And Then There Was Mike

I went to bed with a bad taste in my mouth. I was worried sick and feared the worst. Maybe he’d been carjacked on the way; or he had gotten into an accident, and he was badly hurt. Why else wouldn’t he pick my calls?

We’d been dating for 5 months. And we were meant to go out, a nice break from the usual in house- dates we used to have. I was waiting for him in earnest. But at 11pm he still hadn’t showed up. It wasn’t like him to come late for a date, even with his tight schedule. I didn’t know what to think.

I slept with my heart slamming itself around like a bee under a glass.

Then my phone rang at 2am. It was him. Thank God.

“Hey, babe, I’m sorry. I blacked out while putting the kids to bed. Si we can go out tomorrow?”

That was Mike. And Mike had kids, four of them. He had responsibilities. And I had to get in line. However much I loved him I had to understand –I couldn’t have him all to myself all the time. It was a far cry from dating boys my age, who would gladly hand you all their time, and then some.

Sometimes Mike would be late for dates. Other times he didn’t call when he said he would. Sometimes his mind would wander off to the kids, work and other parental responsibilities while on our dates.

I was barely 23 years old, and the mechanics of dating an older guy –with 4 kids, no less- were finally dawning on me. Mike had to be dad and mom at the same time. Our lives were coiffed around the kids and work. They were Mike’s default setting. A constant. We were tethered to them. They were like a centrifugal force, tossing us into a sweet whirlwind, dictating meeting times, aching beautifully between us, and I was so ready to get into the muck and muddle of raising the children with him.

Bring on the responsibilities.

And to think it all started with a pity date.

I felt bad for losing his number. I didn’t know the unknown number that was always buzzing up my phone was his. Unknown numbers were dubious things, to be frowned upon and then ignored. Youth is a wonderful thing.

Then a few weeks later he sent a text, identifying himself: “That army guy you met at the club.”

I was like: Aki woishe. It was you all this time?

The least I could do was go on a date with him.

We set it for 7pm at Grand Regency. He had to attend a last minute meeting and said he’d be running late. I had a beer (Pilsner to be precise – Imara kama Simba) while I waited, I had capacity then, and the world was my oyster. I had a nice, firm body and just out of college into my first job.

Mostly I was excited about having my own bank account. My sticks were still in Mom’s house, in Lang’ata, and helping her with the bills fascinated the hell out of me.

I felt like a boss whenever I walked in with a month’s-worth of shopping. I was like a soaring bubble when I handed mom paid receipts of the water and power bills. Sometimes I felt like I could go around town and give every beggar a bit of cash. The novelty of it all was exciting, but it would quickly be dampened once mom found out Mike was 18 years older than me.

But I’ll never forget that first date. Mike and I talked like old friends, and he made me laugh. We were untouched by the babble of voices around us, and the jingle of glasses. The world simply fell away.
He was kind to the waiters. He tipped them. He said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and I thought this was how peop le felt in the company of saints. Not that Mike was a saint, but his presence felt as distinct as a flame leaping up a dark room.

He told me about the kids. You could see that they were his best friends. There was just something in the way he talked about them. And for the first time I started to wonder how motherhood would feel like.

We went on a few more dates after that. Mike was my kind of guy, really. He was genuine, with a nice heart. I decided I’d settle down, how hard could it be??

Mom wasn’t too hot about the relationship. Nobody was. My family just couldn’t get it. My friends thought I was making a big mistake. But I stood my ground. It was the first time I was going against mom’s wishes. But this was the man I loved, and I was going to devote my life to him.

It took mom a long time before she accepted the relationship. She didn’t talk to me for a month after I moved out, which was really tough. I felt like no one understood.

Incidentally, Mike and mom are now such good friends.

Ours was a mature kind of romance, nothing you’d see on your typical Rom-Com, where the guy chases down a car or a train, running to some dreary opera music with his shirt button open.

There was no spontaneity, ati sijui road trips and what not. At first I felt like I was missing out, being so young and all, but Mike always gave me a reason to stay.

So now I had my digs in Westy. We no longer had to go out. It didn’t make much sense anyway, because after work we’d be exhausted. Sometimes when we went out I’d catch him dozing off. I thought he looked so cute, sitting there pretending to be alert. And even then he had to plan for someone to look after the kids.

We got into a routine:

He’d take the kids to school, pick me up from home, and then drop me off at work. Evenings he’d be home early, to have dinner with the kids and tuck them into bed. Then he’d come over for a few hours, before going back home to sleep, ready to repeat the following morning.

By the time he’d get to my place he’d be bone-tired. Other times he’d just black out on the sofa. And then at 2am I’d to wake him up to go home to the children. I never wanted them to ever wake up one morning and find him not at home; I thought they had already lost enough.

I was a big girl anyway; I could take care of myself.

I truly admired his resolve.

The house gave us a chance to understand each other’s world. And nights I’d cook for him. Back then there was a magazine called Tupike. (They should bring it back, by the way). I’d try out the recipes and test them on Mike. I make a mean soufflé.

Mike would sweep his plate clean, never mind that he’d already had dinner. We added a lot of weight. Don’t judge us. We loved food, and we were in love.

Dating Mike taught me how to be calm, and not to over-react to things. There were no dramatic events or any major fights. There was already enough drama around us, four of them, and I couldn’t have it any other way. Well, now there are six of them.

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20 Comments

  1. Nzilani
    June 29, 2018 / 4:45 pm

    If I didn’t know him, I’d say he is too good to be true! But really,he is just a really great guy. You two are so cute together. I read this in traffic! Loved it!

  2. Ivy
    June 29, 2018 / 5:17 pm

    What a wonderful read. Waiting for the continuation.

  3. Lucy
    June 29, 2018 / 6:00 pm

    Catherine I have never met you, in fact I landed on your story on YouTube by accident. But gal I must say you are admirable. As someone who grew up with a stepmother from hell literally, your love for your stepchildren and how you go about your step mom business with ease to me sounds like a fairy tale. All I ever longed for as a little gal was a motherly love. My dad did the best he could, bless him. but dads can only be dads.
    I hope one day I will get a chance to meet you cos you have become such an inspiration to me. You are beautiful and I hope your lovely husband and stepchildren realises how lucky they are to have you. may God bless you and continue increasing you with wisdom and stature. Love, Lucy.

    • Anna
      July 10, 2018 / 1:17 pm

      Such a beautiful read! I really enjoyed , I only got to know about you few weeks ago from YouTube really lovely lady and such a beautiful family
      Bless you

  4. Umy
    June 29, 2018 / 6:18 pm

    I read this and for a moment i thought i was reading a novel and want to go on n’ on. Just the kind of love i so want right now mature love which is so hard to find…..
    That was a great read!

  5. June 29, 2018 / 6:59 pm

    Wow, I have read it all through, amazing write! To many more years for you guys, so you can write more.

  6. Charity Utwoma
    June 29, 2018 / 7:36 pm

    Interesting

  7. Trizah
    June 29, 2018 / 9:04 pm

    Aki the story is not over yet 😢…..
    You should write a novel😍😍

  8. Ciku
    June 29, 2018 / 11:47 pm

    I like the way you write….its like sitting across from you over a cup of coffee. Waiting for the next one 😊

  9. Margaret
    June 30, 2018 / 6:50 am

    Really nice, hardworking dedicated Man U hav e there. I am sure those qualities drew you in. Wishing you the very best. 😘

  10. Njoki
    June 30, 2018 / 8:09 am

    Wow! Like fairy tale! I love it! By the way you look so cute together! Age ain’t nothing but a number..

  11. ESTHER Muturi
    June 30, 2018 / 1:19 pm

    This is such a great read.

    I actually watched your YouTube interview and it really changed my way of thinking..

    I have lost two wonderful guys who had kids for the fear of being a stepmother and raising someone’s else’s kids..

    Keep up the great work!

    Blessings,

    Esther

  12. Kagure Muriithi
    June 30, 2018 / 2:15 pm

    So inspiring!!I miss Tupike Magazine.I was a fan! Even photocopied andwent to their offices….Bummer they left the market

  13. RKM
    July 1, 2018 / 7:16 am

    👌🏾

  14. Imani
    July 2, 2018 / 9:53 am

    Today i came i decided to i was able to read your famous blog and the first article blows me away it is such romance and such beauty,finding love & raising six kids.You are an awsome Mother! Keep going

  15. Wambui
    July 3, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    Wonderful writing and very beautiful. Maj. Mike is very lucky to have you. May he make you as happy as you make him. You are very inspiring to mums out there.

  16. Wambui
    July 3, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    Great writing, you are very beautiful and inspiring to mums out there. Maj Mike is lucky to have you. May he make you as happy as you make him.

  17. Matilda
    July 4, 2018 / 3:24 pm

    I wish I had your courage to fight for what i love and stand by it regardless of what people say but here I am being a scared little girl. Lol. Love you Cathy. God bless you.

  18. Sarah
    November 8, 2018 / 10:34 am

    There should be a part 2 it’s not done yet! Right? 😁😁

    • Fashionable Stepmum
      November 16, 2018 / 5:01 am

      Haha on the way

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