I have a friend who has been married for the past ten years. She's very well settled in her career and is doing well for herself. Her hubby works abroad and in general, they do not get in each others way and at the same time have a wonderful married life, each of them content in their worlds. And of course, they do not have any children.
I've never thought it strange nor wanted to ask her about this but one day, while we were talking about stuff, she happened to mention that she never goes for weddings or any other functions which involves a gathering of their families.
"All they ask me is when I will have a child," she complained. "No one will ask me if I am doing well in my career or if my health is ok or anything else. It's always about when I am going to have a baby and yada yada yada. They then whisper behind my back and pass nasty comments.”
Thus, my friend stopped going for these events altogether and has now become somewhat of a social recluse, turning up only for a cup of coffee and that too when pestered and scolded. In fact, she is in the field of medicine and she has so completely immersed herself in her work that she doesn’t leave time for anything else.
“Don’t you want to experience the pleasure of motherhood?” I prodded her gently. And what she gave me for an answer, at first stumped me and then when I sat back and thought about it, her words actually began to make sense.
“By giving birth?” she questioned me. “You’ve given birth. Tell me honestly, wouldn’t you be better off without the physical and mental torture that comes with the territory?”
“But, there’s nothing that compares with holding a tiny little life in your hands na? Your own to build, nurture and grow?”
“That’s just a motherly instinct, Sunila.” She explained. That can be fulfilled by nurturing anything ya. It could be a sibling, a pet, a plant…or even an adopted child.”
“I was fourteen when my sister was born.” She further explained. “My mother couldn’t take much time off from her place of work and thus, I practically brought up my sister just like a mother. By the time I was in college, that motherly instinct in me was completely satisfied ya. I know what it is to be a mother.
So now, that I am nurturing my career, having experienced motherhood before hand, why would I want to endure the physical pain? My sister is like the daughter I did not give birth to. Seriously, given a chance, and if our society was more accepting, would you not have rather adopted a child?”
As I thought back, it actually made sense to me on some level. I had a daughter and now a dog and turtle. I loved them all equally like my own children, not having given birth to the latter obviously. But of course, how could I forget the pains of delivery and the hormonal changes and countless sleepless nights when my daughter was born? Even at that time, and even now, the thought of it ran a shiver down my spine. I would be constantly groggy, very irritable and at times, the feeling would last for days and days. It was like being in a big fat cloud of depression which refused to go away.
Not that I regretted it of course, but was the entire experience not overrated? It seems nice when you see movies in which the mother holds the baby in her hands and cries with joy and all that. But in my experience and based on what I have heard from my friend, most of us pass out with exhaustion and pain and the love for the child comes much later, after the effects of the epidurals or anesthetics have reasonably subsided. Even then, for a lot of moms, it takes a lot of time to connect with the child. For a good few months, you are only a food producing machine and a janitor for the squint eyed creature. The real connection begins only after a few months. This is not only my experience but a lot of my friends endorse the same opinion.
On the contrary, women, like Sushmita Sen or Angelina Jolie, who adopted kids, could enjoy all the good things that motherhood had to offer, minus the pain, keeping the career, figure as well as mind in place.
Yeah. It made sense to see where she was coming from. There were so many creatures in the world that were without a mother, a nurturer and care giver…animals, orphans, I know of some people who even had adopted trees and grew them like they were their own. Then why was ‘giving birth’ so overrated? I don’t have the answer to this one question but I believe that some day, when someone makes a choice as brave my friend, I am certainly going to be the one to give them a pat on their back for standing for what they believe in instead of blindly falling prey to old traditions and burdening the earth with more mouths than it can handle.