I am a confident, self-dependent woman grown up in a nuclear family. I really appreciate the efforts of my mother and father in bringing me up. They gave me a comfortable life and I have no problem in facing the world.
Still, for my daughter’s upbringing I prefer living in a joint family with my in-laws. A lot of women have asked me how do I ‘manage’ in this set up. Many have confided in me how they can never even imagine themselves to be in my shoes. I can very well comprehend their point. In today’s fast paced world where everyone is working and wants to enjoy life to the fullest, where women are aware and value their individuality, joint family structure appears to be too restrictive for the freedom of expression. Educated, working, broad-minded, I am actually an anomaly to consent to this arrangement.
Having being raised in one and raising my daughter in another, I understand the positives and negatives of both systems. Neither offers Utopia, and I would not preach anyone to accept either as I realize everyone have their own problems and choices. All I want to convey through this article is why I favor living together even after calculating all the factors. I am no less concerned for my doll’s habits and routine. And there are difference of opinions too with elders; especially conflicts over the old methods vs the new. On top of that all these, issues like privacy or ‘i-want-my-freedom’ also happens sometimes.
So, what make me to accept the choice? No, the reason is not that I need helping hands in raising my child or because I am ambitious towards my career. These are just the perks of accepting everyone as a family. My reasons are very subtle. I just love the way my little girl enjoys the company of everybody in the house. From the days of her infancy she would love to sleep in the arms of her Chachu (uncle). As she started responding, she would gleefully play with her Chachi (Aunt). Since her grandmother suffers from chronic pain, the little one started caring for her as soon as she turned a year old. When she gets hurt, she looks for her daadu (grandfather) and of course, she has fun with her parents all the time. I can feel there is no need to teach her values as she is learning all that naturally. And above that being friendly to just anyone is very normal for her – a quality which I lack.
I may not get whole drawing room to laze around or my kitchen might not be very organized even though how hard I try but these desires fade in comparison to the greater good for my daughter. There are challenges and we try to work those out together through acceptance, love and alternatives. Sometimes, if nothing works then I just forget everything as the mother in me reminds me of my younger self that missed what my daughter is getting here – love from all the possible relationships. Everything then sounds feeble in the echoes of laughter of my daughter. Deep in my heart I feel this is the best I can do for my child. Neither money, nor status and nor success – none of them will be as good to her as the pleasure of staying together with extended family. A child knows only the language of love, and I want to let her soak as much love as possible in this world.
I must again say it is a personal choice and depends on the tuning of all family members. More than anyone it is the decision of the mother who should decide whether she would be able to handle all the challenges gracefully without succumbing to pressures.
As for me, the love showered upon my daughter makes her cheerful and me a happy mother, and a happy woman.
Roohi Bhatnagar is a passionate writer and an artist who also works for IT industry to earn her living. She is a doting mom of a cute daughter. Her stories have been published in “Chicken soup for Indian Souls” series and her paintings have been part of local exhibitions. These days her life’s mantra is to clutter the platter. Apart from the dream world where she often wanders you can also find her at her blog “Soulful“.