When Your Daughter Becomes Your Relationship Coach
My mom is forty years old. She had me when she was only seventeen years old. When she was nineteen, she gave birth to my brother. I don’t know what happened to my father and I don’t know why he disappeared totally from our lives. I’ve asked my mom on several occasions; “Why did he abandon us?” She said, “I can’t answer that. Maybe someday when you meet him you can ask him.” I’ve never met my father. I’ve seen his photos and had met people who call me family because they relate to my father. I must be honest here, my mom had been very committed to our upbringing. She provides everything we need and she is always there for us. From age five, I’d always celebrated my birthday.
She works at a hotel. She’s the cook there. On our birthdays, she will come home with a lot of ingredients and bake a cake for us. She’ll buy a lot of confectionaries, take us to school and celebrate with us before she leaves for work. We didn’t feel the burden of our father’s absence because my mother did everything to fill the gaps a father’s absence would create. She’s a good woman. Her heart is pure but life doesn’t give her what she deserves. She had a lot of male friends but none of them was closer as uncle Josh was. He came home anytime my mom was off duty. My mom would cook the best of meals and feed him. Sometimes he would sleep in our house and go the next morning.
I didn’t know a lot about adults relationships. She told me Josh was her friend. My little brains took it as the mere friendship people build with each other. I was wrong. There was more to their relationship than she told me. I came from school one day and saw my mom lying on the sofa crying. I greeted her. She responded with her head. I asked her, “Are you crying? What’s wrong with you?” She didn’t talk. She kept crying. It was only when she saw my little brother coming that she stopped crying. I’ve forgotten how old I was but seeing my mom cry left an indelible mark on my brain. In the evening when my junior brother went to sleep, she told me why she was crying.
She said, “You know I and Josh are very good friends right?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “We are no longer friends. He won’t come and visit us again. We may not see him again.” I asked her why and she said, “He’s not a good man. He lied to me. I don’t like people who lie so I’ve decided not to be friends with him again.” I said, “So why are you crying? If what he did was bad, then you don’t have to cry?” She didn’t say any word again. I started getting curious. I started getting interested in my mom’s life and the kind of men she associated herself with. Whenever she introduced someone to me as a friend, I asked her, “A friend like Uncle Josh?” She’ll smile and say, “Something like that.”
I was young but she had conversations with me as though I was her age mate. When I didn’t understand what she said, She told me, “Someday you’ll grow up. You’ll understand everything.” She came home with polished men. She came home with men who looked very awkward and unfriendly. She came home with men who carried bibles. She came with Quran-loving men too. Some disappeared so quickly before I could learn their names. Those who stayed for a while called me by name and tried to play with my brother. But soon they were gone. I was growing up each day and was getting to understand what was going on.
Now I’m twenty-three. I understand a lot of things. I understand my mother’s need for companionship. I understand her need to be loved and above all, I understand her need to build a life with someone else. She’s forty but she looks like someone in her early thirties. She’s still beautiful and has all it takes to attract quality men but I don’t know what’s wrong with her, she keeps picking the kind of men who love to break her into pieces.
In 2020 during the lockdown, she was dating a rastaman. His eyes were always red and loved to speak in a language we didn’t understand. Anytime he came around, my brother would turn to me and give me a certain look. We didn’t like him but he was our mother’s choice so we had to pretend. During the lockdown, he was with us. For three whole weeks, he did nothing. He slept, woke up, and played reggae all day. When he was hungry, mom cooked the best of food for him. He liked my brother but my brother was scared of him. He’ll sit with my brother and try to teach him what it takes to be a rastaman. Mom started dancing to reggae songs. The two of them will eat, drink and dance all day. She was happy so we tried our best to stay out of her way.
After the lockdown, rastaman walked out of the door and never came back. Mom gave me excuses anytime I asked about him. It was obvious he left but mom couldn’t bring herself to accept it. Finally, she broke down right in front of me. I said, “It’s alright. He should go. We didn’t even like him.” She said, “He was good to me. I thought I’d found the one who will finally stay with us.” I said, “We don’t want to stay with him. It’s good he’s gone. Good ones will come.” She cried for days. She was moody over nothing but eventually, she moved on.
When school reopened and she sent my junior brother back to school, she struck an acquaintance with one of the teachers of my brother. Later, it became a love story. I said, “This woman doesn’t know how to pull the breaks?” She told me not to tell my junior brother about it. She wanted my junior brother to complete SHS before she tells him but that relationship didn’t last a term. When you see mom moody, then it’s about relationship issues. I asked, “What again?” She said, “Leave me alone.” I said, “Is it about the teacher?” She said, “Who else can make me feel this way.” I didn’t even ask what happened. All I said was, “Just take a break. You have us. We won’t leave you.” She said, “I’m even fed up. This is where it stops. They are all not worth it.”
She buried herself in her job again. She didn’t smile a lot but she was stable. Three days after her 40th birthday in August, she came home with another man.” She told me, “This is the laaaaaaast one. Trust me, if it doesn’t work, I will pull down my heart and give it to you for safekeeping. This is final, trust me.” She was already in the relationship. Nothing would change her mind. One thing about my mom, when she’s in love, it radiates her surroundings. She becomes overly kind. She’ll give me money I didn’t ask for. She’ll come from work with wrapped gifts for us. She’ll laugh for no reason and hug at any given time. When she’s in love, we all benefit from it. The only thing is that they don’t last.
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Two weeks ago, she came home very late. As of 9am she was still in bed. I knocked on her door but she didn’t open up. I called her phone and she told me, “I’m too tired. Let me sleep for a while.” Her voice was mushy. All was not well. I begged her to open the door. She didn’t mind me. Later in mid-afternoon, she called me in. Her face had bruises. Her lower lip was swollen. She looked beaten.” I screamed, “What happened to you? Were you attacked?” She broke down in tears.
She wasn’t attacked. The man she fell in love with in August was a married man. She didn’t know until his wife and daughter attacked her on her way out of the hotel that night. She was standing there with the man. Sadly, the man couldn’t do anything to stop his family from attacking my mom. He fled from the scene when people started rushing in to ask what was happening. I was so angry I wish I could avenge. I told her, “Let’s make a police case.” She said, “No, it’s too embarrassing. I don’t want people judging me. I’ve had enough.”
She had been quiet since the beatings. She doesn’t laugh and doesn’t talk to me like she used to. She’s trying to heal, I know but will this stop her from going into another relationship? I doubt. I want her to stop. I want her to concentrate on her work and us. We need her alive but it looks like I’ve failed in trying to help her. What do I do to make her stop falling in love unnecessarily? I need answers.