One day, not so long ago, I was chatting with a lady I constantly have dealings with. She is a few years older than me and is married with two beautiful kids. She had earlier intimated that her little boy was sick, so I asked her if he was better. She was so touched that I cared to ask, mostly because our relationship is totally business. She then went on to tell me how hard it is to be a wife, a mother and a businesswoman. Well, I understood where she was coming from and contributed a fair share to the conversation. And, as though to determine if I were the right person to keep having this conversation with, she asked the inevitable, ‘Do you have little ones of your own?’.
Of course, I replied NO, and that was the end of the conversation. I did not know whether to be disturbed by the fact that she imagined I even had more than one child (I mean, when could I have started pushing them out?), or that she felt me unfit to talk about kids with when I had none of my own. Well, maybe she is right, we people without kids( or children, as my Paediatrician friend keeps correcting me) have no business talking to parents about their children. What do we know! For all we know, children probably turn into actual monsters at night and torture their parents while the rest of us are asleep. Who knows??
After that incidence, I started noticing how often people asked me if I had kids. I wouldn’t blame them, we are Africans and Africa is all about family. We are considered accomplished when you have a loving family of your own and sometimes you may derive your sense of worth from the achievements of your children. But all that doesn’t stop my frustration with the question, ‘Do you have kids?’. It is not wrong to ask, but I think the correct sequence of questioning should be;
‘Do you have a significant other?’
‘Are you married yet?’
‘Do you plan on having kids together?’
‘How many do you have now?’, in that order!
If you do not have the time to know the answer to the first three questions, don’t ask me the last one either.
We, the humans who do not have kids yet, or who chose not to have kids can still ask about your kids, and we can actually see when you are not doing good by your kids. I believe a woman’s existence is not merely justified by the number of children she has, and I would add, not every one without kids is sad or resents their choice… But you will tell me, ‘what do you know? Wait when you are 60 and have no kids, you will make your submission then’. So I rest my case.