Man Enough!

Man Enough! 2

Yee ha! I made it into the ‘Man Enough’ Hall of Fame!

Last February, I was in this cosy and classy restaurant, where I had lunch with a senior colleague. I have noticed the management of the place have a bias for cool jazz, and rhythm and blues songs (I’ve been there twice before). This gives the place a relaxed ambience that endeared me, an incurable romantic, to the place.

On this particular day, Toni Braxton was crooning the song that won her her fourth Grammy, ‘He Wasn’t Man Enough For Me.’ I was taken down memory lane to my first two years as an undergraduate, where singing and listening, sleeping, and even reading to such music was like breathing. For the first time I decided to seriously consider the lyrics of the song.

As I mused on the words of Toni, I asked myself, ‘Am I man enough for my wife and boy?’ How will Njeb, my wife, respond to the question, ‘Is your husband man enough for you?’

My brief voyage of musing ended with a resolve to pose the question to Njeb.

Two days later, when I got home from work, not without some reluctance, I mustered courage and popped the question. A question so important, yet I wish I do not have to ask it.

My wife, sensing my emotional tension and enjoying the moment, mercilessly delayed her answer by responding, ‘Why are you asking?’ I answered, with a smile that I can hardly feel, ‘I need to know.’ After what seemed liked an hour (actually several seconds), her face looking serious and my breath held, she said, ‘Gem, you are man enough for me!’

Oh my! The wave of relief that washed over me was indescribable. This is a huge compliment! No! It’s more than a compliment, considering the dearth of true manhood (husbands and fathers) these days. That moment has been added to my collection of most memorable moments.

Toni Braxton sang that she broke up with her man because he was not man enough for her; I rejoice that I am with my woman who believes I am man enough for her, and will continue to be.

I am so pleased and honoured to be in the ‘Man Enough’ Hall of Fame! My wife’s ‘Man Enough’ Hall of Fame!

Let me quickly add that I am man enough, not because I am the perfect specimen of manhood.


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My Stress Indicators

Photo Credit: Olivier Le Moal
Photo Credit: Olivier Le Moal

A fortnight ago, I felt like a flower hanging limp in a vase; like George Orwell’s Boxer in Animal Farm, when he succumbed to exhaustion. I exerted my body to a new high of stress.

As I approach my mid-thirties, chief among the things that drain my energy are work and interpersonal issues. There are indicators in my life that let me in on when I am losing control and setting the stage for stress to set in and build up. These tell-tale signs include:

  • Neglected nails. My nails, especially my toenails show the promise of becoming talons, because I hardly find time to clip them. Dirt under my fingernails and holes in my socks are what I have to show for this.
  • Taking work home. Especially when I fail to inform Njeb, my wife, as we both agreed, before doing so.
  • Unrealized reading, writing and blogging goals. The habits of reading, writing and blogging are gradually stifled by ‘the tyranny of the urgent’. Books are waiting to be finished or started, writing and blogging ideas abound, but the ‘right moment’ always slips by. If you noticed my last blog post was, ‘Hearing Between the Lines’ on August 26, 2014.
  • Insufficient sleep. I sleep late, and predictably, past my wake up time, 5 a.m. Even when I manage to wake up by that time, I fight the, more often than not, futile battle of getting out of bed.
  • Failure to keep daily, morning appointments with God. Though my spirit is willing, my body is weak). My excitement to read the Bible and pray wanes. This is my most critical indicator.
  • Morning workout becomes irregular and the discipline difficult to sustain. Currently, with a 24.9 Body Mass Index (BMI), I am on the borderline between normal and slightly overweight. An improvement from seven weeks ago, when I was slightly overweight.
  • A growing and nagging feeling of emptiness and failure that is impossible to shrug off or ignore. At this stage I feel like a busy bee, buzzing from flower to flower tapping nectar, but no honey in the honeycomb to show for my buzzyness, sorry busyness.

Fortunately, I recognize these signs. I appreciate them. They may be unpleasant but I am the wiser because of them. They are God’s pointers, to the reality that my life is out of sync and a quick intervention is needed. They remind me I am human and need God’s help to live effectively and fruitfully.
Bottom line: With me in charge, living becomes arduous, but with God at the helm, living, in spite of life’s uncertainties, is joyous.

What are your stress indicators?

5 Ways to Support Your Pregnant Wife

Ballet MoveI have struggled to with the notion of publishing this post since May, 2014. You are reading it not because I, the husband of a woman who has been pregnant twice, and a father of one, know everything about how to support a pregnant woman, but because I believe that at least one person will find sharing from my experience, albeit brief, beneficial.

Pregnancy is a wonderful time but one replete with anxieties. It is a period of ambivalence – nine months checkered with, fears and excitement; the worry of whether the unborn is healthy and will turn out fine etc. alternating with the awe of carrying and growing another human! Because a pregnant woman, in addition to worry, has to deal with back pain, swelling (edema), stretch marks, nausea (morning sickness) and fatigue, she needs support, emotionally, physically and intellectually.

Without being insensitive to the plight of single or unmarried pregnant women, I write the following points to show how a husband can and should support his wife.

  • Accompany her to ante-natal appointments as many times as possible: Be there when the Obstetrician is seeing her. She will find your presence encouraging. Also, she will need you to help queue up to pay hospital fees or even to hold her handbag, especially when she is far along.
  • Give domestic assistance: Because of symptoms like back pain, fatigue and nausea your wife will not be as active as before. So, intentionally, do some chores. If you can cook, make some meals for her – even if you have a cook. If you cannot cook, and you have a house help, do something. At least you can serve the food another has made.
  • Be patient and understanding: Be an active listener to her complaints and fears (both real and imagined) and do not make light of them. Satisfy her food cravings as much as you can, and as long as it is healthy for her and the baby. It won’t come easy, but resolve to accept, not tolerate, the mood swings and irritations. For instance, I had to polish my shoes outside the house; we had to give up deodorant and air freshener, change washing and bathing soap, and toothpaste several times because the smell and taste upset my wife. This was easier written than experienced, by far!
  • Educate yourself: Especially if you are having the pregnancy experience for the first time. I recommend these two sites: www.whattoexpect.com & www.babycenter.com. Register for the pregnancy calendar on these sites to receive enlightening and encouraging weekly updates about your wife and your unborn child. Check out the sites with her, or share what you are learning. She’ll ‘feel’ your partnership in the pregnancy experience. My wife and I had fun reading and discussing the articles.
  • Adjust to your wife’s sexual appetite: Some women’s sexual drive goes high during pregnancy, while for others it dips. I had to cope with the latter. It was tough! Be ready to adjust. Also, you may have to change or adapt your sex positions, for the baby’s safety and the convenience of the both of you. Read about it here.

It is important to know that your wife is not acting up or overdoing her symptoms. The hormones are the culprits. Also, remember that the pregnancy experience varies for different people, as a result, the extent of your support is determined by your wife’s unique experience and your, ability, availability and understanding. Whatever your experience, it is a worthy price to pay to be a father. You can check out a week by week outline of what is expected of you as an expectant dad here.

What will you add to these five points?