“I don’t want to have kids.”
I would exclaim for the thousandth time after my colleague shoved baby pictures in my face asking me if I felt anything.
“I don’t want kids.”
I would ascertain as the women went round fantasising about their next maternity leave and the sex of their next child. My peers were already getting knocked up and since I had been there for 2 years they expected me to be next in line. Regardless of how many times I told them of my disinterest in having kids, I was met with the same arguments of how happy they are with them and how important it is to make my parents grandparents. The ironic part was they would say this after complaining of how little sleep they had because their kids were crying the whole night. They would bring up this argument after the pregnant one complained of how strained their sleep has gotten.
“I don’t want kids.”
I would say after they tried to sell me on a loan I should take because it will help me pay my kid’s school fees, or when they would convince me that I would change my mind like my other colleague who was now knocked up. Another would get annoyed by my conviction and tell me that I would never find a husband with the kind of standards I have. I would laugh at their faces as I told them I already had one who doesn’t want kids too.
Others would shove their babies into my arms asking why I wouldn’t want a mini me running around, while others just looked at me with amusement settling for the old line of, “Hawa watoto wa siku hizi.”
The child free journey for me has been one I was on even before I knew the words. I would be the girl that wouldn’t want to hold kids when we went to visit relatives that just gave birth. I don’t remember ever playing with dolls pretending they were kids. The only time I thought I would have kids was when I thought that was the only way some ex of mine would stay with me. I don’t like hanging around kids, especially toddlers, when my colleagues passed the baby to me once I stood up and walked away leaving them staring at me with disappointment.
What gets to me are the women that think that this is a decision that you don’t have a right to make, asking you why would you do that to your parents, or your imaginary husband. Our wombs become a society shared property and apparently even the doctor that you ask for tubal ligation has a point to make about how your husband wouldn’t want you to make that decision about your body. It’s the pregnant ones walking around with swollen legs that paint this beautiful journey and tell you that you will never live life until you become a mother. It’s the angry women that tell you about the people who can’t have kids basing this as the reason why you should have them. It’s the religious ones that tell you that an imaginary being in the sky will provide once the baby is here. It’s the martyrdom that women have normalised wearing their swollen eyes due to exhaustion and lack of sleep as a crown for the ‘great work’ they are doing. It’s the complaints from parents of how much school fees they are paying as if someone held a gun to their head to have kids.
To me, it’s the freedom to pursue my dreams and truly live my life without panicking about the opening of schools. The freedom to move wherever I want without thinking of the school calendar or which area has the best schools. It’s the joy of sleeping in on a Sunday and every other day of the week. The freedom of taking risks in careers and investments. The freedom to be me.