Susty Stories

Love at first sight

(Or why you probably should not have children)

I held a baby boy today, he is ~9 months. His mother was carpooling with my father to work, and he was going to be dropped off at his Crèche. I was along for the ride because I was going to dropped off somewhere as well.
At some point during the ride, the boy kept looking at me, his big eyes shining at me, and soon his hands reached out to me. So I took him from his mother and held him. It was bliss.

I haven’t held a baby in a long time, and most babies I have carried cried. But, God bless the child, he didn’t even squeal. He was quiet and friendly. He would babble and turn restlessly from time to time, and it was clear that he liked me maybe as much as I loved him.
Yes, I had fallen in love with the baby boy.
All my life I had heard about love at first sight, and finally, I experienced it with a baby…
Pure, unadulterated love.
His eyes were so big, his body so warm, his countenance so inquisitive.
As the car swerved and jerked on the rough Lagos roads from Surulere to Marina, up Eko Bridge and down, I held him closer and closer. He wasn’t strapped and so I didn’t want him to fly out of my hands and hit the windscreen. I kept envisioning that, and it scared me shitless.
I looked at his face, rocked him in my arms, said words to him I don’t think he understood or even heard.
And as I held him, I thought about the baby’s future, about Sustainability and Fatherhood, and I got more and more scared.

For as long as I can remember, I have looked forward to being a father.
Maybe it’s because my father is so good at it or because I have watched my little sister grow from fœtus to big girl. So I think to myself, I can do this, I want to do this, I want something just like this.
I have been waiting and planning for years:
I have settled on the number of children I want: 3. (I really want only 2, but I added 1, in case of incasity, as we say in Nigeria).
I have decided I want only daughters (but I don’t get to determine sexes, so I would love a son too).
I have also given my children names already (this took years and years, so I settled on unisex names just so they don’t change).
I have plotted how I’d get them to love the Beatles; how I will make sure they love me so much, if they ever got tattoos it would be of my name…
I have it all planned out, and then again I don’t think I should have children.

In the past, I have written about how dedicating my life to Sustainability has helped me fight depression and given me a reason stay alive; but the root of that reason is ultimately to keep the earth for the generations after me, for my children…
That is why I have also written about my hopes and fears for my unborn daughter. (Please follow that link to read it).
When I sat to pen the poem months ago, I had little time because I was going to read it out to a group of SustyVibers at a hangout on the same day. So I focused on making words rhyme and featuring different SDGs. Then it was all wordplay, abstract and wishful. But now, now I can picture myself holding my children in a few years and only wanting the best for them.

I turned 20 last week, and I intend to have a child by the time I’m 27. That’s only 7 years to go! It might seem like a long time, but the popular series “Game of Thrones” has been on for that long and you could binge watch it in a month or less time.
My point is time flies like a butterfly
That used to be a caterpillar,
And before I know it, I will be a father
Every morning I wake, I realize that fatherhood is nigh.
So when I routinely sit down to organize my thoughts, to draft and redraft my 10 year plan, I ask myself questions like:
1. How do I get people to care about Sustainability?
2. How do I achieve Sustainability?
3. What does success mean to me?
4. What career do I want?
5. What kind of person do I want to get married to? (Does she absolutely have to be Igbo)?
6. What do I have to do get ready for my children?

That final question gets to me a lot.
It has become more obvious that I have to speed up my efforts and get more and more people on board towards a sustainable world.

20 year old me

As the car ride edged on, my father spoke to another carpooling colleague, the radio played, and I held on to the baby I had fallen in love with. I kept talking to him and holding him tight, thinking about how I never want anything bad to ever happen to him.

I want him to grow up in a world where he feels safe, healthy and loved. I want him to be able to play outside in the rain or sun; to work and feel needed; to never feel emotionally, physically or sexually abused; to breathe in fresh air and drink clean water; to eat fish unsullied by micro-plastics; to not have to carry an inhaler everywhere or risk death; to not get used to hearing gunshots or bombshells; to not be a refugee in his own or any country; to not be treated differently because he is black and male; to treat women equally…

In one sentence: I want him to grow up in a sustainable world.

I want it so much, it’s all I can think about right now. I want it so much, it makes me want to cry. Holding him, I felt like a father already and it broke my heart as I realized that I am not ready for him, and neither is most of the world.
If you intend to have children and you’re not working on any of the SDGs, especially SDG13/Climate Action, with all due respect you should not have children.

The 17 SDGs: it’s time for you to choose one to work towards

Have you thought about what the world will be like in 5, 10, 20 years?
Do you really want to bring a child into this world only to suffer?
Do you think things will just solve themselves?
Have you ever fallen in love, and not wanted anything bad to happen to the person?

Well, I held a baby today, and I’ve never been surer that I want children of my own…
But I’d rather not have children if I have to bring them into the world the way it is right now. So I’ll keep working towards making the world a more sustainable place, reminding myself day after day why I should and how I can; you should and can too (if all you do is plant more trees or change your consumption habits).
Here and here are some concrete ways you can make the world a more sustainable place.

Thanks for reading, I wish you love at first sight!

Oyintokoni Olobio
Tokoni Olobio is an amateur photographer, Elon Musk-stalker, Beatlemaniac, and chocoholic. He’s a graduate of Political Science, and currently works as a Research Assistant for a sustainability consulting firm. He would like you to read his words, look at his pictures, think about them (laugh a little) and comment.