: “While children can make friends in 10 seconds, adults take longer and can become very lonely even within an ‘expat’ community, perhaps because we make our acceptance conditional upon so many things such as ‘I will only like them if they like me,’ and ‘why can’t they be like my friends back home?’ among others.”

She says for the expat wife, whose family moves every so often, it is not easy because there is so much starting over and oftentimes in uncharted territory. She says their children have coped with the multiple relocations without difficulty.

“Our children, Ephraim and Esther-Joy have blossomed, our multiple relocations notwithstanding. They have adopted well each time and they continue to amaze us at how resilient they are. I believe that being expatriate children will play incredible dividends in their lives as they continue to meet children from all over the world, experience different cultures and build up beautiful memories,” she says.

Advice
“Today, if a young expatriate mom were to seek my advice on what it would take for her to succeed in the expatriate world, I would say live life with an open mind. In my view, the women I have seen who are successful all living this expatriate life are those who have remained open to the possibilities that their new world brings. They have chosen to live outside what would have been their comfort zones and forged new careers,” she adds.

Rosette says to this day, she does not know what she would have done if a career in law had not panned out, so she guesses she falls into the category of those who put all their eggs in one basket. According to Rosette, her story reflects the mountain peaks and, yes, not only the bottom, of the valley but the slopes too.

“For a long time, I was so fixated on getting to the mountain top that I did not enjoy the view along the way. Once I was on the peak, I wanted to stay there, permanently. I have since learned that life is a series of mountain ridges. Every peak is vastly different from the other, but not necessarily any less enjoyable,” she says.

“I can now say, in all sincerity, that if you can only define me by my profession, then I have not lived. Our children identify me as their loving mom who loves to do stuff with them. To my friends, how I wish they could say that I was…a friend of God and one who stood by them when they needed me… For my loving husband, I hope that he identities me as a great wife, a good partner in bringing up our children, and one who continually strives to live up her vows and commitment…,” she writes.

Her background

Leaving primary: After Rosette Mugidde Wamambe completed Primary Leaving Examinations, she did not make the grades to get into the prestigious Gayaza High School – the high school that would give her an almost automatic pathway to Makerere University’s Law School.

Joining secondary: Her father instead took her to Namasagali College School – a school where some of the best female lawyers went. While at Namasagali for her secondary studies, she focused too much on her academics and gave little time to music, contemporary dance and drama – areas in which the school was famous for.

Falling short: She was stunned when her Advance Level results did not meet the threshold to qualify her for a government scholarship to pursue a law degree at Makerere University. Her father was determined to see his daughter study Law and he enrolled her under the private scheme at Makerere University School of Law.

Graduation: She graduated among the top 10 in her class of 2000, specialising in commercial law. She met her fiancé Benjamin Wamambe at LDC where she was pursuing her Bar course. He was a lecturer at LDC. They got married in 2004 and have two children Ephraim and Esther-Joy.
Stepping into the world: She undertook her clerkship at Sebalu and Lule Advocates, one of the largest commercial law firms in Uganda, who later retained her as a Legal Associate.
Landing a job: Rosette was later recruited by Total Uganda Limited, and she knew she had attained her dream. She really had and lived it, albeit for a little while. She also pursued a Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Development.