In The End, It’s Always a Numbers Game

Ivan Šokić (photo: Demokracija)

Špela was a good pupil throughout elementary and high school. She believed that when she grows up, she would have both a family and a successful career. She enrolled in university, finished on time, maybe even found a job. Then Špela came to the conclusion that if she wanted to have a family, her career would have to wait. She did not like it! Why would she have to stay behind, when she was far more hardworking than Jure, Mark, and Haris? That didn’t seem fair. It was injust.


Špela decided children would have to wait. Her partner maybe quipped about that once or twice, but in the end Špela had the last word. Her body, her choice, because even he was raised with the idea of how important it is to support women in their endless fight for equality.

Now Špela made it. She had a high position, good pay, but she felt like her biological clock was running out. Ten years passed by, and with every day Špela was closer to 40. If she was “lucky” her partner was still with her, and maybe he too thought this would be a good time to have a child.

It was decided. Špela stops taking birth control pills that were a part of her routine for the past two decades. Menstrual cramps for which her gynecologist gave her the prescription for the pills in order to ease the pain, are back. Špela suffers, but she believes, all this will be worth it, once she conceives.

Weeks pass, months pass, a year passes by, and Špela’s stomach remains flat. She starts to doubt. Maybe the problem is not her, maybe the problem is in her partner. They decide to count the little swimmers who fail to do their job. It turns out the swimmers are fine. The gynecologist tries to tell Špela that she’s older now, and that it takes time. Špela was used to getting what she wants when she wants it, her entire life. Now she finds herself in front of an unmoving wall. It’s not up to her any more.

Špela plays with the idea to try artificial insemination. Maybe it works, maybe Špela conceives naturally. She gets to feel morning sickness that’s not limited solely to the morning but goes on throughout the day. Besides that there is a heap of other problems that life keeps exclusively for older moms. When the child is finally born after a birthing that went on for at least ten hours, Špela is decided. One was enough, never again!

Sara was never brilliant in school. We could write that up to the fact that her parents came to Slovenia during the war, when Sara was already going to school or the fact that they never spoke Slovenian at home. In any case, she finished elementary school and went to some vocational high school. Her father and brothers went to pray in Tivoli Hall every Friday, and Sara too at some point started wearing a headscarf. She felt better with it, she told her friends who teased her because of it.

When she was barely of age, her father introduced her to her future husband. It was one of her brother’s friends, also a comitted Muslim. Shortly they got married and a year later she had her first child.

Sara’s husband didn’t allow her to work, instead she had to take care of the home and the child. Sara complained about this to her mother, but she always told her to be patient, that she’s fine. After the first came the second, then the third and the fourth until Sara was pregnant for the fifth time at the age of 30. She got used to her life, she loved to cook for her family. She knew her husband might have his rules, but in truth, he loved her.

Her children too didn’t speak Slovenian, but it was easier for them, because the children in the kindergarten and school didn’t speak Slovenian any more. Sara liked it, as she still remembered how she felt as an outcast in a classroom that didn’t understand her.

There was a girl – a Slovenian, with Sara’s youngest in the kindergarten. One of the three in a group of fifteen children. Her mom was always dressed nice with an expensive handbag in one and a cellphone in the other hand. It seemed like she didn’t even notice the girl, her phone calls took precedence. And yet Špela was the most vocal at the parental meetings. She didn’t like this, she didn’t like that.

Couple of years later, Sara and Špela met again in a clothing store. Špela was surprised to learn that Sara was already a grandma, and not even 40 years old. Špela’s daughter was still in elementary school.

That, my dear friends, is the demographic state that awaits Slovenia.