16 things I didn’t put on my resume
1. That once, completely exhausted of having both babies sick, I stood in that crazy hot bedroom in Ghana, in the middle of the night, holding my crying child and I felt strong. Stronger than I had ever felt before. And I wondered how was that possible – how could such exhaustion bring about such strength. Because it was the only thing I could do. What else was there? There could only be picking them up, holding them, cuddling with them, giving them the medicine, sweating to my core, becoming sticky and smelly of breast milk, taking a shower, going to bed and doing it all over again in a few minutes or one hour, depending on how long they slept that time.
2. How the nurse at the hospital told me not to ostracize my oldest because of the new baby brother. How she told me that the baby needed me but the eldest needed me more and how I took those words so much to heart that by the age of four my youngest only clang to daddy, because he sensed that the brother was mummy’s boy, but he wasn’t. How it took years to revert that tendency and he’s still daddy’s boy much more than mummy’s and how that still hurts sometimes.
3. I didn’t put on my resume how my husband would wake up at 5:00 AM to take the family’s morning shift because both kids woke up early as hell, as soon as the first light entered through the windows, the first taxis started honking out in the street, and the security guards changed shifts and went out to buy food by the roadside, banging the gate, forgetting there were sleeping children and an exhausted mother inside.
4. How my husband would take the kids to see the herons first thing in the morning. The streets of Tema full of garbage.
5. That I knew little Efua, who spent her days by the roadside with her mother, who sold grilled plantain and roasted groundnuts, a wonderful combination. That three-year-old girl all day playing around with nothing. Once, she had malaria and I took her to sleep in our house, to make sure she took the meds on time and had a comfortable bed. I thought she’d never go home with me because she cried every time she saw us, the obroni family, the white folks, the terrible ones. But she went with me, yes, despite all her suspicion. She went and ate a little, some french fries only, and slept in our bed, open like a starfish, breathing heavily and sweating, and I realized the fever was leaving her body, and that in the morning she would feel better. I could not understand all the thank you’s her mother babbled in twi, local dialect, but I understood the thank you, a thousand times thank you.
6. I didn’t put on my resume that one day, not knowing what to do when my oldest son came home from school crying because he had had an F in his math’s test and said he was stupid, I took him out and showed him the two baby pine trees his father and I had planted over the weekend. I told him that, despite everything, those pine trees would grow, weathered as they’d be, and that he too, despite everything, would overcome difficulties and grow. He looked at me, still red-faced and with wet eyelashes, not saying a word. But on the way back home he took my hand and started talking about other things of his day and I knew he was relieved, and I smiled.
7. That I make a mean hot chocolate that my kids say it’s the best in the world.
8. That I still know most of the nursery rhymes we used to sing when they were toddlers. That while singing Jack be nimble, I´d actually pretend to jump over a candlestick. On the last verse of ring around the rosie, we’d all fall down and burst out laughing, tickling each other, laughing even harder.
9. That I used to sing and dance fireman Sam, paw patrol and make way for Noddy and I still know all or some of these songs. I still make the voice of Peppa Pig, George, mummy pig and daddy pig. When reading stories, I like to do accents and goofy voices, and I criticize my husband for being monochordist when he reads. Our favorite book is probably Tachi – the adventures of the Tibetan cricket, which describes human condition for children in such a sweet gentle way. I’m always amazed by how controlling their spirit the four friends managed to leave the sorceress’s islands.
10. That I stopped working to take care of my kids. That deep down, I never stopped working, I just got in, unknowingly and full-time, into the hardest job in the world.
11. That I love making sugar-free cakes, but I don’t always like their taste.
12. How once I sat quietly on the sofa holding my sleeping baby and I could feel his warm breath on my neck and I posted about it on Facebook, calling it Happiness.
13. That once, my husband left the last Nespresso capsule on the table, with a little note saying I love you, as he left for work without drinking his first coffee, so I could drink it when I woke up. And I also posted this on Facebook, calling it Love.
14. How sad I was that I fell asleep while my dog was having her puppies and three of them were born dead, probably because they were inside her for too long and she was tired to push them out without my support. How carefully I buried those puppies in our garden, but she dug them out and ate them all. How before we gave away all 6 females, I used to run around with them and the male. Seven tiny black things chasing me in the garden, nibbling at my ankles, and how that was pure joy. We kept the only male and named him Rocky – after the green pup in paw patrol.
15. That I had a car accident after my husband had told me that we probably couldn’t travel with the dogs, and we’d have to leave them behind.
16. I didn’t put on my resume how loyal I am, though probably I should have.