Everybody with a womb doesn’t have to have a child any more than everybody with vocal cords has to be an opera singer.
It has become a national pass time to discuss procreation and poke noses into a woman’s plans of contributing to the already existing 132.42 crore population of the country. At times, one would wonder whether the only thing expected of a woman (in chronological order) is to get married, deliver a bundle of flesh and joy, and another and live happily ever after. Who are you kidding, pun intended.
Done! The perfect bharatiya naari is formed.
Having said that, there is no doubting the fact that being a mother and raising a child is a beautiful and unique experience, however, a lot of women are breaking societal norms and opting out of it.
We are a part of a culture that glorifies motherhood. Therefore the choice to opt out of it is regarded as selfish, foolish, absurd and even evil. From the minute a woman gets married her expected life aim is to bear children and continue the family cycle. Everyone starts speculating and looking at the woman at every other meeting – “Beti, when will you give the good news?”
Is your marriage missing the spark? Have a kid.
Husband having affairs? The child will bring you closer.
A lot of women are becoming increasingly aware of the lifetime responsibilities that come along with nurturing children. Parenting is a lifetime commitment and it isn’t one bit easy. When the society or culture stamps it as raison d’être, it becomes plain ridiculous to follow suit when one isn’t even aware of the consequences.
The concept is slowly changing and becoming ‘child-free’ is synonymous with embracing a care-free lifestyle. Women who continue to be nagged about this entirely personal choice often know that they needn’t have a kid to lead a happy, fulfilled life.
The reasons could be plenty.
Selfish? Well, why not?
When Jennifer Aniston spoke about her personal choice to remain child-free, she was brandished as being selfish and too career-oriented instead of settling down and starting a family.
“I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women–that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated. This continually is said about me: that I was so career-driven and focused on myself; that I don’t want to be a mother and how selfish that is.”
However, the question is who are they being selfish to? There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying one’s freedom and pursuing interesting things that one likes. If that is considered selfish then more needn’t be said.
Dads can, but do they or will they?
Research shows that on an average, women spend double the amount of time per week with their toddlers as compared to men. Being a stay-at-home dad is not considered cool. Women automatically become the caregivers by default.
Ancy Abraham who has been married for 12 years and has a five-year-old toddler says she has been questioned about her plans on having a second one.
“I’ve realized that bringing up a kid before he is fit to go around doing tasks by himself is a 24/7 job with hardly any time for sleep or personal interests. On top of that, there is a continuous need to tackle crankiness and tantrums. I can’t even handle grown-up adults who tend to get moody, let alone a cranky little kid!”
You and me in this beautiful world
There are several things married couples wish to do together or individually. A lot of women say that they feel complete with themselves and their partners.
“We travel, spend time with each other, engage in social and community activities. We totally relish our domestic life and don’t see the reason to add on to our family. We wish to keep it the way it is,” says Indra Harsha who is an enthusiastic travel blogger and also runs an NGO for the underprivileged.
Children or career
Some women choose to be financially independent and derive satisfaction from work. It makes them feel complete and purposeful. Several successful women work hard just like any other living human being to get their place up there. Is it rocket science to wonder why they aren’t ready to forfeit that all at once?
Oftentimes women who think of restarting their career at a certain point in life find themselves at crossroads.
“I initially thought of going back to work once my child is a year or two. But I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I am expected to show full commitment at work and at home. I even thought of the work from home option but good jobs in the market are rare. Also, people aren’t willing to offer you a job readily as a child is looked upon as an obligation to a mother and I am expected to be inefficient by default.” says Susan Fernandez (name changed) who is a finance professional.
Million dollar baby. Literally.
Get pregnant. Delivery costs. Baby costs. Hobby costs. School costs. College costs. Need we say more? Expenses are never-ending nor are they going to get any cheaper. Just thinking about the currency notes to be added from birth to parenthood can be taxing. No wonder women aren’t ready to trade in their financial security.
Personally, I love children. I believe there is a lot we can learn from them when it comes to simplicity of life and having uncharred interactions. At the same time, I also think that children are emotionally, financially, and psychologically exhausting. Motherhood and parenting overall is one of the most selfless things anyone can do. And quite possibly a child often doesn’t fit in someone’s plan of their life. Not wanting to have a child doesn’t make a woman, or a man, incompetent to handle the responsibility of one.
To conclude here’s little something from the essay Of Mothers and Others: Stories, Essays, Poems:
“So what do we have in the end? The ‘naturalness’ of motherhood? The ‘curse’ of childlessness? The dread of barrenness? A life filled with lack, with loss of what might have been? Or just another way of living? A choice, happenstance, circumstance, call it what you like, but for me, it’s a happy, contented, fulfilled life, despite — or perhaps because of — being what is called ‘childless’.”
What do you think about women who choose not to have a baby? How has your experience been with or without a child? Let us know in the comments or [email protected]
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