“How long have you been married?”, the lady asked. “It has been 6 years”, she replied. There you go again, she thought to herself. She knew what was coming next.
“Ah wow. That’s long. Kids?”, the lady went on.
“No”, her reply was short and simple. But clearly, not enough. “Oh. No kids yet? Why not”?, the lady said – puzzled and raising her eyebrows.
Let’s face it. As seen world over, but even more so in our close-minded Indian society – your personal life is a punching bag (that everyone gets a shot at) and the topic of your marriage (and related things) a national obsession.
With changing times, I today see more and more couples from our generation breaking free from the societal baggage…taking calls differently and making new choices. Choices that may not be conventional. Choices that may be hard. But most importantly – choices that are their own.
Figure this. Looking around, I see so many folks give up their 9 to 5 jobs to start-up and live their dreams. Then there’s that new bunch of people who give up their high paying jobs for working with a charity. I know so many single men and women in their late 20s and 30s – all waiting to find the right life partner. More and more couples skipping the medically recommended “ideal timeframe for having kids”. Couples choosing to have only one child. And even more so – couples that are taking the decision of not having any kids at all. This includes my best friend, who recently told me that she and her husband were not going to have any kids of their own. Given how much she is into my baby daughter (always buying her things and spoiling her silly) – this came as a surprise to me. Those kissable cheeks, tiny fingers, twinkling eyes…how could she not want one?
“I love kids, but I just don’t think I want to own the responsibility of having one myself”, she clarified. As someone who is super kicked about their recently acquired motherhood status…her decision amused me for a bit. But brainwashing my best friend to change her mind on this important decision was not my plan. Why?
She is my best friend, and after a short chat…I understood what she meant.
Having children has all sorts of implications on our lives. Physical, emotional and financial. Being a new mommy, I had recently been through a lot of this myself. Today, I see putting many of my own preferences and likes at the absolute backburner – not because I HAVE to. Simply because I WANT to. I pick a lot of stuff that is overbearing for me to handle. A lot of “responsibility”. All of which, at the end of the day – I LOVE. It’s a CHOICE I make. My friend, admittedly, was not cut out to go ahead on this journey of ultimate self-sacrifice. And that is HER choice.
This choice of hers doesn’t mean she is immature. Nor is she irresponsible. And I can assure you – she is anything but selfish. But somewhere – I see how her decision fits into what SHE wants to do with her life. And why shouldn’t she be entitled to that? Having a child is not meant to be a chore that one’s got to get over with. Or go ahead with – simply for the fear of “what will the world think of me?”.
As for my best friend, she’ll always have my daughter to pour her maternal instincts all over. They get along like a house on fire. If that makes her happy enough – game on.
A lot of Indians live their lifetime trying to find that conventional mould of what one would qualify as a good wife / husband / brother / sister / son / daughter…and so on. But that’s changing. Perhaps this is why so many Indian families are turning nuclear. Living away from family. DINKs (Double Income No Kids).
Loving the family and recognizing that relationships matter…is an inherent part of how Indians are raised. But our generation is now willing to walk the tougher road by making themselves and their choices heard with the elders. And that leads to mutual respect. Like in this case…my best friend’s family has accepted her decision…and continue to love truly love her – with or without a baby in the picture.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For your times they are a-changin’