Monthly Archives: January 2015

Why I Don’t Want To Be A Mother

Last year I went to see the gynacologist. I was 35, an age I’d heard was when precautionary tests would need to start being taken. I asked her what were all the things I needed to know from now on. She talked about breast examination, about cervical cancer vaccinations, about calcium supplements, about hormone fluctuations. She pointed out that I was now closer to menopause than I was to the start of my first period. And then she asked me what I thought about freezing my eggs.

I’ve had a lot of complicated thoughts on parenthood since then. I still don’t have a real decision. But writing helps me pull out difficult emotions and examine them. So here it is.

I decided I would not bear children, quite early in my life. I had seen a lot of ways in which parenthood served as a cover-up for monsterliness. I did not have the confidence that I would not succumb to the same monstering. Violence, manipulation, disrespect, deliberate humiliation, bullying, abuse — yes, these are things that parents routinely do to children. In this country, parents, especially mothers are deified to a point where there is no question of holding them accountable for the very important job they do. In addition, the wards (the prisoners? the victims?) are too young to know their rights and are uniquely trapped at the sole mercy of their guardians’ actions. I did not want to even risk being a part of this scenario, in the position of power that I might abuse just like so many other ‘normal’ people I know.

Through the years, the several unhappy and quasi-abusive relationships I’ve been in, have suppressed my right to an opinion on this matter. Social pressures already condemn me for being unmarried at my age. Imagine how horrific they’ll get if I also say I’m voluntarily bowing out of parenthood? So I kept my thoughts to myself. One idea that I have spoken about, to my partner when we were in a close relationship, was adoption. I had an entirely foolproof explanation for this:

  • We are a dangerously overpopulated planet. This impacts each of us INDIVIDUALLY. We’re fighting for the same jobs, the same food, the same money, the same space, the same right to power. To add one more is just sheer irresponsibility.
  • Many, many thousands of children over the world go hungry, homeless and/or lack education or even a basic safe environment to grow up in. If even one of those lives could be given a better chance, I would feel like I was giving back for the privilege that I’ve received.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also managed to turn the ticking biological clock into a supporting argument. Why risk a health hazard to me and to the child because of my age, when plenty of readymade human being without homes were available to adopt?

I’ve managed to keep this decision at bay too. I have been single for the better part of my life. I know single parents and their children who have turned out wonderfully. But if possible, I think a child deserves at least a chance at two parents. Parenthood is too great a responsibility and the consequences of going wrong, too grave to bear. I do not want to take this on, without a partner.

Today, I’m in a quandry of sorts. I am coming to realise the full impact of being an Indian woman. In all these years, I have not known ONE single man that I can count on to stay responsible after a length of time. I know plenty of earnest, intelligent men who want to think of themselves as feminists, activists and thought leaders. They probably are. For men, that is. But we live in a culture that meticulously, systematically discourages men from taking responsibility for their actions. They are coddled all their lives, disappointment is kept as far away as possible, their shortcomings are blamed on others (women) or even celebrated. I hesitate to call them overgrown children because children do not have the physical strength and the social influence that adult Indian men do. And more often than not, this strength and influence is used against women, either unconsciously because the man picks his own agenda or deliberately, to please people (his mother or his friends). In sum, I do not trust an Indian man to be an equal, reliable partner for an important undertaking. Parenting? Ha!

How about the egg-freezing then? I’ve grown increasingly independent over the years and it is possible that in some time, I will feel self-reliant enough to not need a partner. This is a logical possibility, not one that I can actually imagine. But hypothetically if that were to happen, it would be good to have the option, wouldn’t it?

This is what I realised. A lot of the times I’ve managed to get my way out of default. I managed to not stay in an abusive relationship because he got bored and ended the engagement. I had no choice or power to voice my dissent. I managed to not be packaged off and sold to the lowest bidder in the marriage market because there weren’t eligible prospects for my particular geography/education/age/ethnic background at that time. These did not happen because I was able to fight all odds and establish my stand.

Given this, I fear that a time will come when other people will decide that they want a baby popping out of me that I will be expected to care for. If the option to have that baby still exists, my opinion will not stand, will be overruled, cajoled, forced and hammered away. I think it’s easier that I just let the eggs die out of their own accord, isn’t it?

And finally, what if I do get pregnant in between now and before my body stops being capable of it? I will have either a boy or a girl or a trans baby.

A trans-baby? I stand for equal rights for every human being. But the world doesn’t. The only human being to be treated worse than a woman is a trans person in this country. Children live danger-fraught, complex lives anyway. I do not want to think about what it must be like for a child born with a body that popular science is unable to categorize.

A girl? You already know the answer to that. I hate being a woman in this country, I hated being a girl. I live my life like I imagine prisoners of war do. With resentment, with fragile strands of hope that is constantly being dashed and with growing despair.

A boy. No. Indian men are mama’s boys. This is that bizarre description that’s cutesy and demented both at once. Mama’s boys are big, burly men who watch quietly as their families ill-treat their wives, then yawn and change the TV channel. Mama’s boys are important executives who cheat, lie and break engagements and marriages at will because their mothers said it was okay. Mama’s boys are monsters and their mothers are the monster-makers. This is probably because most Indian mothers are so deprived of actual respect and true affection that they manipulate the one human being they have control over, to turn him into a perpetual source of their own power. And I am an Indian woman. No. I don’t know how strong I will be once a baby spurts out of me. I will not take the risk of becoming another monster-maker.

So, by a combination of consistently bad experiences, social pressures and depressing observations I come to the default conclusion that I do not want to even consider being a mother.

And here is a much more balanced view of the same decision by a friend.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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Out On Singles Town

Out On Singles Town

Something interesting that happened to me in 2014 was meeting two different guys and deciding NOT to pursue relationships with them. I remember an Ally McBeal episode (does anybody even remember that show?) where she says,

“I don’t actually date, not for the fun of it. I audition potential husbands and if I don’t see any potential, I don’t waste my time.”

This is what I spent my 20s doing. I may have missed out on a few good men but I definitely missed a whole lot of fun. Fun, dating should be that. It’s about meeting a new person, about getting to know them, doing fun things with them and maybe chasing a dream of something nicer. I enjoy all of those things. The trouble with this husband-audition business is that it becomes too much like a work goal and when that happens, fun is the first one to exit the door.

This is not about random hook-ups. I am not that person. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing random about my interest. I value my time and mindspace so why would I want to throw it away on people who actively do not want to matter? The real fun of people is when they are being people with their unrealistic hopes, their politically incorrect desires, their lovable vulnerabilities and their unpredictable flaws. I’m looking for people to experience, not cucumbers.

I’ve done the girlfriending thing several times over and the till-death-do-us-part style partner once (and that probably was ENOUGH). Being the female half of a comitted couple is not fun. It’s about having to put yourself and your relationship into limited roles and explanations that everyone feels able to digest. In my experience, it has been about stifling boredom and disappointment, pretending public approval is enough to make up for squelched fantasies, dealing with neglect and taking-for-granted, trying to live up to ideals of Independent Fabulous Perfect Indian Woman and never pleasing anybody else. Oneself? Ha! Where is there space for me? Nobody wants to know that there is a ME under all those roles and restrictions.

Complaints aside, maybe there is a solution. After I hit 30 and especially after my engagement ended, the pressure to commit to one man has eased. This does have a lot to do with most of those pressuremongers giving up on me. Their snide comments have not just dropped, I’ve become invisible to them. That’s okay. Because beyond their judgemental, oppressive gazes, there is a whole world beyond.

This world is called Singles Town. It’s got good health and glowing skin from waking up early after a good night’s sleep. It’s got turning in early or spending a weekend tucked away with a book. It’s also got daring makeup, on-the-whim clothing and shopping sprees with girlfriends. And yes, it has men. Men who find their attention captivated, who want to have conversations, who want to impress, who want to hear what I’m saying.

These are not bad men. They are not even necessarily the kind of limited men I’ve dated before. They are intelligent, independent, smart and fun. When I stopped mentally measuring their appropriateness, their compatibility with me, their fit with my social circle and a million other things, I discovered how much fun they could be. 2014 has been a year of some very, very fun dates and conversations that went nowhere. And so what? They were fun.

Of the two men, one of them turned mean and the other went flaky after I said thank you but no thank you. Well, they were only human. I think it would have been a lot harder for me to accept these flaws in them, if I had started off thinking of them as potential longterm partners. Instead, because I approached each one just as a new person, it felt a lot easier to let them grow into who they would be in my life. This is such a new notion for me! I didn’t even realise I had the ability to not jump at a man offering commitment, as if he were my last chance at a happy life. To any of you who think I deserve your pity, ask yourself if you feel you would be able to do that? Hmm, I thought so. Well, saying NO to what might have been everlasting happiness, because I want to see if there are other kinds of happiness — that’s a kind of freedom that’s worth more to me.

Yes, I have to worry about my own safety each time I’m out. Yes, I don’t have anyone to care about my health and well-being (well, come to think of it, none of the men I dated ever did, even while I was with them; most Indian men, not trained to think about someone other than themselves, I think). Yes, I don’t know what the future holds for me. But you know what? I wouldn’t know what it did, even if I were in a committed relationship. People lie, they fall out of love, they weaken, they cheat, they die. All kinds of things happen that a commitment cannot insure you from. I’d rather not live my life under a mushroom, fearing storms and floods.

MeMaybe I will regret this. But I don’t think so. I see no point in regretting doing something that seemed like a good idea at the time. That’s the only reason I don’t regret sticking to the straight and narrow through my 20s. That’s what appeared to make sense then. Life is such a mixed bag of tricks coming at you, there isn’t much sense you can make of it, except post facto anyway.

Commitment in all the forms I see around me is limiting. I haven’t yet gotten to a place where I can envision a comittment model that gives me the same inspiration, freedom and joy about the next minute, that being solo does. And what’s more, I know even if it exists, it will need a lot of work and effort to build and sustain. I think I’ve worked really hard for all my adult life at this and I deserve a break.

2015, Singles Town, here I come!

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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