I want to be brief and vague about 2016… sum it up in a couple of paragraphs, insert some “deep” quotes and do a mic drop at the end. I want to, but it can’t work.
You see, 2016 pinched me in so many places, that all I want to do is rant and rant and rant about it. Thank God it’s December. This year should do and come and be going, abeg.
I started this year with a deep longing to go off by myself for 3-5 days. No kids, no husband, no distractions. I wanted time alone to pray, think, and plan. All I needed was the perfect time when I wouldn’t be needed so much….or so I thought.
House move- didn’t happen as planned because the hubs didn’t return till Christmas week, and the workers were on holiday. Eventually, everything was in place and on Feb 13, two days after we quietly celebrated our 4th anniversary, we packed our bags and moved into our home. After unpacking and settling down we had valentines day to christen our new room. Oooshey!
I wish I can say everything went smoothly from there, but it didn’t. For one, I didn’t realize how much of an ordeal it would be to drive from Bwari to Gwarinpa daily. Or to have to cook daily as well, since there was no light and the deep freezer slowly became a warm cupboard. We had to run on generator and that wasn’t enough to keep the freezer fully functional. And I hate to cook…but now I had to do it daily. Oh, the horror!
My mum had been with us for the move, but she returned to Lagos by March. Then my cousin/intern/assistant went for her grandma’s burial and didn’t return till after 6 weeks, so I sent her packing. Burial was for 5 days, I had given her 2 weeks off, she shows up 6 weeks later with no reasonable explanation for staying that long. It wasn’t the first time she had traveled and over-stayed, and I had warned her that the next time would be the last, so, off she went. I became a ‘wicked’ person. Her mum wouldn’t pick my mum’s calls and stuff. Lol.
It was just me and the hubs now. And it seemed like ALL the house work fell to me. See me see complaining. Wake up, put the kettle on, start breakfast and lunch, take my bath, rush to bathe the kids and get them ready for school, then dash out, praying there would be no traffic. Driving to Gwarinpa took 75-90 mins, and I was lucky if I got them to school before 8. Usually though, we didn’t arrive till 8:30 or 9-ish. Stress.
Bwari roads are not too bad, but they’re narrow enough that only a mad person would think of overtaking another vehicle. Then you find yourself driving behind a jalopy cab, or a heavy truck crawling laboriously up the hill and you realize that you can also be mad. Very mad, inf act. Driving about 100 km daily, my road miles this year have exceeded all the other years combined. My pothole navigating skills are also on fleek. Not to mention the fuel consumption. I used to fill the car after every 2 weeks or about 11 days. But now, I had to fill up after every 4 or 5 days. My pocket wept. My Toyo wept at all the driving and bad roads. And I glowered at all the stress I was going through.
Then the hubs traveled and all my “bros, you’re not doing enough to help me around the house” talk turned round to slap me in the face. Lol. No one to occasionally bathe the kids or watch them while I rested. Or read. Or did a million other things not related to housework. Sigh.
I had to close work earlier to avoid driving home in the dark. That long narrow winding road became a nightmare at night. Oncoming vehicles blinding me with their oh-so-bright lights, and me trying not to swerve off the road or climb the middle culvert. I hated it. So I started closing by 4. Once the kids are dropped off at my office after school, it’s near impossible to get any work done anyway. Get home, feed them, bathe them, and climb wearily into bed. I lost count of how many times I got to bed, only to realize I had been too busy to fix myself a meal. I would then stand up to take a bowl of cereal, or drink water and pray to fall asleep fast. Wake up, repeat. Sigh.
Work suffered. I was always exhausted. My clients started complaining. I said ‘sorry’ so many times, I should enter the Guinness book of records. No one to help, with work or the kids. I was regretting sending my assistant away. But I couldn’t get her back and I wasn’t ready to get another stranger into my home. So I managed. And struggled. And frowned a lot. I didn’t realize how much I had been frowning till my daughter quipped one day as we drove to school/work, “Mummy, you’re looking like a dragon.”
I glanced at her from the rear-view mirror and asked how a dragon looks. She had made a face that so mimicked my frowning one that I was literally shocked to silence. After we got home that day, I had approached her with a scowl “So, I look like a dragon, ey?” she took one look at me, squealed with excitement and ran off, shouting “Mummy is a dragon! Dragon, come and catch me!” and just like that, our ‘ojuju’ play became ‘dragon come and catch me’. Sigh, again. My kids stress me out, but they also bring so much joy and variety to my life.
I made efforts to smile more, to stop frowning or complaining so much. I asked for help. Spoke to friends, older women. Received advice and encouragement. Wept at one email that was full of words, beautiful, encouraging words I didn’t realize I needed to hear. Thank you, O.
I tried making driving less tedious. If you drive/stay around Bwari and ever noticed a woman making faces at you from a black Toyota between April – August, I apologize. It was just bants, I swear. I would wink or stick out my tongue at random people on the road and watch their reactions from the rear-view mirror. And laugh. It felt good to laugh.
Slowly came around to the fact that all the driving was wearing me out, and I would have to change schools for the kids, as well as close down my Gwarinpa office and work from home. I had the space, why not?
And so September 1, I packed my stuff, bid farewell to my Gwarinpa office for the last time and moved to the spare apartment at home. All I needed to deal with was the fact that there was no light. Lol. But I had peace. I and Toyo rested from all the driving.
Lost some clients. The distance to Bwari was too much,and they didn’t want me coming to their houses only once a week or two. That hurt, but i couldn’t do anything about it. And I’m super grateful for the ones that stayed, and even more so for the new ones. I’ll do better in 2017, God willing.
2016 wasn’t a bad year, as ‘bad’ can be, but I had so many business and personal failures and disappointments, it ate at my self confidence and I started shrinking myself. I knew it was happening but I was only trying to preserve myself. There’s only so much one can bear. And when things keep going wrong, sometimes one has to pull back, get refreshed and re-strategize.
High points of the year- my SIL came with her kids for the summer, and I went with them on a road trip to Asaba, then to the husband’s home town. It was I and the kid’s first visit and we had fun. Yeah, 4 yrs married and never been to his place. Long story. That week went by so fast and before long we were back to Abuja while they went on to Lagos, then back to the UK.
Then my young cousins came to spend summer holidays with me. It was great seeing them after a long time, and It was a big relief having people to help around the house, especially with the kids.
Lowest point- Last Sunday in October, I got a call that my MIL had passed. Gosh, I cried so much! I had been looking forward to seeing her during Christmas but it was not to be. I miss her so much, and it hurts to know I will never see her again on this side of heaven. RIP, Mama.
It’s December and I still haven’t found a convenient time for my planned retreat. Who said motherhood was full of joys?
I’m grateful for life, my kids, second chances and a future. I’m grateful for friends who let me know that a strong person also needs the occasional shoulder to lean on, and were willing to be that shoulder. I’m also thankful that Nathania is doing so well in her new school: there was a time early in the year when I thought she had learning issues, but i just got her results, she scored 97.6% aggregate and I couldn’t be happier.
I’m suddenly drained of the energy to write more, and this is already long enough, I think. But I learnt one thing as a 16 year old teen, and it was re-learnt again this year – that, no matter how tough or shitty life gets, it does NOT change the personality of God. He is ever faithful, and our ever present help. There were so many times I just wanted to crawl off somewhere to hide, but I could feel Him strengthening me, telling me, “dear daughter, My strength is made perfect in your weakness. I am here for you.”
So in the year ahead, I know I will face some difficulties, but I’m confident of the already won victory. Merry Christmas and Happy new year in advance.