Why have children?

You know the feeling when you start a post by writing the headline first and then begin to wonder whether you are actually qualified to write it? It’s what I’m having right now.

Once upon a time, I was a serial singleton and all my friends were making babies on loop. I was then the cool aunty who bought the best gifts, treated babies like grownups and humored mommies. I could do all this, and go home, to my bed and get my nine hours of sleep. I didn’t have to spoil it all by becoming a mom.

Having a child was not the most strategic decision of my life. Nor was it the most emotional one. Having done it, I went through the motions. I am good with motions. Then my friends told me I was such a natural as a mother and I wondered. Me? Natural? Yes, I did cats, and could fake excitement at baby photos or children’s birthday parties. But that was about it. Unless you held me for the fact that I had become a mother to my mother through her double valve replacement surgery. Did that really qualify me to have a child?

In the loneliness of stay-at-home motherhood, the internet became my best friend.  I began to read arguments and even research papers in favor of and against children. I could only think of it as a conspiracy theory. Why now, I thought. It’s already done.

May be my reasons weren’t deep enough. I never thought having a child would complete me, or for that matter, marriage would. I am not afraid of being alone, in fact I usually crave it. I’m not generous enough to love unconditionally, nor have I been worried about being looked after when I’m old. It’s unlikely that I will join the ‘Parenting was the best thing I did with my life!’ cult. No thank you.Well, once you have done it, it’s like you don’t want to admit you screwed up, so you may as well celebrate it.

I waited for that moment when holding a child in my arms would evaporate every other sadness in my life, but sorry to report, it didn’t happen. Plus, it was way cooler to be a pet-parent. We can all lead exciting, chaotic lives, make love to our smart phones, travel, have recreational sex, back-pack on a whim, live life to the fullest. Who wants kids?

So then, what was it?

Could it be about happiness? But the internet tells me that children rank lower in pleasurability than cooking, watching TV, exercising, talking on the phone, napping, shopping, or even housework (yes!). (I was nodding through the list)

It’s definitely not about bringing a couple closer. If marriage is fragile, children make a tsunami out of it. They take a small crack and turn it into a fissure of irreparable magnitude. They are a reminder of a life and a spontaneity that was, they make us realize that the gap between our fantasies and our reality is huge.

For a lot of women it’s about getting something right. If not the man, the baby. Haven’t you noticed that people who actually end up with their soul-mates take much longer to make the babies?

Yes, children do the most unexpected, kind, and loving things that send a rush of hormones to your brain. Or whatever it takes to feel good. Like Re built me a house with his blocks. Or massaged my stomach when I said I had a tummy ache. Or shouted at a taxi for trying to overtake me.

Then there are gentle kisses. Cheeks to bite. Baby breath. It’s addictive.

Yes, the moments of joy are pure and unparalleled. But so are the moments of frustration, despair and anxiety.

Every year, on Re’s birthday, we sit together and watch videos of the past few years. It feels gratifying and so much fun, although it did feel like tedium at the time.

But I think what I like the most about having a child is that every once in a while, I get to see the world without a lens.

Because I want to believe that if the moon does not ‘follow’ us when we drive back home from the park, it can actually lose its way.

Because I want to believe that every watermelon has mamma slices, dada slices and baby slices.

Because I want to wake up when it’s sun o’clock.

Because I liked that part of me that is less impatient and self-involved than the me that was.

Because I was the kind of person who was likelier to regret the things I hadn’t done than the things I had.

Because sometimes you need to slow down. And that’s what a child does to you.  But innately, you should want to.

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15 thoughts on “Why have children?

  1. I’m currently helping take care of my newborn neice. The constant care she requires has me debating whether or not I really want to give up my the life to which I’ve become accustomed. Thank you for a little perspective.

  2. I am 38 weeks pregnant, reading this has made me feel better, because like you said, i havent yet got any of those “mommy feeling”, i really dont feel that the baby will make me feel more like a women, or that breast feeding would be the most amazing experience i will have. I am more concerned about how i will get back by pre pregnancy weight and how i will balance my work-home life. But reading your blog i feel, i will also find my moment which will answer “why have kids” question.

  3. I like the rebuttals you make to your own argument, however these things hold true only untill the child grows up, no? My suggestion to anyone on the cusp is not to have one. You really, really, really need to want it, to make it worth it.

  4. Wow!! so i am not alone. nope. and it is a relief.
    I am 28 weeks pregnant, and the kind of person who believes that if not for getting pregnant accidentally, I would have never managed to be ‘ready’ for a kid… if I had indeed waited for that.
    Having said that, and being a person who overthinks things, I really wondered in the first few months about whether it indeed made sense to turn an almost perfect life upside down… and why? especially when there were no mommy pangs or oh-i-want-a-baby-now-or-i-will-die feeling.
    in fact, if anyone ever asked I would say – ‘oh please! not so soon! what will happen to my friday nights? and lethargic saturdays? and self-centered life?’ but something made me go ahead… I really dont know what… and today, at 28 weeks, I still get those panic attacks wherein I go what-was-i-thinking!!! and I know like marriage, there will be occasional times when I will go what-was-i-thinking several times.
    But your post was refreshing from the usual reactions you get about those panic attacks… when people say parenting was the best thing in the world and how I am only going to love it. It sounds fake and not-for-me. But this post makes me feel, yeah this sounds like the real deal. I relate to it. Thank you.

  5. Sweet post. I always enjoyed your writing Lalita and at the risk of sounding smug, may I say that I enjoy your ‘mommyblog’ as much your pre-baby writing.

    I know people make Pre-Baby sound like before-christ!! But being a woman in her thirties, I have seen women generally loose their sense of humour when it comes to motherhood and babies!! It is like a mega serious topic which is out of bounds for frivolous child-free like me!! Your writing about mommyhood is witty and really enjoyed it!! Please note that I am not being condescending to mommyblogs or discussions about motherhood AT ALL ( and IN CAPS TOO)

    I am quite interested in modern motherhood, childfree movements, maternal rights. And write quite regularly on these on my blog.

    cheers

  6. Oh, I have read a lot of for and against posts as well. Basically I look for against posts that would make me happy because not having kids is not a choice in my case. I liked the first of your post! Thanks!

  7. I nodded right through the post until I reached the line where you said those who find their soulmates take longer to have a baby. Disagree entirely. Both are entirely different issues. I found my soulmate but also wanted a baby and had one at 25. If anything, the two yearnings came together and intensified. How sweet it is to make something you desire, with the one you love.

    The decision to have a baby depends on so many factors – where you are career wise, what you can afford, health factors… all sorts. But never, would I imagine that finding the one would delay having the other!

    Love the post otherwise.

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