My almost-two-year-old son Troy has formed a habit that baffles me, annoys me and melts my heart in equal measure. The habit was unleashed...

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My almost-two-year-old son Troy has formed a habit that baffles me, annoys me and melts my heart in equal measure. The habit was unleashed after I began weaning him off breastfeeding. So this is how his nocturnal games manifest.

It is the dead of the night. The whole house is sound asleep. It is probably that ungodly hour when the devil is executing his master plan. Then I hear a faint voice.

“Mum! Muuuuumm!” Troy is calling from his bed that is next to ours.

“Troy sleep, what do you want?” I ask.

“Ota, ota!” he responds with that voice that is adorable during the day, but annoying at night when you are desperate for sleep. I want him to be quiet, but he nags on.

“Mummy ota, ota!” he prods louder catching the attention of his father.

“Si you get for that baby water, he’s making noise. You know tomorrow I have an early morning. I need to rest,” my irritated husband insists.

I always wonder, how come some fathers, knowing fully well even mummy has an early morning, assume it is her sole responsibility to attend to baby’s needs when they wake up in those wee hours? What makes his morning meeting more important than mine? Anyway, that’s a story for another day.

When Troy nags on with his, “ota ota” pleas, I grudgingly head to the kitchen to fetch him the drink, knowing full well he is up to no good. And after I give him the water, he takes two sips and hands the cup back to me sheepishly.

“OK, now go back to sleep,” I order him as I place him beside me. I figure if I nestle him next to me, he will sleep in a flash, then I can transfer him to his bed later. I look at the clock. It is 2.03am. I have to be up by 5am. I desperately need those three hours.

I switch off the lights lazily and start to doze off. I pray and hope, baby will also doze off to slumber land. How wrong! As sleep begins to overtake me, I hear giggles and tickling in my ear. Troy is at it again. I pretend I cannot hear him. But the boy is very clever; he starts that annoying game of opening my eyes amid giggles.

“Troy… sleep. I will spank you!” I try to reprimand him. He pretends he is sleeping. As soon as I doze off, he starts his shenanigans again.

A few minutes later, he bursts into those endless irresistible chuckles that melts a mother’s heart. Though I am tired, I fall into his trap. We play those little games till he finally dozes off. At 4.47am. I have 13 minutes to catch sleep before the alarm goes off. And by the way, I am expected to present a world-class power point presentation at 8am, in front of my male bosses. Welcome to the world of a working mother.

The writer is a married working mother of a toddler boy and a pre-school girl. She shares her experience of juggling between career, family and social life.

Henry Okafor

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