8 June 2012

Kenya: Put the Booze Aside


A few weeks ago, I was on a date with this guy and we were at one of his friends' houses for dinner. One of the ladies present was pregnant with a child she had been praying for, for years. I noticed though that the pregnancy did not stop her from drinking or smoking.

Later on in the car as my date was taking me home, we got talking about the night and of course gossiping about the people present. We got to the pregnant lady and I asked him what he thought. At first he got very quiet and then he launched into an impassioned speech that went something like this: "I am a 33-year-old guy and I want to have kids. There is a reason I have not reproduced by accident, I want to have my children with a specific kind of woman. I want, for my kids, a mother who prioritises them over herself and her cravings.

"One of the worst things about being a guy is that we have to rely on women to have our children, we cannot control that. We cannot control what they do when they are carrying our babies, we cannot make them care for the children. We are completely at your mercy. Some of you women are crazy, you cheat on us while you are pregnant, you drink, others smoke, some of you refuse to eat well.

"I do not understand why you cannot just be well behaved for nine months. What is the problem? It is a very short time when you think about the total time that a human being is on the planet. I almost wish that when my woman gets pregnant, I can park her at my mother's so her job will be to simply sit there and get fed and fat."

Now obviously this guy has control issues. He may also suffer from a new thing I have seen on blogs called 'womb envy' where men wish they had a womb so they could forego the whole messy relationship with a woman on their way to fatherhood. Regardless, he had some great points. More often in Nairobi, I am noticing pregnant women out getting drunk and smoking. Doctors apparently say that the occasional glass of wine is okay but I have yet to hear that smoking is okay. Frankly, I don't even trust the doctor who says that the occasional glass of wine is fine.

When it comes to carrying and creating a life, why not err on the side of least risk? You have the rest of your life to get drunk and smoke your teeth into a new shade of brown. I smoked for 13 years so I get that it is hard to quit. I love my drink - be it a cold double vodka tonic, a spicy and robust red wine, a double Patron Café with two ice cubes, a very dirty dry-as-dust vodka martini, crispy white wine on a hot afternoon or a very cold malt with nyama choma. I love my booze. Frankly and especially as I write this list, I have no idea how I am going to give it all up for nine months. But I will, because I must. I must if I want to give my child the best in life. All that starts with health.

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