Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baby fever

...is what everyone in my family is suffering from and by family I mean not just immediate family but anyone who is even remotely associated to some member in my family tree (actually family forest, in Ashok's words!). I can't actually blame them because according to them we are living ''outside the law''. Whoever has heard of a desi couple without a child after nearly 4 years of marriage??

There was a time when I thought that pregnancy inevitably followed the wedding. In my defense, I was 17 and everyone who got married announced that they were having a baby within 3 months and there were no movies/internet/ads to ''enlighten'' me. These days, the situation in India has marginally improved and married couples have the ''luxury'' of starting a family after a year or even two, if they are lucky. But once someone celebrates the 2nd wedding anniversary, everyone stops hinting around and chooses the direct approach.

Here is one of the “pearls of wisdom” that usually has smoke coming out of my ears....''Your life is empty without a child''
While I am sure a child enriches one's life and brings happiness, I fail to see how everything else one accomplishes before having a child suddenly loses all meaning. People usually use the same argument for getting someone to marry. While I totally believe a loving companion (spouse or partner) makes life beautiful, I fail to see how the individual's identity is suddenly deemed worthless.

There are others who choose the practical approach and say:
- Women have a biological clock
- Its better to have a kid when the parents are young and healthy and can accede to all the time and attention demands from a child or children. The addendum of this is its better to have a kid when the grandparents are still reasonably healthy
- The sooner you have a child, the earlier you can retire since the child/children would be settled by then

While I partially agree with these practical statements, I am also tempted to play the devil’s advocate. Life expectancy and general health of this generation is better than the previous generations and so is the determination of when to enter the various phases of life. I mean how often did women stay unmarried after 21 in our parents’ generation? But now most women don’t even think about marriage until they reach 25 and I know quite a few who are in their late twenties and still not ready for marriage. As far as the kids-settling-down-before-retirement argument, I have to say that I don’t like to plan the next 30 yrs of my life with so many variables in place; those variables being number of kids, their IQ, their urge to settle down in life, their financial independence etc. I am going to go with ‘let’s cross that bridge when we get to it’.

Then there is the sentimental approach where grandparents say ‘naan sagarthukulla kollu perano pethiyo pakka vendama’…this usually reminds me of when I urge one of my friends or cousins to get married so that I have an excuse to come to India and have fun at a wedding…simply put well-intended but unreasonable expectation !

I think a lot of how I feel definitely has to do with my tenure in Germany. People here are very practical and they always have this attitude – “Its my life and I know what I want from it”. Families and friends are usually only informed of decisions they make and are allowed to deal with the outcomes in anyway they please. I don’t know if it stems from their independence right from childhood or from the distance they maintain with families/friends. I remember how offended I was when some stranger asked me about my salary and later remembered how common it is back home and how touchy I have become.

Another aspect is seeing married couples here with no children. While some do not want the responsibility of a child, others simply like the way their lives are and do not want to change it. I also know a married couple who instead of having children choose to have foster children for a few months every year. This way they can be with kids, do their part to society and in the remaining time be their old selves.

I have to admit that seeing and being with such people has changed my perspective. I am not leaning towards having no children but I am leaning towards choosing when to have them.

Ashok and I worked/work hard for our careers and we do enjoy our success and want to continue to enjoy them. We are having fun traveling, attending shows, taking dance/ski lessons and doing a lot of other things that one should do when one has time, money, interest and health and we are not yet ready for a change in our lifestyles....I think it should happen on its own and it will probably happen when we least expect it....like falling in love :).....and when it does happen, boy o boy, aren’t we in for a roller-coaster ride !?!
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