Like most young girls, I always imagined my future as one with a doting husband and lots of children. It was an automatic assumption, something which I didn’t even question.
Not until recently.
As I entered university, I learned a lot of new things and saw through a lot of different perspectives.
But one of the most important things that I learned was that I had the right to question everything. So that’s what I did.
When people around me discussed their future, no matter how different their plans might be from one another, they always had one thing in common; they saw themselves with a spouse and kids. Having heard this conversation around me happen so many times, I started to feel suffocated.
And I started questioning myself, do I even want children?
At first, I was scared to even utter my doubts to anyone but myself because I myself wasn’t sure about what I wanted.
After months of toying with the idea in my head, I realized the idea of having children didn’t really appeal to me. The only reason I ever envisioned myself with children was because of the narrative I was fed through media and those around me; having a husband and children is something every woman must do. The end.
But as I grew up, I discovered other narratives of women who chose to not have children themselves because they too did not feel it was necessary. And that it was okay not to want children.
When I was sure that this is what I wanted, I decided to talk about this idea with my friends. And I was shocked to discover that a few of them felt the same way as I did. In a country like Pakistan, where childless couples are pitied and given unsolicited advice at every turn, the realization that you do not want children is scary.
What will you tell your parents? What will your tell your saas? What will you tell your Phuppo?
In our collectivistic culture, we often put our own personal needs on the backburner. But in a decision as pivotal and important as the question of whether or not you want or should have children should be no one elses but your own.
The idea that your family’s lineage depends on you procreating is redundant in this day and age where we live our lives digitally and have curated our personalities online for all time to come.
And as for the question of what impact this has on my love life. Well, it’s not great.
My friends often joke that when rishta aunties approach me I can just say ‘I don’t want children’ and they’ll disappear in a second. And I do realize an arranged marriage might not be in the cards for me since saying that I don’t want children outright might put me and my family in an awkward position.
And if I am interested in a guy myself, I usually do make it a point to ask him about his thoughts on the subject before it gets too serious. And if our views don’t align, I usually just nip it in the bud.
My decision on whether or not I should have children is entirely mine and mine alone. I don’t need to change this for anyone but myself because it’s not fair for me to alter my life in such a drastic way for the happiness of someone else.
And trust me, looking out for my own happiness, that does NOT make me selfish.
Having children is a big decision which should entirely be your own. No one should ever be forced into it. And if you are forcing someone to comply with your decisions, to me THAT’S selfish.
What are your thoughts about having children? Let us know in the comments.
Cover Image Source: INP.net