A Baby Can Bring Fulfilment, But Staying Childfree Is Also A Valid Choice!

To all my friends, who are just married or about to be married, tread slow, as having or not having a child is a sensitive matter.

‘Baby on Board’, my friend gave instructions to her husband for designing the board while rubbing her swollen belly. I watched her in amusement as excitement and anxiety played hide-n-seek on her face. Raised brows, widened eyes followed by smiling lips and dimpled cheeks. Amongst the instructions and expressions, the rubbing on the belly was constant. After she was done with the phone call, I interjected her to-do-before-the-baby-arrives list, with my question.

‘Something bothers you, Anita?’

Was it the right decision to get pregnant?

The rubbing stopped. She looked into my eyes and took a deep breath. Pregnancy gives you that kind of labored breathing but Anita’s was more of a mental exhaustion that escaped as a sigh through her nose.

‘Hmmm… I won’t lie or beat around the bush but yes, I’m tensed. Tensed over how I would manage once the baby arrived. How things will change for us as a couple after the delivery? How things will change for me? Will my life, running on my whims and fancies, be ever the same? Will I be the same? Or even sane?’

I held her hand in a firm grip. Feeling the tension in her curled-up fingers, I said, ‘No.’

She turned away from me, probably turning to face herself in her thoughts that were rattling on her mind. Gingerly, she looked up after what seemed to be a massive minute-long observation, Anita asked, ‘Was it the right decision to get pregnant? Am I erring by bringing this life into my chaotic world?’

‘Well, now is not the time to pour over such matters. The decision is made. Action taken. You got to only wait for the results.’

I had to be pragmatic. Couldn’t just wheedle her into believing that parenthood was a cakewalk. Yet, in a moment I was sorry for her state and bit my tongue for having been so non-empathetic about her state. Wasn’t I, too, at that juncture some eight years ago? Was that a long time back that today I answered Anita so cruelly?

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Yes, I feel ancient while my girlfriends in their late thirties debate over whether to bear a child or not. Ten years ago, when I married, having a baby post-marriage was the most natural thing to do. As natural as washing your hands post visiting a washroom or as organic as having pav with bhaji. Forgive me for the lame examples but it was utterly foolish to think about whether to have a child or not a decade ago.

It’s a different world now… and being childfree is OK!

Times changes. I can see a gamut of options people have to live their lives. One of them could be being the DINK couple (double income no kids). Initially, due to my social conditioning, I found it weird and absurd how a couple could be happy without the tag of parents on them. Going childfree by choice and not by “nature’s wrath” was a difficult concept to digest. I empathized with individuals who suffered from infertility. For whom the boon of parenthood was a mirage, fell into my oh-so-sorry category.

Then walked in a few friends and close family members, who told me that they had happily and voluntarily chosen to go childfree.

‘It is a huge responsibility and we don’t want to go through the trials and tribulations of being a parent.’ A friend spoke upfront of her choices at a school reunion. Not only she but a few other friends who were parents to not one but even two kids resonated with her.

‘It is good you are clear with your priorities and nothing wrong in doing so.’ Another one joined her in unison.

‘I feel you are going a bit overboard with calling parenthood full of trials and tribulations.’ My meek voice conjured up some strength. ‘It is not all that messy and muddled.’ I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear that had fallen from my messy bun.

To be or not to be a stay at home mom

‘Look at yourself.’ The advocate of not bearing children turned towards me. ‘Hadn’t it been for your son you would have had a successful writing career? What are you holding back for? Isn’t the money divided? If it were not for his school fees, his tuition, his extracurricular, even his McDonald’s treat and fancy clothes, you wouldn’t have opted for this simple gharelu look of yours?’

The discussion was turning aggressive and I could feel the heat of disagreement on me.

Seeing my ashen face, the friend mellowed down, ‘I’m sorry I don’t mean to critique your choices but what I want you to know is that we aren’t ready for the sacrifices. You can say we are selfish but at least we aren’t faking ourselves into believing we would be great parents.’

I sipped my cola in silence. There was a plateful of food for thought to chew on. To lighten the atmosphere, a friend cracked the silence.

‘To have children is like having an untrained employee in your organization of marriage. If you are ready and stable and settled, mentally, emotionally, and financially and have the plan in place to hold the mess… then go ahead… sirf emotional madness of becoming a parent ke chakkar ke nahi padne ka.’

We had a good laugh. He made a strong point. The tension had fizzled out. So the soda from my cola. The sweet cola minus the zing of soda was not bad. So was the ideology of staying away from parenthood. One always has the option of being pet parents, godparents, or adoptive parents over being biological parents. If not this, then as my younger sister says, ‘Why have my own when I have yours? Ek Ma se bhali do!’ I cannot agree more.

With children comes financial, moral, and emotional madness but with them around comes a sense of fulfilment. I have a shoulder to cry on, a lap to rest my weary head on, a trophy to show the world- See this is my creation! Yet, there have been hair-pulling moments to the extent of me going bald. A feeling of bankruptcy after paying exorbitant school fees. Halloween nights when the baby bawled her lungs out.

Sometimes, I wonder how I combated these changes that toppled my life

Sheer will.

Where there is a will, there are ways. But only if there is a will.

To all my friends, who are just married or about to be married, tread slow, as having or not having a child is a sensitive matter. Before I began writing this blog, my friend Monica gave me the above advice. You may be trolled, mocked, called insensitive and selfish for keeping parenthood at bay. Sadly, you are not part of a major populous that opts for parenthood because that is what one does after getting married. But remember you are a golden minority with sensible attitudes. There is no U-turn on the highway of parenthood. And definitely, no my-way-or-highway attitude!

In my weakest moment, let me acknowledge your support because when I have had enough poop and vomit-cleaning sessions, I have left my son in the care of my sister. Secretly, I thank God for her choices as I have a reliever after a long duty of parenting.

Image source: by fizkes from Getty Images Free for Canva Pro

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About the Author

Dr. Aparna Salvi Nagda

Aparna, residing in Mumbai, is a consulting homoeopath and edupreneur by day and loves to find comfort in books by twilight. Writing has allowed her to express without wagging her tongue. She has contributed to read more...

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