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Sunday, June 23, 2024
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FK Goes Back to Work

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Unless it was your birthday, yesterday was just another Monday for almost everyone. For me, it was a special one – the first working day this year. Have you had that feeling when you’re walking out of the cinema, after just seeing a beautiful movie, and as you and tens of other people throng down the stairs, the lights come on and it’s like an imaginary shout “welcome back to the real world, the movie is over!”? Immediately you’re thinking, what am I going to cook tonight? Oh, the car has a flat tire! Oh, I hope there is light at home now. Most people are familiar with the feeling. That was how I felt – welcome back to the real world!

Welcome back to the real world!

I love my job/work, it’s very meaningful and I do very well at it, yet I find it upsetting to think of it more as the ‘real world’ than the last three months have been.
Whether it is ‘complication free’ or labeled ‘fragile’, pregnancy is hard and everyone knows that. What I have newly learned however is that in the context of motherhood, pregnancy is the easy part. LOL! You see, from delivering a child to recovering, breastfeeding (if you’re able to), dealing with so many people (visits, calls, texts, etc.), nurturing the baby, housekeeping, dealing with moods (and hopefully not depression), oh yes and trying to lose some weight, any woman could lose herself. When I think of it, I am so appreciative of every mother, particularly African mothers – it is rather common in this part of the world to make light of the toll that all these take on the body and mind of a woman. Now, imagine having to call these ‘the movie’.
So about resuming at work after about 3 months, I can’t describe how I felt in one word, perhaps not even two. It was like a buzz, or whirling of different emotions and thoughts. I felt enthusiastic about it, the meetings, calls, client visits, research and writing, bouncing ideas with colleagues I hadn’t seen in weeks, phew! But I also felt sad, I’ll be gone almost 10 hours straight without seeing my dearest Aridunnu. While she is in good hands, nothing feels quite as perfect as being with her. I worried about if she’ll miss me or not, would she give one of her broad toothless smiles when I return home by evening, or she’ll not even notice – silly right? I know. Seeing as I am writing this on Tuesday, I should just tell you, she didn’t smile at first, she just stared at me and all the gymnastics I was doing. It didn’t stop me from carrying her and kissing her all over, and she soon began to smile and almost giggle.
Asides being away from my baby, there was also that subtle anxiety, that nagging feel of starting over at the firm. Ok well, even if I picked up where I left off, everyone else has been moving on, and getting by. For colleagues at work, its 1 quarter down and 3 to go, for this new mum it is – happy new year. Sighs! Anyways we are breaking biases, ain’t we?

Look on the bright side!

Now, before you sigh along with me, know this, as I stepped out yesterday morning I chose to replace these concerns with positive thinking.
Consider this – when I left work, I was a pregnant woman, now I resume as a mum – this is a thing of pride and I’ll wear it as though it were a crown of gold with precious stones set in it.
Also while 9-5ers across the world are jaded already from one whole quarter of work, I am resuming clear headed and bustling with enthusiasm and grace.
Before now, I had only SA to look forward to at the end of each day, now I have Aridunnu as well.
People say, may our children make us proud, in the mean while I also hope to make my children proud, starting with Aridunnu – a new motivation to excel.
Now I would happily join group photos, I used to dread them – my 3rd trimester look was something else.
My weekends would be much more meaningful and treasured! I won’t simply look forward to laundry and sleep, but to quality mummy time.
I charged myself with these thoughts, and got into the swing of things. Guess what the day went well and ended so much better than I could have imagined.
First I realized I was at peace about Ari’s welfare – thank you mum, and all glory to God! Dear new mum, if you’ll function well in your career pursuits, please know you must first be at peace with where or with whom your child is kept.
Next I realized just how much I had missed work, and beyond that, how much I had missed the me that works – doing what I do is such a vital part of who I am.
Lastly, my colleagues and boss (a super amazing soul) blew my mind away! They wrapped up the day with a surprise welcome for me. I wasn’t expecting this as they had done so much already before and after Ari birth. I had a little chat with one of SA’s friends, a brother to me, recently. He believes Nigerian youths have no choice in where they work, as they are willing to take horrible options since jobs are scarce. I won’t pose my argument here, instead I’ll advice both the young and growing to keep praying for God’s favor. Dear new mum, those you work with can either make your life hell, or make it a livable. Just knowing they care, was a good way to end the day and boost my courage to forge forward.

FK’s welcome back to work

If you are a working mum, I hope you draw strength from knowing you are not alone, look on the bright side and shine everyday.

A Wig for the Job – IWD2022

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Earlier today, I participated in a webinar celebrating International Women’s Day, and it made me reflect on my professional journey. I recalled an experience I had just before the covid-19 pandemic hit the country.

I wondered how a long weave-on mattered more for the job than the knowledge and skills that I brought to the table

I wanted extra income, so I applied for a weekend training job with a renowned training institute in Lagos state, and I got invited for the interview. It was one interview I absolutely enjoyed taking, and it went perfectly well until the end when the lead recruiter said to me “I like women with long hair. Why do you have your hair plainly woven, and without a wig? You aren’t taking us seriously? If you’ll be joining the team, you must get wigs” Oh yes! This happened. I wondered how a long weave-on mattered more for the job than the knowledge and skills that I brought to the table.

I have seen men get paid more than their female counterparts because of the belief that they cater to their households. I have also seen confident and expressive women tagged as aggressive, while the same is considered as assertive and appropriate in the male counterparts.

Whatever our sphere of influence – small or large, within our families or on a company’s board, we must stay committed to breaking these biases, cancelling cultures that attack and stifle the growth of women everywhere and in the corporate spaces, rooting out these erroneous constructs, and wrong socialization that continue to limit women.

Everyone has a role to play, and so everyone needs to be educated accordingly.

At some point in the webinar, the moderator called on her colleague, a man, to share some information with the audience, but apologized first for having to call him up. No! More than ever before, more men should be encouraged to participate in, and champion courses and initiatives that promote gender equality. To achieve gender equality in a world of men and women, we must involve men. Everyone has a role to play, and so everyone needs to be educated accordingly.

Rita Series 2: Rita’s Interview

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It was 5:20 am on Tuesday morning, and Chidi had just taught on what he titled ‘Guarding Your Faith’. They prayed, and in closing, he asked Rita to lead the family in sharing The Grace. Rita wished the earth would open and swallow her there and then. Morning devotions were always a nightmare for her, yet there was no escaping it. Chidi had threatened that the day she missed any, would be the day she’d leave his house. Usually, Rita would sleep through the teaching, and mumble gibberish during prayers, counting seconds till the end. This was the first time Chidi was asking her to take any part of the devotion.

“Rita, lead us in sharing The Grace” Chidi reiterated impatiently.

Morning devotions were always a nightmare for her

“Errm…” She started. “Surely, may the grace of God, al…mighty, the love of Jesus the son… his goodness and mercy, be with us now and forever.” She finished.

Only Laura said ‘amen’. Chidi gave Rita a hard stare and shook his head. Rita quickly got up and headed for her room.

Beatrice, their 5-year-old daughter pulled on her dad’s sleeve and asked why aunty Rita shared a different grace. “Daddy which Grace is that?” she asked innocently. Benjamin, their 9year old son, burst out laughing, and Laura smacked his back. “Ouch mum! Beatrice, that’s what you call a remix” Benjamin said and laughed some more, moving away from his mother’s reach. Chidi looked at his wife, and they both burst out laughing too. Only Beatrice didn’t laugh, she was genuinely confused.

Rita stormed into her room and slammed the door shut. Why wouldn’t they just leave her alone? She didn’t think she could put up with these early morning devotions anymore. It was a big enough challenge already that she had to wake up at 5 am, but to be constantly made a mockery of was just too much to bear.

Rita heard a knock on her room door. She asked who it was and heard the person giggle. “Benjamin?” She called her nephew, “what is funny? What do you want?” she snapped.

“Ahn, aunty Rita, why are you angry? My daddy asked me to call you.”

“For what?” Rita asked irritated.

“I don’t know”, he answered, obviously getting impatient behind the door.

“I’m coming” Rita answered, and he scurried off.

Rita went downstairs to see her brother. He told her she would be following him tomorrow morning to see a friend of his who needs a personal assistant. He told her to prepare for it, and that it was a good thing she already has some experience in that line of work. “…and Rita”, he added, “please be decently dressed, it is an interview and he is a Christian” Rita threw him a flippant ‘thank you’ and went back to her room.

The next day, Rita was in her brother’s car waiting for him to return from his office. He had gone up to sort a few things. He called her and told her a lady called Monique was coming to join her in the car before he returned. Rita said okay, and he ended the call. Almost immediately a young lady approached the car, and after confirming her name, Rita let her in.

Monique was a petite woman with a teenage body frame, she had a beautiful face accentuated with nude make-up, she had a full black afro wig on and was wearing a black see-through blouse on slim blue jeans, with blue stilettoes that revealed her hot red painted toe nails. All together she looked like a billion-dollar. Rita loved her instantly.

“You must be Rita, thanks a lot. My car developed a fault, I am just glad it was close to Chidi’s office. I called him immediately and he said he would actually be heading my way.”

“Sorry about that, it’s nice meeting you, Monique. How do you know my brother?” Rita asked. Whether or not she liked Laura, she was going to watch her sister-in-law’s back.

“He’s friends with my husband,” Monique answered.

“You’re married?” Rita asked surprised.

Monique chuckled; she could relate to Rita’s surprise “Yes I am”, she answered, stretching her left hand forward so Rita could see the shiny silver band on her finger. “I am also a mother of two”.

“Wow, you have the body of a 16-year-old, you’re so lucky”, Rita said, and Monique chuckled some more.

“So where are you going?” Monique asked.

“I’ve got an interview this morning. My brother’s friend needs a personal assistant,” Rita answered. “I just hope the place is not a boring one, this one Chidi was emphasizing the fact that the guy is a Christian.” Rita said.

“What do you mean by boring?’ Monique asked.

“Well, I am single and overly ready to mingle” Rita said, and Monique giggled, urging her on. “Ordinarily, I wouldn’t take the job, it’s not my type of thing, but I am hoping to meet my type of man there, and of course starting with this boss of mine. I hope he isn’t married, though that’s not a new kind of challenge.” Rita said and laughed.

Monique raised an eyebrow at that and then laughed, “You are one naughty lady’” She said to Rita.

Chidi appeared, got in the car and greeted Monique, then they headed out. He slowed as they approached Life Gate pharmaceuticals, Monique’s firm, a large blue and white building on the right. Monique touched his shoulder from behind and told him she would follow them to her husband’s place first, something just came up and she needed to see him. Chidi said ‘ok’ and drove on.

“Rita, I forgot to introduce Monique, she is married to the person I’m taking you to, they are very wonderful people.” Chidi said.
Rita felt sick immediately. She mumbled a weak ‘ok’, keeping her face straight. Monique answered Chidi also and told him they’d already talked. Chidi sensed tension between the two women. He looked at Rita briefly and hoped nothing had gone wrong while he was away. They got to Ubest Consults, a large management consulting firm and the trio boarded the lift to the third floor. As they got out into the hallway, the receptionist greeted Monique cheerfully, and then Chidi and Rita. Monique headed straight into her husband’s office, while Chidi waited outside with Rita until Monique was through.

In less than 5 minutes the door opened, and Monique and her husband stepped out. He was a stout, middle-aged man, with long white beards and a bald head. Monique collected his car key, kissed him briefly, and bade Chidi and Rita goodbye, as she left. The man shook Chidi, and they exchanged pleasantries. He called out to the receptionist, “Kimberly, please serve the lady some biscuits and tea”, then he and Chidi went into his office. The receptionist asked Rita if she would have biscuits and tea, and Rita politely declined. She was too disturbed for that.

“Who is Mrs. Tonye?” Rita asked rudely

Not long after, Chidi came out, he beckoned for Rita to follow him, and they left. He didn’t say anything to her on their way down, but he was obviously fuming inside.

When they got in the car Chidi let out his steam. “What did you say to Mrs. Tonye while you two were alone in the car?” He looked mad.

“Who is Mrs. Tonye?” Rita asked rudely.

Chidi wished he could hit her hard across her cheek. “Get serious you silly girl, I spoke with Dozie just two days back and he still told me he hadn’t gotten anyone, and you could come, suddenly this morning he says he already recruited someone. I am not dumb like that Rita, I sensed the tension in this car as we drove here, and with Monique storming into his office like that, you must have done something. What did you say to her?”

Rita’s face crumbled in remorse. “I didn’t know she was his wife; I didn’t know. I only made a joke about marrying the man.”

“Aah!” Chidi exclaimed banging his fist against the steering wheel. “Rita, apugim ikwe na anyi nuru otu ara [I can’t believe we suckled the same breast]”.

Rita Series 1: Rita’s rude shock

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Shot of a young woman looking thoughtful while relaxing on the sofa at home

Rita hissed and dropped her phone carelessly on the marble stool beside her. She was seated in the balcony, on the upper floor of her brother’s duplex in Victoria Garden City, Lekki. Since her breakup with Udena, after he discovered she was seeing two other men asides from him, she hadn’t found a new man to fill the void. Being Rita, this was very unusual, at any given moment, she had no less than three men she was dating. She couldn’t help feeling bored and lonely.

Chief Balogun Romeo had dumped her after her persistent refusal to marry him and be his fifth wife. All she wanted was to be his ‘sugar-baby’. After stalling for 2 years, he finally broke off the relationship. He was so convinced that all the money he had spent on her more than qualified for him to own her. Chike Smart, her hot actor bobo had also left her for fresher fish. This she didn’t mind really; the guy wasn’t all that generous with his money. She had only enjoyed the hype and glamour of dating a Nollywood celebrity.

…at any given moment, she had no less than three men she was dating

Rita looked at her phone and sighed. It had rung only twice today and both times had been her network provider calling to make unsolicited adverts – “one would think these guys would stop at texts”, she hissed. All those she had tried chatting up seemed too busy and disinterested. Out of desperation, she had sent chief Romeo a few ‘pictures’ the ones she knew he liked to see, yet nothing. The ‘old Buffon’ was online and had obviously received them but ignored her. “Nawa o”, she muttered. If only she hadn’t squandered all the funds chief used to lavish on her, but with her addiction to the latest beauty products, designer wears, accessories, and wild partying, it had taken less than one month for her account balance to hit 50k. If only she had known Udena would discover her runs and call off their engagement, she would have rented her own apartment in a choice location with some of those funds. Now she was stuck here in her brother’s house with his ‘Mary-Amaka’ saintly-witch of a wife.

She believed her sister-in-law didn’t like her, as she was always complaining that she didn’t go to church, she didn’t dress decently, and that she never did anything to keep the house clean, instead she made a mess of everything. Rita scoffed, why would anyone expect her to wash the dishes with these beautiful French tip nails she had on? They cost money, and she couldn’t afford for them to chip off. Rita looked up to the skies, “Baba God money don drain o, I need a refill asap. Bikonu, send bobo.”

…she saw the ‘sweet boy’ in the driver’s seat

Just then she saw a black Range Rover drive slowly into the street and park in front of the house opposite theirs. Her eyes popped! She wasn’t knowledgeable about cars, but she could tell this was a new model. Nobody got out for what seemed like minutes, so she strained her eyes to see through the tinted glass, “who is at the wheels?” She wondered. The driver’s side window slid down slowly, and Rita stopped breathing when she saw the ‘sweet boy’ in the driver’s seat.  He was dark-complexioned, had pink lips, a cute nose, and well-trimmed beards. From the way the mint green polo shirt he wore hugged him snuggly she could tell he had a good muscle tone too. His hands, on the wheel, looked so strong and fresh. He looked right in her direction and Rita quickly adjusted her pose to accentuate her curves. When their eyes met and he held her gaze, she did the typical hair flip with just the right dose of attitude. She was going to leave an impression on this guy, whoever he was.

Mr. Range reached for something on the passenger seat, his iPad, and began typing away into it. He stayed there for a few more minutes before driving off. Rita scoffed; he didn’t even have the decency of looking her way again before driving off. She settled back into her seat and picked up her phone with irritation, perhaps Chief has responded.

A week later Rita was walking back home from her morning run when she sighted the same black vehicle. “It had to be the one”, she thought as she quickened her steps. It was parked in front of the fruits and vegetable Kiosk two streets from hers. “Eeeh! If it’s that bobo I saw the other day, he won’t pass me by today o”, She muttered to herself and began jogging till she got to the vehicle. The mallam who owned the kiosk was placing a paper bag full of vegetables in the back seat of the car. She came up through the driver’s side and knocked lightly against the window. The glass slid down, and Rita felt her legs wobble. If she were a cartoon character she’d be drooling! It was him and he was terribly handsome, though up close he looked younger than the last time, in fact, somewhat boyish. Bodily, his muscles were game! He sure spends a lot of time at the gym. Rita could picture them jogging and exercising together already. Perhaps this one can replace Udena!

“Hello”, he greeted with a smile, “what can I do for you?”.

“Errm…” Rita stuttered. “I went jogging and probably pushed myself too far, I don’t think I can manage the rest of the walk down the street to where I live. I’m hoping I can get a ride.” Rita asked sweetly.

The guy looked her over intently, up-down, down-up, and then smiled. “Okay, hop in.”

He stretched to open the passenger’s door beside him for her. As Rita walked around the front of the vehicle, she ensured her hips sways nicely and did her best to give her boobs some bounce. She settled in beside him and smiled. They began talking immediately he started the car, up until they turned into Rita’s street. He parked in front of her brother’s house, and they talked for another 20minutes. He clearly enjoyed Rita’s company. “So, we are seeing later tonight?” He asked Rita as he stroked her chin with his thumb. “Yeah, I’ll be ready at 6”, Rita replied excitedly. She got out and did ‘the walk’ again, and he gave a knowing wink before driving off. Rita was elated – she rocked at this game.

As she entered her room, she noticed it was tidy, too tidy. Bed laid, pillows neatly propped up, no clothes and underwear lying around, the wardrobes were shut, her standing mirror sparkled. Her shoes were all neatly stacked and there was a delicious fragrance in the air. She knew her sister-in-law, Laura, was responsible for it; she did it from time to time.

“How are you, Rita?” Laura asked, appearing behind her. “I cleaned your room; I hope you like it?”.

“Are you mocking me? I did not ask you to, I like it the way I left it” Rita retorted.

“I am not mocking you” Laura began. “I don’t believe I ever have, and I never would. You must believe that I truly care about you and love you. Not just because you’re Chidi’s sister, but because…”

With a dismissive wave of her hand, Rita cut her short and asked her to leave. It wasn’t the first time Laura would try preaching to her, it always started out with how she cared about her, and how much Jesus loves her and yearns for her to realize it. She wasn’t cut out for that crap. Jesus wasn’t paying her bills. She walked into her bathroom for a cold shower.

Rita and Chidi, were the only children of their late parents, and if not for the fact that Chidi was the only close relative she had left, he would have sent her out of his house a long time ago. Daily, Rita rode on the wings of his sentiments. At 27 she was unemployed and had no business of her own. Rita never stayed anywhere for more than 3 weeks before she’d pack up and leave. Chidi had given her capital several times to pursue her ludicrous business ideas, but the moment she made any money, she’d go on shopping sprees, and exhaust her income. She couldn’t keep her hands off anything she desired. Once, while she was a personal shopper, she borrowed the Gucci purse a client had ordered and paid for. It wasn’t due for delivery until Monday, so she used it to a wedding party on Saturday, only to stumble upon the client at the party. This client dragged her offline and online, the gist trended for a full week. Chidi had done his best and then left her to herself, it was only Laura that still tried.

It was the life she needed right now, and he was her ticket.

“See what Laura has caused now, she just spoiled my fine mood this morning”. Rita hissed. She picked up her phone and sent a WhatsApp chat to Anthony, her newfound friend, and potential ‘money-bag’ boyfriend “Thanks for the ride”. In their little time together in his car, she had gotten to know the things she needed to. He lives in Abuja where he owns and runs a multi-million-naira fashion outfit. He had plans to open a branch here in Lagos, and that was why he was around. He would be returning to Abuja in about a week, he’d head for Dubai two weeks after, and then stop over in Lagos, a good opportunity to see her again, before heading for Abuja.  Rita began to fantasize about how rich she was going to be once she got into a relationship with him. She would change her entire wardrobe, buy new shoes and bags, go on trips to Dubai and perhaps Santorini, get new gadgets, and take intimidating pictures and videos for the ‘gram’ and Snapchat. It was the life she needed right now, and he was her ticket.

Her phone rang and she realized it was Anthony calling. She picked it up and sweetly cooed “Hello Anthony”. Anthony replied and they began talking and laughing.

Suddenly Rita heard some noise from Anthony’s end and a woman spoke loudly and harshly, “Tony you spend all your time on the phone. Is this how you want to spend your life here in Nigeria too? Your father has insisted you would not be returning to the UK until I confirm to him that you’re behaving better! Good Lord! Tony, I don’t even want you here either, you’re such a bad influence on my kids, but I am stuck with you. What on earth is your problem? The vegetables you bought, do you expect me to go to the car and fetch them? Are you nuts or something?”

“Chai! Rita, you are such a fool!”

Rita listened to the outburst with rude shock, the woman speaking must have snatched the phone from Anthony while he was talking to her. She ended the call, got into her bed, and pulled the duvet over her head. “Chai! Rita, you are such a fool!”, she said to herself. She heard her phone ring; she knew it was Anthony, and the effrontery he had to call her back filled her eyes with fresh hot tears.

Mum Leaves Today

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Today my mother-in-law leaves us and returns home to her husband in Ogun State. I never thought I’d miss her this much. Much? I’ll miss her sorely already. I’ve been having heart palpitations for the last 2 days, from just thinking of caring for my baby without her. She arrived on 26th December 2021, 11 days before Aridunnuoba arrived. Mum is over 60, yet we went for long walks together almost every night before I delivered. Women in their 3rd trimester are encouraged to take walks as they prepare for labor, for me I was walking extra to induce labor. My due date was 28th December, at 39 weeks I had a membrane sweep. I wasn’t showing any labor signs and my doctor (the best one I ever met, by the way) wanted to make sure it came no later than 40weeks, still, nothing happened. At 41 weeks and 1 day (5th January), I went in for induced labor.

Mum was there every step of the way, making my meals, ensuring I wasn’t stressed, and praying for me. We got admitted on the evening of 5th January. Sadly, no private ward was available at the time, and so I was the only comfortable person of the 3 of us (myself, mum, and SA) in the room we shared with another woman. Mum sat all night watching me, while SA ran the errands. She was there (seated outside the procedure room) when I had my cervical ripening procedure, she was there in the lounge area all through midnight while I slept. They both left in the morning to freshen up and make me breakfast, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for mum, she looked like she needed a full day’s sleep.

At 8 am, I was to have a repeat of the cervical ripening procedure, seeing as I still wasn’t having any contractions. Upon checking my cervix though, the doctor exclaimed to the nurses – “wow! She’s 6cm dilated already! Please set her up for delivery, I’ll rupture her membrane now”. SA and mum arrived a couple of minutes after, and we asked mum to go to my room and get some decent sleep on my bed. I felt having her sit outside the labor ward listening to my wailing would give her a high BP –lol.  But trust mum, she couldn’t sleep, she was praying, I guess.

This isn’t the post where I describe my labor/delivery experience, that’s why I have left out many details, but just know this – once my contractions began, I quickly forgot Jackie Mize’s ‘Supernatural Childbirth’ lessons. Damn! How do we (women) go through that, and still have more babies?!!! I don’t get it.

Aridunnu arrived just past mid-day on 6th January, and as I was wheeled out of the labor ward, mum came towards me with so much love in her eyes, hugged me, and whispered – God bless you! It made me teary. I was happy we were past the whole thing, and we (particularly her) could now go home and rest. The realization hadn’t hit me, that work had just begun – especially for mum. We returned home on Saturday morning after Ari had her vaccine shots like a boss – no crying! Of course, mum did the carrying all through, besides the fact that I was hurting from my stitches, grandma couldn’t trust either SA or me with her grandchild just yet – lol.

For the next 3 weeks, mum did market runs, cooked all the meals, bathed & dressed Ari, bathed & massaged me with scalding hot water – the way my body burned, I wondered how her aged hands could even bear it each time. She went for all baby & mummy appointments, fed Ari, did midnight shifts, cleaned the house all the time, entertained guests, and still voluntarily funded some entertainment bills. She ministered to us ‘in cash and kind’ – as they say. Her selfless love was and remains overwhelming.

On days when it was obvious that SA and I weren’t in agreement over something, mum never interfered. There were times I had expected her to say something – iro o, mumcy would focus squarely on Ari, lol. Mum cared for Ari like she was an egg, and in the first 2 weeks, SA felt excluded (hehehehe). We worried about his beards disturbing her, we worried that his grip was too strong, and he didn’t always remember to lower his voice when we needed her to sleep, so it appeared as if we only wanted him to keep running errands but not carry his baby. SA grumbled about it all the time and even reported us to a few close folks that called -rotfl.

I doubt that mum will get to read this but, I am putting it out there more for the benefit of other people than for her – other MILs and DILs. She stayed with us for 6weeks and there was not one single moment where she and I had any issue (altercation, confrontation, misunderstanding – whatever, you name it), and this is a beautiful thing knowing how unpopular warmth and cordiality between MILs and DILs are. Oh, I certainly did not agree with every of mum’s styles and I am certain some of mine must have been weird to her, but acceptance was the priority. For instance, I love well-seasoned meals, while mum watches salt and Knorr sooo much, yet I ate her meals with joy and she ate mine the same way. When we had our last prayer session before her departure, she still remembered to apologize if peradventure she had wronged me without knowing at any time – I mean that should be my line naaaw.

Usually, people encourage that pregnant women should have their own mother with them for omugwo (after delivery) – this truly makes sense because they’re closer, and so much more used to each other. However, in agreement with both sides of the family, SA and I made a different plan, a rotational one that would keep Ari away from the creche till she’s about 8 months old. I do not regret it one bit, as I enjoyed having my MIL around, just as I would have enjoyed my own mum. Did I mention that she also added to the gift we gave my doctor?

There are still godly, and amazing mothers-in-Law out there, and I pray that you (if you’re still single) are blessed with one like mine. In fact, it feels weird calling her mother-in-law here, I used that term for clarity. I had been praying concerning my MIL since I was a teenager, and she is proof that God answers prayers. If you have one, and your experience is rather the opposite of what I have depicted here, I want you to know that when you pray with a good heart, God can give you the wisdom you need to win her over, or the grace and strength you need to tolerate her. Either way, be determined to be a good DIL yourself, and even when you misbehave, apologize humbly, and forge on. Oluwa will do it for you.

Do say a word of prayer for my MIL. God bless you!

Enrichment: another dimension

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“The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” – Proverbs 10:22 (NKJV)

Happy Happy New Year my dear readers!!!

Is it too late to say Happy New Year to you? Whatever your answer is – Happy Happy New Year my dear readers!!! I have sorely missed you. It feels like it’s been quite an age here, and even though that is not exactly true, a whole lot has happened with me since my last post. Topping the chart is my new status as a mum! A round of applause for Jesus please. Don’t worry, I’ll be introducing her in a subsequent post.

‘I was deep within the popular Balogun textile market in Lagos, buying fabric… I was preparing for a wedding I wasn’t sure would hold.’

It’s the 28th of January already, and that is 8% of the year done, but still, let’s talk about the new year by reliving the past. This time in 2021, I was preparing for a wedding I wasn’t sure would hold. The second (or was it the third) wave of the covid-19 pandemic was rocking the country and from every indication another lockdown was imminent. My wedding was to hold 6 weeks from this time, and a lockdown would surely hinder the ceremonies (legal, traditional, and church weddings). Yet this very day, I was deep within the popular Balogun textile market in Lagos, buying fabric for my fiance and me, my friends, and his friends. Each time the thought crossed my mind, on if we will end up wearing these clothes on the appointed date, I would quote John 14:1, and continue my negotiations. Logically speaking too, It would have made no sense to sit at home, do nothing, and wait for the lockdown, so I was right in shopping away and trusting God to keep the date. If only daddy had not thought it was the perfect time to send me a WhatsApp broadcast message of Osun State commencing a lockdown. I nearly burst into tears in the market that afternoon.

Don’t wonder too deeply why my first post of the year is towing this path, it’s been a season of deep reflection and gratitude for me. I have come a long way in the last 365 days, and if you think about it, you’ll see that you have as well.

January last year I had so many cares and concerns, I was almost always praying – I mean every moment. My mind was bugged with the uncertainties of marriage, relocating to a new city that is some 300miles away from everything and everyone that was familiar, wondering how long it would be before I got a job and if I would love the job, wondering how I’ll cope in a new and extremely unfamiliar church, and would we get pregnant as soon as we desired? So much to think about, and John 14:1 was the simple answer God kept giving.

It’s almost a year after, and I realize that while I pondered about these things, God was working on things beyond them. What I mean is, the miracle wasn’t in getting a job or getting pregnant, it was in excelling on a demanding job despite being pregnant. It wasn’t about blending with the new church but becoming a more accommodating Christian at heart, and learning the humility I needed in order to attract the blessings in the new fold. Also, it wasn’t about coping with being away from family and friends, but becoming a woman equipped with strength and endurance, enough to relate with God alone as a confidant and friend every time I desperately needed one other than my husband. Is this too much for you to grasp? You may want to read this paragraph again slowly.

The year 2021 was indeed one of growing; learning, unlearning, and relearning – and I am so not done. “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich and He adds no sorrow with it” ‘…makes one rich…’ can refer to character & competence building, not only material, financial and bodily enrichment as we usually think. Marriage is a blessing that has shaped and continues to shape me, the new job laid a demand for personal development and high standards of work ethics, my pregnancy journey taught me resilience and patience, now I’ve got a baby, and in just two weeks with a child that’s not even ‘grown’ yet I can see that parenting is not for the faint hearted.

As you receive the blessings God had prepared for you in the year 2022, open up your heart to also accommodate the shaping and growing, the higher demands and responsibilities that come with them. You cannot have one and not the other. For those that will be wed this year – marriage will require a version of you that you have not fully become yet. Those who would get new jobs, start businesses, become parents, relocate outside of Nigeria, start a second degree, it’s not going to be all roses and fairytale-like. Have the attitude that accommodates the blessing of God, by allowing them to make you rich. God doesn’t add sorrows to His blessing, only enrichment. Refusing to be enriched however could be you bringing yourself sorrows in form of depression, frustration, exhaustion, strife, and even loss.

I’ll believe with you, and you with me, that this year we will be indeed blessed and made rich. Cheers!

Walking on Water – a 12year journey

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Winding country road running with curves on the side of a mountain in a wild valley. The road is very narrow, allowing the passage of only one vehicle. Paved with asphalt and bordered by a metal barrier Sunlight with lens flare at sunset

Shocking as this announcement was, Wole was unperturbed; the darkest hour is usually just before dawn after all. He made up his mind that nothing would change his plan to marry Lade this time around, their wedding may not hold in a week’s time, but it would hold on God’s set date.

Lade’s mind was doing a crazy spin – “Jesus! What is this again now? Why me? Ki ni mo se gangan?

For Lade it was rather unnerving. How was she going to go back to live at her single-sisters’ apartment? They had bid her farewell, now she’ll return as what? Not to mention her colleagues at work, they’d expect her to be on leave for her honeymoon but instead she’ll show up at work and say what? What about the vendors they had paid? What about the pain and shame her parents were feeling on her account? Lade’s mind was doing a crazy spin – “Jesus! What is this again now? Why me? Ki ni mo se gangan?” Immediately she heard it; still and small, but clear and firm – “Be Still, and know that I am God!” Lade sighed. She decided to be comforted by Wole’s reassuring demeanor. He was different this time, she could see a man determined to weather the storm with her and for her, and for this she chose to be grateful.

Barely one week to the court wedding, Lade tested positive for COVID-19

While the church wouldn’t go ahead and wed them without the joint consent of both parents, Wole’s father gave his full consent for them to get legally wed! This was a streak of sun ray, and they went on to arrange for their court wedding. Barely one week to the court wedding, Lade tested positive for COVID-19 even though she wasn’t sick nor showing any related symptoms. With this result it would be impossible to hold the court wedding. Again, Wole stood his ground against the report – he was convinced the test result was just another scheme of the devil, and so, charged up in his spirit he and Lade prayed fervently concerning the situation alongside his pastor – they prayed the will of God concerning their union and stood unwavering in their faith concerning the set date for the court wedding.

“Maybe you should see these turn of events as signs from God to ‘kan’le’ (pick race) from this Wole guy”

On the sides, certain pastors and pastors’ wives who were like mentors to Lade began calling and texting her, telling her to reconsider. “Perhaps God is trying to protect you from future trauma in marriage with Wole’s mum.” “Maybe you should see these turn of events as signs from God to ‘kan’le’ (pick race) from this Wole guy”. “Must it be him? Who says God doesn’t have better plans for you?” Lade listened to them all but stood on the word of God to her from the onset. She recalled how she had been obstinate about accepting Wole back after their breakup until God touched her heart through her friend’s blog. She admonished herself that just because God says walk this path does not mean the path would be hassle free. Even the path to life itself is said to be narrow! (Matt 7:13-14). Theirs wasn’t the counsel of God and she chose to pay them no mind.

Their wedding #waymaker21 was beautiful

After one week Lade tested negative and their court wedding held as planned. Right after this, Wole’s mum came around and tendered deep heartfelt apologies to Lade’s parents. Finally in August 2021, exactly one month from the initial date, Wole and Lade had their church married to the glory of God and to the shame of the Devil. Their wedding #waymaker21 was beautiful and glorious. The couple believe that their 12year journey, though marked by such rough patches and unbelievable hurdles, is one that has helped strengthen and seal their love for each other, and prepare them for a fulfilling life together. The love birds are enjoying their lives together and maintain a courteous relationship with Wole’s mum.

Dear reader, I feel strongly that like me you’re touched deeply by Wole and Lade’s story. I was overjoyed when they agreed to share these precious details with me, and of course, with you – my audience on this blog. So much to glean from it, but I’ll briefly touch on three things that stood out for me:

In life, it is important that you know who the real enemy is – it is the not the person (flesh and blood), it is always the devil (Ephesians 6:12), and that is who you engage in battle. Wole never fought his mum, neither did Lade speak ill of her despite the immense pain her persistent refusal must have caused them both. Perhaps attacking Wole’s mum would have derailed their God given victory and tainted their testimony.

It takes conviction to take a stance. Wole could have chosen the easy route – find another girl that his mum would accept, and Lade could have been swayed by logical counsel telling her to let go of the troubles from Wole’s mum and marry someone else. They both faced enough to stop any sensible person on their tracks, but Lade and Wole stood resolutely together on what they knew was God’s promise for them.

In, and with regards to the institution of marriage, it takes ‘the two’ to conquer. In marriage and courtship, nothing is achieved by one person’s zeal, conviction or efforts – just like a bird cannot fly with one wing. It may walk and run, eat and sleep, but the skies which is where it should be, would be unreachable. Wole took a stance, and Lade matched it. If he had acted faintly and directionless, nothing Lade did would have made a difference, and vice versa.

What is your highlight from this story?

Please share in the comment section. If you have questions or comments specifically for the couple please send me an email of reach out to me on WhatsApp – details here.

Walking on Water – will you marry me?

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“What is he chatting me for?” Lade quipped as she saw a notification of Wole’s WhatsApp chat pop up on her phone. She had long deleted his number from her phone, but could still recite his number if she were asked in her sleep. She opened her WhatsApp to read his message. “I have been transferred back to Lagos. I want to come and see you.” She stared at the words in utter disbelief “see me for what gangan, after one year?” Their breakup had been easier to handle with him living several states away from her, but with him in Lagos they were going to be bumping into each other at functions since they had friends, church, and school colleagues in common. Rolling her eyes, she typed a dismissive “ok”.

his mission was simple – he wanted Lade back

In August 2018, Wole visited as he had promised, and his mission was simple – he wanted Lade back. He had spent quite a while praying for direction. At some point he prayed to meet someone else he could love and move on with, but no one he desired or felt compatible with came along, and all the light skinned ladies failed to make any imprint. Lade became strongly impressed on Wole’s heart again and in his confusion, he reminded God that his mum’s stance concerning her hadn’t changed yet. Notwithstanding he felt led to reach out to her – it was more like a call from God to walk on troubled waters. Wole decided that like Peter he would take the leap, and better than Peter did he won’t take his face and faith off God no matter what.

“…has your mum changed her mind?”

Lade’s first question was “has your mum changed her mind?” She couldn’t understand how Wole would have the effrontery to come to her asking for them to pick up where they left off, when his mum, the sole reason he left her in the first place, had not changed her mind. He must really think this was a joke. She told him to continue praying, that God will make all things clear. Deep down she knew she wasn’t going back to him; she wasn’t putting her heart through stress again. This was her stance until one day a comment on a friend’s blog brought her to a turning point. The post was a story like hers, where the protagonist had to choose between accepting her ex- back or moving forward with a new person. Lade had commented just as soon as she was done reading, stating that the lady should forge ahead with the new man, and several other comments posted had been like hers until one comment dropped – “Christians of these days are funny. Should you choose based on how you feel or on what God is saying? If He is saying accept your ex- back, should forgiveness then be a hard thing?”. This comment had stung her, it was as though the person knew her situation and was attacking her.

Wole was sure that since God had spoken to him concerning Lade, he would also confirm His word to Lade. Her last communication to him had been that she would pray about his request and this he accepted with enthusiasm and positivity. While waiting for her response, he visited her parents to tender his sincere apology for the broken relationship and how it may have affected them. They asked about his mum and her stance on the matter. He told them his convictions this time around despite his mum’s continued refusal and how they would press on regardless. Wole proposed afresh to Lade, the whole romantic affair this time; man on one knee, starry eyed, holding out a beautiful ring and softly muttering sweet endearments before asking the the final question “will you marry me?”. It was indeed beautiful and amidst joyful tears Lade said YES!

Wole’s mum welcomed Lade with warmth and delight, it felt like a dream…

Finally, Wole and Lade decided it was time to face the challenge head-on and scheduled a visit with his mum in Ondo state – they went on this visit in faith. When they got to her they couldn’t believe their eyes, Wole’s mum welcomed Lade with warmth and delight, it felt like a dream, and when Lade was leaving Wole’s mum gave her some new clothes she had bought and kept for her. It was a very fruitful meeting, and they both felt great joy. They continued their courtship according to the church’s protocol and a date was set for the wedding by the church and both families.

One week from the wedding, Wole’s mum called him – “You cannot marry that girl, this wedding is not holding.”

Walking on Water – goodbye Lade

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Like every other day when Wole visited, Lade had been excited to see him, but a few minutes into his visit today she knew something was wrong, he looked preoccupied. She couldn’t believe her ears when he told her he wouldn’t be visiting her anymore, and he gave his reason in a Yoruba adage – it is starting to look like ‘mo’n da omi siwaju, kin le tele tutu’. Wole believed his constant presence and affection towards Lade in the past couple of months since the accident may be perceived as him taking advantage of her vulnerability to create a spot for himself in her heart. If only he knew how much Lade loved him and how sad she felt to hear those words. Yet she understood.

By 2015 when they began their master’s degree at the university of Lagos Wole had still not proposed nor made any concrete statement in that regard. What they had wasn’t just friendship anymore, they were emotionally invested. This worried her, but she wasn’t going to get ahead of herself and raise it with him. Little did she know that her worries were about to mount up substantially.

“I told my mum about you. She said an outright NO”

On one fateful day, Lade was growing tired of trying to make Wole talk, all day he had worn a forlorn look and said barely anything to her, and she felt apprehensive. Eventually he spilled it “I told my mum about you and that I plan to marry you. She said an outright NO”. Lade comported herself in front of him and merely told him not to worry but pray. Inside of her though was a turmoil, her heart was screaming – “God what is this?” The last thing she wanted to experience with regards to marriage were in-laws who did not love her, she couldn’t imagine being where she wasn’t appreciated and loved. “But how? How could she refuse me without even knowing me? God what is this?” These thoughts played on in her mind after she left Wole. “I am reliable, if I send you into it, I will make a way” this she heard God say to her over and over in different ways. She held on to the scripture – Psalms 46:10 and she felt peace.

“Surrender your anxiety. Be still and realize that I am God.” Psalms 46:10 TPT

In 2017, Wole got a job in Lagos and that was when he initiated the proposal process according to the doctrine of the church. After Lade observed the protocol expected of her, the next step was parental consent on both sides. Wole visited Lade’s parents, all went well, and consent was given. Wole’s mum however refused to grant Lade an invite, she vehemently insisted there wouldn’t be a wedding between them, this halted the proposal process. Wole got transferred from his office in Lagos to Niger state and each time he spoke with his mum, she reminded him – “Wole wo, ko soro’nbe. Don’t waste that girl’s time, I won’t agree to you marrying her”.

“Wole wo, ko soro’nbe. Don’t waste that girl’s time, I won’t agree to you marrying her”

His relationship with his entire family was getting very strained, as no one took a different stance from his mum. He loved Lade so much, but he was tired of the struggle, and not knowing how long it might take to convince his mum otherwise, he started to feel worried about stringing Lade along. On November 17th 2017, he called Lade and ended the relationship. From this time on their interaction decreased to occasional ‘Hellos’ and ‘His’.

“…it was better being alone than standing by a man who just wouldn’t take his stand for her.”

Lade toughened up and drew nearer to God, in fact she was so blessed that at this time she was surrounded with flat mates who were single Christian ladies just like her. They’d pray, encourage, talk, and tease each other, and move on beautifully with their lives. Not that her heart didn’t break afresh every time she thought of her severed relationship with Wole, but she decided it was better being alone than standing by a man who just wouldn’t take his stand for her.

Walking on Water – a budding friendship

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When I got inspired to share the peculiar stories of a few 2021 couples, I planned that each story would be captured in one post. But barely 3 minutes into Wole and Lade’s story I knew this could not be a single post – I’ll be doing my readers a ‘hoooge’ disservice and depriving you from experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions that I felt as I listened. So, this is a 4-part story, and I am certain you’d anticipate the next as you read each one. Wole and Lade are real people, and this is a true story, however certain details have been tweaked, and the pictures are not theirs.

‘…she heard someone give a loud guttural laugh, it sounded so ‘razz’ and out-of-place…’

It was the year 2009 and Lade had just gained admission into pre-degree at the University of Lagos. Today was the end of her church’s retreat, one that she and many other students participated in. After the retreat, portions of the campground were allocated to several groups for cleaning, and she had joined one of them. After cleaning, she sat quietly at a spot watching and waiting as other groups finished up. Suddenly she heard someone give a loud guttural laugh, it sounded so ‘razz’ and out-of-place that she immediately decided it had to be a very local person who made the sound. Her roaming eyes soon found the culprit and his looks justified her thoughts – a bush boy indeed, perhaps one who grew up in some village and got lucky enough to come study in the city. A thought that couldn’t have been hers popped up in her head – ‘what if that is your husband?’ ‘Tufiakwa! Husband bii ti bawo?’ She refuted the thought sharply, but it didn’t fly off as it should have, it drove itself more firmly into her consciousness that she found herself vowing to ensure nothing makes her become a friend of that fellow. That fellow was Wole.

‘…he only had eyes for light skinned ladies and planned to marry one someday.’

Wole didn’t notice the ebony black teenager eyeing him some yards away from where he and his friends talked and laughed, in fact he did not interact with her all through the one-year pre-degree program despite them having ‘church’ in common. In retrospect, it could have been because he only had eyes for light skinned ladies and planned to marry one someday, or because he was shy around pastor’s kids anyways. They seemed to be of a higher class from students like him who were pretty much regular kids.

During undergraduate studies at Unilag, she lived on campus while he lived in town, as such they weren’t attending the same fellowship. Things took a different turn when she moved to town in her 3rd year. Fate brought her right to his doorstep as the house she moved into was close to the flat he shared with his friends. They became friends, platonic friends – Wole had eyes for someone else at the time and he was praying concerning that lady, but by their 4th year in undergrad he had gotten over that lady as he did not feel the conviction to initiate a relationship. He started to get drawn to Lade and they grew closer – it seemed God opened the eyes of his understanding to behold the fairness beneath her ebony black skin. As they wrapped up their final year and prepared for the National Youth Service Corps year Wole hoped and prayed that they wouldn’t get posted to the same state. He needed the distance so he could pray and discern the direction of their blooming friendship with a clear head.

‘…Lade encountered a ghastly accident that left her in the hospital for the next 6 months.’

Wole got posted to Maiduguri and was redeployed to Lagos, while Lade got posted to Edo state. Shortly after NYSC camp, Lade encountered a ghastly accident that left her in the hospital for the next 6 months. Within these six months, she was transferred from Edo to Abeokuta and finally to Lagos. Wole visited her at every location, he was there for her as a friend – well you can say a friend in love!