“How many issues?”
A seemingly married woman is likely to be asked by every second aunty. For the uninitiated that translates to,
“How many children do you have?”
“How many issues?”
Note the connotations there. Not only are you assumed to be married and have had a child, the question also implies that you HAVE to have had more than one child. I know, I know, it comments on the lady looking old enough to have had kids too. But, we had already given up on being polite when we started calling our children, ‘issues’.
Here’s a tip for the aunts from the first sentence. You want more women to have kids? Then leave them alone, don’t judge them for not having any. The last pressure, today’s independent woman needs is your disapproving scan. If anything, she’ll delay her decision just to despise you. Okay, okay, she’s much too mature for that. But, your well-meaning inquiries have lost meaning for all practical purposes and soon we shall conquer our conditioning and successfully learn to not let you annoy us.
And let’s not get into the matter of why this curiosity is never targeted towards the husband.
I took a good, long four years before getting pregnant with my first child (yes, out of choice, nosey aunty!) So, you can imagine my plight at social events, especially those related to family. Imagine the cultural shock that the above-mentioned aunts would have gone into, if I told them,
“I’m not sure I want to have one.”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to have one. It’s not that I had aspirations for an awesome career (now, there’s a brilliant joke!) nor was I doing something dramatic with my life, that precluded children. I just wasn’t sure.
I wasn’t sure why people have kids. The most common answer I’ve heard is that they would be of support during old-age. What a nauseating thought! Let alone a reason to bring another human being into the world. In this day and age, when all self-help books tell me to minimize my expectations even from my closest ones, I’m laying down expectations from a fetus? About what he/she will do 30-40 years from now. Mind-boggling. Bizarre!
There are others who want someone to call their own. That sounds like someone making a buy vs. rent argument for a house. Then there are those who think children will improve their damaged relationship, like super-glue fixes broken furniture. And of course, there’s the ‘That’s the next thing to do.’ statement to make. ‘Post-graduation. Check. Handsome job. Check. Awesome husband. Check. Getting bored now. Let’s make babies.’
Maybe these are wonderful reasons to grow someone inside you. But, they sound exactly as ridiculous as I just made them sound. The only argument, that I sort-of, kind-of haven’t had a reaction to is, ‘What if I repent later, when the biological clock has gone past its expiry date?’ Now, that’s a valid fear and there’s no answer to that. Even with the stock market you know you are going to feel sad if you lose and be ecstatic if you make profit. But, how will I feel if I don’t have a baby to cuddle 10 years from now? How is one supposed to know? You know for sure you are not going to miss the poop cleaning and the terrible twos. But what about the gratification of having raised a good person? Will I not be able to share my friends’ happiness when they announce their child’s accomplishments because I haven’t a similar anecdote to relate?
So, why should we want to have kids? I don’t think there is a 100% –clear answer to that one. I don’t think there is a set of sub-questions that will lead you to your eureka moment. Like most important things in you life, you feel it in your gut and you take the leap. You feel like nurturing and burping a baby. No kidding. The romanticism attached to seeing your baby’s first steps, hearing their first syllables is absolutely valid. It is as real as the frustration of making sure they don’t get themselves into trouble by tripping and falling or the insurmountable irritation of hearing the words, ‘mamma’ attached to this, that and everything, way too often.
Deep down you think you are ready. I don’t think you ever know for sure that you are ready, you feel you are. That’s just how the ball rolls. In the mean time, let’s just challenge ourselves to come up with witty ones to,
“Have you started trying?”
* If you liked this post, also read Meetu’s earlier post titled ‘Mom-me‘.