Being childless by choice in the Indian society

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Let me begin with the fact that I am a 34-year-old married woman with all my reproductive organs in working condition. I am married for the last 9 years. I do not have children, and I intend to keep it that ways.

When we got married, my husband and I were at least clear that we did not want a child for next few years. We wanted to have a relaxed lifestyle and enjoy ourselves. I wanted to get to know the family and its ways.

Eventually as time passed my husband somehow became more and more clear about the fact that we were better off without children. And as he saw his friends and cousins becoming parents, he could not view himself being a one. Nor had I felt the desire to become a mum even after two to three years into our marriage. I could not see myself getting pregnant and giving birth. We were on the same page. My gynecologist told me that my biological clock was ticking, but for me my clock was on mute. It never rang. In time, my husband and I had decided we are not cut out to be parents. And we did not want to take the plunge simply because it was the next thing to do after getting married. We did not want to give birth to a child for the heck of it and become clumsy parents and mess up a child's life.

We as a family are active participants of the Bhartiya societal system. The Indian society is a society that is woven together with the threads of traditions, values and culture. It is a culture that is engraved with the concept of an ideal family that at least consists of-miya biwi aur do bacche.
It is a culture that worships motherhood. And hence it goes without saying that our choice of life was frowned upon. The day I got engaged, the aashirwad to give the family a scion, preferably a male one was bestowed upon me. Everyone was expecting us to hit the jackpot during our first night together. Every other month I was asked by some random relative or neighbor if my periods were delayed. As years passed by we as a couple became the object of curiosity to many around us. There were speculations about who could be the defective one. I was thrown questions like- Did you show a good gynecologist? Or you are definitely going to regret this decision later in life! or are you going to waste your life having fun like this forever? Or how is it even humanly possible to voluntarily decide that you don't want children? A neighbor even concluded that me getting my golden retriever sterilized before she could get pregnant was the reason I was "cursed" and did not have babies. Surprisingly, these questions were always for me.

And they always found me at the strategic time when my husband was not around. As all this began, it was emotionally draining at once. My husband could not understand the brouhaha the people created around our decision. And he asked me to stand up for the decisions I have made. In due course I put my guards up and told myself that it was my decision too and it did not require justification of any sort on my behalf to the society. I did not owe any explanation to anyone.
In the country that I was born and brought up, until some years ago, the ultimate dream of most of the women was to bag a perfect husband, make babies with him and look after them. In India, the yardstick of judging a woman has been her housekeeping skills and her ability to bear a successor for the family she is married into. Not being able to bear a child was always considered a sin by the keepers of the society. Never was it considered that the man also could be responsible for the same. In extreme cases, the female was many a times tossed aside like cattle which was of no use to the farmer for she had stopped bearing children and therefore stopped giving milk. We women have been thriving inherently in the patriarchal societal system since decades now, trying our best to fit into the mold of an ideal bhartiya naari.

There are no two ways denying the fulfillment and the joy that motherhood and building a beautiful functional family brings along with it. I have seen my friends being overtly joyous on becoming parents. Becoming a mother has its own perks. For many becoming a mother is associated with the feeling of being complete or whole. But it also comes with a responsibility for lifetime. As their children grew, my friends started calling me the wiser one and even the luckier one that I did not have to deal with sleepless nights, howling kids, and their tantrums.

Being a parent is a full time job and like everything else it needs skills to raise a well rounded child. It also means that you have to almost always put the needs and desires of the child before you, which is not easy or possible for everyone today. Many women had to give promising careers to raise the child against their wishes.

Effective parenting needs lifelong commitment. Parents are held accountable with the kind of human being the child turns up to be. And in my opinion it is not an easy task at all given today's scenario. Many a times, women have their own demanding careers. Bringing a child in to this world is no longer associated with the feeling of being whole. Fulfillment is coming by in various other packages. Like, I find it extremely fulfilling looking after my two dogs and four cats and help every other animal in distress in my capacity. Every individual's soul food is diverse.

With times changing, priorities have changed. Building a family does not necessarily fit into that scheme of things. Likeminded couples now want to spend time and energy building and forwarding their careers. They want to spend their hard earned moolah on seeing the world or on an expensive hobby or a luxurious lifestyle may be. The couples want to see the world, tour their own country, explore every nook and cranny, and tread an unknown path. It is not obviously about the children here, it is about the couples who choose not to have them. Motherhood was always associated with the concept of feeling whole. In earlier times, children were viewed as the "budhape ki laathi." But now with the families becoming nuclear, it is not the same. The concept of joint families is wearing off, at least in the metros. Couples want their space and the parents want theirs.

Youngsters in the Asian sub continent are settling down in the USA, Europe and Australia. In such cases the parents are generally left alone, to fend for themselves. Mostly in such cases the children cannot even come to their parents salvage in emergency situations.

As the century has turned, women have become financially independent. The mold of the "purush pradhan" society is about to crumble slowly. With one achievement after the other in every walk of life, the women are proving their prowess. And in this process they have become less dependent on the men of the family for their needs. Independence has given them the wisdom and capability to take their own decisions. And on a positive note the metrosexual man has started accepting his better half as his equal. The men now give all the creative freedom to the women. They exist as equals in the 21st century. The role dynamics of men and women in any kind of relationship have undergone a sea change. All this is causing shift in the needs and desires of a couple. Fulfillment of a relationship is not dependant on having a child any more.

There are many other things that a couple, like to do together or individually to lead a content life. Married couples in agreement with one another are making well researched, well informed and well thought of decision of opting out of motherhood.

Not becoming parents, is a choice, a preference. It is a contended, fulfilled life despite or perhaps because of being what is called "childless". It is also a good place to be in.

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