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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About IdeaSmith

IdeaSmith is the digital doppelganger of Ramya Pandyan (intrepid train-traveller and frequent spouter of post-midnight rhymes and rants). As IdeaSmith she battles obscurity and slays boredom with her stories about men, books, digitalia and Mumbai. She performs live and also blogs, tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, +G’s, Youtubes and Goodreads all as IdeaSmith. Ramya is a blogger, digital storyteller and spoken word performer. She also runs a forum for aspiring writers called Alphabet Sambar. Tweet-bomb her at @ideasmithy.

Posted on January 21, 2015, in I'm An Indian Woman, Parenthood, Relationships, Seriously speaking, Times, they are a-changing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. If a single guy around that age were able to express their thoughts ,they would have written pretty much the same thing.With only switching the gender.Most group of people have similar thoughts .

    • @sam: Do they? I seem to know more women who have consciously thought about parenting than men. A lot of men who say they don’t want kids follow it up with something like “I’m still growing up myself!” which is more about not wanting to take any kind of responsibility whatsoever and less about making an active decision backed by logic.

  2. Ramya, It was a must read, your blog. I have something to say, its a wicked world. because there is no a without a minus a, you’ve said about men. women in india , they have a single point agenda..blame it one the man. they fall in relationships to extract money, sex, and then blame it on the man, -youve ruined my life, my ego, my reputation blah blah..haha..next day you see her with another man and getting laid again for money. it is a circuit they have invented-you did this, you did that, get lost or I report you to police/elder brother/mamaji/office boss/roadsidehelp anybody will do…I’ve been in three abusive relationships with women, who want only money, sex and have already made plans to say things like..i am not satisfied, you did this, you did that..so now get lost. there are absolutely miniscule percentage of women, who stand by their decisions..they play thats all..boys/men anything will do for them..just splurge..and then many say..oh its a man’s world../men are mcp/ etc etc…the ones who marry..dominate like hell….every successful marriage means..women should dominate..manipulate les femme..they have strong manipulative genes/abusive stamina/dominance mania and generally jealousy, and many many times hatred. how does a man counter all this..many times by alcoholism, other times by voilence (unfortunately) and at many other times by “not being responsible”…you cannot be responsible if responsibility is what is being used to abuse you. so it takes two to tango!!

    • @sumit: Thank you for visiting my blog and for commenting. I must warn you that I have very little patience with the kind of views you’ve expressed. Men are the privileged gender in this country by a wide margin. This goes across socioeconomic classes and geographies.

      The argument you’ve raised is the most common one online that men bring up when a woman speaks about gender equality. Reality does not match what you’ve said. Admittedly there would be some women who would manipulate people, relationships and laws to their benefit. These are a very tiny proportion, compared to the large numbers of women who are subjected to harassment, social censure and much more public scrutiny on a daily basis by the world around them.

      I must also ask you, how exactly do you know that this woman you speak about is ‘getting laid for money’ the very next day? Are you following the couple into their bedroom? Have you seen a transfer of money? You are making a very serious accusation. You might want to think about if it is your own sense of being rejected that makes you spew such venom about the woman and her future relationships.

      You’ve also mentioned that you’ve been in three abusive relationships. Are you aware of what constitutes an abusive relationship? Here is a directional guide to determine if you have. If this is true and you feel that you have been a victim, you are well within your legal and moral rights to report the perpetrator(s) to the law. You might also consider reading this: Men Are Just As Misinformed About Their Rights As Women

      Beyond this, I’m going to ask you not to spew in the comments on my blog, unless you have something logical to say.

      • well, I am not against women, you seem to be against men for sure. I give almost undivided attention to women in a caring way and respectfully. What I am certain about is that, women like men in this country, are mischievous to a large extent. I am not afraid or threatened by your venom you have spitted. You dont seem to respect a differing point of view. Dont try to bully dear. And just for arguments sake, you are not the representative of women in this country merely by being a female. I have done much more in my capacity to help, befriend and support women who have come across me. As for following into bedroom to see transfer of money, neither do you have a camera to see who is abusing whom. But I work on facts, I work on investigations and then I state that it is for money that people I have come across, who happen to be females, do blackmail and manipulate. More men commit suicide than women. Delhi metro has officially released a report that 95% of pickpockets in Delhi metro are females. See don’t try to bully, or threaten any opinion differing from yours and please don’t think that you are the sole torch bearer for women rights. Most the women champion men as their companions when it comes to rights. men do more for women, than blog writers do. the man who come to deliver your gas cylinder lifting 25 kilograms on his back for merely 6000 rupees salary is not someone you can simply dismiss as being of a abusive gender. Look carefully and then make a wise assessment. You say that you dont have patience for opinions, well patience is a key virtue. Patience lets you see things as they are, not how you would like them to be. Many women suffer, so do many men. Many women suffer due to women, many men suffer due to women. Many men suffer due to men. My point dear is that EVIL does’nt have a gender. And I dont like to be bullied. I am going off your blog. My best wishes to you and no I dont spew venom, not atleast like you do. Your lingo is quite rash and abusive. You could have said, Your comments dont appeal to the author…and yes before you point fingers, try to be logical dear. Cool down if possible and relax.

  3. Well written and well thought. However, when you talk about adoption over giving birth, isn’t one and the other same thing? At the end of the day you become a mother and again you will be responsible for taking care and nurturing the child. So shouldn’t you be more concerned of staying away from motherhood altogether rather than thinking of other ways?

    • @Vandana Srivastawa: Well-spotted! Actually I was tracing my own personal belief journey. A few years ago, I didn’t have a firm stand on whether I wanted to be a mother or not; only that I was leaning in the direction of adoption over birth. Deciding not to be a mother at all is a more recent decision and based on a different set of ideas. Both seemed relevant to point out in this conversation.

  4. I read a fiction book recently, called “The Brief History of The Dead.” You may change your mind after reading that.

    And of course, reproduction is a selfish act. But it is also, quite literally, the purpose of life.

    Personally I find children fascinating, because their minds are clean slates and they’re much more rational, open minded and uninhibited than most adults. It’s amusing and enlightening to interact with them, I imagine that interacting with intelligent alien life will be similar.

    I have low emotional intelligence and empathy, but I have considered a variation of your adopt vs beget option. It is to have children and leave them completely free, to their own devices. Provided for and monitored, but not interacted with. How they develop as individuals will be an amazing insight into the human psyche.

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