In certain cultures, adulting is marked with rituals, tests and celebrations. But when you’re Nigerian, adulting often comes at you without warning. Adulting comes in different forms; bills, family, responsibility, and you guessed it, a child.
Everyone who’s crossed that bridge has a unique story. Stories that can help you see you’re not alone. That’s why every Thursday at 9am, we’ll bring you one Nigerian’s journey to adulthood, the moment it happened and how it shaped them.
The question we’ve been asking is, “when did you realise you were an adult?”
The guy in this story is a 29-year old digital marketer and writer. He lives in Lekki and has for a few years now, but that’s not the real thing. What’s important is he is a workhorse. Two things push him, or rather two people. You see, when he was a child, he wanted to be everything. Then he became a father of two at the ripe old age of 21 and found out there are no manuals for this thing.
As far back as I can remember, I always dreamed of being a family man. But it wasn’t the only thing I wanted to be. My ambitions as a kid always changed. I had different goals at different stages, from wanting to be a pastor, to an astronaut, to an engineer, to an actor, to a business mogul and finally a musician. I did become that final one for a few years.
I like to think certain aspects of childhood are the same for everyone. As a kid, I did what all other kids did. We lived in a suburb of Lagos with many other tenants in the compound. I remember playing with my siblings and going to school. Nothing eventful.
I woke up from my childhood when I was 7. My dad and mom had a falling out and separated for more than a year. You don’t need telling that things are not the same when your parents no longer live together so I had to start understanding certain things from that age. Things change, people fight and make up. But you can only do that when you both have time. A year isn’t an eternity.
My dad died when I was 20. It was a major point. I was in a university in Nigeria’s East at the time. I quickly realised I had to step up to some family responsibilities. It wasn’t unusual, to be honest.
Then I had kids the next year. Not a kid, kids. Two. A set of twins. Of course, it wasn’t planned. We were both young and typically, we’d met on Facebook. We weren’t in a steady relationship per se. You know how these internet dating things are. It was a very convenient arrangement until one particularly night ensured it wasn’t.
I was 21 and still in school. I had just lost my dad, but he was also the one who often said, “If a problem comes your way, it means you have the ability to solve it”. The details of how the babies happened matter little in retrospect – we weren’t married obviously and there was little planning in that regard but there I was, 21, with two babies and a father-shaped void at home.
I had to take a break from school and life. I went to Benin for several months to clear my head and get ready for the rest of my life.
It wasn’t easy. It’s still not easy. I fought the urge but I knew I had to tell my mom. The Good woman, she didn’t react in alarm. She took the news calmly and planned our next moves. First, certain protocols have to be observed for these things. My baby mama lives in Abuja but we had no plans to have a life together so my mum had to go and see her people first without me. You want to know why? Well, her father (who’s considerably well-to-do) was threatening me with fire, brimstone and prison walls. When she had doused the fires a little, she came back to Lagos and I and a few relatives for the Abuja trip.
Having kids meant I stopped thinking about myself. I had twins – two mouths to feed, the needs of two people must be met, for the foreseeable future (at least 20 years). With my dad late, I was already shouldering some bills for my younger siblings. If I had to make it simple, having kids just meant looking for more money. I dropped out of university without a second’s thought after lecturers attempted to keep me in school for an extra year.
From that point, every decision had to be the financially smarter one. This mindset made me fearless. I took any job regardless of experience. From blogging to artist management to PR and Media to Photography to Journalism to Social media/digital marketing, I took on any job as long as it would pay me more than what I was earning at the time.
The reminders were constantly there; School fees must be paid every three months. Child support must be sent every month. My younger ones have to be taken care of before I think about my own problems and chop the small life I can chop.
My kids are 8 now. They live with their mother’s family in Abuja and come to Lagos often to visit. They live comfortable lives there, and I’m determined to do what I can to make that happen.
Nowadays, having extra jobs is par for the course for me. At any given time, I have three to four jobs. Right now, I have a new job, it’s a 9-5, and I have 3 and a half other jobs on the side. One of them is half because they haven’t exactly agreed to my proposal yet.
The way I look at it, I could be hung up on how things turned out but I’m really grateful for the experience. The biggest lesson I have learned over time is nobody has this adulting thing figured out. We are all winging it. Also, Kids are expensive. Use a condom if you are not ready for the non-stop paper chase.