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I remember working hard as a young mum, trying to put most of my savings in a nest egg for my daughter’s education. She attended one of the best primary schools in town. I had an average education when I was growing up. It was just plain routine but I wanted to give my daughter the very best exposure available. I wanted her in a school locally that had an international feel, I wanted her active in sports, playing different musical instruments and speaking a few international languages before tenth birthday.
This lofty dream made me take a few loans every now and then to make up for the fees that were always on the rise. I had great dreams for her. When she turned 11, I moved her to an exclusive boarding school in England, I travelled ever so often as my work schedules permitted to see her. I wanted the best for her. She did very well in high school and we began to talk about what she wanted to become when she grew up.
She seem to want to do a bit of everything. I convinced her that life was tough and only doctors, lawyers and engineers made it in life. She was clueless of my manipulation and with a fantastic A-level result, she got into Oxford University to study Medicine. I had dreams of her working in the NHS as a surgeon. My friends would ask about her and I would tell them she was doing great and she’s excited about studying and living in England.
She spent so many years studying and came out just average. There were times she wanted to take a break from school to take music or even flying lessons. I would scold her to stay focused. I struggled to pay her fees but was glad when she finally graduated. After school, she wasn’t enthusiastic about applying for any job. I would go online and glance through magazines ever so often looking for jobs she could apply for.
I kept sending cash I couldn’t afford to keep her back in the UK because I didn’t want her back in Nigeria. All my friends thought she had even started working but she was either stuck at home or sipping coffee after window shopping all day. It’s been three years since she left school, no job, living on handouts from me.
One night, very late about 9pm, she called to say she was getting married. Whenever we spoke, I’d ask if she’s serious with anyone, she claimed there wasn’t anyone so this was a big shock for me. I wasn’t ready for this news. How does your daughter get married having never worked after studying Medicine from such a prestigious university? I pretended like I was happy about the news but I was hurting.
Just then my fears started haunting me. My daughter was getting married to a guy I didn’t know, I hadn’t even had the opportunity to meet him and the wedding was already scheduled. I decided to step back and let her run the show for the first time. I attended the wedding but my eyes were teary most times.
I regret not preparing my daughter for the future, I was spending my time preparing the future for her. We hadn’t spoken months after the wedding, I had been so angry and bitter. She called me one night and we were on the phone for hours, she told me how lonely she had been in the UK for so many years, how she never really wanted to study Medicine and how she’s looking forward to being a stay-at-home mum.
She had her baby months after that call and said she would be fine if I didn’t come to help. I look back and regret investing so much with nothing to show for it. I abandoned my own personal dreams and ambitions to save up so she could be and have the best in life. Now at 56, I wish I had done things differently.