On one of the kitchen walls inside Rachael Mwagale’s family home is an attached small piece of paper.
On it are four names; Aaliyah, Adnan, Almor and Ashka and their designated house chores for the week. Adnan is responsible of preparing breakfast, Aaliyah washing utensils, while Almor and Ashka have to ensure that the house is clean at all times.
Their youngest sibling, Xavier, is left out of the housework rota as he is only 15 months old. As his older siblings aged 18, 15, 11 and nine go about their chores, Xavier, runs around the house in a playful manner.
“I do not believe in hiring a maid, especially during holidays. How will my children learn to work if she is conducting most of the chores? They must know how to do these things themselves,” Mwagale says as she shows me around the house.
It is for this reason that she made the housework schedule. “Everybody must do their work. I do not entertain lazy children,” she says. The 40-year-old will only hire a maid to help out at a required time when the work becomes overwhelming in the home. She, however ,makes an exception when the children are either at school or having examinations.
“She will do the work, receive her payment and leave,” she says of the occasional househelp.
Mwagale stays with her five children and husband in Najjera, a suburb located within Kira Municipality.
Mwagale’s relationship with her children
The mother of five says she shares a close, friendly and tough friendship with her children. “I give everything in moderation. You will find me laughing with them, giving hugs as well as sharing jokes. However, there are boundaries that they do not cross because I remain their mother. For instance, there is no shouting or raising one’s voice at me,” she says.
In this era of social media where there is all kind of information, Mwagale always reminds her children to take caution.
“I am not going to bury my head in the sand and pretend that these things are not happening in our society. It is important that these children know the truth. If I do not tell them, they will figure it out for themselves, which at times is very dangerous,” she says.
From time to time, Mwagale also ensures to warn her children against uncouth behavior.
“I sit down with everyone and have lengthy conversations. These conversations are interactive as I also allow them ask questions on any themed topic,” she says, adding, “Just recently, I told Aaliyah that let me never find her taking any nude pictures and sending them to any man. I sounded the warning after noticing the many nude pictures leaking on social media,”
Mwagale is also not afraid of sharing information with her son. She talks to him on almost anything including wet dreams, and girls.
So, far she is proud of how her children are turning out to be since they are actively involved in sports. Aaliyah plays basketball while Adnan, Almor and Ashka are swimmers.
Besides her children, Mwagale also mentors young girls on life and career through the Miss Uganda Foundation.
Her biggest lesson over the years
Parenting comes with its own share of challenges and during such times, Mwagale turns to God for intervention.
“I will give an example of Aaliyah. She is strong willed, can be rebellious and tends to always get her way. You tell her to do something and then she will end up doing the opposite. It frustrates me as a parent at times. This is why I will pray to God asking Him to guide me on what to do in the prevailing situation,” she says.
Her mode of punishment includes issuing warnings especially to her two eldest children, telling them to stand in the shame corner and in extreme cases, caning the little ones.
Her journey into motherhood started early after she had her first child in 1999 during her second year at Makerere University where she was pursuing a Bachelors degree in social sciences.
Most of her family got to know when she was eight months pregnant. “I am an extremely tall woman and at the time, I was slender. These body features easily made me hide my pregnancy,” she says.
Rather than reprimanding her, Mwagale’s parents embraced their daughter with open arms of love and affection. There was also more support from the baby’s father who was already working and her three sisters. “I was well taken care of until the baby arrived,” she says.
According to Mwagale, the pregnancy was not a mistake as she had desired to start having children at an earlier age. But also, she wanted a child to constantly move around with for company. “I wanted my own doll,” she says amidst laughter.
Mwagale is a talkative woman with an assertive voice. It is interesting to note that pregnancy did not stop her from discontinuing her studies. “I used to attend classes, write examinations while pregnant, a schedule I continued even after giving birth,” she says, “On some occasions, my parents helped attend to the child while I went to class. When they were unavailable, I would go with her for lectures or request friends to baby sit,” she says.
She made ends meet by doing different jobs within and outside the university campus. She embraced her height by modelling in fashion shows, marketing products or doing promotions.
After her graduation in 2001, she went to work in different companies and organisations including Daily Monitor where she worked briefly as a sales executive moving on to New Vision.
Besides hard work, Mwagale has also instilled other family values to her children including humility, kindness and gratitude. “At least with such ethics, they will handle anything that life throws at them,” she says.
Personally, I was very humbled when Almor and Ashka earlier welcomed me into the house with huge smiles on their faces and hugs. This was despite the fact that they were seeing me for the first time. Later, the two sisters offered me some pineapples to eat.
For the love of party
Mwagale does not hide her love for social life, as, from time to time, she goes out with her girlfriends to have fun. “I love loud music and to dance” she says amidst laughter, adding, “I like going out to have a blast with my friends.”
In addition, Mwagale says she loves fellow shipping and praising God. “There are those moments my children and I will put on some Christian music in the house and dance away,” she says. Mwagale stresses the point, “motherhood does not need to stop me from living my own life.”
Advice to mothers
“Do not make things hard for yourself because you are a mother. When plans do not go as expected, take it easy. It if helps, pray and ask for intervention from God. It is also important that you look after yourself. Take good care of your body through exercising and mind what you eat. Work for the body you desire and maintain it. Then, treasure those moments when the kids are still staying home because, before you know it, they will grow up and go away to live their own lives.”