Grace was my second wife and “mother” to my two sons. I say mother even though she did not give birth to them. When I met her, she was well into her forties. She was desperate, no let me not use that word but you know what an unmarried woman in her early forties will be. She was already accomplished in the media-marketing industry; she was doing well financially but I guess the society demanded she find a man to complete her.
So she was eager, yes, eager for marriage because she wanted to be Mrs something, she wanted a man she could call her husband and I fit that profile perfectly.
The fact that I was an option she had to settle for was not lost to me; first off, at her age, there were not many available unmarried men, so I knew I was a good catch for her.
And as for me, my first wife had packed out of our home leaving our two boys with me, she took the youngest, a girl of three years old and hasn’t looked back ever since.
So, in a way we both found what we were looking for; I was looking for a mother for my kids, Grace needed a husband to complete her dossier, it was an arrangement we both felt would work for us.
Did I love Grace?
I just said ours was an ‘arrangement.’ Maybe you should ask her if she loved me too.
What gave me comfort though was that during the time we courted, Grace fell in love with my boys. They were hungry for a mother, she came and she was sweet to them. In fact, her love for them was by far stronger than her love for me.
My kids are James and John, they were five and seven years old then.
To the best of my knowledge, Grace was a perfect mother. As my boys grew, they relied more on her than on me. They called her aunty Grace but she was a real mother hen to them. She attended school functions, took them out weekends, was always worried about their health, she was a real hen over those boys.
I think she saw them as a project that she must succeed at, like in business… anyway to be honest, she truly loved them.
While Grace and my kids thrived, my relationship with her was nothing special. Like I said before, she seemed to love the kids more than she loved me. At the beginning, I was perfectly cool with that. I didn’t have to worry about a step mother starving my kids or beating them black and blue for minor offences. We lived like a happy family.
Grace couldn’t have children, that was the reason she never even wanted marriage at first but even then, I didn’t want any more kids, so you see, it was a win, win situation. She got the kids she couldn’t have, I got a woman to take care of me and my kids.
But after a while, I didn’t find any reason to come home early. I began to resent the life she had. She was still the glamorous media –marketing woman; the boss of a small agency; the one who travelled often and seemed to have everything. I resented that.
I let my ego get the better of me on many occasions. I would not go to functions with her. I knew she liked the world to see that she was accomplished both at home and in business. I guess my small ego couldn’t take that. Plus at that time, I was having problems at my place of work. Things weren’t rosy. My salary was slashed twice…long story there but Grace seemed to be doing so well. Many times she’d say we are to go to so and so place, I would simply say, ‘No, I don’t want to go.’
I was feeling used.
Selfish? Maybe. I just couldn’t see beyond my nose. I also had friends, drinking buddies, who said things to me about my wife, especially when she travelled. I let these get to me. I wasn’t mature enough to see they were jealous of what I had with Grace.
Now, all these happened over a period of 10-12years, so it didn’t just happen overnight. We drifted apart, we quarreled a lot and after one of such quarrels, we separated our living quarters; same house but different kitchens, different bathrooms, no connection at all, different exits and entrances to our 4-bedroom duplex. Oh, I am an architect by the way, so dividing the apartment was easy for me.
We lived separately like this for 8years after which she filed for a divorce. Our sons had moved out of the house way before then; they both live abroad, they hardly talk to me and blame me for everything but they are in constant touch with their ‘mother,’ Grace.
Today, I am a wreck. I have not remarried but I have a girlfriend who is about my elder son’s age; she is totally out of it.
I mean, I can’t even have meaningful conversations with her apart from the sex. She wants marriage but three times is too much for me. Besides, these kids have a totally different orientation. Sometimes I ask myself, how long will she stay before she packs up and go?
I messed up with Grace.
And Grace? She is abroad with our younger son, playing grandma to my grandchildren. When she is done, she will move to the other one’s home to be grandma…
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)