Childless by choice
To have a baby or not is a personal decision, or that of a couple, the third party doesn’t have a say in it
We grow up reading stories and watching movies where boy meets girl, falls in love, goes through some struggles before getting married and live happily ever after. If there is a sequel, they have a baby, struggle some more, and live happily ever after again.
We love happy stories of love, and there is nothing wrong with that. Most of us enjoy the idea of marriage and starting a family, the problem lies in self-appointed advisors who act like that they know better.
Once you are married, be prepared to be asked about the baby every step of the way. Most of my married Nepali friends and relatives have had to dodge multiple ‘when are you going to have a baby?’ questions.
Ava, 28, is happily married in Kathmandu and loves her job. She worked hard to get good education and her dream job. She wants to continue working, and does not want children. “I never wanted to be a mother, and I never felt that desire,” says Ava, who is not in speaking terms with some of her family members because of constant line of questioning. “A small part of me feels bad, but I had to draw my boundaries for my own sanity.”
Many women do want to get married and have children but not all. Some choose never to get hitched while others like Ava who get married and stay childless, are considered selfish. Society generally has opinions above everything and everyone, but they need to learn to keep it to themselves. Women choose not to have children for many reasons, and it is important not to judge them.
Babies are expensive, from gender reveal parties, birthdays to clothes, food and pre-school tuition. For some, this is a genuine reason to opt out of having a child. “The monthly tuition for my friend’s son is more than what I make in two months,” says Maya, 27, who works at a bank.
Some women are saving, so they are financially secure enough to be in a position where they can afford to have a baby. But constantly being asked the same question would make anyone uneasy.
We keep hearing that a woman’s life is incomplete without bringing a new life into this world, but if you do not know the reason behind their decision, it is insensitive to keep poking them about the baby.
With more and women taking up a professional path and focusing on careers, there has been a worldwide trend of delaying marriage, including in Nepal, but some members of society deem it shallow.
As we delay marriages, the chances of conceiving decline significantly. Many women over 35 struggle with fertility, and treatments can be costly without the guarantee of success.
Can you imagine being asked why you do not have a child if you have been trying unsuccessfully for years? No one feels comfortable sharing such personal struggles, and interrogating them will hurt them even more.
Even women who have always wanted to become mothers do not like being asked about it all the time. It is a private matter and people (random or otherwise) have to respect that, especially when the person is only a passing acquaintance.
Another friend of mine, Elina, had wanted children for the longest time. She is now a mother of three and wants two more. She has help from her husband, her family, a stay-at-home babysitter and finances that make it easier.
“I tell people I want two more, and they say it is too much, that I shouldn’t have any more babies. You can never make those people happy,” laughs Elina.
Being a mother is an ultimate act of selflessness, someone else will be depending on you entirely, and you will have to put your needs aside for their well-being. Children are ever learning and absorbing information around them, so it is essential to also become a good model for them.
Shraddha is a wonderful mother to a toddler and told me that only those with a personal investment should be allowed to ask such private questions: “I used to ask them, how much money would you like to transfer to my baby’s account if I have one,” she says.
Of course, Shraddha was not serious, but it was effective, her relatives backed off. No one offered to deposit money either.
I am also happy to send my bank details to anyone wanting to ask me the same question.