The pressure to conform to people’s expectations and societal standards will not end when you get married, writes Tatiana Saina
Over the years, and especially after marriage, I have learnt to put my needs and myself first. I have learnt that you can never do enough to make everyone happy. People will always demand more from you.
When I got to 27 years and hadn’t gotten married, my mother and many other relatives were on my case. I often got a ‘please call me’ from my aunts and grandparents and when I called back, they would beat about the bush and finally conclude with: “So when are you bringing us an in-law?”
It was worse when I went upcountry or attended a cousin’s engagement ceremony or wedding. The pressure was so much that I skipped some of those occasions and rarely went home. I got married and I thought I could finally take a break from family and relatives’ pressures.
I had barely been married three months when the pressure to get a child began. We woke up one Saturday morning to a missed call, most likely just a flash, from my husband’s aunt. It was just 7am and we wondered why she had called that early.
My husband decided to call her just to ensure there was no emergency. From the chitchat and her happy tone, I could tell she was okay.
After a few minutes of relaying greetings and briefing on almost all our relatives’ wellbeing, she got to the crux of ‘her call’.
She used a word I had never heard to ask ‘our progress’. I could tell that my husband did not get what she meant at first, but after a few seconds, he understood that she wanted to know if I was pregnant. I just had to laugh as my husband embarrassingly told her I wasn’t pregnant yet. She went ahead to ask if there was a problem and whether she should get us traditional medicine. I could tell she just could not understand the fact that we were not ready.
For the next two years before I got pregnant, the pressure was immense. After many times of asking if ‘anything was on the way’, my mother-in-law finally sat me down during one of our visits upcountry and lectured me on the need not to be afraid to seek help. She even gave me examples of women who had been ‘helped’ to conceive. I patiently listened to her and when I told her I had no problem, and that we were just not ready, she was mortified and angry.
I could not help wondering why they all assumed I was the one with the problem and not my husband.
That bred in me some defiance and I resolved to push my intentions to get pregnant even further, just to let everyone know I could do whatever I wanted with my life.