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I Am A ‘Complete’ Woman Even If I Choose Not To Have Kids!

Posted: January 18, 2021

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If a man is not judged based on his ability to become a father, why should a woman be subjected to such prejudiced benchmark?

Life is not a fairy tale. If you’ve lost your shoe at midnight, you are drunk. The idea of a cuckoo cloud land perpetuated in our minds by romantic movies and mushy romance novels seldom lasts long. Eventually, once a man and woman get entangled in the web of responsibilities and the pressures of the judgemental society, the love simply seems to evaporate.

Quite often, little girls grow up and become strong independent damsels who wait for their princes to sweet them off their feet. However, their nine-day wonder shatters like a house of cards as soon as they tie the knot and welcome the nuances of ‘nuptial bliss’ with an open heart.

Two years into her marriage, my fearless and bold friend who was once very clear about never having kids is now trying to save her marriage. Her in-laws are suddenly desperate for a child now. And her reasons for never having kids were very simple and clear – one: she didn’t want kids and two: because she has a severe slip disk issue.

However, despite marrying her friend who stood by her side when she made these decisions, she is now forced to try and save her marriage. Now, she feels trapped in a house with strangers who barely seem to make attempts to understand her or respect her choices.

A number of couples go through this all the time!

At the same time, three years into her marriage, another acquaintance of mine is also suffering the pressures of motherhood since she has twins. As unexpected as it was for the couple, they are trying to make the ends meet. Meanwhile, the in-laws, as expected, backed off since the twins were both girls.

Now, the mother finds herself coping with incessant taunts about the financial liability on the couple will harm their future. She is also trying not to trouble her own parents with these problems by being discreet about it. Her husband is unaware of the fact that the apprehension, the tension and anxiety are eating her up alive.

These are just two cases but there are plenty more cases where a woman’s completeness is judged by her ability to bear children. The naysayers say that society demands a child from a couple. If the couple fails, society treats the couple as an outcast.

Another friend of mine revealed that he announced to both his and wife’s families that he is impotent and that the couple can never have children. Upon asking if it was true, my friend, who is several years older than me says that that was the only way the parents would stop badgering the couple. Actually, the couple does not want children but discussing their thoughts with their parents seemed akin to talking to a wall.

We need to let the couple decide what they want!

The new-age couples are practical and impulsive too. They are more vocal and when they try to explain their perspective to their elders, the conflict of interest happens. While the youngsters believe in not putting all their eggs in one basket, the elders follow the principle of ‘We did it, you do it too.’ The eventual outcome is a no-win situation where both parties go on to a cold war that doesn’t have any closure in sight.

I fail to understand the need for such pressure, expectations and situations where an unborn child governs the outcome of the discussion. Gone are the times when the life of the couples centred around the upbringing of a child.

Now are the times when each individual is trying to find the purpose of his/ her life. If a man is not judged based on his ability to become a father, why should a woman be subjected to such prejudiced benchmark?

Whether to have children or not should be left to the couple. We understand the importance of consent when it comes to sex. Then, why don’t we understand that the couple’s consent to have a child is equally important?

A version of this was earlier published here.

Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke

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An educator by day an author by night, Enakshi is also an eminent book reviewer.

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