Look at her, the woman you married. Look at her dozing as she nurses your child, make-up still on her face, one shoe off. Look at her doing the last of the dishes in the evening, still in her work clothes. Look at her as she patiently spoons rice into your toddler’s mouth, barely flinching as the child spills yet another cupful of water on the floor. Look at her.
Look at her “adulting”. Trying to adult. Trying to be her mother, and her aunts, and her grandmothers. Trying to do it all, like she’s seen them do it all. Wear lace, walk in heels, attend weddings, go to the market, manage the domestic staff, do the last load of laundry. Can you tell we’re actually just little girls playing dress-up in our mothers’ lives?
Look at her, smiling gamely as the baby places hands sticky with drool on her face. Look at her teaching your daughter to lace her shoes. Look at her, sighing with disgust at the fact that her jeans no longer fit. Neither do her tee-shirts. Nor the sequined mini-dress you bought her two Valentines ago.
“I love my child more than I love her. And she knows it. And she knows that I know that she knows it.”
Look at her loving you despite it all. Look at her, the girl you wooed with gifts and dates and text messages after dark. And you promised her forever when you gave her that ring. How was she to know it was forever of…this? Of dirty dishes, and dirty diapers. Of Saturday football matches and box braids. Of rice and stew dinners. Of rainy Mondays. Of sharing the same bar of Imperial Leather soap. Of Toyota Camrys with strange warning lights on their dashboards. Of kiddy toys that light up in the dark by themselves at the oddest times, playing cheerful trumpets. Of the flotsam, jetsam, detritus of everyday living when you’re a young, bourgeois couple in this cold, cold world. Where is the glamour?
The absence of sadness is not happiness. I thought you knew that already.
Love her again, maybe? Love her, this time not with kisses and gifts and date nights at fancy restaurants. Love her in the simple things. Time to read a book. To write. To catch up with her friends. Quiet conversations about deep things. Hold her hand. Pray with her. Pray for her. Hold the baby for an hour, two hours. Love her in the things she loves. Her job. How did her day go? Her extended family. Love her with your patience. When she snaps. When dinner is straight out of the Old Testament: Burnt Offerings and Bloody Sacrifices. Make her laugh again. Remember? Like you used to before you made her your wife.