Shun moth­er­hood

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - MAIN STORY -

of­fended, then that's their prob­lem and not mine.” Ms Gatere is of the opin­ion that a cou­ple can still love each other deeply with­out chil­dren be­ing in the pic­ture. “I was in a com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship for five years and both of us were fine with a fu­ture with­out chil­dren. I am cur­rently try­ing to dip my feet back into the dat­ing pool, and I al­ways en­sure that the fact that I don't want chil­dren makes it into the con­ver­sa­tion on my first dates,” she says.

Though she ad­mits that she loves be­ing around chil­dren, she says that she can­not see her­self spend­ing all her time with and ded­i­cat­ing her life to her chil­dren. “I have two nieces, one nephew and two younger sib­lings who fill my life with joy. With an in­come that doesn't have the bur­den of a fam­ily at­tached to it, I can be able to sup­port less for­tu­nate chil­dren such as or­phans and also serve as a role model,” she ex­plains.

An­other per­son who looks at life through the same prism as Tarurî Gatere is a lady who goes by the sim­pli­fied ver­sion of her name, Jenifer J. An Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, Jenifer has lived and worked in Nairobi since 2011. Jenifer works as a Chris­tian mis­sion­ary. Her job as a vol­un­teer chap­lain sees her shut­tle through the sev­eral pae­di­atric wards across the coun­try min­is­ter­ing to chil­dren who are bat­tling can­cer.

“I love chil­dren so much,” Jenifer says, “My job in­volves be­ing around kids all day long. In all the hos­pi­tals that I min­is­ter in, the kids re­fer to me as the ‘Hos­pi­tal Mama'. I have just never had the de­sire to have chil­dren of my own.”

Jenifer ex­plains that she re­alised at a very ten­der age that if she were ever to give birth, the child would re­quire a lot of love, sac­ri­fice and time from her, some­thing she did not feel she was ready to give. “I en­joy my free­dom and not hav­ing chil­dren al­lows me to travel and do my work as a mis­sion­ary, giv­ing hope to oth­ers,” she says.

“My fam­ily has al­ways been sup­port­ive of my de­ci­sion. In fact, my mother knew that I wouldn't want to raise chil­dren of my own long be­fore I even con­sid­ered the de­ci­sion,” She adds. Jenifer, who is at the cusp of turn­ing 40, ex­plains that in her coun­try, mak­ing the de­ci­sion not have kids is not seen as an odd­ity as it is here in Kenya. She says, “Kenyans are very shocked when they learn that I don't have kids and I don't in­tend to. In the US this is nor­mal.” In­deed, in the US, the fer­til­ity rate, or num­ber of chil­dren each woman is ex­pected to have, stood at 1.76 in 2017. Asked whether, as a Chris­tian, she is aware of the Bible verse that com­mands peo­ple to “Be fruit­ful and mul­ti­ply and fill the earth”, Jenifer says that if God re­ally wanted her to have chil­dren, He would have given her the de­sire. She also re­veals that she usu­ally ig­nores peo­ple try­ing to slight her and prays for them in­stead.

“My fam­ily has a his­tory of ge­netic is­sues such as al­co­holism, de­pres­sion, con­gen­i­tal heart de­fects and mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. I wouldn't want to pass th­ese on to my chil­dren. How­ever, even if I were per­fectly healthy, I still wouldn't want to beget chil­dren,” She con­tin­ues.

Though she has not taken a vow of celibacy, Jenifer re­veals that at present, she also has no de­sire to get mar­ried or get into a long-term re­la­tion­ship. Jenifer is adamant that at 80, when she looks back at life that she's led with­out a mar­i­tal part­ner or off­spring, she will still be con­tent with the work she has done on earth and by how she has touched other peo­ples' hearts.

While both Gatere and Jenifer deny that their in­ten­tion to save money is be­hind their de­ci­sion, Data Sci­en­tist Chris Orwa says the sums spent on rais­ing a child can be usu­ri­ous when one fac­tors in health re­lated costs, food, cloth­ing, shel­ter, en­ter­tain­ment and ed­u­ca­tion.

He how­ever notes that the ‘op­por­tu­nity cost' lost when one de­cides to have chil­dren, though it can­not be mea­sured in mone­tary value, will im­pact more on the par­ents. “Th­ese are the things which par­ents give-up when they make a de­ci­sion to have chil­dren. It is an in­vis­i­ble cost but I be­lieve it the great­est "cost" bore by par­ents. Folks who de­cide not to have chil­dren don't want to bear this cost,” Chris Orwa says.

A child plays with toys in the out­doors. Ms Taruri Gatere (pic­tured left) de­cided never to have ba­bies, cit­ing chal­lenges of bring­ing them up as one of her rea­sons.

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