Love. Life.
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The Woman You Married

Look.

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.

61 Comments

  1. kovieparker says

    “The absence of sadness is not happiness.” All the things that scare me about marriage and life-long commitments…
    This is so beautifully written. Well done, mama!

    • I think about happiness a lot and what it means. It’s so elusive, so hard to pin down.
      There’s nothing to be afraid of. This is life. It has to be done. And like everything else, we can only make the best of what we have. Thanks for reading 😀

  2. Girl! Love this.

    Lol. I am really just a little girl, and I feel like everybody can tell. Even the strangers I met on the road who call me “Madam”, and “Aunty”.

    “The absence of sadness is not happiness.” I feel like that has been the state of my life and affairs for a large chunk of this year.

    • When do we stop being little girls? Do we ever? I’ll still be that girl inside, even when I’m 50. Maybe we should all just be a little less demanding? Just stop and think, “We’re still the kids we were.”

  3. My goodness Osemhen! You’ve brought tears to my eyes. I am speechless, I can’t tell you how this is everything! Everything!
    And I go back to work on Friday so it’s hitting hard!
    *sigh*

  4. No 7 says

    Osemhen. Longrin has an eye for good people. Permit me to share this with the penthusiats. It’s so inspiring, so true.
    The contrasts..the fact that we all want this (well most of us) yet we dread the realities
    Many times I wonder where we find such strength.
    You accosted one of my greatest fears..that of people changing.
    I’ll always be a little girl, I’ll always feel like I’m role playing. I pray for the courage to stand..I’m truly tired of running.
    Thank you Osemhen

    • Go right ahead. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

      And you’re right; we never fully appreciate the doldrums we’re signing up for. And the joys? Do we ever fully appreciate them?

  5. Tee says

    “When she snaps. When dinner is straight out of the Old Testament: Burnt Offerings and Bloody Sacrifices.”

    I laughed so hard here.

    This, for me would be: write her those lines she called poems even though you claim you were not a poet! .

  6. Chinelo says

    Lovely, I like this, especially the Old Testament meal…..lol

  7. Isioma says

    “The absence of sadness is not happiness.”
    I understand this, maybe a little more in recent times than I’d like to admit.
    This made me smile, and think.
    Thank you, Osemhen.

  8. This is good, as usual. Meals straight out of the old testament are sometimes common place occurrence with me. You wrote beautifully.

  9. Jite says

    Lemme just save this everywhere I can…private mails et al…including my memory. Love it Ose…really!

  10. Onyinye says

    The absence of happiness is not sadness. . . Sometimes it’s pain, it’s hurt or anger. My dear, you penned down the words aptly. I love being that little girl. . . If only wishes were horses. Beautiful Piece.

  11. 'ema says

    Osemski!!!! Luv you darl!!! Lovely piece! Deserves a pultizer!!!

  12. Oluwasegun says

    What a wonderful piece, Osemhen- what a wonderful piece!
    Touching… Teaching… Mending…
    You’ve said it all!
    Thank you for this piece, Osemhen!!!
    God bless you!

  13. Aww, this is so on point. I have been married eleven years now, with a ten year old and a six year old…and underneath it all, I still feel like a little girl playing dress up. I used to wonder if I was alone in feeling that way. Now, I know am not, and this is very comforting.
    I know my husband loves me deeply and he has learnt and is continuing to learn how to show me the love, but sometimes…I wish I was somebody’s little girl again.
    Thanks for this.

  14. Babe.

    I’ve always been a fan. No 7 was right, Longrin did us all a huge favor by making us know you.

    This is beautiful. More love.

    Zainab Sule

  15. Juliet says

    Hi Osemhen,

    This is a great piece, aptly describes the much fantasised, transition through “girlhood” to womanhood and back again – when the little ones are all grown up! I steal a moment to skip, jump, have a good laugh and most especially “breathe”. . .and then I feel like a girl again! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Dami says

    This! I have to share. I basically look towards marriage with both longing and fear. We need our men to read this!

  17. Yawa Kwasu says

    Osemhen…I must say this is a very strong wake up call for me…I am dead guilty of most of the things you captured here. I will change my ways and do an about face to ‘circa’ when I was still dating my wife…Thanks for waking me up!

  18. I was probably the first to read this, and just had to come back to leave a comment. I LOVED it. So very very well said.

  19. Lore says

    Wow!!!

    I have not been on this blog in years!!!

    A lot has happened since then.

    Congratulations Osemhen! On the wedding, on the pregnancy and on the safe arrival of the baby. You have grown so much.

    I always loved your style of writing and this piece is just beautiful.

    I will be coming back a lot more these days.

  20. Austine says

    Everything i need to say about this is summed up in two words.

    “THANK YOU”

    Lol @ straight out of the old testanment…

  21. Jerry says

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. Just Just beautiful. It helps that I’m reading this as I’m about to take the plunge. Now I’m committed to making it work not just before, but after the I dos.
    Thanks Osemhen!

  22. Zee says

    I was going to not comment because it takes my time; then I thought my time away from the kids. No. I will comment, because you took the time to inspire – to speak the truth. And that you read these comments. I loved it. I will read it again. Thank you. From Saudi Arabia.

  23. Aww Osemhen,.
    Lovely, beautiful, true..very true.
    So here’s a toast to all the Old testament style meals..burnt offerings and all, to rice and stew dinners, to discovering ourselves, to loving and being loved.

    Thank you

  24. Oluchy Chisom says

    Usually when I think about marriage, I have mixed emotions…… Fear and longing.
    Thank you for this very wonderful piece.It really speaks to the soul.

  25. Maryam S says

    This is a mind-blowing piece…… Indeed absence of sadness isn’t happiness.. Kudos!

  26. This is beautiful, a very well observed view of marriage from a woman’s perspective. ‘Pray for her’, I think many men pray about their wives as opposed to for them, and that makes a huge difference…

  27. Frankie says

    Where do I comment? Ok I seen it.

    This is a very beautiful touching piece. It ended rather quickly but I loved it. Something to print and read often.

    Nice!

  28. Mitchell says

    Osemhen!! Lol my fault not yours. I’ve been offline for a while. This piece is beautiful. I too still feel like a little girl inside though I’m single. Little kids and teenagers on the road call me “aunty” and I’m like, really? Am I that old? I certainly don’t feel it. The title doesn’t sit well. And marriage. Sigh. The commenters have captured it perfectly. Fear and longing. But then. to borrow the words of Betty Irabor, “do it afraid”. Deep sigh. “Make her laugh… ” Lol you certainly made me laugh

  29. Jane says

    Beautiful piece, Ose. I still feel like a little girl many times. I jump about by myself and make myself laugh. My cousin thinks I didn’t play enough when I was little. Well, I never want to stop playing!

  30. Ochuko Ikogho says

    Osemhen, this is a whole new level of perfection. Illogical perfection.

    Don’t get me started on the message. I hardly comment, but I just had to this time. Whoa.

  31. Onyi says

    I would always be that little girl. I guffawed at that remark “When dinner is straight out of the Old Testament”.
    Lovely piece Osemhen.

  32. Heartwarming piece, Osemhen. I read and I smiled a lot. 🙂

    @ “Love her in the simple things” Ah, a soothing balm…

  33. Dhikraa says

    very nice Ose. Even if i am not married, talkless of being a mother, i feel your pain dear. Whenever I see my sis, drop her kid off in sch so early in the morning, pick him up after working hours, hurry off to make dinner while trying to help him with the assignment. I just pause and ask Can I ever do this?

  34. Zara says

    Thanks Osemhen. Beautiful write up. This touched me… although I’m yet to be a mum, but I have 3 younger siblings of 11, 7 and 4. Watching my mum take care of them makes me wonder if I’d ever be able to fit into that role when I finally get married.

    Ohhh and the part where u said the absence of sadness is not happiness… I liked that too.

  35. Lol, Oshemen.
    Of rice and stew dinners!!!
    That got me…
    Lovely piece
    Please tell them oh, the men in our lives!

  36. Beautiful piece, I’ll like to read some more but hey! Hope you’re not trying to say all men do is watch our beautiful wives do all the chores… We can be useful too ya know 😀

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