“Michael! Michelle! What did I say about playing football in the house?’’ Sheila said sternly.
The kids stopped for a moment and looked at their grandmother. They knew her all too well. She was the candy factory. She never walked around without a few treats in her bag. However, they also knew that she was no-nonsense. When she spoke, you listened.
“You heard your grandmother. Take the ball outside. Auntie Lillian is basking in the sun so play where she can see you okay?’’ Susan said directing her kids to the door.
“Your kids will be the death of me. The older they are, the more energy they have. I cannot keep up with them anymore,’’ Sheila jokingly told Susan.
“Come on Mum, you are the fittest grandmother I know! You run around with them more than I do and they love visiting you,” Susan replied smiling at her mother.
“They remind me of you and your brother so much. Growing up you were inseparable. Which for siblings meant that you loved each other with the same intensity you wanted to bite each other’s heads off,” Sheila said.
“I always wondered how you were able to have us and still become a great lawyer. Now that I am a mother I can barely keep it together with the twins and Kevin wants to have another baby,” Susan said with a sigh.
“I can tell you for a fact it was not easy,’’ Sheila replied as she took a trip down memory lane. She thought about how her decisions in the past had led to this life of contentment she was having right now.
Sheila grew up in a family of twelve. Things were definitely not easy growing up. Finances were stretched too thin and their father struggled to ensure they all had what they needed. This meant he was barely at home to spend time with them. But he was always optimistic about it. He said that children were a blessing and they should be welcomed with open arms. He talked about the new wave of family planning with such spite that Sheila was almost convinced it was wrong to use them.
So when Sheila met David, she did not dare bring up the topic of contraceptives. He probably hated the idea as much as her father did. It was not until her best friend, Rita got pregnant that she realized how much she did not want any surprises. To her complete and utter shock, David was on board with the idea of using contraceptives. He had actually been meaning to talk to her about the matter. He agreed that they were in no position to emotionally or financially take care of any children at that point in their lives.
A year into their engagement as they were going to bed one night, Sheila noticed David seemed like he was in deep thought.
“A couple of million dollars for your thoughts? I’d have said penny but I know your property does not come cheap,’’ Sheila noticed that David had not even heard her cheesy joke.
“Hey, is everything okay?’’ She tugged on his shoulder. David looked at her.
“I think we should think about having kids,’’ David finally spoke up.
“Right now?’’ Sheila replied
“Well yeah. I know we are on contraceptives but we are doing so much better now financially and I am ready to have kids. Aren’t you?’’ David asked.
“Babe, I just got that big promotion at work. It comes with added responsibilities. We talked about this,’’ Sheila was shocked at the way this conversation was going.
“We are not growing any younger Sheila. Don’t you want to have children? Or is your career more important than having a family now?’’ David looked upset as he said this.
Sheila was taken aback by David’s words. How could he say that to her? He knew how much she had worked to get that promotion at work. Even worse was how much she had expressed the desire to have a family.
“That’s not fair David! You know how much I want to have children.’’
’It doesn’t seem like it me. You know what, you’re right. I am just tired. Let’s just sleep and talk about this another day. Goodnight!!” David said as he turned off the lights and turned away from her.
“Alright. Goodnight,’’ Sheila replied displeased at how the day had ended.
The next morning, silence. No one said anything to the other except for the obligatory good morning. As had been their routine every day, they went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. David made the tea while Sheila heated up some sweet potatoes in the microwave. As she solemnly opened the microwave, it hit her.
“That’s it. That’s what we will do,’’ Sheila blurted out as she came to sit at the table.
“What are you talking about?’’ David was puzzled.
“Remember when we bought this microwave? It was the first electrical appliance we bought when we moved into our small one-bedroomed apartment. I remember a few months back we wanted to buy one but could not afford it so we made a plan. A couple of months later we walked in and bought it. We were so happy,” Sheila said as she sipped her tea.
“Okay. So what are you getting at?’’ David was confused.
“Let’s do the same for children,’’ Sheila replied
“Plan out our children like we do maths on a spreadsheet? Are you serious?” David exclaimed.
“Come on David, you know that’s now what I mean. I mean come together, lay out our personal goals, and joint goals and add having kids into the mix. This way we are able to mash them all together and come up with a plan.’’ Sheila smiled at David as she shared her idea.
“So basically family planning? Isn’t that what we are already doing with contraceptives?’’ David asked.
“Yes. But we started using them because we were not ready to have children. Right now, we need to start planning for children if we are to be ready for them. Now we just need to ensure that neither our goals nor our dream of having kids are put on the back burner. Who says we cannot have it all?’’ Sheila was excited.
“Ummmm. That does not seem like too much of a bad idea.’’ David replied.
“So my annoying brother and I were like numbers on a financial plan?’’ Susan interrupted Sheila’s story.
“You sound just like your father. Not quite like numbers. You were just part of the plan. Initially, your father was sceptical about it but later on, he loved the idea. I was able to grow in the company I was working and eventually, I started my own law firm. Your father went back to school and got his master’s. After that, we were able to have you and your brother and give you the best life possible.” Sheila said as she hugged Susan.
“So you got everything you wanted,’’ Susan asked.
“Not quite. Life is not a fairy tale. I am not saying that things worked out perfectly. You can not anticipate every little thing. But planning helped us ensure that you and your brother had what you needed from financial care to having us around as you grew up. Family planning is sometimes treated as a dirty word. Like you are choosing to live your own life at the expense of having children. Funny thing. It’s the one thing that allows you to have the best of both worlds,” Sheila finally stopped talking.
“I never really thought of it that way. I should have that conversation with Kevin,’’ Susan replied
“You should. Now let me go join my grandchildren for a game outside. I am not ready to retire these bones just yet.’’ Sheila and Susan laughed as they walked out into the garden together.
Are you making the kind of decisions right now that will give you the future you have been dreaming about? Have you thought about how family planning can allow you to achieve both your personal and professional goals? Check out the hashtag #FormNiGani and join in the conversations about achieving your dreams and creating a better future for yourself and future generations.