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But I don't want a child

SHARE   |   Friday, 09 November 2018   |   By Tumie Forthright

I was ten when I had a baby brother. He was tiny and not adorable, just different. I didn't understand the ncoooohs and awwwwwws daily of the people who came by. My mother had been pregnant and told me what it meant and it terrified me. Only was I not going to give up my only child status but I was going to have to share my toys and attention from my parents with this person. The day my mother came back home from hospital my grandmother was already planted in my dad's favourite chair and would occupy it for another year. Why wasn't she going back to her house? She was also mean. My dad's aunt and my favourite grandmother (my father's mother I was told died many years ago) was my favourite but she came very briefly. She should have stayed longer. She was easier to live with. My grandmother talked about my 'big boned' body, my flat nose, my early breasts (when is the right time, and can one control these things), and she was lazy. She plopped on my father's chair and slave drove everyone from there. It turned out to be the longest year of my life. My brother? Okay a month and few days later he stopped looking like a new born puppy. The crying also subsided, oh he could cry. One day in the middle of the night I walked into my mother's room and asked her if the baby won't die from all of the crying. She laughed and told me all will be okay and that I should go back to bed, but she looked really tired and I wished grandmother would get up and help her, but I was the child you see. I didn't dislike my brother but I also couldn't be like everyone who came by and lost their mind around this little thing. I could not get it. As he went by growing and tripping and hurting himself and crying I was there as big sister, but it was a 'job' I had rather someone else do it, but I did it. I knew with certainty what it was when I was in second year of university and my cousin was getting married. She was my father's aunt's grandchild and a year older than me. One of the days in the week of the big day preparation I was sitting with my father's aunt (favourite grandmother) in the kitchen and she was asking me when I was going to get married myself. I answered "ma, it might be hard because marriage has expectations, and the one thing I know is that I don't want children". She looked up from the cotton serviettes she was asked to count, but it wasn't an eyebrows raised look. She looked up to see the truth in my eyes. There was no judgement. No shock. No reprimand. Nothing!  Instead she said "I wish for you to meet the one who understands this of you and can live with it. I wish you a partner of the same choices and especially in these societal pressures abound it could be hard. One thing though my child, don't ever not mention from day one what you want and don't want, it makes life easier all round". I sighed in my heart. She had always been the liberal one, outspoken too and that had garnered her enough enemies in the family but she never paid attention to any of it. I loved her for it and that made me the person I was; unafraid to say what I truly felt. It was all her. Of the few people I told she was the first genuine and understanding reaction from all of them. She didn't try to change me. She didn't try to see if there had been trauma that must have made me feel this way. She didn't dismiss me as crazy. That hurt the most. My college closest friend said to me on the same "you'll change your mind when you meet the one". I didn't even try to explain beyond that. She didn't get it. I was tolerable of children. I coo'd over my cousin's and friend's children, but I knew with unmatched certainty that I was not getting any of my own. "What about your husband when you get married?" Surely I couldn't be the only one that felt like this in the whole world so I would meet a like-minded person. What about your wealth? Who will inherit it? Why are we talking about a wealth I haven't even amassed yet? Isn't there a law around those things? Plus also why are we skipping the life part and going to talk about when I die. I could spend all of my money travelling and finish it and not have to worry about who inherits what and can I please not worry about it now? Why was it all about everything but what I felt? I really did not want to birth a child or adopt one or live with one. Does that make me polar opposite of Mother Theresa, with a cold stone heart? I don't think so.  I walked on my parents once and my father was saying to mother "but Mogopo has always been different" and I wish I hadn't walked in but stayed outside the door to hear what they were talking about, but I suspected it was about my not wanting children. My mother is getting it slower than the people who matter to me. I am 42 and if she could she would be having night vigil and fasting on my behalf. Her thirst for grandchildren is consuming. She lives with my brother's two year old niece who she collected from the grandparents and mother at six months old. I thought this would soothe her yearn but it must be mine she wants badly, but I do not want to have children

One heated night of sexual passion my girlfriend and I abandoned the condom. The intensity of feeling as I pumped seed into her was short lived, but I didn't make her see or hear the Hail Marys I chanted hoping she wasn't at her most fertile or that by some miracle  she would not fall pregnant. She looked at me as I rolled off her "we're not ready for a child love!” The magnitude of that statement as she said it she would never understand. She was 33 and at the peak of her career and she was certain she only would want to start a family a few years on. I, on the other hand, knew with astounding certainty that I did not want to sire children. We were at a disconnect but not currently, because where she wasn't ready, I was sure I didn't want. I should really tell her. She deserves that at least. I am 39 and constantly ridiculed by my friends each time I told them I don't want children. What happened to choices? "Wayaka ga o tshole monna." Some days it hurts, but other days I see them as products of the pressures of the society we lived in. I can't blame them. I knew by the time I was 16 and had the involuntary erections in my sleep that I did not want a child of my own.  Between my brother and three sisters I boasted a nine person horde of nieces and nephews. I love them like my own. When my little sister had her first baby three years ago I was present in her birthing room and held that tiny bundle and felt my heart leap. This plus my apparent adoration of their children and any children really confuses all of them, because even at all times I am the default child minder when they need one and are stranded and I am available. My father told my eldest brother he thought something was wrong with me. He couldn't articulate himself and kept looking shyly and worried at my brother until he asked if he thought I was gay. He said he laughed at his father's face. The day he called and told me what my father had said, I went to the farm to see him that weekend. I was alone this time. A few times I had brought the girlfriend she knew from university. I told him I knew what he thought and told him "no papa, I am not gay. I just do not want to have children". The look on his face pained me and I remembered it was my life we were talking about. He had had his five children. I continued "with all the nieces and nephews I have between your four other children where would I find the time?" "But Pinagare my child; what about your name and legacy?" I answered: "Dad, what does it matter? And like I say your children have enough nephews to carry that legacy if that is what this is about. Me? I'll support them fully". That was four years ago. It has never come up again. No one understands; no one needs to understand. It is about my choice; the one I feel in my heart. I eventually told her, my ex-girlfriend, after the scare from the last time. I owed her that much. She will want children eventually she says. And on that we knew we could not as much as we loved each other continue with our relationship. She is my friend and sometimes she asks. My answer? But I do not want to have children!



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