I have often humoured advices, comments, and curious glances from friends, family and mostly from social acquaintances on being a childfree couple. I have gritted some out, laughed at some, worked out methodical ways of weeding those comments out and forgetting them because believe it or not, some of the comments and advices are invasive and sometimes are border lining on being offensive. They often rear their heads now and then on social occasions. I have accepted these as being part of my life, of something which I am going to have to be answerable to or explain for the rest of my life as having made a very different life choice. I have never given these comments much importance earlier or analysed them.
Yet for the past one year or so these have started bothering me or irk me at some level. I suppose these incidents have been in my sub conscious mind and one such question at a social gathering, prompted me to start my research on the internet. I found many website, social forums, for people who do not have children with or without choice, and found out that there is term to call people like me, Childfree or Childless!! There are support groups for us, there are forums which are not so fond of us.
I am a proud PANK, – Professional Aunt, No Kids. Most of my dear and close friends are not child free, and I am a lovely aunt to a pretty niece and a boisterous nephew. I would like to point out my relationship with my friends and brother s family has not been effected either by their or my life choices. I have the most amazing time with their kids and I am fairly confident that they are very fond of their Quirky Aunty Usha, asides from the fact the my friends, brother and sis-in-law , often have a feeling ‘That Aunty Usha needs a little chat’. I have never felt being left out in anyways or feel out of place around them.
I was posed a question at a social gathering at a friends house , which has prompted this post. I was standing with a group of ladies, a bunch of little munchkins playing behind us. I was narrating my soul searching trip to India with all animosity, I was interrupted by a new social acquaintance, ‘Which one is yours?’, in my eagerness to finish my anecdote, I quickly turned around to check if there was anything mine, and realised she was referring to the kids, I replied ‘None’ and carried on chattering. It is later in the night when I was thinking about the incident, made me wonder, why is it when a women is of certain age, it is assumed, she must have a ‘Mini Me’ running around somewhere. I have also observed that I am subjected to more scrutiny on this subject than my husband. I have often been subjected to comments as a couple you are selfish, as a woman you are incomplete, is your husband ok with not having kids, you are the lucky one aye, you will regret it one day, I suppose you should go to this doctor he/she is very good, why don’t you try surrogacy ? You do not know true love till you have one of your own? I am so sorry you don’t have children….. I have never discussed these earlier for fear of being mistaken to be resentful, until recently. I mentioned the innocent question to my friend and the feelings associated with the question.She suggested I should write a post about it.
When I look at popular blogs and forums written by Childfree, it starts with a statement, we love children…., just like how I have mentioned about having fun with kids . Guilty. I suppose we feel we are answerable for our choices and we need to explain our love for children. I have done it too.
Many of the forums talk about sometimes loosing out friends, and end up with nothing in common , because you are the odd one out. I suppose I have not experienced it with friends. I have experienced awkwardness in social gathering with social acquaintances’, and in most of the cases I probably am the only childfree in the room, the topics are normally restricted to school runs, private schools, ballets, potty training etc, where I suppose I have very little to contribute, so I end up listening patiently, then circulating in the room, and then sitting with the little ones and playing with them, which ends up in more comments,’ Oh you are so great with children, you should have one. ‘ Right, playing and engaging kids for half an hour does now qualify me to be a parent. I may not be a parent, but I do know the challenges of parenting and I love and admire all my lovely friends, whom I have watched cope with the challenges of parenthood and learn the nuances of parenting. And they are doing a wonderful job of it. Alternatively, if I stay away from kids to avoid such comments, there are occasional head bobs, narrowing of eyes and hushed whispering.
I recently joined in a group on Whatsapp for classmate from University. I was thrilled to reconnect with my batch mates and exchange a few banter now and then, talking about ye old days. Yesterday, being Mothers Day messages poured in to the group. I am not Mothers day averse. I always like to celebrate mothers day with my Mother, or my Mother-in-law and wish my friends who are lovely mommies. One of the messages on the group was a tad in bad taste, and lacked compassion. I am pretty certain the person who forwarded the message did not realise it, does not think the same and has nothing personal against me. It probably was a forwarded message from someone else. It left me wondering, how there was a thin line between celebration and insolence, sometimes we cross the line in self importance, unknowingly.
” From a mom to Mom.. We traded sleep for dark circles, salon haircuts for pony tails, Long baths for quick showers, late nights for early mornings, designer bags for school bags and we wouldn’t change a thing!!!We don’t care about what we gave up and instead Love what we get in return!! That s what being a mom is all about!.
I am not a mother, I used to work very long hours up until recently, I had dark circles. I left for work at 7 am and came back home by 10 pm on a regular basis. I did not have time to go to salon or have long baths, many a days I did not have time to eat lunch. I have often got discount cards to get a make over , from Salons near my workplace whenever I walked past them. I have often wondered I must be looking a mess since it happened to me on more than one occasion. I have designer bags, Guilty again . The bags are gifts from my brother and my husband, which I do not think have any bearing to my child bearing or non child bearing capacity. I loved my work and was passionate about it. It was my choice. So is motherhood, in the present days. I am not trying to belittle motherhood. I know and understand how as being a childfree woman I am more answerable to the society than a man , so is motherhood more pressurising on a woman than a man.
I have personally known people who have gone through tough times and have to accept being childless, is the mothers days sometimes not uncompassionate to those? Should there be a Childfree women/men s day like a mother s day or father s day ? Are we forgetting our humaneness in all this? Are we forgetting free will?
I have made certain choices in life, I am not ashamed of my choices neither am I sad nor selfish. I am happy with my choice, I would not want to explain or answer every now and then for my life choices. I am human too.