It’s been a while since I last spoke to you about anything that didn’t include work, money or ‘khane mein kya hai’. Today, however, I choose to be completely honest about my thoughts, since the last time I was honest about faking your signature on a math test paper, rather than tell you I failed. For that, I am sorry.
To me, you never looked like someone who was experiencing motherhood for the very first time, but someone who was born with the gift of nurturing a life in you. It’s been 25 years and not once did I think you weren’t meant to do this; sacrificing everything you possibly could have for a human being that you carried in your womb for nine months. Only as I grew older and my siblings followed, did I watch the unbelievable torment that your body went through, changing itself to accommodate the needs of your children. You lost your new-mom charm, and your beautiful pregnant glow seeped into sleepless nights and barely waking up to wailing hungry mouths and dirty diapers, every couple of hours. You have always been a working woman, and yet you sacrificed your career for the offspring that caused you fatigue and exhaustion on a daily basis.
All those hours in the kitchen; those peeling palms soaked in detergent and baby clothes; the frequent bending to pick me up, keep me down, carrying me around, rocking me to sleep, tucking me in; those movies you skipped watching in theatres because babies caused unnecessary disturbance to those around you; those hours you could have spent with papa, reigniting the romance that was lost because you now had three new human beings in the house that needed more attention than he did. Everything compromised on, sacrificed, and kept at standby because children came first. And they still do...even after all these years.
I salute you, ma, for being the goddess you never even realised you transformed into. And even today, if someone asked you, I know you'd willingly do it again.
But this is me, ma. And I don’t want to have children in my life.
I have been told by a lot of my friends, peers, and colleagues that I’d make a wonderful mum. Children are known to take to me, no explanations offered or generous acts of kindness done towards them. When I am introduced to my relatives’ kids, the little one shyly touches the dimple on my cheek, quizzically wondering how it disappears when I am not smiling. When I am in a supermarket, I naturally react to surprise peek-a-boo sessions with the children around. But all of this doesn’t mean that I am looking forward to having one of my own.
...and I am willing to admit it wholeheartedly. You have always told me that selfishness takes a back seat when you love your child as much as you do. Not to mention all the times I have been told by people that I must be hell-born for doubting my ability to love my own child. You know I like my privacy, I like being alone way more than I care to admit. I am not even certain I can accommodate living with a potential ‘husband’ for a lifetime, let alone have a child because I honestly haven’t given it as much thought. Maybe I will, maybe not.
I like not being disturbed, and I like not doing things I don’t want to do. Being a mother would mean willingly putting my desires and hopes on the back-burner. Do mothers get a day off from parenting? Can I, as a mom, tell my 1-year-old infant “I am really feeling under the weather. I won’t be able to be a mom today”? It doesn’t happen and it’s unfair to be a caretaker when I barely give time to my own needs in life. And again, I will repeat it: Yes, I am selfish. I am so sorry, ma.
From medical expenses, general expenses, schools and college tuition to overall nurturing of a human being from age zero to age 18; the kind of finances put into the process is unbelievable. I know this because I have had moments where I have caught you and papa cancelling vacations and trips to save up for our exorbitant expenses. I couldn’t possibly bring a child into a world where I cannot afford to give him/her more than just the absolute basics required for survival. How am I going to earn for my kid? A job, you will say. But what kind of job? How can I be certain that it will be one that will pay me handsomely? Will I have the luxury of switching the job if I don’t like it?
I want to work for something I believe in and I want to believe in something I work for. And if I no longer enjoy it, I want the privilege to move on to a job that will make me happier. I am not a superhuman with incredible people skills that will guarantee a spot on the table with the fat-package-employees-of-the-year. That is not the kind of mother I’d want to be. Spending all the money that I make on my needs, or even to take care of you and papa is important to me. There are women who manage motherhood and finances like ideal role models in this world, but I can’t be that woman. For that, I am sorry, ma.
I cannot stress on this enough. I am not accountable to anyone. I am not answerable to society for not wanting a child. I am not obliged to produce a human being. I have not promised my first-born to a straw-to-gold weaving little man. A vagina and ovaries in my body do not translate to ‘use them because you are a woman’. The world is filled with people being forced to do what they wouldn’t and shouldn’t because of what society tells them to do, and that is so wrong. I deserve to be happy and my choices matter. I know you want to become a grandmother, ma. But does that mean my choice of being a mother goes completely unnoticed?
I refuse to believe that I will be losing out on life because I won’t have kids.
I refuse to believe that I won’t be ‘a real woman’ if my womb doesn’t carry a child.
I refuse to believe that I won’t know ‘real love’ unless I become a mother.
I refuse to give in to the definition of ‘woman’ that anyone decides to attribute to me.
I am the woman I choose to be, and that for me, is everything I stand for.
All this being said, I have only respect, admiration and love for you, nani, dadi, and every other woman who is immensely treasured for being such wonderful mothers to their children. You have raised inspiring young minds and we couldn’t be more grateful.
I know you wanted me to become a mum, ma. But I choose not to. This doesn’t mean I don’t love you, or I am in any way ungrateful towards the fact that you chose to have me. For all that and more that you have provided me with, thank you. A million times over. A lifetime of blessings and good karma is the only thing you deserve in this world.
I love you.
Hugs, kisses and a heart full of love,
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