A few days back I went to a very good ObGyn at a very good hospital near here. One thing led to another and soon she figured out that we weren’t planning on having any more kids. She was quite saddened by this piece of information. She told us how she came from a very big family and how that was a good thing and how Ka will grow up to resent us for not giving her any siblings. I have met a lot of people (especially desis) who have tried talking me into having more kids but never someone as passionate about it as this particular woman. I don’t know. She made us quite uncomfortable. I believe this to be a very personal choice and I don’t think anybody has any business telling me how many kids I should have. I mean a casual chat with friends about it is fine. People do ask all the time but most people know when to stop. This woman clearly didn’t. She said we would be in her prayers and she told us not to be surprised if we found out soon that I was going to be a mommy again. Because God, apparently, works in mysterious ways. And once we found out that I was pregnant, I oughtn’t get an abortion because a baby is God’s gift and we oughtn’t throw it away. Now, that was the last straw, particularly since my forms clearly stated that both of us are atheists. At that point I was done talking to her. I felt like someone had tied me up in a bag full of cotton and was yelling at me and beating me up while I was suffocating inside. That’s pretty much how uncomfortable she made me. I was saturated with her nonsense and her crossing the line on so many levels that all I wanted to do was get out of there.
Now, to most people it might not seem like a big deal. To me it is. For the simple reason that I feel very strongly about it. Not just about the whole having-more-than-one-child thing. I feel strongly about people knowing/ not knowing where the bloody hell to draw the line. I hate people who are intrusive, who think it’s their duty/right/whatever else they like to call it to interfere in my business. I hate people who can’t resist advising me on how to lose weight, how to raise my kids, how to manage my finances, how to live, how to talk, how to dress etc. etc. But I digress. Let me get back to the subject of this post.
I do have my own reasons for not wanting any more kids. Not that I owe an explanation to anyone. But nevertheless, here goes:
1) I’m not mother material. I love kids. Other people’s kids. But I don’t think I’m cut out for this kind of stuff. I’m sure there are scores of women out there to whom parenting comes naturally. To me it doesn’t. I work bloody hard to be a good parent. I read tons of books. I attend every parenting workshop in town. I constantly scrutinise every move I make, every action I take, every word I utter. You see, I’m a perfectionist and I believe that if I take up something, I need to do it well or not do it at all. In this case, I already have a child. So not doing it at all is not an option anymore. The only thing left to do is, do this job to my satisfaction and you have no idea what that means for me. I really don’t have it in me to do it all over again.
2) I had a child only because it was important to me to experience motherhood. I would really feel incomplete without it. And now that I have been there and done that, it has lost its novelty. There is no more curiosity, no more longing to know what it feels like.
3) Bringing up kids is expensive. As in INSANELY BLOODY CRAZY expensive. And I would rather just save up and invest all the money that I would have otherwise spent on a second child, have my husband retire early and go on a world tour.
4)I’m sick and tired of all the judgement and advise and suggestions. And I’m not giving all the know-it-alls out there another chance to annoy the life out of me. Most people (esp. the ones from the same gene pool as us), within a few hours of meeting us, have a never-ending mental list of all the things I am doing wrong and how I can or should fix it. ‘A’ thinks I should have Ka sit and study regularly for at least 20 mins everyday (whether she likes it or not). ‘B’ thinks I should have Ka study only if she wants to. ‘C’ thinks I am too impatient. ‘D’ thinks I am too patient. ‘E’ thinks I answer too many questions. ‘F’ thinks I don’t encourage Ka enough to ask questions. I have one thing to say to all these people and any others that might be lurking around the corner: GET OFF MY BACK AND LEAVE ME ALONE!! I know I’m not perfect. I don’t claim to be. But please know this. No matter how smart you think you are, you cannot ever understand the dynamics of my family because you don’t live here. You don’t know my child half as well as I do. You don’t know me half as well as you think you do. And even if you have 15 whole lifetimes to care for my child, you couldn’t beat me at it. The amount of caring and worrying and loving that I do for my child in a day is more than any of you could do for her in the next 5 years. So, owing to the existence of intrusive people in general, I refuse to have another child and offer them, on a silver platter, another chance to make me feel rubbish about myself.
5) People assume that my owning and reading a whole lot of parenting books and attending workshops is a direct reflection of how pathetic a parent I am. Well, the reason I read a lot of parenting books and attend a lot of workshops is because the only parenting advice I will ever take is from strangers. That is from people who don’t know me or my child, who are not blinded by the love or hatred for either of us, people who don’t shell out advice reeking of their judgment of us and our ways. I find raising kids in this judgmental, intrusive world very very challenging. It’s just not my cup of tea. It is hard enough doing it once. There’s no question of my wanting to do it again.
6) Raising these little people gets more and more complicated and stressful with every passing moment. Everyday there’s a new study, there are new lists of dos and don’ts, new information on how every move we make affects our children. Don’t yell. Don’t scold. Don’t say no too much. Don’t say yes too much. Don’t do this. Don’t let them do that. We have a much longer list of rights and wrongs than our parents did. We, unlike our parents, encourage debate, argument, questioning. We encourage them to make their own decisions. We want to them to have more choices, more freedom, more everything. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m saying it’s a lot more work. We need a lot more patience, self-control, strategizing, planning, and so on. I am willing to do all this once, not twice.
7) I would love to keep my sanity for a few more years
8) And last but not the least, I will not have any more kids because I choose not to. And I choose not to because I simply can choose not to. Because it doesn’t make sense to me physically, emotionally, economically, psychologically, or any other -ally that you might want to add to this list. It’s my body, my life, my time, my energy, my family and my choice!!!