Friday, 2 November 2012
“I am childfree by choice” she says hesitatingly- almost apologizing for her ‘shameful’ confession.
“By choice? Really?” balks one of the women in the group. “Believe me, you have no idea what you’re missing. You are thirty five already. Just take the plunge else when you want one, you won’t be able to have one!!”
She has been warned yet again.
The other two women exchange glances and arrive at a decision- she is stupid. Too obsessed with her own happiness, too interested in making money, too selfish to be socialized with.
We have often heard that motherhood makes a woman complete. But what if the maternal gene gave us the slip? What if we feel not an iota of craving to have a little chortling, chuckling angel to call our own? Should we be pulled up for this perceivable folly in our characters, be politely ignored in parties and gatherings by the hostile gang of other more ‘complete’ women?
The truth is that men don’t have it so hard. “We don’t want kids EVER” they announce happily to all and sundry without a thought of how the audience rushes to judge their wives (and not them).
Parents refuse to believe that we do not want a child. They obsess over the fact that we are rushing past the fertile years without a worry. They are also pretty sure that there is a physical defect that we are ashamed to admit.
“Come with us to the fertility clinic” they say carefully “these days everything is possible. IV treatment, surrogates-and if nothing works, there is always adoption!”
They weep, they council, they do a whole lot of super expensive pujas to help us tide over the ‘Rahu Ketu’ effect and gift them a grandchild pronto! To them we are not ‘settled’ till the family is ‘complete’.
We feel hassled when around them because any discussion on any god damned topic, is bound to lead to the one we dread most.
So we have our phases. Sometimes we avoid them and feel terribly guilty at having to do so in their sunset years; sometimes we insinuate that they are interfering and feel guilty about saying that. On other occasions we just work ourselves into a fake rage and leave. Yeah, we feel guilty even then.
The bottom line is that it is not very easy being older and child free. Unless you are built with a thicker hide and care two hoots about what people think-or then have a family that does not question this very unusual decision- be prepared to get affected by the uncharitable judgment of people around you.
But India is a huge country and surely there are tons of others like us grappling with the same challenges? Well it is time to mobilize our forces. If anything, the country should be proud of the fact that we are helping contain the upward spiral of population.
You are invited to share on this forum, your reasons and experiences, to ask questions that bother you (possible medical problems for women, lack of care during old age, loneliness et al) provide answers if you have them, discuss relevant topics like the social stigma, fear of old age and even the possible loneliness.
The aim of the forum will be to help answer most queries, and provide you with insight on dealing with the common fears and challenges-and build a community that supports itself. Once we have a larger number of visitors, we will attempt to take it to a higher level of integration.
So dear likeminded people, come and speak your minds, narrate your stories or simply vent- because whatever be its eventual course, this is a fate of our own choosing- and we owe it to ourselves to be certain, to be sure and to be convinced enough to not feel compelled to justify our decision.