Babe, as I write this, it is exactly a week since we celebrated your 50th birthday the royal way and I feel compelled to write this letter to you. Everything was happening so fast that I didn’t get a chance to really express myself or prepare a speech. I’ve decided to write a letter you can read over and over again to remind you of how much you mean to me. I also hope our daughters would read it when they are older to see the kind of man they should desire and our sons would know the kind of man they should grow up to be. A part of me wants other young women to see that there are good men out there and that if you desire it, pray for it and wait for it, it will come to you.
There are two major things I wanted in a man growing up. I wanted a man who would be my greatest cheerleader. I was a very ambitious woman and was ready to shatter any glass ceiling, and I wanted a man that would not be threatened by my ambition or success but would support me in achieving every goal that I ever set for myself. Boy, did I get what I desired! I remember about 18 years ago when we were dating, how you paid £500 for my ACCA qualification because I couldn’t afford to pay for it. You were a youth corp member so this was a huge sacrifice and I didn’t even finish the ACCA qualification. I also remember how because I didn’t have a car, you would pick me up and take me to my ACCA classes every day. You lived in Gbagada, but you would go out of your way to pick me up from the different houses I stayed in while we were dating (GRA Ikeja, Apapa and Omole) and take me to work on the Island. Then pick me up from work and take me back home. On your birthday, your daughters talked about how you support me for all my conferences and everything I do. You’re always at the front row of the Do It Afraid Conferences and more. Thank you.
I wanted a man who had the fear of God and would not hit or beat me. What I didn’t know was that these two qualities that I prayed for were quite deep and important for our unique journey and would be tested big time, privately and publicly. It is one thing to deal with the fact that your wife faced temptations and had an affair but to also deal with it publicly when I wrote the book, The Richer Woman, is something to be studied. Through the shame, the whispers, the gossip, the loss of close relationships, the rumours that I did it for money or fame or that I lied that I didn’t sleep with him, the tears, the pain, the heartache, the lies, you stood by me, babe. You never once complained or made me regret telling you or writing the book. You stood strong and every time I didn’t want to go on, all I had to do was look at how you were handling everything, your strength and courage and it would give me the courage and strength to go on. You comforted me through the pain and storms and always helped me focus on the bigger picture and the lives that were being impacted by our story. I also went to 14 cities globally on a book tour to speak to women and while I was travelling, you took care of our 3 children (now 4) and you allowed me to soar and never once complained. Thank you.
In 2012, when I wasn’t fulfilled in my investment banking job, you allowed me to resign without a plan B when many homes needed two incomes and for the last 10 years, since I resigned, you haven’t made me regret leaving my job. You have never complained or told me to go back to paid employment. You have carried us as a family in every way, especially financially. Even allowing me to dream and bailing me out financially in some of the huge projects that I have embarked on and have cost us so much. You could be selfish and use your money for many things including buying cars, watches, or travelling, but you invest in the well-being of your family, sending your kids to great schools, investing in their gifts and skills and paying for them to be able to compete internationally. Ensuring that you pay for club membership so that we can bond as a family on Sundays through play and swimming. These may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things but it is so impactful and plays a big part in who our kids are becoming.
It has been 10 years since I resigned and this year has been particularly challenging for me with regard to my work. I think it’s been the toughest year yet. In this journey, I have hit many walls and had many doors closed on me and this has cost us financially. This is the year that you could have said, “Omi, it’s enough” but instead, you have been there every way. You have comforted me, wiped my tears, encouraged me, paid my debts and allow me to keep on dreaming and following my dreams. You believe so much in me. Thank you.
You are such an intentional father. I have never had to go shopping for the kids for school supplies. In fact, I often don’t remember and you would take them shopping for school bags, school shoes and school uniforms. You could easily just give me the money to do it but you are involved in everything concerning your children. You gave your daughter her first bouquet of roses when she turned 13. You spend time with your sons, because you know they are forming their identity and mirroring you. You drop them at school, pick them up from school, and play games with them. When the girls were training for the World School Games in Dubai, you woke up early, followed them for practice, and taught them techniques. You showed them videos that would help enhance their skills. You became their coach and no wonder our first daughter wanted you to be the one to follow her for the competition and you did even though you were very busy. Over the summer, you took our first son for football training every day, not because you wanted him to be a football star but so that you can bond with him, and have a father-and-son moment. You take time to play oculus with him or play PS5 or chess but you also read the devotional with him and ensure he improves on his reading. You first bathed our kids as babies while I would help you with the soap and water. You were always there for hospital visits and immunisation.
The last two years have been slightly difficult because, for the most part, we haven’t had any domestic staff but you have been there, taking the lead in doing all the chores. Our kids are learning so much from you and I’m glad they take after you. All they have learnt domestically is from you – from how to sweep, mop, and tidy up. During the lockdown when our house helps left, you cooked meals for us as a family. We both learnt how to make amala together after several tries. One of the best times in my life is when we found time to bond alone in the kitchen during the lockdown while doing chores. I won’t forget how recently we went out with the boys and when we came home, the girls had cleaned the whole house (swept, mopped and dusted) without us asking them to do so. They could have decided to enjoy their time alone in the house and get up to what most teens do. It is because they see you doing this countless times. Even as young as the boys are, you are teaching them how to do their domestic chores and showing them that it has nothing to do with gender; everyone, whether male or female, must be responsible and know how to take care of things including the home. How you have been our provider but still are at the forefront of doing domestic chores baffles me. Your sons are watching, babe. I remember Olly’s teacher saying how during role-play, he told his friend in class that he would fry the pancake while she mixes it because his mummy mixes the pancake and his dad fries it. These boys would grow up to be secure and good men, who their wives will thoroughly enjoy.
I can go on and on about how much of a fantastic father and husband you are. You treat me like a queen and are always looking out for me. When we go out, you would tell me to wait while you go and get the car, or drop me at the entrance of where we are going while you go and park, so that I don’t have to walk far. Whenever we go out to parties, nine out of ten times you would be the one to ensure I am well taken care of. We go everywhere together. We are best friends. People see the bold and strong Omilola doing great exploits but you see the vulnerable woman who sometimes just needs a big hug and a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for everything.
On this golden jubilee babe, I want you to know that I truly appreciate you. The year you turned forty was when I told you about the temptations and when I resigned from my job and it has been an interesting 10 years of ups and downs like a whirlwind.
What I didn’t know was that coming into our marriage, I was a broken little girl in a woman’s body. I brought in a lot of baggage from childhood that could have ruined what we had. I needed to unpack my baggage and heal from so many wounds and pain that I had experienced. In the last 10 years, I have been in a process of unpacking and healing. I couldn’t soar or be everything that I am created to be if I don’t heal. There is no point in flying with broken wings. You didn’t judge me but you held the fort and allowed me to heal. You allowed me to transform from a caterpillar into the most beautiful butterfly. You allowed me to arise from the ashes like a phoenix. My wounds have now healed and I may have scars but I am not in pain anymore. I have healed and my scars only remind me of how strong I am and who I am. Like the ruby gemstone, my scars prove my authenticity and also show other women, especially young women, that they don’t have to be perfect to be used by God or to make a difference in humanity. Babe, you provided the right environment for me to heal so that I can now beautify the world around me. I needed these 10 years and you allowed it. Thank you.
In the book The Richer Woman, I shared an analogy of a broken cistern. “The servants of a certain king used vessels to get water from the stream for the king’s table. Among the vessels they used, one was broken. Each time they returned from the stream, the broken vessel got to the king’s table empty. All the water had leaked out of it during the journey because of its cracks. This vessel began to feel very unworthy. It wanted to be like the other vessels who were perfect, the ones who got the opportunity to serve water to the king. If only it could be perfect like all the other vessels, then life would be perfect and it would feel worthy. What this vessel didn’t realise is that along the path from the stream to the palace, beautiful flowers had begun to grow. It was such a beautiful sight to behold. The water that leaked from the broken vessel had watered the earth and caused the most beautiful flowers to grow, thereby beautifying the path to the palace.”
Babe, I’m that broken vessel. However, you are the person who has been the gardener tending to the beautiful flowers that have lined the path of the palace, not allowing the flowers to wither but allowing them to bloom and make a beautiful pathway for other broken cisterns to pass through. I am who I am today and who I will be tomorrow because of you, babe. Thank you.
Thank you for honouring the vows you made to me when we got married. You really could have walked out but you have committed to the vows you made and you have also helped me become the successful woman I am today. Your children absolutely love and adore you and want to make you proud all the time. The pictures for your birthday photoshoot kind of went viral with many people gushing about how beautiful our family looks. Many don’t know that we have also been through our own process. Babe, we have been through the fire and like the colour we chose for your birthday, we have come out like pure 24-carat gold. We are not perfect but we didn’t run away from the fire, we allowed the fire to purify and refine us. Now, like pure gold, we have so much value in ourselves and so much value to give the world, part of which we are doing in The Basis of Marriage webinars.
I really wanted to honour you for your birthday and I planned a whole James Bond birthday but God hijacked my plans and told me that He wanted to honour you as a king. He reminded me of your royal lineage with your granddad, Oba Moses Sowemimo Awolesi, being the Oba of Remo land, Sagamu, and one of the Kings that Queen Elizabeth visited on her royal tour of Nigeria in 1956. He then told me to study the three kings who came to give Jesus gifts when He was born and told me that kings are meant to serve the king of kings and that you served Him your most precious gift – me – by allowing me to do and be all He has asked me to be. He said He wants you and other men to begin to see themselves as He sees you and them. Shortly after this, Queen Elizabeth died and for the first time in 70 years, we saw a British king assume his royal duties. God was showing you a real-life depiction of a king. Babe, I hope you felt like royalty and you continue to walk in God’s identity for you. You are a true king and may I have the grace to always honour you.
It is a new season for us and I am excited about all that God is doing in and through us this season. Like I promised you on your birthday, this is just a snippet of what is to come. I pray that every day, you will wake up thanking God that you married me. My only goal for your 50th was to make you happy and I believe I achieved it. Now, my only goal for the rest of your very long life is to make you happy and honour you as the king that you are.
Thank you, my darling king, John Olugbenga Oshikoya. I love you with all of me from now till eternity. My love for Jesus is deeper because I see an earthly representation of His unconditional love for me through you.
Love, Omilola (AKA Omistar)
Styling for the family: @light.inthemarketplace
Photoshoot: @gazmadu @gazmadustudios
Makeup for photoshoot: @beautycookstudio
Heads piece: @s.mofenik_millinery
Morning suit and suit for boys: @kimonocollection