My phone rang. The caller ID showed my elder sister. The married, mother of two energetic boys’ sister.
“Chisom how far?”
She sounded like a 99year old woman on her death bed.
Me: “I dey o, are you okay?”
Mother of two: “Mba, Aru adirokwam. I’m sick Biko I need you. I need someone to take care of Josh and his little brother so my husband can take me to the hospital tomorrow”.
“Who could possibly say no to this type of situation?” I thought sadly to myself. I already planned a date with my boyfriend the next day.
Me: “Ehya no wahala, I’ll come tomorrow”.
Mother of two: “Biko biawanu kita, start coming today. I need to be at the hospital very early tomorrow”.
It probably didn’t help that my mom was in my room when this call came in. I was helping her reply messages on WhatsApp. She couldn’t keep up with the New Year messages, insisting that every reply I sent must be different. I was her temporary clerk, she dictated while I typed.
“Onwe Ihe Mere? Is everything okay with your sister?” She asked the moment I hung up.
I didn’t dare lie. The minute I finished talking, she was already on her feet with instructions.
“Oya pack your bags, come and take transport fare, let me put rice in food flask for the children”.
I love my sister, I really do but she needs a Grammy award in shaking up my life. I wished for the umpteenth time her nanny hadn’t disappeared on her without notice, had the woman been available, this wouldn’t have been happening.
Few hours later, I was on a bus En-route Ebonyi from Enugu state. The bus was stuffy, the man beside me kept trying to make conversation, my boyfriend wasn’t exactly happy with our cancelled plans. I sighed. Things we do for family.
I wasn’t expecting the situation I met. My sister and her husband were both sick. My brother-in-law was being the ‘man’ of the house, catering for the boys with forced strength. My sister was already on the bed, with socks, sweater and wrapper, shaking like a jelly fish. The moment I took Josh from my brother in law’s-tired arms; he threw his head back on the sofa and slept off.
Wow. I felt guilty for not showing up earlier. Rocking Joshua in my arms, I looked around me. I had two sicks adults and two energetic children to cater for. Way to go babe!
I managed to survive the night, woke up a couple of times to rock someone back to sleep, change diaper, give formula, or fetch a glass of water. I felt like a hero. I had everything under control. I woke up to Joshua’s wailing by 6am and my elder sister demanding for her 15th glass of water. The day was about to go down well.
My brother-in-law called a friend of his for assistance, who came with his wife. The lovely wife helped me bath the boys and heat up the food for everyone, before driving my sister and her husband to the hospital. I was left alone with my two nephews.
Before I start narrating how my day went, I’d like to acknowledge every mother and wife in this world. You all are magicians!
We started the day with playing, making Instagram stories and video call with not so angry anymore bae. Everything was working smoothly. Around 12noon, Joshua’s younger brother changed the game. He started getting cranky; cry a little, laugh the next second when I bring a new toy. By 12:15, he became uncontrollable. I almost slapped myself. How could I forget? His cereal! Josh too was catching the drift; he was beginning to cry too. Rocking his younger brother on my waist, I tried giving him new toys, I couldn’t carry them both. He wasn’t having any of it.
How in God’s name was I supposed to boil hot water for cereal and tea with two wailing children? I was singing and speaking baby language, multi-tasking in the kitchen and preparing a meal for two, while trying not to show favouritism. Food prepared, I was faced with a fresh dilemma, who do I feed first? I sat Josh on the couch close beside me, gave him his tea bottle, then spoon fed his younger brother. The magic of food, little baby slept right after that. Josh took an extra hour and some minutes of circling the sitting room and singing his favourite Disney junior song. They both finally slept. The clock read 3pm. I was so tired. I had neither had my bath nor eaten anything the whole day. I rushed my bath, the most noiseless and quickest bath I had had since I was born. I proceeded to prepare noodles very quietly. I was scared of the noise fried egg would make, so I just boiled it. I sat down to enjoy my first meal of the day. When Joshua woke up, I picked him up and just gave him tea. I didn’t care, I just gave him tea till he slept again. I ate in a hurry. There was no telling how long before I was to be summoned again.
Fast forward to 5pm when we were all playing ‘ball’ in the sitting room, my brother-in-law came back home, with my sister nowhere in sight. We all had to go back to pick her up later, the IV fluid on her arm was almost finished. He came home for a quick bath and extra cash. He looked better. I dressed the boys up and around 6pm, we were at the hospital room with my sister. The room was pitifully shabby, a sharp contrast to my sister. She looked much better. Josh got very busy gulping down his mommy’s Lucozade boost without a care in the world while little baby was suckling for all he was worth on mommy’s “natural” milk. My sister looked at me, smiled and asked,
“How was your day?”
I just gave her a sarcastic “don’t talk to me” face. I had no words to describe my day yet. She simply laughed and said; “This is me every day”.
The nurse came in after that to check on her, I had to take the little baby from her, I rubbed his back for easy digestion, recalling that from the zillion instructions my mother gave me from home. Did I mention she was calling me every five minutes, asking?
“Kee ka unu mee? How are you people? How is it going? Jisi ike Inugo, you’ll soon have your own family, just be learning”.
Without any warning, little baby vomited very hot breast milk on my chest, I screamed! It took all my willpower not to drop him like hot potato. My sister sensing my thought hurriedly took her child from me. She couldn’t stop laughing at the dramatic expression on my face. My brother-in-law informed me with a silly smile on his face that, I had “over-rubbed” his back. I was supposed to rub a little, wait for him to burp, and then stop. Well, nobody told me that.
Being a woman is not easy; being a mother is something else! I realised, I had unconsciously been preparing for a wedding, not motherhood. I wasn’t ready for my whole life to change, my body to change, and my priorities in life to change. Barely 24hours caring for 2kids, I couldn’t find my phone, I didn’t even brush my hair, I had eaten just once the whole day, and I had no time to do anything else.
Family is consuming, it wraps you up. I started to see my sister in a new light. This was just one day as a mother, subtracting anxiety during pregnancy, stressful life events during pregnancy, traumatic childbirth experience, the “cut and join” night sleep pattern or even postpartum depression. Women have super powers; it takes special grace to be a good mother. To all the wives and mothers out there, I see you! You’re special!