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For The Woman With No Child

For The Woman With No Child

In the “Nigerian Female Life Games”, there are two major hurdles that every woman is expected to cross in order to be regarded as successful. All other trophies are considered inconsequential without these two which have somehow been concluded to be the bedrock of a woman’s existence. The first trophy a woman is expected to attain is marriage, and the second…, child bearing.

Strangely, it seems that attaining the first without quickly achieving the second could make the Nigerian woman’s situation even worse than her initial ‘trophy-less’ state. Here, I’ve pointed out some of the factors that could make an unbearable wait for children even more unbearable.

Fertility Police

One of the most common statements that women get accosted with is “Why are you delaying? Give your husband children” or, “Do you know you don’t have a good stand in your husband’s family without…?” Sometimes, probing questions such as these could come as early as 3 months into the marriage! Please, hold your horses. There’s something called family planning, and it’s up to the couple to decide when they’re ready. Besides, why not wait? Pregnancy is naturally designed to reveal itself in due time.

Madam  “Fix It”

Another factor is the ready assumption that every married woman has children. You meet a lady for the first time and she ventures to introduce herself as ‘Mrs.’ The next question is “How are the children?” She dares to mention that she doesn’t have any kids yet, and the next mistake follows immediately, “I know how to solve your problem”. The avalanche of advice starts pouring down about how prayer-less she is or how she has refused to ‘sow seeds’. Nigerians are ever ready with one spiritual leader or traditional healer’s contacts to give out once they perceive there’s no child. This can be very embarrassing and depressing for her. Kindly keep your contacts and opinion to yourself. She will ask you if, and when she feels the need to.

Tales of Woe

In the midst of gist, it’s important to choose your topics wisely. Some decide that the woman who was unable to conceive and was eventually thrown out of her husband’s house is the best story to tell. They narrate with so much glee one begins to wonder at their intent. Entertainment? No, thank you. Before sharing any story, you ought to ask yourself two questions; one, how does it relate to your listener? Two, what is the eventual benefit of this story? If it could leave the listener feeling worse than when you showed up, choose another topic.

Testimony Time

The reverse case is telling stories of women who waited for very long before having children. The aim could be for encouragement.  However, when the story is about a woman who waited about five times longer than your listener has been waiting… If not handled well, you might be unwittingly telling her it’s possible that she would wait that long. Talk about counter- productive.

A Quiver Full of Them

Sometimes, when your own home is filled with children and you never had a problem with child bearing, it’s easy to suggest to the one who has none to adopt. This is not a bad suggestion in itself but the manner in which it’s communicated could be interpreted to mean, “Just give up- loser.” It is only wise to watch your tone when giving advice; particularly if you’ve never faced the challenge in question.

After One

Interestingly, even when the embattled woman has eventually had a child, she barely finishes nursing the baby before she is greeted with, “When are you dropping number two?” or “You know you wasted time before having the first one. Make the next quick.” At times like this I wonder if the person asking has a special scholarship, or feeding plan for the rest of “number two’s” life. Moreover, if she has just one child, I’m sure she has noticed!

These ‘verbal jabs’ feel worse when it comes from fellow women that are expected to understand. Some say it was meant to be a joke. However, we need to consistently remind ourselves that no matter the packaging; words do matter.

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Chioma Diru is a prolific writer, agricultural entrepreneur and life coach with a heart for children. Chioma works freelance for the BBC Media Action. Her work titled “The Twin Logs” was nominated for the Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize, 2016. She is Creative Director and Co-founder, Canuli Media which specializes in children’s entertainment. She is the author of “Sodality”, a children’s novel which you can buy here.Email her: chiomadiru@gmail.com.

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