As a child, I really didn’t look forward to being a teenager. When I finally turned thirteen, I told myself over and over that I wasn’t as smart as I thought. This was because I had heard about and seen so many naughty teenagers and I really didn’t want to be like them. Most of them did things their parents would never dream they were doing, but I really wanted to have an open relationship with my mum particularly. It was really cool to be sent off to boarding school, where I was technically ‘safe’ from certain issues. There were all kinds of girls in this ‘safe zone’ and without televisions, radios or the invention of mobile phones, all we had were a few novels and our personal stories to keep us entertained. Some girls told of how open they were with their parents, while others took pride in how eluded their parents were to their true identities. All these variations of the female species helped me to decide the kind of relationship I wanted with my Mum, especially when it came to the issue of ‘boys’!
So, I hit 17 and found myself in the UK. I was living with a relative but my Mum was in another town working. I went over to spend my first UK Christmas with her and we were both really excited. She couldn’t wait to take me to her church and introduce me to her friends. I was busy trying to work out the Irish accent and making sure I wasn’t looking too ‘fresh’ even though the cold was dealing with me. A couple from the church who were deacons, invited me to their home so that I could come and spend a day with their children. My Mum was living with an older lady and there wasn’t much fun in the house, so I was very happy to go out anywhere. It was a short walk to the couple’s home, so ‘Uncle’ came to get me to show me the way. As we walked he asked about college and how I was settling in. I talked about my subjects and how I had aced all the English tests I had been given. He asked about a boyfriend and I laughed saying I didn’t have time for that, but I had noticed a particular guy looking in my direction. Yer I thought the guy was cute, but I really didn’t have time as I had joined my course six weeks after everyone else. We got to his building and it was a small block of flats, a bit like where my mum was staying but nicer. Uncle said we should take the lift and I happily jumped in.
The doors had not closed properly before my newly found Deacon Uncle was trying to kiss me.
The doors had not closed properly before my newly found Deacon Uncle was trying to kiss me I was a little confused but my reflex action was on point. I dodged quickly while looking at him saying “Uncle!”. The lift door opened and we were on the first floor. There were mirrors along the passage and I noticed my hair had gotten messed up. Uncle actually said, “tidy your hair”. That was when it proper hit me! This man had in reality just tried to kiss me and my scattered hair was evidence! I tidied my hair and his wife met us at the door. How I composed myself during that visit, I do not know. I remember looking at Aunty so many times when she had her back turned. This woman was beautiful, with a correct figure. She had her hair really short but it looked so good I actually thought about cutting mine. I looked at the two children I was playing with and the lovely place this family called home. What in God’s name did Uncle see in me that would make him toy with all these blessings?
It was time to go home. Uncle volunteered to walk me home again – since I was still new in town. I quickly found the stairs as there was no way he would catch me in the lift again. I tried keeping my distance but this man still hit my little bum. I was almost running when another tenant showed up on the staircase. Uncle decided to behave. I walked home very quickly calculating how I would tell my mum the whole story. Little did I know that Uncle was also doing his own calculations. As soon as we entered the flat, Uncle began to tell my mom how they had tried to play with me and help me relax, but I seemed lost in my own world. I didn’t even mind the lies he was telling because surely my mum would not believe him over me. I just walked into the room and let him leave. Mummy came in later and before I could say a word, she started to scold me for being unfriendly. Trying hard not to lose it, I started to explain what had happened, but my mom cut me off, telling me to shut up and stop misinterpreting things. “He was only trying to be friendly, and you were being rude!”. I was hurt. Mummy didn’t give me a chance to talk. I cried. The next day, when mummy went to work, I got a phone card and reported Uncle to my friends back home. I was crying on the phone and the person I called consoled me as best they could. After a few days of doing nothing indoors, I started to wonder if it had actually happened or if I imagined the whole thing.
Then Uncle and family came to visit after church. I was in the kitchen doing the dishes when this same Uncle Deacon came and grabbed me from behind. “Uncle please leave me alone!” I said in a slightly raised voice.
“Why are you complaining? Am I not better than the buy-in college?” was his reply. I was in shock hearing those words but my brain was still functioning. “MUMMY!” I screamed. Uncle Deacon left, my mom came in and I asked for something in the kitchen. Which guy was uncle talking about? I then remembered what I had told him as we walked to his house. I had never even spoken to this person and Uncle had already painted a very wrong picture of the kind of person I was – and was trying to get his share of the fun!!! Is this what Christian Elders are doing overseas? I couldn’t wait for the new year to come so that I would leave the vicinity of this person, even though it meant leaving my mum.
It really hurt me that my mum believed this Deacon over me but I still wanted to have an open relationship with her. A year later, we were living in the same town and the same house. Someone back home had been asking me out across the border. I knew another friend of mine was openly interested in him, but he was not interested in her at all. I came to my mother to ask for advice as I was really confused. I don’t remember the exact phrase she uttered but it was something along the lines of “… why are you being a husband-snatcher…” In that singular moment I resolved that the next time my mother would hear me talk about a guy, he would have proposed to me and I would be accepting his proposal. It was a promise to myself which I kept for over ten years. As I reached my mid-twenties, my mother wanted to have these talks with me, but I had found other people to chat to and I just couldn’t trust her not to say something that would provoke me the wrong way.
I really did want to have an open relationship with mummy, but she wasn’t ready at the time when I needed her. Maybe she just didn’t want me to grow up so soon, I really don’t know. I think this event in my life has helped me be a good mentor to many because I understand how painful it can be to need genuine advice from someone you trust and not get it. Also looking back, maybe I should have told Uncle Deacon’s wife or ran back to my mother’s house from the lift, or so many other things you’ve probably thought I could have done as you read my story. I can assure you that a lot of things happened in those 10plus years which probably wouldn’t have happened if I had my mother a little closer. Not to worry though. I have the exact relationship I want with my mother now and we are both enjoying it!
PS: I am a mother now and do have a daughter, I really hope to build the right relationship with her so that she knows at all times, she has her back covered.
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