Is Motherhood a Choice?

Motherhood a choice for women, indian women who dont want to have kids, childless marriage is a failure


P.S: Anamika is the name I gave her and she requested me to write about her.
     

Something strange happened yesterday. ..

I was selecting pictures for my Anand Mela blog post, its always difficult task to select few from hundreds of them anyways thats when my phone rang. It was an unknown phone number, my eyes still stuck on my laptop screen I answered the call, there was a shaky 'HELLO' on other end.

She said "Hi, We don't know each other, but I read your blog daily and I feel I know you very well. I got your phone number from a common friend long back but I waited all this while to talk to you. Before you ask my name, I don't wish to disclose it and would appreciate if you don't try to find it out."

Before I could say something she continued "I want to share something with you, which if you wish you can write about. Can I talk to you for few minutes or call you later?"

I shut my laptop screen got up from my chair from her voice I could tell she was not fooling around and it was something serious. I said "Ok ! Go ahead, i am listening".

Now just for our reference let us call her Anamika - which means person without a name or nameless !

Anamika continued "Thanks ! I dont want to address you as a friend just want you to listen."

I interrupted "If you don't think of me as a friend then why talk to me?"

Anamika said "I have been in USA for more than six years now and I have many whom I call my friends. Friends whom I invite over for dinner, friends with whom I party, friends whose birthdays we celebrate, friends who are neighbors, friends who are jealous when I am doing good and friends who are happy when I am upset. I don't usually complain but I am so sick of this superficial relationships. I have a perfectly normal life like everyone else does with own share of problems but I am fine with it. What am not able to accept is not a single person I know is ready to share his/her sorrows with me. There have been times when I have shared my short comings with others just to lighten my heavy heart. But more often than not that just ends up becoming a hot topic of discussion. I am bored of painting the perfect picture. I want to discuss my imperfections and work on them. I just feel its..."

She paused and waited for me to react, I wish I could but I was at loss of words. I tried saying " I understand how that feels..."she just cut my words and said "NO, you don't!"

She continued "There have been times where I have been so upset or frustrated with extra work at office, fights with husband or just because its that time of the month but I have no one to let it all out. I cannot bother my old parents back in India. Neither tell my brother about these things he wouldn't understand. And yes telling the so called friends is not a option at all."

She was talking and I could actually read in between her words there was so much agony. She said "I am a happily married lady. My husband is a nice guy. But sometimes it feels so wrong when everyone around you just keeps expecting form you. I am neither scared of giving birth to a child nor do I hate kids in fact I like, i love kids, others kids. I don't want to have my own not that I can't but I DON'T Want to. Everyone around me keeps giving me endless advice. I am 31 years old, I have told my husband about this He says he is fine with my decision but sometimes he gives in to family pressure. At times when he looses his temper he asks me Why did I not tell him before?"

She paused and then continued "I didn't tell him because I didn't know myself. All my life I focused on my education then work and when my parents said it was the right time to marry I gave it a thought and eventually did get married. Not that I regret any of this. I am really happy with my life, I am content and thats the problem. I am happy with what I have now and don't wish to add a new member to my family."

She asked me "Isn't Motherhood a choice?"

Before I could reply, she said "Are all women born to be Mothers by default. Is it really the law of nature or is it man made. When I honestly tell someone about my views they give a cold look. my desire of not having children make me less humane in their eyes. Initially I thought I would meet  someone who would at least agree or have the courtesy to say 'Its your choice', but sadly I haven't met any. Not a man nor a Women who would actually respect my decision. I often feel confident about my decision and I think its better to be aware of what you want from life rather than just keep living it on someone else's terms. But sometimes I feel really low and it pushes me to think ....
Am I doing something awfully wrong?
Should I have children just because everyone else does?
Is childless Marriage a failure ?

***************

I thank each one of you for sharing your opinion.  I hope it did help Anamika. I don't know as I have still not heard back from her.
One of the blog readers has shared his reaction to this post and expressed his views on Marriage and Motherhood. You can read about it here Suhas shares his opinion
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44 comments:

  1. Childless marriage is not a failure, as I have couple of friends who have decided by choice that they don't want to have kids because they don't have that much time to devote to their kids. So no childless marriage is not a failure but then both husband and wife should be in the decision equally and there should be no give in to the family pressures under any circumstances.

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  2. We cannot call it as a failure. But its definitely going against the law of nature. Law of nature says go create your offspring... Going against it is one's own choice. It has its own pros and Cons. Understand them and do what suits u best!

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    1. Why is it going against the law of nature? Just having a child is not enough --- you need to want the child and to shower the child with love and affection. If a child is unwanted and brought into this world just for the sake of procreating, the child ends up with mental health problems due to early attachment issues. It's better to not bring a child in this world if you don't want to.

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    2. Well I never said create a child just for a the heck of it. We all know there are many kids who have been orphaned by their parents itself and that is mainly cos of the financial burden. Life is precious in any form.

      Delete
  3. Whatever I wanted to say Swati and Anil have culminated is so well...One thing that makes me curious though is I am seeing this trend in this generation a lot...a generation that is 6 to 10 years younger than myself. I am glad that people realise their priorities in life, they are ok to put their wants and needs in front of everyone without hesitation...The point of conflict only arise when both parties to this marriage wants different things....It's not like one likes to eat restaurant food and the other likes home cooked and they can still stay married happily doing what they want....this especially takes only the very same 2 people to materialise. One thing is for sure don't do anything because of society, peer pressure...I don't know if this Anamika is a real person, but either she gets convinced or convincing her husband once and for all is the only way, cos otherwise the marriage that she says which is perfectly happy now won't be that way for long (although I secretly think a women should have the greater authority in making this decision).....Great topic to discuss, especially looking at the current trend....Believe me or not, I have been thinking about this topic for very long to write about...probably will do it too.....

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  4. Its a choice. its her choice and their choice as a couple. Something that impacts both people in the marriage (apart from the 9 month pregnancy) is a choice that needs to be made together.

    laws of nature are a dubious argument when the population is 7 billion.

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    Replies
    1. Even though the population is 7 billion.. The laws of nature still do apply to every individual or a couple! And yes definitely its a choice to be made. A choice which has its own ups and downs. They will have to understand them and then make a call.

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    2. I agree with Anil. Mankind did not flourish to this extent if our forefathers would have thought the same way that this generation is walking towards....Mankind have produced some super intelligent people not by cloning....so a decision to not give birth doesnt make any one being considerate towards the growing/exploding population. Most people who decide on this only take into account their very own priorities, wants and needs. So, its just a personal preference and by doing so they are not doing any favor to this earth. I do respect and I am happy for all such couples who have made this well informed choice affirmatively and amicably (b/w the partners).

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  5. I can empathise with what Anamika is saying --- like her, I don't want to have kids either. Almost like her, I'm 30. The difference is, I'm not currently in a relationship. It's okay to not want to have children. Unfortunately society seems to think women who choose to not have children are some kind of pariah. Having a child is a big responsibility and if you don't want to have one, it's better not to than bringing one into this world and not wanting it --- because then, that will screw up the child even more. And it's not just about providing a house and food. It's about the early attachment. I work in child and adolescent mental health and the children who were unwanted generally always have significant mental health issues --- it makes me think they would have been better off not being born or else, adopted by someone who wanted them.

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  6. Problem comes when mutually not decided ........

    I wish most of the Indian couples also think like u ...badly .needed to control India's population

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    Replies
    1. I doubt whether thinking about whether to have a child will do anything to curb India's population. What's needed in the short term is more awareness about sexual health, better availability and accessibility of contraception and better information spreading about issues regarding pregnancy.

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  7. It is certainly not a failure and no one can force a woman to have a child if she doesn't want to... I also don't understand why the pressure...I've been married for 3 years now and I'm still not ready to have children...And I won't if I'm not but if eventually I am ready only then I will have...I won't have it for my husband or anyone else...And it's okay to not want children...Let the world think what they want to!

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  8. My only view, it is better to have child. Why marry when you don't want to have kids? Is marriage just for sex?

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    Replies
    1. So is marriage just to have kids? Is that what you are saying?

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  9. It definitely is a personal choice. I do not want to have children myself. Not because I can't, because I don't want to! My husband understands this totally and he wants the exact same thing. Both of us stand strong and do not succumb to society or parental pressure. It is a tricky situation. Both the parents should whole heartedly agree to it, else it becomes a living nightmare!

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  10. I think it should be fine as long as the person regrets their own decision, later on in life. Chances are, they will.

    Destination Infinity

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  11. I meant, *doesn't regret*. Sorry for the typo.

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  12. Ananya, I think its high time u moderate your comments! I see some spam.

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    Replies
    1. Yes Anil, I just did delete the spam.
      My caputha is off as that stops many readers from leaving their comments !

      Delete
  13. Motherhood is a choice. True. You should never have children because someone else thinks you should. Very true. But children are also a gift. A blessing. A person cannot understand how children transform your thinking until you have them. You are never prepared. It is a leap of faith -- one that will always yield more blessings than you could have imagined. But too many parents treat their children wrongly because of bitterness and resentment. You are wise to think carefully.

    I respect your decision; I even think I understand it. But I also believe marriage is a covenant. It is essential that marriage partners be of the same mind. If you are, than you can weather any storm. Together you can withstand any pressure.

    It is time to get your husband to talk to you about this, but you must be willing to respect his point of view. Some people think that just because the woman is the one to carry the baby, she has more choice in the matter of pregnancy than her husband. I do not agree. I believe partners must respect each others' feelings. He may want children as desperately as you do not want them. I do not think I have more right to have my way in this than my husband.

    I have been married to my husband for 20 years. I have three children. I hope these thoughts help you in your time of struggle.

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    1. A very interesting perspective. Thanks Joanne.. :)

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  14. It is a matter of choice between the couple, whether to have or not to have babies. It is not for others to advise or give their opinion on an issue which relates exclusively for the couple.

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  15. Ananya and Anamika : first thing I thought about was the fears Anamika has developed! The origin of this dilemma is not just with having or not having a child. I would urge her to look within to see where this has its roots. The way Anamika talks about everything in her life, I would say she really needs to look within to see what her actual trouble factor is! All of us live through life with so many perceptions of everyone and everything around us. A good question would be WHO am I and what do I really want in my life. How do I want to visualize a reality and make it happen in life!! Dear Anamika : start your journey!

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    1. Dear Muthika

      How does one answer this question, I fear I maybe "an Anamika"

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    2. My apologies Mukthika, I spelt your name incorrectly.

      Delete
  16. Motherhood should definitely be a choice and not a topic for others other than the couple to debate upon. We as a society have not evolved to the point where we respect choices that do not reflect the norm. Forget not having babies at all, if you choose to have just one, even then the society scorns at the parents, especially the mother, for being 'selfish' to not give a sibling to the first. So, you see, this is never ending and you cannot add to the next generation just to please other people. That way we'll have a very screwed up generation next!

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  17. Ananya, nice that you've written about this. Again,Motherhood is definitely a choice. But it should be discussed between the couple and the decision should be mutual in order to have a happy marriage. Why bring the child to the world when you don't really want to!!!

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  18. The sad reality about many Indian families where patriarchy rules. Motherhood is a choice that concerns a couple and wonder how other people keep poking their nose in it. As Shalini correctly pointed out, may I add a baby is not a toy to play with. No, she shouldn't feel guilt about the whole thing since it's her body. I have same perspective on abortion-it's a woman's body and why let the whole world rule.

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  19. The choice to have or not to have a baby is entirely the couple's decision and the rest should not have a problem with their decision. Procreation is not universal. Agree to Vishal's view that a baby is not a toy to play nor is a tool to flaunt one's fertility. A very good topic.

    I had blogged on a topic on similar lines. Read http://ideasolsi65.blogspot.in/2014/07/no-questions-please.html

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  20. I have been here after a long time, your blog sure has changed a lot. Great going, you are doing a great job.
    I was intrigued by the title and I too think that it is a personal choice.
    Many of my friends have chosen not to have kids and i think its perfectly fine.
    Good article.

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  21. Kids are not "necessary" ... its perfectly ok to choose not to have them. http://e-pinion.blogspot.in/2014/05/to-have-or-not-to-have-children.html?m=1

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  22. Love the new look of the blog!
    It's definitely a personal choice, but I also feel sad for her husband, if he really wants kids

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  23. I have been married for almost 2 years now but have known my husband for more than a decade. And the prssure of having a kid is full on. As a woman, my issue of choice is the time..whether I want a child now or later. And my husband feels the same way. I feel what could be more romantic than to create a child with the one person you love most. People say motherhood makes a woman complete. We have friends who were very apprehensive when they found out that they were pregnant. They had not planned a baby for another couple of years and they even thought of not going ahead with the baby. But they did. And their feelings have changed almost overnight..they are so happy. There are so many great examples around me that I cannot imagine of not having a child with my husband. Of course the decision to have a kid is a personal choice. But I feel nobody should deprive themselves from the gift of a child, because I have seen couples who cannot have one going crazy. That's all.

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  24. Anamika,

    Am I doing something awfully wrong? -- Absolutely Not
    Should I have children just because everyone else does? -- Absolutely Not
    Is childless Marriage a failure ? -- Absolutely Not

    I really appreciate your you and I would say to you "Its your choice. not wanting to have kids - it is perfectly fine."

    I really felt good after reading this because now i know i am not the only one.

    a big thanks to Ananya for posting this.

    -SD

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  25. It should be a choice but the society thinks otherwise. Women are born to be mothers at some point of their life...that's the common notion. Once you decide to sail against the wind, you have to fight hard....it becomes rather easy if the husband understands and supports his wife's wish or choice...otherwise the battle is real tough and almost becomes a traumatic experience ...

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  26. it is not that the society is of any consequence but can a flower choose not to bloom? can a seed choose not to sprout? can a bird choose not to fly? can a fish choose not to swim? can light choose not to shine? i can go on and on.

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    Replies
    1. Can you please choose to put in your perspective?
      The metaphors don't quite convey an opinion...

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    2. Thank you Siddarth, what's the point of the comment please?

      Delete
  27. It is just sad to see that the right of a person, especially a woman, is so easily violated only because society believes it to be evil and not ideal. There are thousands of examples of women who choose to be without kids and their husbands are perfectly fine with that. Even Hollywood TV shows and movies have depicted the same. It is sad to know that Indian society has not accepted it and continues to uphold its age-old notions...

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  28. Anamika, this is to you. I am a woman, married for nearly four years and I don't want to have children. Atleast not now. Just remember one thing dear. If you are bringing a child you are bringing in a soul. If you are half heartened about it you might end up just the rudimentary 100% or less. You might fall prey to frustrations of being a mother. You won't be true to your part, your child. The innocent soul doesn't deserve even an ounce of neglect. So, don't be a mother till you are ready for it. if you are not ready your entire life then do not be a mother. The world will criticize no matter what you do so, do not listen to the society.

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  29. Thank you for sharing this Ananya.
    I may be wrong and have no say in this. But, I wish, I really did, that I could read her husband's thoughts too. Anamika, did you really sit with your husband asking him what he really wanted?
    It's perfectly fine to not have a child and a happy marriage has nothing to do with it. But the words "Why didn't you say me before* hit me. Being a mother is the toughest and the most important job. And, if you're not ready, you shouldn't give in to any of pressures to bring the child in this world.
    However, I was just a little concerned about the husband. What if he wants and has always looked forward to having a child? It has to be a mutual agreement for I believe one alone isn't a parent, a couple together is. Best Wishes! :)

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  30. These are personal choices. Yet as the husband hinted, one could find a partner who also believes in not having children instead of breaking it as a bombshell to an 'average' person who believes that it is natural to expect to have children after marriage..

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  31. Personal choices should never be up for debate, within family or outside. But yes if discussion is on I say, the general feeling about such decisions is that they are hell bent on being family oriented also. No matter how personal more than one is affected through this..

    Richa

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  32. Dear Anamika
    I really hope you read this. I too am a young woman who has no desire or intention to ever have a child.
    Yes i now the cold looks, the snide remarks being told that you are selfish or that your life will be lonely.I agree with you whole heartedly that motherhood is a choice, I too adore kids but others' kids.
    This is not an easy decision to give a voice to as I have noticed that most people just expect you to want to start a family...
    Anamika I hope this helps you and I hope your husband can decide what he will be happy with and not give in to family pressure and lose his temper over this.
    Take care and God Bless you...

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