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I have lost relationships because I didn’t want children

 Abigail Arunga made the decision not to have children over a decade ago (Photo courtesy)

I am child-free and loving it. Please stop telling me I am unhappy. Society romanticises motherhood so that by the time a woman has come to her own, she may not know how to separate motherhood from her womanhood.

So they end up viewing childless women as less than for choosing to live child-free.  At about 18, I wanted nine kids. By the time I got to 19, I wanted none.

Now, over a decade later, I still don’t want them. I believe the compulsion to have kids is more external than internal. I don’t see it for myself.

Kids, are a lot of sacrifice, and if you have no idea what that sacrifice entails, you shouldn’t do it. Not that you can completely know, of course, or be completely ready.

I think many men particularly want kids because they have no understanding of what child-bearing and rearing entails. How can they when their lives, jobs, and bodies, don’t change?

The implication that I have made the wrong decision and that I will change my mind comes up a lot and that pisses me off.

Every time my decision to live child-free comes up, people feel the strong need to launch into a sermon about the benefits of child-rearing.

Most people say I will change my mind. It is tiring how many times I’ve had this conversation. This is not a decision I came to lightly but one that has taken years to arrive at.

I have ruminated over this, debated and defended it and lost people I love for it for over a decade.  I hate that people decide that they know you better than you know yourself, and the first words they tell you is that you will somehow change your mind.

I also want people to stop saying it is selfish to not want kids. Or at the very least to accept that being selfish is also acceptable. 

All versions of this; having or not having kids, are selfish. Wanting children because you want to carry on your legacy is selfish.

Not wanting children because you don’t want to engage in that level of sacrifice and you don’t want your life to change is also selfish. Let’s not get it twisted. Also, it’s OK to be selfish.

I think more and more African women are deciding to be child-free. I think women are opting out of childbirth and opting out of marriage because they have the choice to do so.

We may not have had such choices before. Having children is no walk in the park. It is a dedication, a life-changing one. I have seen friends and family do it.  It should be something that YOU want to do. I’m waiting for the day that society sees how illogical it is trying to pressure people into having children, but not taking care of the children who already exist.

I don’t think the number of women choosing to live child-free lives should be cause for panic to people who want to procreate.

When you give women the option, through empowerment, to not have children how many will opt out? Statistically or historically, only about 10-15 per cent. It isn’t that dramatic.”

How society views womanhood and motherhood is so intertwined, I don’t know what society will say about us. But we’ll be here anyway.

I have been in situations where I have been made to feel like If I didn’t use my womb, I am a lesser woman. There are some arguments, after 14 years of making my decision, that I just won’t have anymore. It is exhausting. When it comes to dating, I make sure to tell my partners about being child-free. 

My last three relationships have ended because of the kid thing, even though I tell them at the very beginning that I’m not having kids. I don’t only date child-free people, but clearly, I should start. Or people who don’t want more kids.

I have not had any procedure done to ensure I remain child-free? And I probably won’t. In my earlier days, I wanted to. Now, if I would have a procedure it may be to donate my uterus.

But I am not a great fan of voluntary surgical procedures. I don’t want to do something for aesthetics or that isn’t necessary for my body.

Surgical procedures are a big deal especially since I have never actually had any surgery done in my life. And even if the female reproductive system stays inside me, either way, I’m not using it.

It can stay and do hormonal regulation naturally. What I want people to know is that people have completely bought into this narrative that a woman must make babies, else all is over.

I think people project their fears onto me when they say ‘” oh you’ll be lonely, or Oh you’ll regret it. No, it is that conversation that I’m deeply regretting. Besides, many people with children are lonely anyway.

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