On this bright and sunny afternoon, Nkechi walks into the doctor’s office. She isn’t feeling so bright today and so, she’s had to take a sick leave from work. This is the third time in the last two months. Since she got married three months ago, she has been down because of one thing or the other. Her boss is nice, but this is pushing it. The doctor had better give her the strongest medicine for malaria, her self-prescribed medication didn’t work and please, let there be no queue today.
Nkechi doesn’t know what to make of the doctor’s report. She has been home for the past three hours and has lost every appetite and strength. In just two hours, Jude will be home yet she has no will power to make dinner. Eating out is no longer an option, this diagnosis of hers will probably milk them dry. Oh no, why now, Lord? It’s too early into the marriage. I didn’t even get to enjoy my husband and we are not financially or mentally ready for this. Ahhh, let me make some noodles. If I put a big piece of chicken and garnish properly, it will look like dinner.
Men are the worst! Here she is, telling him of this impending doom and he is just busy being so happy. He has called his mother now so we can’t do anything about it. Oh dear Lord, forgive me. I can’t believe I just thought of getting rid of my baby, but Lord I am not ready. Maybe Jude is, can he carry it in my place? I got this job a year ago, got married a few months after I was confirmed, took a leave for my honeymoon and came back sick and nauseous. And now, I will soon have to take a baby leave? My boss will soon hate me, I just know it.
“Aaaaaahhhhhhhh, God!!!” Childbirth is no joke. Please, let Jude carry the next one. I will die here this night, I just know it. “Huuuuuuuuu!!!” Why did I decide to have a child this early? I used protection from our honeymoon night because I knew this was a possibility, but I was determined not to let it happen. God, this was not our agreement – I told you “until two years after”. Like, why did you even make me spend two months convincing Jude to wait to have children only for him to sneak behind my back and put the baby there? “Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!”
“Madam, congratulations! Your baby girl is here”. Oh my God, did I give birth to this tiny human? Like, she has been the one in my stomach all these years, no I mean months? It felt like years, to be honest. “Let me hold her, please.” Jude was right all along, You are worthy of praise, Jesus. The name is very befitting, Tobechukwu Sophia. My baby is here, Lord.
I gave birth to you, right? I can assure you that I can give birth to another one! If you cry one more time, I will toss you out the window! No, I won’t toss you out my love, but please stop crying. Can’t you see that I am crying too? Jude doesn’t know what to do with me, I bet he is regretting marrying me. I don’t know who cries more, you or me. “My softie, are you crying again? Here, let me have her. Strap her to my back and slow dance with me.” “Jude, how can I slow dance when she is crying so hard? Will she die? Can’t she stop? I am a bad mother.” “No, you are not a bad mother, just a softie. See she loves my back; she always stops crying. Now, be quiet and dance with me. Imagine the music, the one that played on our wedding day.” Jude doesn’t deserve a wife like me, he is too good for me. This is working though, he knows how to calm me down.
“Tobe, what happened? Did you eat human manure or something? You’ve grown so fast, how can you be going to school today? I think I will cry as I drop you off at school. Tobe, when you get to school today, you will see your friends from church. David and Tola will be there too. You want to play with them, yes?” “Yes mummy, I will drink my Caprisonne and play with David.” See this traitor, she is excited. I guess I will be the only one crying today. It’s good that you took Jude’s genes, I am ever the worrywart. Oh well, I have to check my emotions today, I have a presentation in the afternoon. I don’t know how they didn’t kick me out, I even got a promotion last month. Am I that good or are they dumb?
“Sweetheart, you have got to relax your eagle eye on Tobe really, she is four years old. She can play with her friends outside.”
“So, she can run into the street and get knocked over by a car? Please.”
“Nkechi, you just worry a lot, let her go.”
“Tobe, go to your room and play sweetie, your friends want to play alone today, dear.”
“Nkechi, you really should stop over-protecting her.”
“Tobe, did you hear me? Stop standing there and looking at me.”
“Yes ma, I will play in my room.”
Mummy doesn’t like me, it’s just daddy that loves me. My friends want to play with me today. They told me yesterday. But mummy is lying. She does not want me to play. Maybe if I stay in my room, she will like me. I will play with big bear ted and she will be happy with me.
“Dear Jesus, tomorrow is my birthday. I will be seven years old. I have one prayer, please make my mum like me. She is always angry with me and does not let me play with my friends. She seems to like the new baby more than me. I love Chidera, he is very cute, but I also want mummy to love me. If she can love me like daddy or like uncle Daniel our neighbour, I will be very happy. I always do my house chores, I stay in my room every time, but she looks at me like she expects me to do something bad. Jesus, this is my only prayer.”
I become a senior in one month, this is pretty exciting. Uncle Daniel says I am already a young woman. My breasts are very noticeable too, I thank God for that. Sarah my best friend would probably kill herself, her chest is as flat as a book. I wish I could make my school uniform more fitting, Mummy would never allow that though. She is just a pain in the neck. She has always been annoying. Was she not a teenager before, or did she fall from heaven as a mother? Oh well, I will wear my pink top and visit uncle Daniel, he said it looks great on me. Mummy says it’s too tight but mummy always nags, so who cares. Let’s figure out how I will sneak out and visit Uncle Daniel.
Her mother’s thoughts
“Jude, where did I get it wrong? Our daughter hates me. She is due for the university in a couple of months and she is not ready to go out to the world.”
“That is why she hates you, wouldn’t you hate yourself too?”
“What? Jude, how dare you say all of that?”
“Nkechi, you are not just a mother hen, you are a mother tiger. Let your daughter breathe, woman!”
“Wait, a mother tiger? When she was 14 years old, I broke a bottle on Daniel’s head when he tried to rape her. If I didn’t hover around her, I wouldn’t have gotten there in time.”
“She wouldn’t have turned to Daniel’s attention if you gave her yours from the start.”
“I have given my daughter nothing but all my attention, I got a maid to wait on her specifically. I have two children but I focus all my attention on Tobe and you know why.”
“You are trying to choke her with your love but you can’t protect her that way. Please hold on Nkechi, I don’t want to fight. Please calm down, take a deep breath and listen to me. I know you were raped at 15 because your mother was too busy to have your time, but the solution is not choking your daughter with love. I try to make sure I have become friends with her, so she can discuss anything with me. Her rebellious act is to get your attention, your love, not your eagle eye. Thankfully, she is old enough now, speak to her, tell her your story and let her know why you are always a worrywart. Your relationship with God is the way it is because you don’t even trust Him too. Trust God enough not to worry, dear. Trust Him to guide the daughter He gave you. You raised a smart and wise girl, trust her with your story and ask the Lord to give you the right words when you speak with her.”
“Jude, I am scared, I don’t want to lose my daughter. The Lord has spoken to me about my fears and worry, I don’t know where to start from.”
“Start from giving it all to God.”
The formative years of a child are said to be between zero to eight years, and it would interest you to note that from four months, a baby begins to distinguish between emotions and at six months they can mimic the emotions and expressions they see in others. A two-year-old child can sense when you are lying or when you are angry. They might not understand, but they can tell that mummy or daddy is lying. They begin to lose trust when you always tell a “white lie” to protect them. “Don’t go outside, the police are there to catch you!” Once the child realizes there has been no police and that you say it to stop them from going out, that child could feel that you will always make up stories to stop them from doing what you don’t want. That’s why a child can go see bad friends you have warned them about because they feel that you might be telling a lie like when they were small.
The child can also feel that you don’t trust that they’re big enough to know what to do. So, the child can do something dangerous just to prove to you that they’re no longer a child.
Sometimes the child can grow into wisdom and the understanding that you did those things as a means of protection, but this is not always the case. I will advise that instead, you raise your child with knowledge. Teach them to do right and explain why they should do right, white lies have never helped and will never help. Beating doesn’t always help – if you don’t help them grow the right belief system, they will react to the strokes based on what they believe. God help you if your child decides to grow a tough skin to the beating and pass time till they out of your control.
From a research article I saw, a child tries to take in as much information as possible. four- to five-year-olds tended to pay attention to all the information that was presented to them – even when they were told to focus on one particular item. That helped children to notice things that adults didn’t catch because of the grownups’ selective attention. Don’t try to fool your child into being a good person. “When they grow up, they will understand.” This happens but not to all children. In fact, some of them that ended up as good adults were influenced by some external factors. Be intentional about how you raise your child. Read books, don’t become an unprepared parent. Don’t raise your children based on your past experiences too, especially if it was a painful one, you will end up hurting that child.
Learn to trust God with your children. He gave them to you, He loves them more than you love them.