My predicament brings to mind two of the many relatable quotes of American motivational voice, Trent Shelton:
“Everybody isn’t your friend. Just because they hang around you and laugh with you doesn’t mean they’re for you. Just because they say they got your back, doesn’t mean they won’t stab you in it. People pretend well. Jealousy sometimes doesn’t live far. So know your circle. At the end of the day real situations expose fake people so pay attention.”
“Life has taught me that you cannot control someone’s loyalty. No matter how good you are to them doesn’t mean they’ll treat you the same. No matter how much they mean to you, doesn’t mean they’ll value you the same. Sometimes the people you love the most, turn out to be the people you can trust the least.”
Hubby is the only son in a family of three. He also occupies the second position, more so, he is the breadwinner of his extended family. I am the last child in a family of four with three boys and one girl- and to the glory of God, we are all financially comfortable and independent. I understood hubby’s position with his family, so I freely gave my consent each time he needed to release funds to his people -we operate a joint account.
When my dad passed away, my brothers and I decided to spend N5M to give him a befitting burial. It was not difficult for us to make it happen. Moreover, my parents have thriving businesses, too. I made certain that MIL and SILs attended the function looking very presentable. I gave them enough money to make befitting souvenirs and I ensured that neither my siblings nor my mother knew about it. As a matter of fact, I have never discussed their financial challenges with my own people.
When FIL passed away, I supported hubby immensely and it all came out great. After FIL’s death, MIL refused to live alone, she said she wanted to live with one of her children. Both SILs refused to take their mother in but what did I do? MIL & FIL lived outside Lagos till his death so when MIL said she wasn’t going back to the family house, hubby opted to rent a decent accommodation for her in Lagos so she would be close to all her children but I kicked against it. I prevailed on hubby to allow her come live with us.
On countless times, I have put in a word with hubby for his sisters when it comes to setting them up in businesses, with their rents and when they needed help with their children’s school fees… How many of such can I recount? I can say without exaggerating that 60% of our earnings is spent on hubby’s extended family but I have never complained about it.
Hmm! The first sign of danger I experienced after MIL moved in with us was that, both SILs started to frequent my home but I chose to overlook it.
You see, even though my mother is also widowed, she is too occupied to visit any of her children. She is in her 60s and she has started dating a widower two years after my dad’s demise. My mother would rather send gifts to us than come sit in our homes. She is quite educated and she would jokingly say to us, “My darlings, I got this one life to live. Please do not burden me with your issues, go enjoy your time with your spouses. I have raised you all and thank goodness you turned out well. Now, raise your own children. Don’t dump them on me.”
My mother never forgets birthdays and anniversaries, and she would send gifts and money to us, she would chat us up regularly on WhatsApp but to visit us? NO!!! From my own side of the family, no one chokes the other but hubby’s family is the total opposite. And truth be told, I have learned to accommodate their excesses thinking they noticed all my sacrifices but…
This past weekend, as if it was planned, both SILs appeared at my doorstep before 8am. Hubby and I were on our way out to a breakfast meeting so we left them to themselves. This was what happened afterwards.
According to my house help, not long after hubby and I left the house, MIL called her to go get something for her at the market. Esther said she told MIL that we have those things in the house but she insisted saying she did not want to touch them so that I would not come back and start to complain. Esther said she told her that I have never complained about anything she takes from the house but she insisted.
My 9-year old son, IniOluwa was left alone in the house with them. Now, he understands a bit of our dialect though he cannot speak it. Hubby had other engagements so he did not return home with me. When I got in, Ini said to me: “Mum, Immediately Grandma sent auntie Esther on errands, she asked me to go to my room even though she saw I was watching the TV but aunt Titi told her to let me be. She said I can’t understand what they were saying. Well, that made me suspicious so I decided to record their conversations on my phone. Listen to it mum, is it bad?”
I was upset with him and told him off. I reprimanded him for eavesdropping on adults’ conversations and seized the phone from him. I told him I would not let him have it again and sent him to the naughty corner for the rest of the day.
However, curiosity took a better hold of me so I listened to it and I have been down since then.
The whole 15-minutes recording is all about me. They abused me unreservedly. They called me ‘jero.’ In my language, that word is used to belittle a person. It means a nonentity; a fool. They said they wished hubby would at least impregnate someone so that he would have more children. They said they do not understand how a woman would have just a child and be comfortable with her failure. They said someone with just one child is as ‘useless’ as a barren woman. MIL said I was always maltreating her and shielding her from having uninterrupted chat with her son. That is not true though. They said many unprintable things about me and I have been in shock ever since.
My dilemma now is what step to take. Do I tell hubby about it? Do I confront them? Will I not be exposing Ini to danger? Though I have not stopped scolding him for recording people’s conversation but then, hasn’t his action helped me see who they really are?
How do I handle this, please?