Confessions of A Work At Home Wife And Mom (Part 2)

There’s a magical hour in our house. It’s right around sunset, before the night descends into a departing winter blackness. My husband is home, the kids are (usually) napping which frees my hands to cook dinner and life is perfect. The overwhelming “aloneness” of being the only adult with my children dissipates and is quickly forgotten. It’s family time. The picture I had in my mind of what it would mean to have a family actually materializes. The children play on the living room floor as hubby reads or watches the news  and I attend to the business of cooking and serving dinner.

After packing away tonight’s leftovers, I snuggle on the coach with my hunny. Well, I should say, I wake him up from his snoring sleep, make him scoot over to make room for me then curl halfway into his lap. As soon as I plant a kiss on his face just because, here comes our two shadows.

“Give me a kiss, Daddy,” Thing 1, my oldest demands with his lips puckered.

Such a ham, that one. Hubby smiles and grants the request. I mean, how could you not?

“Gimme tiss, Deddy” Thing 2 chimes in, running as fast as his little legs would carry him towards his father. Daddy obliges with a chuckle.

I look over at my kitchen in disdain. I need to wash dishes, clean off the counter tops, sweep and mop my floors before I can go to sleep with a clear mind. I like to clean as I cook but there are days when that is absolutely out of the question. If the kids are awake while I’m cooking, they will not let me out of their sight.

“I wanna help,” my almost four year old would chime as I’m cooking, pushing a dining chair towards the oven. I have to be hyper-vigilant to keep him from burning himself on any hot surfaces – his favorite place is right beside me by the stove. He wants to chop, season and stir right along with Mommy. Most days, this is our time to make memories. But on some days when my sleep deprivation and constantly churning mind gets the best of me, I find myself snapping at him.

“Move! Move out of my way! Look at this mess you made!” I recently bellowed at him, frustration rising because he gave me more to do. I look over at the mess of chicken bullion powder and curry seasoning he had knocked over.

Great! I had swept the floor not even five minutes prior.

“I’m sorry, mommy,” he said, his eyes welling up already.

The guilt I felt was like a gut-punch. It really was not his fault. My baby wanted to help his mama cook. His elbow knocked the uncovered spices over as he was attempting to grab a spoon for me. It was mistake that I could have easily made myself and I made my son feel bad for it.

Lord, please do not let me damage them. I am doing my best. 

My thoughts collide wordlessly on themselves and I blink back an unannounced sting of tears.

“It’s okay, baby. You didn’t mean it. You were just trying to help, Mommy, right?” [He nods wordlessly, wiping his eyes].

“Mommy is sorry for yelling,” I state, reaching down to envelop his small shoulders in a hug. “You wanna help me clean it up?”

He smiles and nods enthusiastically. All is forgiven. Oh for the mindset of a three-year old who forgives even the gravest offenses in the blink of an eye and thinks nothing of them again.

God, please don’t let me break them.

As munchkin and I continued cooking, Pumpkin (my youngest) noticed that my attention was diverted and began to whine. “Mo-mmy? I waaaannnn duce (juice),” he demanded like the tiny boss of the house he knew himself to be.

“You’ve had enough juice today, boo boo. No juice. You can have water,” I state sternly. My mind remembering his oldest brother’s last dentist visit. No cavities but his teeth were showing weak points that demands we eliminate sugar from his diet. The fear passed down to his younger brother’s dental health.

I gotta watch how much sugar they are eating and drinking, I remind myself.

The “no juice” verdict sends Pumpkin into a tailspin. You would have thought his favorite pet died the way he wailed and threw himself on the ground. The tears flowed as he mourned his existence. What cruel world would deny him the sweet nectar of the gods? His growing mind must have wondered as he laid on my kitchen floor, a puddle of tears and toddler angst.

I roll my eyes in his direction as I grab his sippy cup. I make a concoction that is three parts water and one part fruit juice and snap it shut.

“Here, boo boo!” I thrust the cup in his direction, and like magic, the fountain of tears dry up and immediately he is on his feet.

“Tat you (thank you), Mo-mmy,” he sniffs as a small smile plays on his lips.

Mommy – 0, Toddler – 3,451.  The running tally in my head flashes like a scoreboard.

It’s okay. We will brush extra long tonight, I console myself. Anything to keep my hands free so I could finish dinner and supervise my sous-chef in the kitchen.

Making dinner with two toddlers in tow is equal parts a battle of wits (between the adults and their tiny overlords) and actual food preparation. There is a reason I do not attempt my longer, more complicated recipes unless the children are asleep. I literally do my best cooking between the hours of midnight and five.

Now that today’s dinner has been long digested and I am getting some good snuggle time with my husband, I remember my night time chores. I sigh deeply as  I pull myself away from my husband and his warm embrace.

The kitchen awaits.

Pumpkin suddenly remembers that mommy has not read him a story today.

“Mommy, I want weed eet (read it),” he says as he scrambles towards me, book in hand.

Ugh! I have got to clean this kitchen!

“Boo boo, take the book to Daddy. Daddy will read it,” I say, passing the buck to my partner in life. This is a favorite tactic of mine. When the kids are driving me absolutely crazy or one of them has a dirty diaper that smells like death (and my stomach is feeling particularly weak for whatever reason), I send them to their dad.

“Go to daddy” is my rallying cry for “I don’t wanna deal with this right now,” and most times it works. Alas, tonight will not be one of those times. The man I just left on the couch is snoring again and Pumpkin is approaching a full-blown meltdown if nobody reads him this book.

“C’mon baby, let’s read,” I beckon to my youngest, attempting to nip the tears in the bud before they start.

After story-time, we begin our bedtime routine. I wake my husband and invite him upstairs with us. I really want to skip bath time tonight; the dishes in the sink are still beckoning to me. No sooner do we get to the top of the stairs do my kids run towards their bathroom.

“Mommy, I wanna bap,” the youngest declares.

“Yay! Bath tiiiiiiiime!,” the oldest chimes in doing his best impression of Sid the Science Kid.  How come children always know when you are at your most exhausted and pick that exact moment to be their most demanding? No worries. I got something for them. As I run the bath water to the perfect temperature for both children (oldest hates to be cold, and youngest hates to be hot), I plot my escape.

“Okay baby, time to get in the bath,” I help each child out of their food stained, juice-stained, slightly peed on (I’ll explain later) clothes and into the bath. After I hunt down rubber duckies, plastic balls and foam letters to keep them company,  I walk towards my husband in our bedroom.

“Babe, can you keep an eye on the kids for me? They are in the tub and I really need to get that kitchen together,” I ask as I softly wake him from his stupor.

He nods groggily and I make a mad dash downstairs before any of my three men could ask anything else of me. As I walk downstairs, I pick up socks, shoes and toys that have lost their way and gather the pile together. I put toys in the designated baskets downstairs and leave the clothes on the stairs as a visual reminder to put them in the kids room.

I am not going back up there until they are all asleep.

Cleaning the kitchen is strangely therapeutic. I do my best thinking when I am left alone with a sink full of dishes. After scrubbing all the dishes by hand (old-school Nigerians are allergic to dishwashers, ask anyone), I put them in the dishwasher to dry and clear off all my surfaces, putting everything in cabinets or the kitchen pantry. When my work space looks perfect, I breathe a sigh of relief and smile. A quick glance at the clock tells me it is already after midnight.

So much for getting to sleep early tonight.

I make my way back upstairs to bed, grabbing the pile of clothes and socks on the stairs as I go. When I stop inside the kids room to drop off the clothes, I notice the mess of toys and clothes on their floor.

Can’t leave it like that.

I organize their clothes and shoes into their respective side of the closet and toss all the toys and books into the baskets that line the wall. Baskets are strategically placed all over the house for quick clean up because what I am not going to do is kill myself trying to clean up after a house full of men (who share none of my OCD tendencies for cleanliness). Baskets make organization easy. A roomful of toys quickly becomes clean floors and organized space with enough baskets.

I stop by the kids bathroom to turn off the lights and notice that the bathtub has not been drained. I let the water out and scoop out the mountain of bath toys that were left behind. Then I grab a towel to mop up the water on the floor, organize the vanity space littered with tooth brushes and toothpaste before finally heading towards my bed.

As I toss the towel into the hamper, I noticed it is filling up so I load up the washing machine instead. As the machine fills with water and begins slushing about, I continue my journey towards the bed. A quick peep into the darkened room reveals my husband passed out with our youngest on his chest (pumpkin still doesn’t sleep well on his own), and munchkin sleeping diagonally across our king-sized bed. How do two little people take up so much room on an adult size bed?  There’s literally no where for me to lie down unless I curl into a ball at the foot of the bed.

Forget it.

I make my way to the guest room and flop on the bed. Thirty minutes later, I am still auditing my day in my head, going over each detail to ensure I have not missed anything.

CRAP!

What’s today?

The sixteenth since it is after midnight, my phone screen confirms.

Dang it!

The light bill was due on the fifteenth and would be scheduled for disconnection if payment was not received by 5pm. I am already seven hours too late but better to do it now and call them in the morning to throw myself on someone’s mercy if necessary. I rush back downstairs to retrieve my purse and debit card and make a call into the system. I make the $250 payment and head back upstairs, making a mental note to check with the energy company in the morning.

The night passes as usual. The youngest woke me up with his whimpering around 3:30AM when their father got up for work. My oldest is still splayed all about on the bed, making it impossible for anyone to sleep beside him without making bodily contact.

I suspect his X position on the bed is on purpose. His favorite past time is rubbing up against me like a cat when I am trying to sleep. As someone who HATES to be touched as I am falling asleep, his touch irritates me into wakefulness every night. I have resolved to building a barrier between us using the comforter. Sometimes it works, sometimes the system is defeated.

I lull my youngest baby back to sleep and pass back out until the sun wakes me. I slept through my alarm. It is now 8:30. Thankfully, today is low-key day.

I check my calendar to make sure.

I have an appointment at 1pm, which means I need to be dressed by 10am, an hour for our morning routine, another hour for breakfast and whatever shenanigans the children can create to delay us from leaving the house and I should leave the house not a minute after 12 noon to drop off the kids and still make it on time to the office.

The client is a referral from a friend. My girls are forever boosting my business and recommending me to colleagues. I don’t want to disappoint. When I call my mom to check in, her voice tells me that I woke her up.

”He-hello? She croaks out, her voice cracking with the strain of answering her phone while not fully awake.

”Sorry, Mommy! I didn’t mean to wake you. I was just calling to say hi. Call me when you wake up,” I quickly hung up before I told any more lies. I forgot my mom worked yesterday.

She can’t watch the kids. She works 12 hours during third shift and needs the mornings after work to rest. Hubby is at work till 6pm and my dad is out attending to work duties. Both my in-laws work nights and sleep during the day as well and none of hubby’s siblings or mine are around.

Dagnabit! (I’m officially an elderly white man trapped in a 30 something year old black woman’s body).

Where are all those people who were praying twins, triplets and quads on me during our last baby shower? If you want me to birth a football team worth of kids, the least you can do is watch them for me while I work.

After racking my brain for a few minutes, I head towards the office with the kids in tow. I don’t have a choice. They are coming with me to meet a brand new client.

This is about to be the most shambles that has occurred in the history of working while Mom-ing.

Times like these, I remember why childcare costs two grand a month. When you’re desperate, you do what you have to do. My current budget is stretched so thin, I can see through it. An extra two thousand a month in expenses would put us in debtors prison (God forbid).

Whatever. No time for shoulda woulda coulda. I have to deal with the present. When we arrive at my office, I pull out coloring books, crayons and snacks from my office stash. We have many clients with young children so we maintain a decent activity area to keep them quiet.

”Okay boo boos. You guys color and let Mommy work, okay.” This is bribing 101. Don’t judge me unless you’ve been held hostage by toddlers before.

Let’s just pray it works.

“Okay, Mommy” they reply in unison.

Liars! My instinct tells me. But my optimistic and slightly panicked mind says to believe them.

When the client arrive, I walk down to the lobby and meet a surprise. The couple awaiting  me is an interracial duo.  The wife seems to be from Eastern Europe if her accent is any indication and the husband is one of my skinfolks. We exchange greetings and I prepare myself for the maylay this is about to be. (I left the kids playing in the office to make the quick walk to the lobby).

As we near my door, I can hear the cries of my children. I guess they looked up and found out I snuck out.

“My children are in the office today because I couldn’t get a sitter,” I offer by way of explanation.

This has got to be the most ratchet consultation in the history of law practice. I’m actually completely embarrassed but I put on my best unbothered face, take a deep breath and open the door.

What I meet is utter chaos. My children have dumped a box of plastic balls on the carpet. Broken crayons and torn coloring books littered the carpet like toddler-made confetti. My two offsprings look up with cherub-like expressions. Someone else must have made this mess.

Obviously.

Weren’t y’all just crying?

I swear I was gone for all of 30 seconds. How did they do this so fast?

“Where did you go, mommy? Why did you left us?” My oldest asks accusingly.

”I only left for a little bit, Munchkin. See I came right back,” I explain, avoiding the couples’ eyes.

This is SO janky! I hit a mental face palm while smiling confidently in my would-be clients’ directions. If they take off running and don’t look back, I wouldn’t blame them.

”Excuse the mess,” I say as unfazed as I could manage as I round the table to sit in my designated area. “Please have a seat,” I motion to the waiting chairs. “How can I help you?” I ask once they are both seated.

The next thirty minutes were filled with preventing my children from pushing over an office printer and shattering it into a million pieces, wrangling a chocolate bar the size of his head away from munchkin and eventually, obliging Thing 2 when he insisted on sitting in my lap as I offer legal counsel. In between dying from being utterly mortified, mothering and lawyering, I am able to piece together the clients’ story.

The wife came from the Czech Republic two years ago on a visitors visa. She was married at the time but her husband stayed behind. She meet the real love of her life while in the US and they decided to get married. She forgot to get divorced first before remarrying (really, ma’am?). What could they do?*

My advice was short and to the point. Annulment. You can’t get married while you’re married. Annul the second marriage because no court is gonna recognize it as legitimate while she’s still married.*

But the first marriage was all the way back home. No one would know if she didn’t tell them, she insisted.

I explained the paper trail that one leaves behind when dealing with international travel. Her visa application probably told the truth of her marital status. She can’t hide it now. Annul the second marriage and if you’re still in love, divorce your husband and remarry for real for real.**

We conclude their consultation and say our goodbyes. My kids are still operating with all the decorum of Tasmanian devils but that’s neither here nor there. What matters is we survived and I’m no more edge-less than I was when the morning began (thanks, Post-partum shedding 😒).

My nerves are completely SHOT! I decide it is time to head home. With my computer bag over one shoulder, my purse on the other arm. I grab hands with each kid and we march on to the car.

I open the door to put Thing 2 in his car seat first. I had to carry him for the walk in the parking lot because he was slowing us down but now my shoulders are burning like nobody’s business.

What have we been feeding you, little boy?

As soon as I release his hand to latch his little brother inside the car seat, my oldest takes off from my side. My heart leaps inside my throat!

He knows better! Even at the age of three he’s had multiple lessons on the dangers of cars and oncoming traffic. He usually makes it point to stay close to my side in parking lots and near streets.

But this is my fault too. I usually put him inside the car and close the door before I put his baby brother down. He saw a chance at freedom and he took it.

“Come here, NOW!” I say in my best disciplinarian voice.

He most have sensed my fury because he shuffles over quickly, his head down and mouth hanging.

”What did Mommy say about running where there’s cars?” I ask sternly, my heart still beating from the terror of what could have been.

“But, I want to get the dandy yayin (dandelion),” he mutters, bottom lip quivering.

I noticed the enticing weed sprouting up in the landscaping by the door.

“Are you suppose to run when there are cars outside though?” I ask, my anger subsiding since I am no longer terrified.

“No,” he admits, a rare occurrence.

“Okay, so you know we don’t do that. The next time, you disobey Mommy, you will be on punishment,” I state with finality. I usually leave the disciplinarian portion to my hubby but I can’t very well let the children run haywire while he’s at work.

Still can’t believe somebody gave me whole children to raise.

Every day I marvel that someone out there trusts me to be somebody’s mother. Most days I feel like the same 17 year old girl who got dropped off for her first day of college, petrified of getting things wrong and desperately wishing my mom was here to hold my hands. But nope. I’m somebody’s mama now. Two somebodies in fact. And I’m closer to 40 than 18.

No sooner did I put the car in reverse did munchkin announce, “Mommy, I’m hungeee!”

SMH! I have got to get my life together!

I’ve had these kids all afternoon and did not think about lunch. Just because I can go from morning to 6pm before having my first meal does not mean my children want to participate in my “I’m too busy to eat” Olympics.

They like food.  And I don’t blame them.

”Chick Fil A it is!” I announce enthusiastically to no one in particular. There’s no way a home cooked lunch is happening today and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. As far as I’m concerned, CFA is God’s anointed restaurant so it doesn’t count as fast food.

When we pull up to the drive through, the line is at least 40 cars long and yet by some miracle (Jesus works the register Himself and the Holy Spirit fills the orders), we got our food within five minutes.

I told you, this place is anointed.

Thing 2 has fallen asleep on the ride so his older brother uses the opportunity to eat both orders of chicken strips because he was still “hungweee” after eating his own lunch and washing it down with two cups of CFA sauce.

The rest of my week was uneventful if you don’t count the “Instagram war” with an associate’s wife. Before you get all judgy on me, let me preface by saying it was not my fault. I saw them at a mutual friend’s wedding and said hello to both parties. For some reason, the lady took offense, took to my instagram page and cussed me slam out for being “disrespectful.” And she called me a fake born-again. I have zero clue what crawled up her breeches and I don’t intend to find out. I blocked and deleted both parties. I’m not one for dealing with a husband and not the wife. Y’all are one flesh so you can be blockt (with a T) together in one accord.

And that “fake born-again” thing could have really hurt my feeling if I was still a hypocrite. But me and Jesus sorted things out about nine years ago so I’m cool. I let the comment roll off my back and keep it pushing.

The best thing about having children this age is watching their relationships with each other. My kids are exactly two years and a week apart. I’m extra fertile in the summer, I guess.

Or maybe hubby is extra h-

Uhm…you know what?

Never mind.

The point is that having my kids so close together makes parenting the hardest job ever but it’s an absolute joy watching their friendship and bond develop.

Annnnnd, my oldest is 90% out of diapers. Not 100% but accidents are few and far between and he only needs Pull-ups for overnight sleeps. Considering that his diapers alone were costing me $50 a month, I’m glad to be almost done with this phase. And have you ever smelled a three year old’s poop? He smells like a grown man. That’s no baby. The last time he accidentally pooped in his underwear, I wanted to fight him. Like literally, square up little boy because you’ve offended all my senses and there will be retribution.

Putrid. Absolutely putrid. When that happens I throw his clothes away. Because who’s hand washing poop? And who’s putting that foul stench and matter into my good washing machine? Not I! My Nigerian people would call it being a “suffer head,” which I am not.

Throw the whole baby away, they said (the innanets). If I could lift him, believe me I would have.

The best part of my life is I get to watch my children grow up on a day to day basis even while earning an income for my family.

The “least best”  (there is no “worst”) part of my life is that I still haven’t mastered how to care for myself while caring for my family. When I neglect my needs (sleep, proper nutrition, therapy and self-care), everyone suffers – my husband, my children and even my clients.

I’m not always the wife, mom or professional I desire to be. I still worry about money because it feels like I don’t make enough. And ever so often I get this nagging feeling that another woman would do better with my life than I ever could.

But it’s not true.

Opening my life up this way is not about pretending perfection or even moaning and groaning about how difficult my roles are to navigate. My goal in sharing my confessions was to give you some insight into my day to day life and to remind myself that my circumstances do not have to be ideal for me to find joy, humor or contentment in my current stage in life.

Whatever point you find yourself in life, find what works for you and flourish. It doesn’t have to be perfect for you to own it

(FIN).

*fictional clients with a fictional scenario. I’m not giving y’all real life info because I like having a job.

**this is not legal advice for you, reader. This is a blog. If you want a consultation, call a lawyer (not someone who plays one on TV). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions Of A Work At Home Wife And Mom (Part 1)

The alarm blares in my ears and my heart does that automatic panic it does every morning when I attempt to get up without waking the kids.

7 A.M. already? It felt like I slept for 15 minutes. My eyes burned from the three o’clock cries of my almost two year old who still doesn’t sleep through the night. And the urine soaked sheets that had to be changed at 5 in the morning because his older brother had an accident. By the time I found new sheets for the bed and put a towel over the wet-spot, the sun was creeping up. Mocking my silent plea for just three hours of uninterrupted sleep.

It was not meant to be.

My husband had left for work two hours before sunrise. If I wanted a shower, this was my only window of time. I drag my weary body towards the master bath, trying to keep the house as quiet and still as my babies needed it to complete their 8 hours of rest. At this age, they should be sleeping for 12 hours each night!

Ha! In order to achieve that, I would have to keep them in bed till noon. Gone were the days when my youngest would fall asleep faithfully at 8PM each night. Even when we go through their bedtime routines by 7PM, they sit wide-eyed until 11:00/11:30 on most nights. It takes 10,000 cups of juice, water, milk and dozens of snack bribes before they run out of requests and sleep will no longer be denied.  Neither one of them will sleep without touching me in some form or fashion.

What happened to my sweet babies who slept in their bassinet or crib from the first day they arrived from the hospital? Toddlerhood has morphed them into these two men-in-training with personalities bigger than their combined 50 lb frames.

I love them with a fierceness that keeps me kissing their cheeks and praying for their futures even when my brain reminds me that I have not had one minute to myself today.

I turn on the shower to the hottest setting before entering. The scalding heat seems to melt my weariness away for a few minutes and I sink into the deliciousness of the water on my skin. Even when the kids are asleep, my mom brain tells me not to linger too long or one will wake up in tears and wake his brother. They panic when I’m not in the room to meet the morning with them. As if the house has swallowed their mom whole.

Ten or fifteen minutes is all I allow myself. I moisturize and move to my closet to choose my uniform for the day. These days, I dress with purpose. A collection of new dresses from my mom and Mom-in-love means I have options. Every day my outfit most reflect my new role as a woman who works from home. My look must be comfortable but polished. Professional yet low-key. Most days I go from making breakfast with the kids to making a run to the courthouse for a client to meeting a new client at the office. Wardrobe changes would only slow me down.

I choose a black and white sweater dress which is mid length and appropriate for all work duties. A new favorite since the weather decided our free trial of spring was over and temperatures now hover in the 40s on most days. Again, the dress reminds me to be grateful for hubby’s mom who knows my size instinctively no matter how it fluctuates, and who also happens to have amazing taste in clothes. In another life, she would make a superb personal shopper or stylist.

No sooner did I slip the dress on, my youngest cries “mom-my?” Their cries seem to affect me differently than it does their dad. If they are not hurt or in distress, my husband can tune them out for hours at a time. I, on the other hand, have heart palpitations whenever one of them seems to cry in pain. Even when they are crying just because it’s Tuesday, the noise interrupts the effective functioning of all my major organs. It’s a biological response. I literally cannot think straight when their crying is prolonged and uniterrupted.

I scoop up my youngest pumpkin and plant a kiss on his soft, brown cheek. “Good morning boo boo,” my nickname for both kids since they were en utero.

“Tood monin, Mommy.”

How could you not love that cuteness? The next two hours are filled with bath time, picking out clothes, dental hygiene and all the like as both kids are wide awake now and ready for breakfast. We head downstairs towards the kitchen and I turn the TV to PBS Kids or Rootle as it has been renamed. Breakfast is simple, pancakes that only need one minute in the microwave for a stack of three and my (almost) world-famous scrambled eggs with red peppers, tomatoes and onions – a family favorite. As the kids sit down to breakfast, the requests for juice, milk, Daddy, chocolate chip cookies or a new toy from the store pile on, uninterrupted. I say yes almost automatically. Not exactly promising anything but mainly attempting to get a few minutes of silence so that the food will actually make its way into their tummies.

My kids are a joy except when they are hungry (which is every 45 minutes). I am not trying to deal with toddler attitudes today so for all of our sanity’s sake, breakfast is a most.

It briefly dawned on me that I had been awake for three hours and have yet to sit down. I shrug off the thought as my youngest declares he is done with pancakes and hunts down a book for me to read aloud. It’s the same “First Words” book we’ve read 981 times at this point but it’s clearly a crowd favorite. Before I could sit down to oblige, my phone rings. The number an unfamiliar one, I hesitate briefly then answer. Hopefully it’s not a telemarketer.

”Hello, my name is *insert generic Yoruba name*  I got this number from *insert unique Yoruba name of someone I do not know*. Please how can I see you today? It’s urgent. I have some matters with immigration that someone said you can help me with.”

I take a mental deep breathe or sigh, careful not to make my thoughts audible.

Why do Nigerians do this to me? Even if the matter could be explained in five minutes over the phone or via email, they insist on meeting in person. I’ve resigned myself to our culture and no longer complain. Immediately I do some mental calculations. If I’m desperate (I am), I can ask my mom to watch the kids for me while I make this meeting. We are dressed already so it would take me 30 minutes to get the kids unloaded at my moms house and another 30 say goodbye and drive to my office.

“If you’re free now, I can meet you in an hour or so? Do you want to meet at my office by 11:30pm?” I offer.

”Yes, that will be fine. Please send me the address.”

”Okay, I will text you now. Thank you, sir,” I reply, hoping I sound gracious and professional, while trying to keep the children’s background noise to a minimum.

I scoop up shoes, jackets and preferred car toys in their various sizes and push the kids towards the garage. I open the door for my oldest munchkin and encourage him to get in his chair “like a big boy!” He does so with agility and I round the back of the car to buckle his baby brother in his car seat before returning to secure my first born. My arms are burning from the combined weight of my son and a mountain of jackets and toys but we are locked and loaded. Ten minutes later, we pull into my parents drive way. The ranch styled house took a while to grow on me after living in two stories my whole life but now it’s home too. I use my key and nudge the kids inside while I peep into the master bedroom to find my mom.

”Mom?”

”Hey Baby!” She calls from the bathroom.

”I have a meeting at the office, can you watch the children for me?”

”Sure, that’s no problem. Go ahead and go. I’m coming out now,” my mom emerges from the bathroom smelling like flowers and warmth. Her hair still in a silk bonnet even though she’s dressed for the day.

”Thank you, Mama. I should be back in like two hours or so,” I give a quick hug and kiss on the cheek and dash off.

“Bye baby. Listen to Grandma,” I directed to no one in particular as I hug both boys. Within minutes I am driving towards my office. I arrive 15 minutes later and shoot a quick text to my appointment.

“Please call when you are in the parking lot so i can meet you in the lobby.” The winding hallway of our business building winds along in four different directions when you enter and it’s easy to get lost. Six years after moving in here, I still don’t know our suite number so I can never give it out with any semblance of confidence unless I am looking at the door.

I take a few minutes to tidy up my desk, find a notepad and move to the front desk that belongs to my office mate and colleagues. Her desk is more impressive than mine hidden behind the bookshelf that separates our work spaces so I prefer to meet clients there when she’s not in.

I rack my brain, trying to place the name of the person who referred this new prospective client to my office.

Nothing.

I’m better with faces than names so it could very well be someone I’ve spoken to dozens of times and I’ve never bothered to ask their name.

“I’m here,” my text messages buzz, interrupting my reverie.

“On my way,” I reply without a thought.

When I walk to the lobby, the only unfamiliar face belongs to a man, early thirties, skinny and dark complexion. I smile a hello and walk towards him.

“Mr. *generic Yoruba name*? I ask with an uncertain smile.

“Yes! Nice to meet you,” he replies, beaming as he extends his hand.

We shake hands and walk towards my office. “I’m glad you were able to find the building okay,” I say by way of conversation.

“Oh yes. You are very close to my uncle’s place. He lives on this side on town,” he volunteers.

When we sit down at my (colleague’s) desk, Mr Generic Yoruba Name begins telling me  the cause of his visit. Someone had told him that their sister’s cousin’s niece’s best friend got their green card by filing as a ward of the state. Did I know how he could do the same and how much would it cost?*

I explain that I have never heard of such a thing and that he should give me time to investigate it.

Do I know if he could travel to Nigeria if he’s visiting visa is about to expire?*

We went over the stipulations of his visa and after twenty more minutes of questions, he was satisfied and ready to take his leave. He promises to follow up with me if anything changes and I also determine to look into the matters we discussed to see if there was any merit to the information he was given.

When he leaves, I check in with my office-mate who informs me that one of my traffic clients dropped off a past due payment. It’s in the office on my desk. I walk back over to my desk and notice the inconspicuous blank envelope under my printer.

The money is enough to pay a utility bill at home and put gas in my car for the week.

After making the deposit into my business operating account, I head back towards my parents’ house. I actually need to sit down and write today. And I need to eat. My hunger pangs remind me that I skipped breakfast this morning and haven’t stopped for lunch yet.

It’s okay.

When I get back to my parent’s house, I grab a banana and a piece of baked chicken from the oven. The kids are lost in the magic of Disney Junior so after their initial squeal of glee at my entrance, they go back to ignoring me, fixated on the screen. I sit down and savor my snack. I could go home now to write which may or may not happen because being back home with both kids in tow means going back to running back and forth fixing snacks, getting toys, changing diapers, assisting with potty breaks, breaking up fights, cleaning up messes and praying desperately for nap-time

At least if I stayed at my parent’s house for a couple of more hours, I had some help. After relaxing for 30 minutes, I bite the bull by the horn. It’s time to head home. I want to figure out dinner before my husband gets home at 6pm. I load up all our diaper bags and toys and my mom helps me buckle the boys into their seats, and we are off.

By the time we pulled up to our garage, both boys are asleep. I say a silent thank you to God and gingerly unload them. My oldest sleeps like the dead when he naps. I unload him first, laying him on the coach and carefully removing his coat and shoes before returning for his younger brother.

My youngest pumpkin stirs in protest as I move him out of his car seat. My heart thumps within me. Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up. He quiets back down and I find my breathe again. I lay him on the couch with the care of a bomb-squad disengaging a homemade explosive. One wrong move and the whole house will explode into chaos and I can kiss writing (or peeing by myself) goodbye until their dad gets home.

By some miracle, we made it without either child waking up. I sit down to work on my novel. I started the story when my youngest was a newborn and abandoned it at various times because of the challenges of motherhood. But inspiration has been calling to me over the past weeks and it will not be denied today. As the story of Nora and her loved ones unfolds before my screen, I look down to discover that two hours have gone by. Time to get dinner ready.

I need something easy and delicious.

Fried whiting, baked sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables. I make quick work of the dinner preparation and when my husband walks in, I’m washing the last of the dishes.

“Hi, hunny!” I greet him with a grin and a hug before planting a kiss on his lips.

“Hey!” He replies with a twinkle in his eyes, his gaze roving over my body in appreciation.

He still makes me blush.

(Look out for Part 2)

 

*Conversations portrayed here are fictional renditions of the types of inquiries I get at my office. I would NEVER actually disclose the contents of my conversation with a client because client-confidentiality is a thing (a big thing) and so is the State Bar. I don’t want those problems.

Dreams of Destiny

When I was 26, I had a dream, desire and vision for a ministry geared towards pre-college-aged girls. I knew it was from the Lord because it resonated so deeply with the burden of my heart. So I hit the ground running and started in my church at the time. Daughters of Destiny, girls between the ages of 13 and 18 who would be mentored on a weekly basis via Bible study, prayer and open dialogue about the issues that affect their age-group. Everything the Lord gave me, I gave them. They were my babies as much as they were my little sisters in Christ. Their destinies mattered to me. Their future was my greatest concern. I wanted them to win where I had failed. I wanted them to reach adulthood without being shattered versions of their true selves. I wanted them to know Christ for real and to walk in wholeness. We prayed. We fasted. We fought. We made up. We persevered and we learned from one another. I made plenty of mistakes with these young ladies as a young woman myself who had no previous experience or training in ministry. I got my feelings hurt. I wanted to quit. I wore my heart on my sleeve and more than once, I allowed their teenage angst and anger to creep into my dealings with them. In a lot of ways, I was not the matured adult in the room because the ministry was my baby as much as the girls themselves and any attack on either felt personal and I took it as such. Ultimately, what started as a group of 13, 14 and 15 year olds grew with the girls and I watched my babies graduate high school, head off to college and the pursuit of their dreams. I cherish the honor of being part of each of their success in one small way or another. I remember each young lady in that group that God gave me with deep fondness and I still feel a fierce responsibility and protectiveness over them even as they are now in their early and mid twenties and flourishing quite well without my guidance. I miss them but there is no going back. That chapter in our lives is over. I now have the joy of praying for them as adult women who are making their own choices. I pray that the faith of their parents has become theirs on such a personal level that they cannot severe themselves from the cause of Christ. And I pray that they exceed me in all of their accomplishments because all of them are filled with talents beyond my wildest aspirations.

Mentoring and teaching these girls put me in touch with destiny, my own. They showed me how deep my love for the younger generation goes. They were my first training ground. Without rising and falling with them in tow, I would never have learned the importance of seasoning  biblical truth with a generous helping of love. Watching them blossom even today reinforces my passion for mentoring. Everyone needs a mentor, present company included.

That same glimpse of destiny keeps me restless when I see a young person in need. As we speak, I am itching to gather the young ones around me (age 11 to 16) like a mother hen to ask them the questions I wish someone would have asked me at that age. I want to be to them what I did not have in middle school and high school. But for everything there is a season, and I refuse to move prematurely. I have no plans of “starting a ministry” even one that addresses the demographic of young people who currently melt my heart. For now and for the rest of my days, I plan of blooming where I am planted. As the Lord directs my steps to meet young people who need compassion from an adult, who need guidance that is biblical yet friendly, I will respond.

I will tell them the truth but not before I assure them that they are loved. I will show them my scars to spare them my trauma. I will teach them to find God for themselves and I will walk with them even when they disappoint me. I will not judge them but I will not lie to them about the consequences of sin. I will not command them but I will guide them towards truth. I will not “lord” over them but I will live to demonstrate why even the foolish things of God are better than the wisdom of man.

This is my pledge as I continue to dream dreams of destiny.

Forgiving Me

 

I am used to forgiving myself for the mistakes I made before I came to Christ, knowing that God has given me a new beginning. For some reason, it is much harder for me to show myself grace for things I have done incorrectly after receiving Christ. I have access to the One who has all wisdom and knowledge and I am still making stupid mistakes? Ugh! (insert face palm)

Without a doubt, the thing that was missing from the first 26 years of my life was a sense of purpose. For as long as I could remember, my only job was to go to school and do well. Of course I had responsibilities as a young person in my parents home but the bulk of their expectation for me lied in my academic success. So I did that. After finding my feet in middle school following my move from one continent to the other, then again in high school after changing schools in the middle of the year, I excelled. I maintained high marks in school. I went to college and killed the game academically. I graduated with honors and met my goal of going to law school. Law school was a beast of a different nature but by God’s grace, I finished and I passed the bar on my first attempt. My purpose for those 23 years was to go to school and do well.

Done and done.

However, I did an extremely poor job of preparing myself for life after graduation; so without academic goals to meet, I found myself floundering for a sense of purpose at the age of twenty-four. My dream job never materialized and I was completely unprepared for not having opportunities fall into my lap. I did not know how to market myself or be aggressive in pursuing the salary I desired or deserved so I lagged behind, waiting on anyone who would drop the perfect opportunity in my lap because they liked me.

Encountering Christ in 2009 filled my life with purpose but I did not allow Him to direct my career. I had given up on myself career-wise so I poured myself into spiritual enterprises. I flourished spiritually even as my career shrank. I convinced myself that material success did not matter and buried my head in the sand, preferring to invest my time in my spiritual growth. My purpose was to expand the Kingdom of God and I was trying to convince myself that going to school for 19 years (I started when I was 4) was just fulfilling my duties; it had nothing to do with my calling in Christ.

It was a lie. I was avoiding addressing my shortcoming because it hurt my pride to think I could be failing in such a necessary area. The year 2009 should have been the year I took the bull by horns and addressed my fear of career-failure. It should have been the year I began the process of perfecting my craft in order to monetize my gifts. But I squandered a golden opportunity. Looking back almost nine years later, I still kick myself for “starting late.” So many of the holes that I had to dig myself out of in my 30’s would be non-issues had I not squandered the gift of time given to me all those years ago.

But I am glad God is a Redeemer. Even though I was allowing my gifts to waste away rather than letting them make room for me and bring me before great men, God did not allow me to rot to nothing. He has used various means over the past 10 years to keep me creating – this blog being the greatest of the avenues to keep my dreams alive during those desert years.

My dreams are finally big enough to scare me. These are not vain ambitions or delusions of grandeur but ideas and thoughts that have been part of my understanding of myself for as far back as I can remember. The things that I find myself doing with ease, that fill my life with joy and purpose also happen to be areas of need in the lives of those that I meet or those to whom I am already connected. I am still forgiving myself for not starting earlier. I regret the wasted years but I am encouraged that God who dwells in eternity can make time work in my favor.

If you are sitting on your dreams and waiting on the perfect time to start, allow me to be the push that you need from the Lord. There is no perfect time. Start today. Start now.

Do Not Feed The Trolls!

It is almost the last day of January and I have had an amazing 2018 so far…except for about two weeks ago. In the midst of basking in the glow of all the goals we conquered in 2017 and all the amazing things that lay ahead of us in 2018, I took some time to notice how tired, spent, and over-worked I felt and to pinpoint the cause of all my negative feelings.

For the past almost five years that we have been married, my husband has been the primary bread-winner of our family and I have been the primary caretaker of our children. I manage our home, household finances, appointments, meals, chores, you name it. Hubby’s schedule has gone through several changes in our years together but one thing has remained the same – he works 12-15 hour shifts daily, his weekends are unpredictable and his days start/ends hours before/after mine. I took on the challenge of being the wife and mother our home needed to function while giving my husband the opportunity to earn the income that was necessary for us to thrive. It worked. The system was not perfect but we re-calibrate and re-adjusted as often as life demands. The understanding remained the same – we are one team. Whatever we do as individuals was for our collective good. I do not make decisions that benefit me but causes harm to my husband or children and the same goes for them.

When I realized that for the past two years of my life, I have spent essentially 20 hours per day caring for our children while attempting to keep my career afloat – all without the presence or input of my husband (he was either at work or asleep before work), I bristled. Surely, this could not be a fair division of labor. I did not address my concerns with my husband but I noted how exhausted I am; I remembered the fact that our children still wake up in the middle of night crying for me; I thought about how many times I sacrificed sleep just so I could stay ahead of all the house work that had piled up. Going to bed at 2am only to be woken up between three and five in the morning by a crying toddler dealing with the pain of eczema or a wet diaper or just having a restless night. I thought about the fact that I was the default parent in 99.9% of our daily life and I got angry.  Not annoyed. Not concerned. I was spitting mad.

As I was online bristling from the unfairness of it all, I ran into some women who were sharing their own thoughts about how much of a crappy hand married women are dealt because nine times ten, we are the default parent; we never get to vacation on our own and we cannot plan anything outside our families; meanwhile husbands get to go through life blissfully oblivious to how much they are not carrying their weight around the house. Husbands can travel for work for weeks at a time and they will have an actual vacation. Wives with children cannot. These women either cannot go at all or they must develop a fail-safe system of check-ins, check-ups, house-help, babysitters and grandparents who can fully support their household in their absence. It was absolutely out of the question to expect their husbands to be able to handle the children as seamlessly as their wives do. If you as a wife and mom must travel for work, you have to keep it short and get back as soon as possible. More often than not, you spend every non-work hour calling home and checking to ensure all is well or worrying yourself about the thousands of little things your husband does not know when it comes to keeping the household running.

I believe the word for it these days is “mental load.” And without a doubt, wives carry more of it.

Surprisingly enough, finding other women who co-signed on my frustrations and the reality of my workload at home did not make me feel better. I did not feel understood or justified. In fact, it only made me more angry. So this was not just my husband; it was a collective of men worldwide who had bought into this system of patriarchy that would send us, the women they claimed to love and cherish, to an an early grave because of stress, worry and anxiety.

Why would they not help us?!

I realized that what I needed was not to feel understood by others. After all, they were not going to ease my load. The only person that needed to understand me was my husband; but what  I wanted was an actual solution.

I have not always felt this way. So what changed? I went back to the things I wrote in the very early days of our marriage and compared. A few months into marriage, I was still blissfully sharing about the joys of living life with my husband. Even the mundane things were an adventure because I was doing them with (and for) my best friend who loved me best in all the world. After pregnancy and parenthood, I still considered my husband the best friend and the best provider I could have asked for. So what changed?

Me. I changed. Although there is nothing wrong with accepting my limitations and realizing that I am overworked and in desperate need of help, my mindset about how to get what I needed had changed, and not for the better.

For the entirety of my marriage, I have been convinced that my husband is my partner and he absolutely has my best interests at heart. Overall, his demeanor towards me has not changed. His efforts at home are on par with what they have always been and he still demonstrates his affection and love for me and our family on an on-going basis. But over the past almost five years of pregnancy, life with a new born, life with a toddler, pregnancy, life with a newborn and toddler and now life with two toddlers, my needs have changed. I need more support at home than I have ever needed before. Not just physical support but emotional assurance that I am not messing this whole thing up.

Not having the physical support I need because of my husband’s unforgiving work schedule started making me question whether or not he had my best interest at heart.

(He gets up for work at 3 A.M. and he gets back around 6 P.M., eats dinner and goes to bed around 9pm to start the day all over again)

“If he loved me, he would help me.” The lie was so subtle I almost believed it.

That lie was what was feeding the growing resentment in my heart about the state of our household. When we were first married, I absolutely knew my husband would do anything for me even as much as I realized that he did not have the ability to fulfill all of my needs.

He is human, not God.

Five years of being constantly tired had me believing that my husband was purposefully withholding his help from me.

Why would he do that?

“Because he does not love or value you!” The lie had an answer for each question.

Going online and finding a plethora of other women who felt my frustrations did not help me because it actually fed the trolls (negative emotions) inside my head. My concerns were genuine but letting resentment poison my love for my husband was not the solution. By God’s grace, I found the help I needed. What I needed was to remember why I chose this man in the first place. My husband is the best choice for me because he is selfless; he is sacrificial in his love for others; he is hard-working, creative and ambitious; he is a leader and natural-born provider.

He is not a neat-freak; he rather sleep than socialize and he has an easy-going approach to life that complements my somewhat excitable personality. I did not marry him because I wanted someone who cleaned like me or cooked like me or parents in the exact same way I would. I married him because he is a man of integrity; he has demonstrated his trustworthiness even while we were friends and he is a man committed to living by the standards of Christ. I married him because I wanted him as my partner and everything he has shown me from all the years before our wedding proved that he would be a great man for me.

“My husband loves me unconditionally. If he is not helping me in the way that I need help, it is not because he does not want to. He may not be able to because he is exhausted as well or he may not know how best to help because I have not told him.”

That is the truth that has replaced the lie. The minute I stopped feeding the trolls (engaging in conversations or indulging in content that encouraged me to blame my husband rather than seek a mutual solution), the weight of resentment started falling off. The burdens started shifting off my shoulders.

A final note before I close this post. I have had at least three friends and sisters that I cherish who have walked through the heartbreak of divorce. Each time, it has been because their husbands left them feeling unloved, devalued and alone. Even if the men did not walk away physically, they checked out of their marriages emotionally, financially, and materially. Watching the women I love attempt to pick up the broken pieces of their lives from men who were suppose to love them has given me a new understanding of what it takes to make a marriage work. You can be the best spouse in the world but when you do not have a partner who is willing to work with you, you are headed for disaster.

I realized that I am blessed to be married to someone who is willing to work with me. He accepts my flaws and even when he does not allow me to get away with low-living (living below what I am capable of achieving), I know it is because he wants to see me walking in excellence. I am equally willing to work with him. In every way that matters, my husband is the man I need and want. He is present with me and our children. He demonstrates his love for us daily. He has never done anything to make me question his character. He provides very well for our family and he is just a really great man!

The next time I am frustrated about something in my home or marriage, I am committed to remembering who I married instead of letting my emotions lie to me. I will no longer be feeding the trolls.

You can hold me to it!

You Are More!

The most beautiful part of life in Christ is the daily, hour by hour growth that occurs when we are consciously committed to walking with the Lord. The topic I want address is actually already here in the form of a previous post. You can go read my post “For the Daughters of Eve” written in 2016 here:

https://naijabeauty.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/for-the-daughters-of-eve/

It is password protected because it was only meant for women I trusted with an issue that was painful to discuss. The sting is gone so I’m free to share with any of you that’s interested (password Sisterhood).

When I wrote the previous post, I was dealing with a lingering sense of inadequacy.

It started when I graduated law school and was unable to find a job for six grueling months so necessity led me to open my own practice. It deepened when I was engaged to my husband and some of my pastors told me in no uncertain terms that a woman without an income was a liability to her man. It grew wings after my first born when my husband expressed that my time as a stay at home mom was not only hindering us financially but also showed a lack of care concerning his attempts to provide for our family. Each of these episodes shook me in different ways and I endured a tedious process to heal from their unintended consequences.  The last time I tackled this feeling of inadequacy was a few months after our second son was born. All around me women I knew were working and providing for their families or themselves. These same women whose opinions I valued and whose lives bore godly fruit were also telling me that any wife or mother who was successful at home but without her own business, enterprise or  income was incomplete. Their words added salt to an open wound. It seemed no matter how much I grew in my character or how much I contributed as a wife and mother in my home, if my income did not reach a certain amount, I was failing. I took the sentiment personally and honestly it broke me.

Today, my story has changed. When God delivered me from the fear of failure, He gave me a boldness and assurance that I did not have  before. That is where I want to draw from to encourage you, my readers.

A woman who agrees with her husband to stay at home to raise her family and forego a paycheck as part of her reasonable service should not be penalized with our disdain simply because it is a choice other women would never make. She’s doing what God has asked of her in her own home even if God does not require the exact same choice from me or you.

Most women I know would never openly condemn a stay at home mother for not working but still they say things like “I didn’t get all this education to stay home and raise some kids” (actual comment directed my way). Comments like these did much to damage my perception of my worth before I found my assurance in Christ. After my second son was born, my income was non-existence. I had missed months of work and declined taking on new clients as I grappled with the sickness of pregnancy. As a business owner, my maternity leave was at my discretion but woefully unpaid. So I did in fact acquire all of my education to “stay home and raise some kids,” at least for the first six months of each of their lives. As believers we pay much lip service to the dignity of mothers and wives, but in my own experience, we are often demeaned by the very body of believers with whom we belong. We are excused while pregnant or immediately after giving birth because of course we need some time for our bodies to heal and to bond with our newborns.

”When are you going back to work?”

Because raising children is not enough “work” by itself and nobody is going to pay you to raise your own children. And of course, you can’t possibly expect your husband to be the only one who earns an income. You can’t afford it.

Only millionaires are entitled to raise their own children as they see fit. The rest of us need to keep our nose to the grindstones and pay others to care for our children while we do the more important task of keeping food, shelter and clothing readily available.

I am being facetious.

A wife and mother who earns an income by working either within or outside her home, for herself or for another is doing a dignified service. She is supporting her husband’s responsibility to provide for his family. Her help is indispensable to her family. Most households could not survive without dual income so a wife’s paycheck is a physical representation of what her support means within her family.

Likewise, a woman who stays at home and does the dignified work of raising her family in the fear and knowledge of the Lord is doing a work that cannot be quantified. Her role in her family cannot be overemphasized. Without the unwavering support of a wife who sacrifices to be the primary caregiver of their children, many husbands could never earn the income they use to provide for their families. Without a wife who can oversee parent-teacher conferences, doctors appointments, family meals and household budgets, most men with children would not have the time to earn the income their families require.

But you are more than the income you earn or the measurable help you can provide at home. You are literally made in the image of God for His divine purposes. To quote a social meme “there’s no way you were put on this earth to just pay bills and die!” There’s immeasurably more to you than your roles at home, no matter how invaluable you are in those roles.

The reason those past quantification of my worth based on my income hurt so deeply was because I had lost my personal sense of purpose. I knew God would not have created me if He did not have a specific purpose in mind for my life. But in the years lost in self-doubt, I also lost my sense of passion, and thus my sense of direction. I was not the wife who couldn’t properly help her husband because her income was limited. And I was not the mother who could not provide the needs of her children if they ever depended on her. I am my husband’s strongest ally; his favor from God in human form because I am uniquely equipped to help him bring his God-given vision to pass. I am my children’s protector and first example of a godly woman. I am their window into the heart of God towards them as I love them with God-given grace.

I am more than my income. I am more than my roles at home. I am more than my title and I am more than the work of my hand. I am God’s beloved. And I choose to rest in that knowledge.

I invite you to do the same. You are more!

 

 

 

Marriage Does Not Save You!

Chatting with my brother Keaton (Twitter @doulos_kb) gave me a flash of inspiration. He had a question for our married friends.

Is it possible to gossip to your spouse if you don’t have the person’s business you’re telling permission? Marital intimacy can’t violate Biblical principles.

Keaton Brown (Tampa, FL)

I responded with a resounding “YES!” but I would like to explore the topic further with my readers. There have been times in my marriage when a sister has confided in me about her personal struggles or asked for prayer concerning a sensitive issue. More often than not, the issue at hand is one that only women endure and the answer does not need a man’s perspective. Later on, if my husband and I are driving in silence, my mind may wander to something we could discuss and the first thing that will likely come to mind is the last thing I was just told. Before I blurt out “hey babe, Pollyanna (lol, you like that fictitious name I picked) is having struggles with sexual thoughts,” I pause.

Is this information any of his business?

Would sharing this with my husband who I know will keep it in strict confidence still pose an embarrassment to the sister who confided in me?

Why do I feel the need to share this information in the first place?

If there is nothing to gain from sharing this information with my husband and I am doing it simply for the sake of making conversation, I need to hush. Even though I know my husband well enough and I am fully confident that he would never betray my confidence or that of this sister by blabbing about the topic to others, I am fairly certain that Pollyanna would be extremely uncomfortable with the idea of my husband (in whom she did not confide for good reason) being privileged to this sensitive information about her. I am not sharing this information because I want my husband to pray for her. Even if I know that he would do just that, there is nothing to be gained by violating another woman’s trust in this regard. I can join her in prayer without involving my husband; this protects her privacy while offering her community through her sister in Christ (me).

Continuing with this hypothetical, let’s say I have had issues with gossiping in the past, even as a single woman. Maybe prior to coming to Christ, I would sit on the phone for hours discussing the happenings of other peoples lives. The ideal would be that once I came to Christ, I repented of such sinful habits. But if after marriage, I am no longer gossiping with friends and start “sharing information” with my husband that has no bearing on our marriage or his responsibilities, then I need to re-examine my heart. The propensity for gossip is still there; the only thing that has changed is my audience. Sharing information that violates the confidences of others and is none of my husband’s business is gossip!

There may be other information that almost fits this category but it is not  necessarily gossip. For example, if someone confides in me about their financial struggles and I feel led to help, the first person I talk to is my husband. If he’s on-board, then we give a joint gift. The person may not have confided in my husband but when it comes to our money, that is very much my husband’s business. I can give the gift with my husband’s blessing without divulging all of the sensitive or potentially embarrassing details the other person relayed to me.

I like this discussion because it exposes some of the ways we try to sanitize our sinful proclivities by gathering them under the “I’m married so it’s okay” umbrella.

I know of friends who have confided in one person only to have them share the information with their spouse and it ends up becoming public knowledge. That is a gross violation of the Bible’s command to bear one another’s burden. This person is fulfilling the biblical command to “confess your sins one to another” and we dare not make that task more difficult for them by betraying their trust.

This post was intended as a short one so I will end my musings here but I want to hear from you, reader. Do you think it is always necessary to share what someone else has told you in confidence with your spouse? How do you preserve the principle of being one flesh while still maintaining the confidences of those who share their sensitive information with you, but not with your spouse?

The Journey of 2017

I have been struggling to share everything I really experienced in 2017 because putting it all on screen feels too much like inviting strangers into the most sacred aspects of my marriage. But after an eye-opening conversation with my sister and a second heart to heart with a cherished friend, I believe I know how to share the ins and outs of my year without betraying the confidence of those in my home.

I started 2017 hopeful. I was newly involved with a deliverance ministry that focuses on helping women grow in their relationship with the Lord (www.wivesinwaiting.com). I knew that if I allowed it, the ministry and the sisterhood I would build within it would grow me in uncomfortable but important ways. My children were two-and-a-half years old and eight months old, respectively and the work of mothering them was time consuming but I was finding my feet. I had reliable child care and a schedule that worked for our family.

I started feeling the nudge to do something tangible to invest in my marriage. Having two children so close in age meant that date-nights were long forgotten for months and months at a time. I did not want to wait until we were in crisis to seek the help I needed to be a more intentional wife towards my husband. With all of that in mind, I signed up for and was approved to participate in a marriage mentoring program called Good Thing 101. The program was eight month long and it forced me to do the work of prioritizing my marriage every week. It has done wonders for my prayer life, our intimacy life and my mindset towards my husband and I am still reaping the benefits till today. When 2017 began, I was afraid to dream in concrete terms. I had general ideas of what I would like to see during the year but actually stating goals intimidated me because I had been disappointed in the past.

One of the things I was afraid to put down on paper was concerning our finances. Because I had ignored my credit history for so long, I knew it would take years of work to undo the damage. This realization left me paralyzed when it came to believing God for any material things that would involved credit utilization. I am not one to believe that I can speak my car and house and millions into existence. In my own understanding, faith without works is dead. I can believe God to put food on my table but if I turn down jobs that could provide for my family and sit on my hands, I have condemned us to starvation. In like manner, I was not about to speak a new car or a new house into existence when I knew I had not done the work to make those things possible. To put it plainly, I was afraid to believe.

My own plan for home-ownership was that one day, we would have saved enough money to entice someone to sell us the house of our dreams even if we were not as credit worthy as other buyers. I knew the hefty down-payment I had in mind was years away so I took home-ownership off the table as a plausible short-term goal. My husband however, would not be deterred. He was tired of renting and he wanted his own home, with a yard for our children. As his partner in life, I got on board with the plan and believe it or not, by August we had secured financing for our home. By November we had our entire down-payment secured.

I was gobsmacked! God answered a prayer I had been afraid to pray at the beginning of the year and He did it within months.

In between securing our financing and saving the down-payment, I was hit with a huge business liability (five figures) that threatened everything we were working towards. I wanted to quit. I literally wanted to sell off all of my business assets, pay off the liability and close up shop. I was done. I was done with owning a business and I was equally done with even hoping to ever own a home. Who ever heard of trying to buy a home while dealing with this kind of financial stress? The money I had planned on setting aside would now be siphoned up by this new debt that came out of nowhere.

For weeks I wavered between anguish and anger. Nobody else I knew that went through the process of buying a home ever encountered this type of crap. They found their home, paid for it and moved in. Why did mine have to be a different story? I cried angry and bitter tears. I also cried in fear.  I did not want to be the reason my husband’s dreams were dashed. Through it all, I found the courage to pray. And when my courage failed me, I asked others to pray for us.

As we inched closer and closer to moving day, I was cautiously optimistic. I did not give myself permission to be excited because a part of me feared that our hopes would be ultimately disappointed. When we finally settled into our new home, my heart melted in thankfulness and joy. It was real. This was ours.

We spent the holidays in our new home and while we prepared for Christmas, I started thinking about what our new set of responsibilities would require of us. I crossed off any plans of any major purchases for at least another three years while we get accustomed to our new financial obligations and duties. It would be entirely out of the realm of possibility to believe God to give us any more than what He had already granted. We did not deserve it and we could not afford any more than this. Imagine my shock when I received a brand new car as an early Christmas gift. I left the house in my modest 2006 hatchback which had served me well for the two years we owned it; I had piled over 40,000 miles on it for personal and business errands. The car was over 100,000 in mileage but I was determined to ride it until the wheels fell off. I could not believe God for another vehicle until this one was paid off. I hated car payments all together. There was no way I was signing myself up for two of them at a time. God and my husband had other plans though. I left the house that day in a car that was 11 years old and returned to find one that was almost a decade newer. Shocked was an understatement.

At that point, I decided to stop limiting God. I had to repent. If God was gracious enough to provide the material things I needed even when I felt that I did not deserve them, He could certainly open any door that I would need to enter in order to prosper in the coming year. God has given me the gifts and talents I need to make wealth and secure my family’s future. Walking beneath my God-given capabilities would not serve me in this new year so I had to change my mindset. There was no need to walk in fear about our finances. We had the God-given knowledge to manage our wealth and credit, and now by God’s grace, we also had the means.

My affinity for living well below our means was a coping mechanism for my fear that we could lose everything at the drop of a hat. Money was a safe-guard and a god that beckoned my worship. If I had enough of it, I would not have to trust God’s provision. God Himself shattered that sinful thinking by challenging me to believe Him for my needs. He has been more than faithful. The God who made a way for me in 2008 when I had nothing, in 2013 when we got married, in 2014 when we had our firstborn and in 2017 when He brought us to our Rehobeth is worthy of my unwavering trust. His track-record is impeccable. He knows the end of 2018 from the beginning and He has prepared everything I and my family need to prosper, to thrive, and to live in His fullness. His grace is sufficient for us in this new year. He is the God Who has been our help in ages past. He is our hope for years to come.

 

What Makes A Wife

A diamond is forever

– De Beers

For months now I have been searching for the words to connect my thoughts and feelings about what marriage means to me personally and coming up short. In the recent discussions on social media about ring size and costs, I did not have a dog in that fight so I sat on the sidelines and watched the maylay; quietly musing about the ring I wear on my left hand. This ring is lot of things – a symbol of commitment, an accessory, a cherished momento. One thing it is not, however, is a status symbol. This ring is my husband’s first paycheck after graduating nursing school. It’s the moment he realized he wanted to build a life with me. It’s the symbol we exchanged in front of loved ones and in the presence of God as we vowed to make up from each fight we have about who spent too much money on nonessentials or who left the house without cleaning up. It’s his promise to be there in the room as I gave birth to our two boys and my pledge to make a dollar out of ten cents when the chips are down. My ring symbolizes so many things that are otherwise unquantifiable. One thing it can never represent is how much value I hold either in my marriage or because of marriage. Wearing a ring does not make me better than a woman without one. Having a smaller ring does not make me less than a wife with a large one. This ring did not make me a wife. It only symbolizes it.

As we journey towards our fifth year in marriage (wait, whaaa?) I can testify that this ring holds no transformative power. It didn’t make me a better woman or magically shaped me into Susie Homemaker. I still don’t know how to fold fitted sheets; my two toddlers are still not potty-trained and I can still burn a pot of food if I really put my mind to it. All this ring has done for me is allow me to realize that my husband’s well-being is now irrevocably tied to mine and my time to be selfish is over. My ring is a physical reminder that I am accountable to and for a life besides just my own. It’s a visual of the never-ending cycle of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that should be the pattern in our home. That is how I choose to measure our commitment to one another. No ring of any size or cost could do that.

Yours In Christ,

Omowunmi

2018 Is The Best Year I Never Had

If you read that title wrong, you would think I was being presumptuous. I am only a few days into 2018 as of the time of this post but I have unshakable faith that the year holds great things for me and my loved ones. There is a certain level of confidence that comes with your decision making when you know that God is leading you. For the first time in a long time, I have peace that extends to every corner of my life, not just my home, marriage, friendships or finances but literally every aspect of my life. Years ago, my marriage was flourishing but I had turmoil in my friendships. Then my friendships were great but I felt forgotten and useless as my gifts laid dormant. Then my home life was amazing but finances were an issue. I would be winning at 90% of my life and the other 10% would be in shambles. I could not understand why.

And I will not claim to have all the answers now.

But a large part of what was keeping me miserable was my fear of failure. Anything that seemed like it would be difficult for me to overcome, I did not even attempt. I avoided risks and thus avoided the pay off that could have accompanied them.

In this new year I refuse to live below standard because of fear. My 2018 actually began sometime in October of 2017 because the risks I took in those last months of the year positioned me to reap a harvest in 2018. I am optimistic. I am hopeful and I am determined to do the work to see the results I desire. I know none of my plans mean anything without God’s direction but the wonderful thing about where I am right now is that God placed me here. This confidence is not in my abilities but in the God who gave them to me. This hope is not in my own strength but in the One who can do the impossible. God’s grace conquered my fear of failure and it is His grace that gives me this joyful anticipation concerning 2018. I know challenges will come. I know that things will not always go as I plan or hope but I refuse to sit in defeat and I am DONE with expecting the worst. I have been jokingly telling everyone that I am accepting no losses in 2018 but I really mean it. Anything that looks like a loss is no match for a God who can conquer death. That’s the greatest comeback in history!

God has proven Himself beyond faithful in my 30 something years of life. There is nothing coming my way in 2018 that He has not known and prepared me for. I am going confidently because I know Who goes before me. 2018 IS the best year I’ve NEVER had!