child-free and unashamed part I: need I STFU about this?

childfreechoiceWhere are all the child-free people in Kenya?!

Child-freeness in this country, and in the African continent, must be a novelty. Tumeadimika kama maziwa ya kuku.

In traditional African societies, a man’s wealth was gauged by the number of children he could have. And how many herds of livestock he had in his compound.

A woman’s worth was measured by her ability to bear children. If no child shot out of her birth canal, she was faulty. If she popped out children of the same gender repeatedly, she was faulty, too.

Around the world, it is a predisposed destination that as a woman, you should want children and have them by the dozen. Until your womb can’t handle any more. It’s just unnatural for you not to do what countless other women have done for centuries.

Women without children are either thought of as broken, barren or insane. I mean, how could you willingly not want to carry on your gene line?!

Men are not spared – an unmarried bachelor without children is suspected of being gay, and that’s not a good thing in this part of the world.

So we give in. We marry people we don’t like just so others can stop talking about us negatively. We procreate with them even when we know that at the end of it, we will resent the life we’ll be leading from now on.

What surprises me is that on the other end of the spectrum, there are people who are terrible parents. Yet your admitting to not wanting to get sucked into that prison earns you a verbal beating.

As there are no child-free websites or social networks in Kenya, I’m often logging in to international sites where women and men who are childless-by-choice discuss their situations.

We all give our reasons for not wanting to have children, but the bottom line is: we just don’t want kids. Simple as that, why should the “But why?!” be of importance?

The irony to my child-freeness is that I live in a neighbourhood where there is a child(ren) in every house. I’m not kidding.

So I have seen the amount of work it takes to raise them – you need six pairs of eyes to make sure that this one is not slipping out the door as the other one is not about to smash something while the other one is reaching for the matches. Parenthood takes tenacity and willingness, patience and strength, and there are only certain degrees of it that I can handle. What’s so wrong about admitting that you’re not cut out for the job?

I want to do what I want when I want, or not even do it at all.

I want to make decisions on a whim without worrying about their consequences on a child, like quitting my job without worrying about diaper costs or school fees.

I want to not be responsible for raising a helpless being, teach them what is right and wrong, change their soiled diapers or wipe their runny noses.

I want to still not learn how to cook and maintain my really bad eating habits.

I want to be able to fulfill my dream of traveling without worrying on who needs to be breastfed, who needs their homework checked, or who needs to hear from me about how much I love them.

I want to still possess the luxury of being lazy and caring about catering to only my needs.

I want my possessions left unbroken and undamaged. I want to not cry if they’re smashed to bits.

I also want to say that I don’t want kids and not have someone look at me like I just shot up heroine in public.

It’s okay if people call me selfish, because my life belongs to me.

9 thoughts on “child-free and unashamed part I: need I STFU about this?

  1. Quite true,such societies don’t actually exist here in Kenya and may not anytime soon.Problaby because of society’s view on such issues,but who knows, society is changing rapidly this days especially in regards to women.

  2. Well, my wife and I understand you. People ask us why we haven’t had kids yet since we’ve been married almost 5 years (didn’t know there was a time limit). Since we’re both teachers, we reply that we get 30 new kids every year.

    • It’s a cycle: first, they ask when you’re getting married. Then when you’ll have a child. Then when you have a child, they ask when the second is coming to give the first a companion. Frustrating how opinionated people get when your reproductive health is none of their business.

  3. I’m in the US. I’m no expert in African culture. However with so much poverty in that side of the world and I think its more selfish to bring kids into the world that you can’t feed to please your culture rather than not have kids at simply because you just don’t want them.

  4. Amen Sister. My family and friends think I’m crazy not to want children. But they are not the only problem. Meeting a guy who also doesn’t want kids is hard. So you miss out on companionship. Are there kenyan men who don’t want kids?

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