Not This Year, I am Not My Loss

As I read through the article that I recently wrote, some thoughts came to my mind. The title Sikhumbuzo Dube, This Year Also My Son, got me thinking about a decision that I made in the year 2018 when I met Editah Hadassa Trip, the Waiting Wombs Trust founder and her loving husband Ken Trip. They impacted me marvelously and changed my worldview. I always treasure the great hook up from heaven. While I hear God still saying to me, “Go in this year also and be a voice for those who have no children,” I hear Him extending a call to introspection: Not This Year, I am Not My Loss.

When a woman loses her husband, the world calls her a widow. In a case when someone becomes affected by paralysis, people are quick to call the person a paralytic.When someone does not have a child, she becomes childless. In my language, it is more derogatory for women than it is for men. The word is inyumba in isiNdebele. The mention of this word pricks the heart of the childless women. Such a descriptor will be demeaning the woman concerned. In my culture, “women are given names on account of their physical conditions,” and the expectation is that every married woman must have a child. In a self-funded study, I have learned that in a pronatalist society, it is easy to fall prey to feelings of social rejection. This was especially so in some family, church, and work social meetings. Speaking about this phenomenon, one participant said:

In one married couples’ outing, people decided to introduce themselves in terms of the children they had. Instead of saying “I am so and so’s wife, or so and so’s husband” they pompously said, “I am so and so’s mother. I am a proud mother of so many children.” I wept because while they knew that we did not have children, they decided to use that as the tagline for introductions.

With this in mind, I have a declaration for this year, “I am not my loss.” I join my voice with Editah who says, “Childlessness doesn’t define me.” Breaking down the word LOSS, I have deliberately picked negative identifiers given to us as the childless tribe. We are considered as losing, ominous, and suffering sinners. I want to briefly throw each one of these through the window.

Losing. As a childless man, one of the common things I have heard is that “If you are not a parent, you are losing out.” While this is true to a certain extent, losing is not an adjective that can be used to describe me. I may have lost but I am not losing. The losses I have endured may have traces in my wellbeing, but they are not my name. Because I do not have a child, I cannot call myself a loser.

Ominous. In child loss, miscarriage, and childlessness, there are instances when something bad is going to happen. Considering that sometimes in an African setting, childlessness is considered as a curse, some family members may be thinking that you are the source of problems for the entire clan. Consequently, you may be labeled as ominous. I refuse to be described in that way. My “have nots” are not my “I ams”.

Suffering. When people see me without a child, they may presume that I am suffering. They may suppose that I have done something wrong to God. In the previously cited self-funded study, one of the participants said, “Others think that we are not praying enough to be blessed as they are.” There is a connotation that being childless is suffering. Accepting this thinking plunges me into depths of anguish. I refuse to take up this notion because I am not a sufferer.

Sinner. In Islam, suffering is considered as a result of unbelief commonly called kufr. The African Traditional Religious worldview sees it as emanating from angering the spirits. In the Judaeo-Christian philosophy, any ailment is considered as a result of sinning. When the disciples saw a blind man, they asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). The childless individual is not spared from such descriptions. This year, I will not allow anyone to tell me that I am childless because I am a sinner.
I am not my loss—a losing, ominous, and suffering sinner. I am someone who is just without a child. To conclude these thoughts, muse on my second poem in 2020.

Not This Year, I am Not My Loss

As I gaze into the year, I am wondering
The expedition I am just beginning
A path that is constantly meandering
With storms that will be marauding
And whose waves incessantly buffeting
And the evil one always whispering
“You are dying without fathering”
Nonetheless, I will continually be saying,
“Not this year, I am not my loss!”

The past year has issues unprecedented
Being among those who are uncelebrated
With several emotional injuries endured
With no human being that I have fathered
A status that in an African is endeared
“Childless” is the paint with which I’m smeared
A loss from which I’ve always been battered
Nonetheless, I will continually be saying,
“Not this year, I am not my loss!”

Thoughts on the path traveled less
Where the meaning of the word “childless”
Has never meant that I am any less
But among the bold and the fearless
Soaring above the life that is meaningless
Of continually and bravely saying,
“Not this year, I am not my loss!”

Sikhumbuzo Dube
Born to win, inspired to excel!