Posted by Akanksha Bumb
Growing up, I always thought I wanted kids. It was not a life goal but something I just assumed would happen to me. When you are conditioned to treat motherhood as the norm, the lines between conscious decisions and subconscious conditioning blur. Everyone has them, loves them, so will I. How could I not?
My family isn’t the most traditional one. I was almost too independent for my peers, 20 years ago, in a small town in Rajasthan. I sometimes took pride in that, but I mostly tried to fit in. I wanted my crush to like me back and not be scared because I am a rebel of sorts. He actually said that he wouldn’t want to be with a girl who is more confident than him. Ha!
I was mostly seen as someone who would do whatever she likes and will not compromise; which is mostly true, except I wasn’t very proud of this perception at that point. So motherhood attracted me. It was a glorified state of being in my confused brain. Once you are a mom, no one questions your family-orientation. And I genuinely enjoyed the company of kids. They say the damnedest of things and have no filter. I loved it!
Then there was a phase of extreme insecurity in a relationship during my mid-twenties. So having a child resembled steadiness – one whole unit. Whenever I saw a young couple with a toddler, my eyes would well up. That relationship ended, thankfully, before there could be a wedding or any other sort of life-long commitment.
Once you are a mom, no one questions your family-orientation.
That was one of the most toxic relationships of my life. I shiver at how silly I was to think that a child is a result of a secure relationship. I think I was naive enough to believe that people have kids only when they are sure of each other.
As time passed, I was genuinely bothered with the way the world was going. Most problems came down to the sheer number of us, especially in India. This was also the time when most of my friends started having children. While some of them were genuinely happy, others just took it as something that needs to be done.
I made some major changes in my life towards the tail end of my twenties. It involved leaving a well-paying job which was neither motivating nor facilitating. It meant living on less money. It also meant opening myself to a whole new world of possibilities.
I had an MBA from a decent institute, which was both good and bad. Good because I had a safety net and employability if I wanted to get back to the corporate world. Bad because most of the B-school training emphasized on white collar jobs and money; not life skills.
So I started my search for life skills. My idea was to volunteer and no job was low for me. I met my (now) husband during this time of change. He seemed to me as much a seeker as I was. He didn’t want children.
By this time, I had had enough of friends telling me that they can’t do what I am doing because of their kids. I realized that it really is an excuse because honestly, they were not doing anything outside the ‘plan’, even before becoming parents.
However, it did make me think – of what I want to do in life and if a child would fit into those plans. I wanted to bring about change on a larger level, but I could easily see myself becoming selfish, once I became a mother. I was proven wrong, though. I met parents who are change makers in a huge way. I also saw a lot of them who adopted a child later in life. So basically, there were no right answers.
I tried to give myself other reasons for not having kids – I want to travel, I want to learn a lot of things, I do not aim to earn a lot of money. However, time and again, I realised that my thought process was misplaced. There were examples of parents around me who were doing all that I just mentioned.
I was called selfish and I was also asked who will take care of me in my old age. I think the irony was lost on them.
So it came down to this. I do not feel the need to be a mother. I do not feel the need to add another human being to my household and to this country. It is not a brave decision and neither a sacrifice. It is just something I feel is right for me, no matter how different it seems from the ‘norm’.
I used to get defensive when people called me irresponsible. I reasoned that I cannot be one, when the said child whom I should be responsible for, doesn’t even exist. I am not abandoning a child!
I mean what is more irresponsible – not having a child because it doesn’t fit into your life plan or having it just because everyone does? I was called selfish, and at the same time, I was asked who will take care of me in my old age. I think the irony was lost on them. I adored kids and was happy for those who are happy with theirs. It was just that I didn’t want kids of my own.
I stopped explaining just to avoid the unpleasantness, but the judgments did hurt. I eventually just made peace with them. Every one of us has a version of how we should live. When it is disrupted, anger is the first reaction. When the perpetrator of that disruption seems content, the reaction is judgment.
What is right for me may not be so for others, but I am glad that I took this decision at the right time in my life. Will I adopt someday? I am not sure. I plan to support the education of children where I can also be involved in their progress. I will let life decide it for me.
Akanksha Bumb is a volunteer, aspiring change maker, traveller and a Jill of all trades. She is an engineer and an MBA by education. However, she taught herself a lot of things her education didn’t, such as making a wooden table! She moved out of the city and now lives in the mountains, with her husband and dog in Bhimtal. She can be followed on Facebook.
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