For a few weeks I had been feeling a bit depressed…but I’ve only just realised why!
The kids are all grown up and flying the nest.
My three babies (25, 21 &18) have been my reason for living for over 25 years but they don’t seem to need me so much anymore and I’m not taking the detachment well at all😢😢😢
As a single parent, I more or less brought all three of them up single-handed. Don’t get me wrong, I was married – but my now ex-husband and I had very different understanding of marriage and family life, so for most of our 13 year marriage till I decided to make my “single” status official again and call time on the “make believe” marriage, I lived mostly by myself with three young kids under the age of 10. And for the past 11 years since my divorce, it has been just me and them.
Many would ask why I did not remarry in all that time…
But first and foremost, the City of London where I live, is not blessed with available 40 or 50-something year old men. Many of them are either happily married (though mostly straying) or shacked up with someone or are good Christians who fear God and take their marriage seriously.
And those who may be available are either content playing the field of London, reliving their teenage years and simply sleeping their way through the entire female population – of both single, married and lesbian or transgender women alike. And if there are any of them that mustn’t be lumped into this block, they were simply not willing to take on a divorced 40-something year old woman with 3 kids!
Responsible divorced, widowed or never-married men in their 40s/50s are simply not there, so the pulling pool for someone like me has just been – well, dry and empty!
And then, there were my own doubts.
If at any time in those 11 years, anyone had remotely, by some stroke of miracle, come close to embarking upon a serious relationship with me, I would have found a way to sabotage that relationship. The reason is simple – although it did not dawn on me till recently. I just didn’t want another man bringing up kids that belonged to someone else. And I didn’t want to confuse my kids either. I needed them to know their own father and be trained by him. Which admittedly, he did, albeit from a great distance.
I also could not take the risk of someone half-heartedly taking on my kids as part of the baggage that comes with me, but not being fully able to bond with them and love them as his own. I couldn’t bear to have another man move in with us and disrupt the tightly knit unit that my kids and I had formed and become over the years. I also strongly harboured the fear that any man I got married to will be treated like an outsider and in little time, will start to feel resentful of the situation and which will cause problems that could destroy the marriage.
There was also the subconscious fear of peadophiles harboured by many single parents lurking somewhere in the corner of my mind. I couldn’t risk someone I thought I knew, come into our lives and mess around with my girls.
You just couldn’t tell with folks nowadays – and more horrific stuff do happen everyday that we read and hear about.
So I subconsciously held back from forming meaningful relationships and stayed single. And in all those years, I was content with the blanket of company my kids gave me. I cannot remember a time that I didn’t have at least 2 of them in the house with me. When my eldest was away in Uni, I had my son and my youngest daughter at home. And for the past two years that my son had been in Uni, I have had my eldest back from Uni and the youngest at home who’s just completed her AS but is headed for Uni next September.
But that was until my eldest called me and told me she was thinking of moving out….
When she told me a few weeks ago that she was tired of living with her mum and sharing a room with her baby sister and was planning to find a place of her own, I thought I was going to die. I quite unreasonably saw it as a rejection and her simply wanting to get as far away from me as possible. Needless to say I didn’t take it well at all!
My first impression was yeah-right!
My second was Oh NO, YOU CANNOT!!!!
I refused to speak to her for 2 days and after that, I tried every trick in the book to scare her out of leaving. But no matter how much I tried, her mind was firmly made up and she wouldn’t bulge.
Of course, I, like every other (African) mother know that sooner or later, the kids will have to move out and start a life of their own, but I also assumed this would be when they get married, but my daughter is not showing any interest in that aspect yet.
Yes she has her boyfriend, a charming French guy called Victor but she is not remotely thinking about marriage. She has just got a really well paid job that she really loves. Next September, she is planning to embark on her Masters Degree and then continue to develop her career, buy her own property (eventually) and then at some point, hopefully before she is 30 – marriage and then kids. But right now, she is just a highly independent resourceful young woman who knows her own mind and no amount of mummy-blackmail can move her. So I proceeded into a long sulk and almost drove myself into depression by obsessing over the fact that Lola was leaving home. In fact, I think I even wept at some point. And in spite of my prayers for God to change her mind, she moved into her new self contained apartment last weekend.
I have rather churlishly, refused to speak to her.
My son, who ironically, was the most clingiest of my three, is currently away on holiday with his friends. As soon as he is back, he is off again to Uni. He has been making it clear he will be relocating abroad as soon as his studies in Uni are over….. yeeee, mo gbe!
And so that leaves me with my youngest. The one I call Baronette.
I have been begging, urging and blackmailing her for the past two years in advance, to strongly consider attending the Uni “down the road” so she wouldn’t have to travel too far away. Actually, what I really mean is so she won’t have to leave home at all. But she once told me “That is an insult, mum”!! How can you expect me to attend a community University? And out of respect to many of my friends whom I know attended that University, I shall not mention the name. The truth is that I totally see her point. But the moment she travels out of London, that will leave just me alone in a big house – all by myself!!!
The thought of that is enough to age any 50-something year old very fast. And I have found myself employing unfair but desperate, emotional, old-woman blackmail tactics such as “what will happen if I fall down the stairs and there is no one to help me” or “what if I slip in the bath and hit my head” or “what if I get burgled…and raped? on her. Of course, all I get back is “just call the police, mum” or “call the ambulance, mum” or “Stop it, mum. It won’t work”!
The simple fact is that there are many women my age out there who will be experiencing similar emotions. And even the married couples are not immune from these confusing fears. For many married women, there is a stronger closeness with their kids than with their husbands or partners especially in cases where the parents have fallen out of love and grown apart but continue to live together as a married couple.
Some try to rediscover the bond with their husbands and fall in love again after the kids have left home, but in other cases, unfortunately, the marriage simply irrevocably breaks down because the absence of the kids from the home, magnifies the cracks that had developed in the marriage for years but have been held precariously together by the presence of the kids.
This, unfortunately is also why you see many women abandon their husband to play baby-sitter or “third-wheel” in their married children’s home. I know of a particular woman in her 60s who leaves her husband behind in Nigeria and tours her kids’ homes from the UK to Canada to different states all over the US – simply because she cannot bear to be under the same roof with her husband! Although of course, the official story is that she is visiting her grand-children. And he could be spending all his time flitting from one hotel room to the other shamelessly shagging every available 30-something year old chick!
So, here I am, only 51, and looking at impending alone-ness right in the eyes! And no grand-kids yet to visit… Ha!
When the kids are at home, it is not like we all hurdle together in my bed and share stories – like I did with them when they were little – although, we still did just that a few times in recent years. We all go out to school or work and return home at different times in the evening. And during the weekends, we also mostly go out separately. Me to my church function or weddings; or awards dinners or birthday parties or just some “Owambe”, and they, off with their friends. And when they are home, we each stay within our own private “quarters” and I never venture near their rooms unless I am invited in – and they very seldom visit me in mine except of course they need something. But at least there is the comforting knowledge that there are others with you in the house.
Sometimes, we all meet up around the chest freezer in the hallway and have a chinwag and a catch up. Or in the girls’ room or kitchen and have passionate excitable discussions on topics ranging from religion to sexual orientation to political correctness to Donald Trump to immigration to Brexit! Many times, these discussions degenerate into heated arguments with them always ganging up against me and disagreeing with my Christian/Conservative/Traditional/Old School opinions. But I do enjoy these “talks” and even though, sometimes they seriously aggravate and infuriate me with their new-age views, I still feel great pride in having kids who are so eloquent and out-spoken and not afraid to express themselves.
Occasionally, we order pizza and altogether, flop out in front of Netflix; or arrange family date nights where we all go out for a movie and dinner and when we return, everyone retires into their own rooms never to be seen again till the following morning.
But at least, everyone knows there is someone else in the house.
But all that is ending now.
Now more freezer meetings.
No more movie and dinner nights.
No more loud discussions and arguments.
No more meet ups in the girls’ room or kitchen.
No more huddling together in mummy’s bed.
I have a lot of friends but very few that I am actually close with…..and I never really developed the habit of going to someone’s house and sitting around endlessly chatting over nothing – and everything.
And even if I attended every church service, or birthday party and wedding in town, at some point I would still have to return home – an empty home!
And I don’t see any of my church people inviting me back home with them…Each will wave “Bye bye, Sister Jummy!” at the end of each service, and return home with their husbands and wives.
And I, to an empty house and another lonely evening in front of Netflix…..?
Lord have mercy!!!!
I just cannot see myself living like that. I will age prematurely!!!
I have to start changing certain things about my life. I have to prepare for the coming years before I die of loneliness in an empty house.
Last week, I did a story about a man who had lain dead and undiscovered in his London room for two weeks before his wife in Ghana alerted UK police to his missing status. It wasn’t until they visited his address that they discovered his body!!!
God forbid bad ting. That, is not my portion in Jesus name!!!!
I will not die of loneliness or boredom. In fact, I reject it – vehemently!!!
I have to win some huge cash prize and take endless cruises round the world…
Or find myself a husband – as soon as possible!!!!!
Please, somebody!! direct me to the nearest Single Elders fellowship….!