Opinion & Editorial

I kid you not

Words of Wisdom:

I work at the language. On an evening like this, looking out at the auditorium, if I had to write this evening from my point of view, I’d see the rust-red used worn velvet seats and the lightness where people’s backs have rubbed against the back of the seat so that it’s a light orange, then the beautiful colors of the people’s faces, the white, pink-white, beige-white, light beige and brown and tan — I would have to look at all that, at all those faces and the way they sit on top of their necks. When I would end up writing after four hours or five hours in my room, it might sound like, it was a rat that sat on a mat. That’s that. Not a cat. But I would continue to play with it and pull at it and say, I love you. Come to me. I love you. It might take me two or three weeks just to describe what I’m seeing now.

– Maya Angelou

Leaving that piece of inspiration before I go on, for writing is a lonely process and sometimes you end up with a rat that sat on a mat, and at other times, if you get lucky, the words flow… and that’s that.

– Swati Narayan

I kid you not.

I knew this all along, but it’s taken years to be vocal about it. And then some to write about it.

We live in times where science and technology have honestly over-taken our biological options, we live in a world where a woman or a man or a person who identifies with a different gender or finds themselves to be gender fluid, can enjoy the process of parenthood by so many many means. There is surrogacy, In-vitro fertilization, the option of freezing your eggs, visiting a sperm bank for a donor and of course adoption.

With all the knowledge and power that comes with science and today’s technology, here is where I stand. And yes, a stand, I must take, because the downside of years of gender-based stereotypy and cultural expectations touted as tradition have made it necessary for me to be vocal. Vocal about my choices. I choose to be child-free. I choose not to bring a child into this world (biologically or otherwise). I choose not to be a parent of a human being and in doing so, I stand up for my belief system, my need for living life the way I envisage it and to mindfully move from one day to another, from one goal post to the next, all the while sipping on my cuppa coffee, strong, no sugar.

Don’t get me wrong, I love kids, I work with kids, I work with autistic kids and my attachment to some of them is so deep-rooted, I laugh with them at the good moments, I shed tears when things are rough for them, I feel my heart chip a little when they go through rocky patches, and beyond that they truly light up my screen (Pandemic woes) every single day. I enjoy spending time with children that have been born to my friends, but I’ve asked myself this at various points of time…Do I want one of my own? And the answer has always been a standard “God no” or to quote Archie and the gang “Good Grief!”

Pausing to look at some science, here, because what good would my opinion be, if it’s not got some element of scientific research in it (justifying the amount of time I took to type this out). The early 1970s saw the emergence of research on the topic of “childless-ness”. Point to note: not child-free, but child less! Research quotes that most women become mothers at some point of time in their lives, and for many the urge to have a child is both a powerful and complex one (Christian, 1994; Martin 1989).

Its only later that there was a shift in the community and the term child-free by choice became a phrase, emphasizing that it isn’t an accident or a medical inability or complication but an actual choice to live without procreating. That brings my back to my decision, which I am in no tearing hurry to elaborate on, because what might I write about in future posts if I spill the beans in a hurry?

I’ve actively pondered on making politically acceptable statements (and by politically, I mean smiled upon instead of frowned at) when asked why I don’t want to have children. Is it because I’m single? Nope. That has never been a concern, simply because the means are available to have a child without a partner, IVF, adoption, you name it. Not being in a committed relationship has never functioned as a reason to not bear a child.

What is it then, you might ask?

Well, I could say the population explosion. I mean, statistically, the world is going to explode, and we will need Elon Musk to take us to Mars because, really, the earth has no space, no resources and simply no energy left to chug through the horrors of mankind. But that won’t do, will it? Because the answer to that will be something like, “oh but your child can make a positive contribution to the world, you have the resources, why worry?” or something as humorous as “What about your old age?”

Of course, I’m going to have a child, change diapers, feed him/her/them, educate them, contribute to the never-ending consumerism by buying them all the toys, help them through their mental health struggles, watch them grow and fly the nest. And then call them back, hook, line, and sinker so they can prop me up when I am old and tired. Umm. No thank you.

So, I’ve covered population, old age, I’m going to skip personal happiness and the joys of motherhood, because I quite frankly am ecstatic mothering 3 dogs and a cat at home, 2 dogs at my workplace and playing favorite aunt to my friend’s animals. It’s a hoot and some, literally.

But here is the reason, I have no reason to have a child. And until I find that reason, I’ll write and write about the perks of being child free… I kid you not. That’s that. Not a cat. Will you look at that? The words flow…

And if you, dear reader find yourself struggling with making a choice, while being smothered by popular opinion, confused by years of conditioning and the steady diet of fairy tales we were fed growing up, I’ll leave you with this line:

“There is no ONE story line that makes for a good life”

References

Christian, B. 1994. An angle of seeing: Motherhood in Buchi Emechelda’s “Joys of motherhood” and Alice Walker’s “Meridian.” In Mothering ideology, experience and agency, edited by Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Grace Chang, and Forcey L. Rennie. London: Routledge.

Gillespie, R. (2003). Childfree and Feminine: Understanding the Gender Identity of Voluntarily Childless Women. Gender and Society, 17(1), 122–136. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3081818

Martin, E. (1989). The Woman in the Body Milton Keynes.