I am in the loop of those that have a claim to motherhood. My three-year-old girl makes me one. At 21 years I was in shock when I noticed I was pregnant. Not because I was young and not ready for the responsibility. I was scared about what my parents would think despite the fact that I had just graduated from university.
I was utterly disappointed in myself. Many are excited at the news but I cried. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me and later spit me out when the nine months were over. I literally disappeared off the social scene. Not that I was embarrassed by any deformation of my figure, because at the time, I was lucky enough to have a baby bump as small as that of one who had downed a mountain of ugali and spinach.
Much as I got used to the fact that the little angel had to come to the world despite my fears, I couldn’t sit among schoolmates and blurt out that I needed a great man for marriage. I must say that marriage was also far-fetched for me. I had been in very queer families. The women in my life were not as happy in their marriages as I imagined it would be. Their lives had been derailed by terribly controlling men whose lives rotated around polygamy, love children and a side dish (chick) or two.
These women do not at all inspire one to get married. Others have been fooled by their church groups into thinking men are gods, that you need to pamper them, make sacrifices and even go to extremes of appeasing them when they are on the wrong or if they wronged you. The women leaders say you should open the door when he knocks at 4am, give him warm water for his bath to rid himself of the alcohol stench and then serve him his best dish. In the same spirit, give him good sex when he asks for it. Hmm! I do not want to say I wouldn’t be this naïve but it is interesting how life can go that direction.
But my three-year-old daughter and her untimely birth or the women in my life’s suffering in their men’s homes is not my problem. I am only bothered by how searching for a man is similar to job hunting. After a spell of singlehood that sparked off with me breaking up with baby daddy, I have to answer to the whys, hows, when and where. It sucks sometimes.
I had promised myself to go on with the singlehood. But life is always unkind to people of my kind. You attend a wedding or introduction and your parents remind you it could have been you. If you stayed at your older sister’s home for a weekend, she starts to whine and complain about this and that. She starts making scenarios of you kissing her hubby in her dreams. She complicates your life until you do not want to show up the next weekend or think of taking your daughter for a play date during the holiday.
Everyone around you seems insecure. Your landlady thinks you can snatch her 90-year-old Haji, the newly married neighbours are always watching you like you are a threat. You head to work and it is not any different. So you return home and make up your mind…I need a guy. Just to put everyone at rest.
In those sandals, all I wanted was to find someone and tell them about my daughter. I wouldn’t mind whether they took me in or not. So, on this fateful night I finally meet Mark, a lawyer and one of those few men who want to get married before they clock 30. All was glossy until I mentioned my daughter. The questions started dropping like mad. When did you have her? You don’t even look like you have a daughter. Are you pulling my leg? Who is the father? Did he rape you? Was it a mistake? Did you at any one time consider an abortion? Ahem! The questions overwhelmed me. I did not know whether to breathe in or out. I stared at him in silence and finally asked him which of those questions was so important so I could answer it first.
He seemed to have another list. So I figured my child was in the middle of all this and this is the last thing I want, the reason I speak less of her. I still feel there’s something wrong with a society that that thinks having a child at an age younger than 25 is a taboo and believe moving on is quite impossible unless you keep the child (ren) in the closet.
I now perfectly understand Brad Paisley’s He didn’t have to be lyrics. He said when a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new, it always winds up feeling more like a job interview and because of that his momma used to wonder if she’d ever meet someone who wouldn’t find out about him and then turn around and run.