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A FEW WEEKS AGO, a woman said in this column that she was childless and loving it. She went on to tell about her life as a child. I understand where she is coming from. The people who are bashing her are the selfish ones. When I was growing up, my life was totally different. My dad and mum were from different races. She was not an educated woman, so she didn’t always pay attention to me and my schooling. And my dad was never around. My mother had other children from her first marriage. That didn’t last because of abuse and she was left with five children by age 20. It was a struggle for her to care for five kids without the help of the father. Years afterwards, she met my father and he took in her and her four children (one had died). I was born some years later. Things went well for my mum until my dad lost his job and we had to move from one place to the next. It got even harder for us because by then my mum could not go back to her parents’ house. My eldest sister had a child too. Eventually, my two brothers and one sister went to live with different relatives. My big sister stayed with us. She had a child for a man from a different race too. My granddad gave my mum, sister, her child and me a room. That was no walk in the park. My aunt and her children didn’t make it easy for us, and whenever my dad came to visit he had to stay by the roadside. At school I stood out like a sore thumb. Things went from bad to worse. At this time we had to move out of my granddad’s house. My sister had two more children. I really don’t know which was worst, our not having anything to eat, the rats eating our feet and fingers at nights, or the rain wetting us while we slept. We had one meal a day, and that was mostly at nights. Sometime I used to suck my finger till it got white. Or, when I was at school I would sometimes eat the half-eaten fruits that other kids threw away. Eventually dad decided to move us all to his family’s place. Things went well for a while. By this time my sister had five children. By the time I was 13 years old, dad and mum had gone their separate ways, and I went to live with my mother. She was very abusive to me and I started to fail at school. I ended up getting kicked out of school. At 15 I moved out and went to live with my father’s family. That was not easy. Dad was not around, so I had to fend for myself. My aunt, who had her five children to feed, gave me food once a day. At 17 I got my first job. Although it didn’t pay much, I didn’t care – I just needed to get a few dollars so I could buy personal things for myself. At my grandmother’s two-bedroom house there were 16 people. I said all that to say this: after growing up and having gone through all that, I, like that woman, never wanted kids. What really bothered me the most was not the nights I went to bed hungry but the verbal and sexual abuse. It was also the beatings I got from my mother when I lost a ribbon, a bow or a sock or if I came home late from school. For those reasons, I told myself I would never have kids. But I did, not because I wanted them but because I felt pressured to have them. My boyfriend at the time didn’t have any children and he was always hinting how badly he wanted kids. So I had a boy and a girl. I love my children very much, but it’s not easy with children. They demand too much from you – your time, money, energy and, like the woman said, the cycle goes on. Not everybody can deal with that. That’s why some mothers behave the way they do, only giving the child food and clothes and letting the rest take care of itself. Some women don’t know how to be parents, and some didn’t want to be mothers. If I didn’t have the support of my boyfriend and my family, I wouldn’t have brought any child into the world to suffer like I did. Like all the other women who responded in support of that woman, I would have been childless and I would have loved it too. Let them talk – it’s your life.