A woman’s ability to have children is generally seen as a gift. To what extent do family expectations and societal pressure play a role? In some contexts, a woman’s decision not to bear children may be met with some resistance. Some do not fathom that those women who choose to be without children could possibly be fulfilled. Makaziwe Khumalo heard the stories of a few women and the choices they’ve made to have, or not have, children.
These 3 women share their stories
Thobile K* (32)
Stay at home mom
“I got married at the age of 27. Around this time, everyone began asking me when I would be having a child. In my culture, you are expected to bear children for your husband as soon as you are married – and to give him a son to continue the family name.
I am very lucky to have a husband who respected my decision to have a child when I was ready. At the time, my career was still my main priority, but I decided to stop working when I had my daughter. Thankfully my husband has a well-paying job and he could provide for us sufficiently. I got the opportunity to rest and spend time with my child. Not everyone gets this opportunity, and I’m truly grateful for it.
Three years later, after having my daughter, I’m back to square one. Everybody wants to know when I am having another child – specifically a son to carry on the family name.
I wouldn’t change a single thing in my life. Everything happened according to my wishes and my timing – and I have a great support system. When I was pregnant, my mother told me that I should always trust my instincts as a mother. I’ve found this to be valuable advice as I’ve found that I’ve always known what is best for my child.”
*Samukelisiwe C* (29)
Working mom (child in daycare)
“I had my first child when I was just 22. It was a difficult time in my life, and many people judged me as they thought I was far too young. I had to marry the father of my child because in our culture this is preferable. As much as we were in love, I was not ready to be someone’s wife.
Being a working mom is a difficult and important task – but so satisfying. Nothing brings me more joy than the fact that I can look after my children and provide them with everything that they need. My life revolves around my children. From the time that I wake up in the morning until I go to sleep at night, my children are all that I think about. Fortunately, I can now afford to send them to crèche, and rest assured that they are safe, and learning while I’m at work.
Nobody ever put any pressure on me to have children. I had children when I was least expected to. When we were married, I had a second child. The only pressure I experienced was the pressure to get married immediately.
Looking back at my life, I would have preferred to wait a while before having children because there are a few goals that I would’ve liked to accomplish first. I would have liked to complete my studies as I had intended to, and I also would’ve liked to travel and see the world. That said, I live for my children. Everything I do is to give them a secure future.”
*Snenhlanhla N* (36)
Married career woman without children
“I’m married and working. I have no desire to have children. When I was a child, I was never the girl who enjoyed playing with baby dolls. I wasn’t intrigued by feeding, bathing, and putting the dolls to sleep. I wasn’t even interested in holding them.
My income is spent on myself and my husband – and I also help back home. Not having children gives me the opportunity to live my life comfortably with my husband. We travel a lot and enjoy being spontaneous in our lives. This would not be so easy if there were children involved.
Before we got married, I explained in detail to my husband that I had no desire to be a mother, even when we were married. We even went to pre-marriage counseling to speak about it. As anticipated, the elders in our respective families were not happy with our decision. Some went as far as saying that I was a disgrace and a let-down to my husband and that I did not love him enough to bear his children. My friends understood my decision because they know me well and they were very supportive.
Thus far, I would not change anything about my life. I’m satisfied with the choices I’ve made. It’s so important to know yourself as a woman and to stand by your personal beliefs. By doing this, you can plan your life accordingly, and live your life just the way you want it without having to live up to people’s expectations.”
All my life, I have heard that there is no greater blessing than children. My sister, as well as my friends who have children, can all attest to this statement. They have all confirmed that there’s no greater joy than that brought by their children. With that said, we must note that we are not the same. Success and happiness are created by you, for you. Now that is the beauty of choice.
Until next time.
The Wise About Life Team