I was supposed to feel devastated when, on my 20th birthday, I found out I was pregnant. I felt intense, if cautious, joy instead. Finally, instead of telling my parents I wanted to quit med school, they’d abandon me to my sinful ways instead and I’d finally get to control my own destiny. I wanted to world to give up on me, to stop watching. Being a brilliant kid (haha, modesty ni nyanyako) had garnered me hyper visibility long before social media came through and people used the platform to abuse the famous back women feminists who coined the term. I hated that everyone who had ever met me felt they had the right to check in periodically and have an opinion over what I would become and what part of the world I should change.
I hated that I couldn’t just say all I want is to be married to a good man and have two kids before I turned 25 and to spend my days indoors writing and taking care or of my family. I’d come from a family of ultra-strong women whose lives had been derailed by terribly patriarchal men and with each successive generation, the pressure to improve our independence as strong Kamba women who don’t need any man for anything has become debilitating.
I come from a family of single women and married men. The married women are frowned upon and everyone waits eagerly for any sign of trouble to capitalize on and make comments “They’re doing so badly.” The announcement that I was getting married after a serious stint of singlehood that started with me breaking up with the love of my life and kicking my baby daddy out of my life (yup, those are two different people) has surprised my family to no end. I can see the disappointment in their eyes. Instead of that PHD, I’m bringing home a husband. I can’t wait to tell them that I really want a baby. Like really, really, really, want one.
I don’t want to wait until my career takes off because I want to be there for my kids in their formative years instead of being too busy flying around world signing autographs on various translations of my famous books (goals!). I want to get a baby girl to complement my 3-year-old son. If I get another boy, I’ll get one more child to try once more for a girl. If that one goes bust I’m tying my tubes. But I’d rather get a girl on the first try then tie my tubes.
I made these plans even before I found a guy I wanted to marry. I wasn’t even interested in getting a husband. I just wanted kids by 25 and I was going to go multinational and get sperm donors from all around the world. That’s still the plan if things don’t work out with the husband to be.
And that’s another wrong emotion to have. A don’t care attitude towards your impending marriage isn’t appropriate and should signal that there’s something wrong with the relationship, that you’re obviously not right for each other. I also don’t fear getting divorced along the way. I have studied different family structures and I’m convinced that the term ‘broken family’ is outdated and harmful.
I feel like there’s something wrong with a society that doesn’t allow young people the freedom to take risks with their love life and reproductive health. You do not need to wait until you have a partner to explore what sort of reproduction you want to achieve and by what age. It is time we expand our notions of what we really mean when we say women have a right to choose when to have babies, if at all, to include those that want to do it when they’re young and undeniably healthier.
I feel it is unfair to deny the young, single woman this choice.
***Single lady in Nairobi is a collection of real life stories and opinions from different women. It looks at the current world of dating in Kenya and experiences that ladies have gone through. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Potentash.com.