Women are synonymously recognised as life-givers all over the world. They not only establish a household but also manage to uphold it and maintain it with hard labour all throughout, and in many cases alone. We have seen our own mothers, trying to impart traditions to us whilst cleaning the wardrobe, listening to our excessive rants about how unfair our lives are when she doesn’t even have a minute to spare. A woman, a mother is the most selfless creature to exist, and yes we do take undue advantage of them, intentionally or not.
With time, the sole essence of being a woman got clouded due to her miraculous body of being able to reproduce and bring forth a life. A life that saves a dying marriage, or a life because a family has to grow, or a life because societal norms confirm to it. There is an endless list of a woman wanting to pursue motherhood in her life and celebrate the gift she has.
But, in the endless list that makes the motherly occurrence viable, there is no space for the choice of women to walk down the tiring yet rewarding path of being a mother.
Nevertheless, the choice to be child-free is nothing but deemed as the most selfish thing ever. It is highly tabooed and definitely frowned upon, not only in our country but many more. The desire to forgo childrearing is a “banal fantasy”, because having kids is the only way for adults to avoid destructive self-absorption. A woman is ‘gifted’ with a body that has to produce a child, if that is not happening what is the use of women? What are they if not a ‘baby machine’?
Most girls grow up in a culture of assumed motherhood. I won’t be wrong to assume that into my early adulthood, I will not be questioned whether I will have kids – it will always be how many and when. This isn’t born out of a deep, inherent desire for children. It is simple how the definition of ‘family’ comes into being: of course, you have kids, just as you move out of your parents’ house, and you get married, and you die. That’s the natural course of life. And there’s nothing more fruitful and rewarding than following the course, is there?
I am not glorifying child-free couples, I am questioning as to why the building of a bump is not considered to be a choice. Shouldn’t the couple dictate the definition of their own family rather than following the rulebook of ‘happy marriage’?
Shouldn’t a woman be able to control her own body, and have a free voice so as to whether to manoeuvre her ‘gift’?
Encouraging women and men to really assess their own lives, circumstances, values and desires, and evaluate whether a child is an addition they want, not only helps individuals to make more informed and affirming decisions, but sheds light on the many factors that make reproduction so fraught. Normalization of being child-free is a gain for all of us, whether we choose to have children or not. It reminds us that kids are people, who deserve to be raised and nurtured by adults who proactively want to have them.
To have a child or to not have it is subjective and shouldn’t be imposed upon, under the pretext of building a family. Making choices that centre on our own needs and desires isn’t selfish. It’s radical and it’s transformational, and its about taking control of a body that is only ours to dictate.