‘What’s your plan?’
‘When are you going to do the “other” tasks?’
I’ve been married for 2 years 9 months now. The random inquiries about having a baby have become more frequent. The problem is, neither husband nor I, like children. We are OK as long as the baby is happy, having fun and doing the cute stuff they show on YouTube videos but I don’t think we have the patience/inclination to do the dirty stuff and the sacrifice stuff. We love our lives just too much, we love the status quo. We have a short fuse for crying babies and we haven’t had enough fun in our lives, to begin with; to stop having it now.
I, for one, don’t feel maternal. At work, I dress like a man and for most part of the day; I’m trying to decode men, their behavior and politics and trying to one-up them. I’m guarded. I’ve consciously done away with the delicate, vulnerable and innocent side of me.
People tell us that a child will bring us closer. We are too close for comfort. Why solve a problem which doesn’t exist? I have a married female friend, who’s a mom now. The only thing she ever asks me is when I am going to give birth? When I tell her my point of view, she sends me the mouth-ajar-in-disbelief smiley. We are 7 billion plus people on this planet. Is there really a need for one more? People my age are already reproducing, so the continuity of human race is guaranteed for one more generation, at the very least. I can therefore quietly escape this task. I don’t owe it to humanity, to reproduce. For this, people have a counter argument, they say that 7 billion people aren’t yours but your child will be yours alone. Duh! Wrong! They say it takes a village to raise a child. Plus I’m not going to stay at home to look after him, s(he) is going to go to a day-care and will make friends and people of his own. S(He)’s never going to be just mine. That’s the sort of thinking which makes moms over-possessive for their children.
Older women in the family, my mom included, tell me how they gave birth just one year into the marriage. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Yes! Why not! You had no idea what you were doing or getting yourself into’. Being a parent is a life-long commitment. Everything else has an escape route..jobs, marriages. Giving birth and being a parent are entirely different things. You are responsible for him! It’s so intimidating. First they make you responsible for your spouse and then the kid.
I’ve asked many people who are parents about their reason for having a kid. Most of them say, ‘A child gives you so much love, you will be his center of Universe, he will look up to you for everything, you become a better person etc.’
I don’t know about you, but I sniff selfish undertones in the above reasoning. You want love; the child will give it to you. You want to feel important and validated; the child has no option but you. You want to become a better person; the child will turn you into one. You want certain things from life: acceptance, validation, importance; which you aren’t getting from anybody else and therefore you use your apparatus, put the child through this misery called life and for all the years to come, you act like what a sacrificing person you are! Sure the child will be dependent on you but as soon as he turns a teenager you will be the most loathsome people for him. How well can you take it after having given a decade of your youth to his upbringing? And God forbid, if it’s a girl child in a country like India. Eve teasing, molestation in crowded places, acid attacks by jilted lovers, gang rapes and murder, sexual harassment in offices, emotional torture after wedding by mother-in-laws, pressure to produce babies, the physical toll of producing babies.. Why would you want to put your child through even one of the above and which has a good chance of happening, if it’s a girl child in India?
And don’t even get me started about Indian parents. They are the vilest people. Majority of them! They do everything for returns. They pray for a male child because he will take care of them in their old age. It’s a trade. Give and take. And they leave a lot of mess, in their wake.
Parenting requires no prior knowledge and it is arrogant and foolish to believe that just because you were able to give birth, you will also be able to raise him well. Your only merit was having a functional reproductive system. How does that guarantee that you will be able to raise him into a well rounded, smart, ethical and loving individual?
I, don’t, even for a minute, assume that I will be able to raise a child. I’ve so many of my own confusions, biases, hatred and cynicism to deal with! I don’t know what the next two decades are going to look like. What kind of jobs will there be. Will there even be jobs? Will banking exist? People say the world as we know, is going to change in ways we can’t imagine! And I got to ready the child for that? I know only one method of doing that: the one which was followed with me- You shine your flaws and qualities on them for at least 18 years. You load them with your dos and don’ts and make all decisions for them and then suddenly, one day, ask them to choose their field of studies and career.
Every child is the same during birth. It has no fear, no discrimination, no prejudice, no opinion. Parents get to color them with their own views making the end product either liberated in mind or damaged personalities or confused. What if you raise him to be too ideal? S(He) will be eaten by the other sharks. Too cunning? S(He) will become a con artist! There’s no method or protocol to be followed for the most important job one can have?!
Some people tell me that they had a kid only because, they didn’t want to regret later in life, about being child-free. So they just went ahead and had one, when it was biologically possible. What a semi-wanted child! But I get it, some people really do want a kid of their own. Fine! But is it necessary that ‘every’ married couple, must feel that way? People don’t ask you, ‘do you want a child’; they ask you ‘when is it coming’, assuming that you do want a child, in the first place.
I seem undecided. I haven’t bought enough good things for myself, to spend my money only on the kid. I’ve heard when the kid takes an exam; the parent gets tensed like it was her own exam. I’ve taken enough of that stress during my own academic years. Can’t have a replay!
A lot of things which were considered taboo earlier, have gained a reluctant acceptance in the society. Example- gay marriages, live-in relationships, open marriages etc. I hope being child free gains such acceptance too, but by the time that happens, my kids will be reading this blog and I will be trying to hide this post from them…