Emem yawned and stretched as she drew closer to Dozie her husband. She was roused by the persistent knock on the door, she could hear the voice of her son Ebube saying “offfen (open) the door” and kept knocking with his little fists. She made to rise to open the door for him but Dozie put his legs over her thighs restraining her from getting up. In his rich and drowsy baritone voice he said “honey, let’s snuggle some more, its weekend and the weather is cold, Ebube will leave after a while”. As he spoke, he snuggled closer to her. Emem loved the warmth and pulled the duvet over their head giggling. She decided to ignore Ebube’s knocks which had progressed to tears knowing the nanny will come and take him away. After the last confrontation she had with Dozie, she knew better than to ignore her man’s desire, which was of utmost importance to her.
Emem has been married to Dozie for eight years and Ebubedike is the last of their three children. He is in the habit of coming to knock on the bedroom door (the handle was a little taller than him) once he wakes or as soon as Emem and Dozie retire to their room. The knocking started when Emem taught her two years old that it was not nice to cry when he wanted a door opened, he should rather knock. Ebube learnt fast and was very persistent at it, such that knocking with his little fist was strong enough to rouse a deep sleeper such as Emen.
Ebube loved attention and Emem always indulged him. She would always open the door for her “little love” as she fondly called him every time he knocked. Despite knowing that he would play around only for a short while in their room, run off and return again to knock. Her love for her children was unmatched.
When she gave birth to her first daughter Ada, she was ill prepared for the strong connection she was to later develop towards her. She never imagined that she will be able to bond with a child, not to mention children. Emem’s relationship with her mother was not very cordial, she had a childhood that was marred by many verbal abuses as such she constantly feared how her relationship with her children will be. She was even vocal about her fears such that Dozie had to repeatedly tell her before the birth of Ada “you will be a great mother”. The connection between Emem and Ada and subsequently the other children had been instant such that it gradually affected the initial bond she shared with Dozie. This bond with the children had constantly caused Emem to unconsciously promote the children’s affair over her husband’s and Dozie had casually cautioned his wife about this on countless occasions.
Ada, Kelechi and Ebubedike’s pictures sat on her desk at work in different picture frames and they were also in different poses as Emem’s display picture on all her social network profile. It was easy to believe Emem was a single mother or “married to her children” as it is usually said. She spoke about them at every instance and everyone around her knew the latest happenings in their lives. She became a shopaholic just for their sake, knowing where to get all trendy wears and toys. She ensured that her children were treated well by the teachers and nannies, as such she was quick to register her grievances when they were treated otherwise. She laughed with them, cried with them and only recently stopped bathing with Ada when Dozie lost his cool at the sight of both of them in the shower giggling like girlfriends. In fact, Emem lived for her children.
The fight with Dozie over getting her priorities right when it has to do with the children has been brewing for months, it reached a crescendo last week. It was their eight year wedding anniversary and Dozie had made great plans for the celebration. He had ordered a buffet for two at a five star hotel in the heart of town and in he’s charming way had ask his wife of eight years out on a date, telling her the time he would pick her up. Dozie was the typical straight and time conscious person. Come April 21th, Emem’s clothes and shoes were neatly laid out, her hair beautifully made at an earlier visit to the salon. She was very ready for this date but had to hurriedly picked Ada from her Baley dance class and Kelechi from his boys scout meeting as she could never trust the driver to pick them. She’s always insisted on doing it herself. She ran into traffic caused by a fallen trailer as she hurried to dropped the kids at home. This made her panic as she was afraid she would be late for her date with her husband. She thought of different ways to beat the traffic but to no avail, a distance that would take about 20 minute was taking a lot longer.
It took Emem exactly one hour thirty minutes to get the children home, and all through the long traffic, Ada and Kelechi chatted endlessly on the happenings in their different engagements. She hardly heard them as she was one hour late for her date with their dad and she feared what his reaction will be. When she got home, Dozie was waiting and the look on his face said it all. She quietly apologized and went upstairs to dress up. The drive to the hotel was devoid of the normal chatter they had when driving together. Emem broke the tensed silence with an apology and an explanation. Dozie could not restrain the hurt he felt. He reprimanded Emem for not allowing the driver do what he was paid to do and save her the time and stress spent in traffic. His hurt got a greater part of him and he proceeded to remind her that the children were always the excuse for all issues that went wrong between them, the abandonment which he filled with the late night outings with his friends, the constant interruption of their private moments, Ada who had taken over his place in the bathroom, Kelechi who now dictated the type of soup to be made and …..” Will it be right to say that I can’t wait for my children to grow up and leave my wife for me?” Dozie asked in a broken voice. Emem listened silently with tears in her eyes.
The buffet was great but it tasted like ash in their mouth. They both spoke at length about Emem’s indulgence with the children and Dozie’s quiet endurance of it all. They resolved that their marriage centered round them and nothing else. The children were blessings and not a tool for putting asunder. Their eighth wedding anniversary marked a turning point in their lives.
…And so Emem whose focus was now her husband, continued giggling as Dozie whispered into her ears, tickling her at the same time. She laughed till tears came to her eyes, it felt real good to play like they used to before the children came. She felt young again. She thanked God for the opportunity to bond and play with her husband again. She constantly wished she could undo the deeds of the past, in all she is grateful for a patient man and her angels – Ada, Kelechi and Ebubedike. She is now wiser.
All ye women out there, be wiser too. Love the child/children, but do not abandon the man!