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Pancakes and Eggs

January 21, 2024

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I moved to America in 2005

I had nothing in Nigeria that was worth staying for

My husband moved to America in 1995 and soon after he “divorced” me with my consent so that he could get his American citizenship

The plan, according to him was to get the document on paper and not really get involved with the woman he was proposing to get married to

They called it an arrangement marriage and he said all he had to do was pay this woman a certain amount of money within the next two years

He told me this was the best approach to getting his papers quickly so that he could become a citizen

He said without the necessary papers he wouldn’t be able to compete in the labour market

He promised that after becoming a citizen, he would file for me and our five children to move over to him and settle down in America

I didn’t believe him, the way Abraham believed God

He was a chronic womanizer while he was here in Nigeria and I didn’t think he had suddenly turned a new leaf after getting to America

I knew he would be with a woman, he never seemed capable of leaving them alone, but if he was going to get his papers out of it, I didn’t think I should object

If I objected, he would still do what he wanted to do and then he would label me the enemy of his progress afterward

So, I said it was okay

He got the divorce done and remarried

After this, he abandoned the children and I

He started another life with his new wife

I was left all alone to fend for five children

My first daughter was 20 when this happened, the last daughter was 8

I got married at the age of 19, so I was 40 years old at this time

I was a full housewife and I had no means of income

The first year was the worst but we eventually got help from unexpected quarters and somehow survived

My first daughter moved to the USA ten years later through marriage

This was how I found myself going to the USA in 2005 to help her nurse her son

Before this journey, I had lived off the welfare of the church I was attending, and several church folks

I had become the topic of discussion at several committees as they discussed my children’s school fees, my rent, my feeding allowance, how to get me a job, what a liability I was, and all that

They were not wrong to have these discussions, I was living off them because I couldn’t find a job and I couldn’t fend for my children

We were all useful in church and the church pastor took to us kindly

I am testifying that the church is a blessing to me and my children

We didn’t have all those experiences I read about in which someone had to have sex with someone or get sexually molested or abused

We were treated with dignity

My sons became leaders of their respective church groups fairly and without any prejudice

I also led the Women’s Prayer Group at both our local assembly and internationally while I was in that church

I earned the position by merit and I put my all into it during my two terms in office I know I was effective because I had no secular job or business to attend to other than this and I did it with all my might

Nobody ever made any demand of me and my children in an ungodly or denigrating manner

We could not tell people not to talk or be concerned that we were becoming permanent features on the monthly welfare budget of the church

It grew on me at a point and when the opportunity to travel abroad came I took it with both hands

By this time, my second daughter was working with a firm in Lagos

The two boys and my last daughter were in the University

They were all sponsored by the church

Going to the USA was sort of an escape for me

An opportunity to start over, an opportunity to restore a bit of dignity and get my self-esteem back

I had been to Europe before in the 70s, that was where i met and got married to my husband

When I got to America, I discovered a lot of things were wrong in my daughter’s home

She was studying to become a nurse at the time while also working at the local grocery store as an attendant

Her husband was a social guy who worked as a sales representative for a fashion company

I know I shouldn’t have gotten involved in their family affair I did and I regret doing so

I told my daughter the lifestyle she adopted with her husband was irresponsible and would lead them nowhere

They spent all their money on food, clothes, and living a big man’s life

Her husband drove the latest cars (bought on credit) and wore the latest designer outfits

They had no savings and I later came to know some drug dealers kept some of their cash with my daughter’s husband for laundering through his bank account

My daughter began to adjust after this and her husband blamed me for it

By this time, she was pregnant again and he had to put up with me because of the baby

In all, I spent ten years with her

In those ten years, I saw her graduate and become a nurse

I saw her buy her first house as we moved from Dallas to Wisconsin

I saw her children start school, change schools and even gain admission into junior high school

She had three children, a boy and a girl

My second daughter moved to America just as I was getting fed up with the treatment I was receiving from my daughter

She was overbearing and treated me just as one would treat a maid

She had always been that way, since childhood, I took it on the chin

At a point. I decided I needed to work and earn my keep

I even told my daughter that I would like to move out of her house and live by myself, Just, so that I could breathe for a while

She reluctantly agreed but just as I was putting this plan to work my second daughter migrated to America too

She came with three children and she and her family were all illegal aliens

They didn’t have the required documents to live and work in America and they needed my help

My second daughter has a kind heart but she came to America just as Donald Trump was coming into power

The measures taken by ICE against illegal immigrants were strict and extreme, I had to help them in every way I could

So, I moved to her house to support her with the children and house chores

My other children were struggling in Nigeria

The two boys had gotten married and started having children

I should indeed have done my best to spend time with those children too

It would have been more manageable if we were all in the same country

I tried persuading the boys to come over and live in America

One tried and was denied a visa

The other blatantly said No

I had nothing to go back to in Nigeria, no house, no husband, no home, and even if I said I wanted to travel down for a while and then return to the USA, who would buy the ticket?

I wasn’t working, my second daughter and her husband couldn’t afford it and the first child would never part with her money for any reason other than for herself and her children

This was how I got stuck here in the USA

The two boys had three children each

I only saw their pictures and spoke to them once in a while on the phone

They didn’t know me and often, they would mistake me for either of their maternal grandmothers who were in Nigeria and visited them often

I cannot say I am happy about it but I had no choice

It is better to hide my face in America than return to Nigeria unfulfilled and empty-handed

If I have to return to Nigeria, I need to have a house of my own where I can stay without worrying about rent, stable electricity and a good source of income, I would also need a car and at least a driver to drive me around

These are the basic things

I don’t want to go back to Nigeria and loaf around my sons’ houses

I don’t want to make my daughters-in-law uncomfortable or lose respect before them because I was in their spaces and living off them

I don’t want to be a liability to anyone

I am already in my late sixties

I had built a relationship with my church members and pastors and made myself useful in the choir

All my friends in Nigeria were older than me right from time and many of them had gone home to be with the Lord

The ones that were still alive had been blessings to me in the past and I desired to be a blessing to them too on my return

I didn’t want to live off anybody anymore and yet I had laboured here in America but didn’t get paid in cash

So, I have no money of my own and have no prospect of getting any

I don’t know what I would be returning to Nigeria to do

I continue to trust and hope in God

My routine in America is mostly about the children and homekeeping

I did this for several years with my first daughter until she didn’t need me anymore

I am doing the same with my second daughter

She and her husband are grateful for it and they appreciate my efforts

I take my grandchildren to school daily

I help them with their homework, I pick them up from school, I sort out cooking, laundry, and house chores because my daughter and her husband work in shifts and do three jobs each

I also take time to pray for my children and grandchildren in Nigeria

It is the best I can do for them as a mother

In 2021, I came to Nigeria for the first time

My first son sent me a ticket and asked that I come to see the house he had just built and moved into, I did and I was happy because God has fulfilled his promises over my children in Nigeria

I promised them I would return to the USA and then come back to stay in Nigeria

All the things I wanted have been provided

While I was in Nigeria, I stayed in my son’s house and I had a car and a driver at my beck and call

I lacked for nothing

On return to the USA, I realized I couldn’t return to Nigeria as planned

The ones in Nigeria had done well without me but the ones in America struggled without me

My absence messed up their routines and work schedules and even though they didn’t complain, I realized they really needed me, so, I decided to stay

My son in Nigeria didn’t like this decision

He kept claiming the sisters used me and were taking advantage of my good nature

This is not true

I chose to stay and lend a hand

I know I have been partial in my dealings with the children but it was due to circumstances beyond my control

I hope my children will read this and understand my situation and the reason for the choices I made

My son has been sending me messages asking me to reconsider my stay in the USA and return home as soon as possible

When I read the story, you posted a few days ago about children fighting over the “custody” of their mother and how the first two daughters kept their mother while denying the other children access, I felt it could have been written about me and my dealings with my children

I wrote this to explain my situation and I hope my children will read and understand my situation

Sometimes as an adult, we know what is ideal but we learn soon enough that in life, we all have to deal with the hand we are dealt.

 

Regards, Ms. AA

 

PS: I have had this discussion with women from several groups

My stand on the issue of your mother or mother-in-law coming to serve you after you give birth to a baby is that it is not necessary

It creates more problems for young couples and it disrupts their learning process as they are both still understanding each other

If they are left alone, they will cope with the new baby and everybody will be fine It may be hard but they will find a way

So many marriages got into trouble because “mama” came into the house to serve the mother of the newborn

A new home is a unique, independent entity that must be allowed to evolve its own culture without any external interference

 

I hope we will all understand this.

 

-GSW-

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