A discussion that has been beaten to death, but still springs back to life each time a woman has a baby, “Should she stay at home or go back to work?” My thought here is a little more basic than that. “Why do you have kids?”
Honestly, this is something I had not given much time to earlier. Maybe because having the first kid was something that came along with the package of getting married and having a family. Daughter, who came five years later, was more meditated and decided upon. Why the question now, you ask?
The era of women leaders have arrived, or so says everyone. It looks true to a certain extent, many of the Indian banks have women at their helm, and many of the multinationals seem to have many of us in the top echelons. I am curious whenever I read of a mother making it big in the corporate world. How did they manage when their babies were small? Did they have someone in the family taking care of them? Did they feel guilty leaving the little ones at home in the long hours that they were expected to spend at work? How did their children feel when they were not able to make it to the important events of their young life?
Most of the interviews that I’ve read give a balanced view on how there was a strong support at home, how they worked it between them and their spouses so that one of them was always at home and so on. A similar chat with the CEO of a well-known organization caught my eyes recently,
“My daughter may be the greatest looking thing on Earth, but you can’t spend 18 hours a day looking at her. It’s also social conditioning that makes you feel that the baby needs you. I figured out that the baby doesn’t even need you. They just need someone to wash them and take care of them.”
I am sure she was quoted out of context, but to be honest, I was a little shocked. And it also left me wondering whether there were others who had a similar reaction, so I pasted it on my FB page. In spite of a fairly good mix of male and female friends, the responses were highly skewed, most of them from the women folk. Not surprisingly, the men folk were unanimous in their opinion that mothers should stay at home taking care of their kids, they were duly thankful to their mothers and wives for giving a sense of security to their respective set of kids. All the mothers rooted for freedom of choice, no surprise there again. Only a couple of them sensed my real question and the reaction was the same, “Why have them at all?” One of my friends raised another pertinent question,“What would be the child’s reaction if she happens to read this at a later stage?”
Why is it that we have kids? I am pretty sure that for many like me, that question would not have even crossed their minds. For some, it happens naturally, for others, it is a long struggle, but a child is something that we feel makes us complete, knowingly or unknowingly. Do we ever realize the enormous responsibility that we are taking up with this decision is another matter altogether. It is very easy to talk for hours and write pages about how today’s children form tomorrow’s nation and similar clichés. But do we really think of that when we have them?
In today’s world, where it is almost a necessity that both the parents need to work, to compel a mother to stay at home might be a difficult choice, for some it may not even be a choice. Having a support system is crucial, be it a grandparent or a care giver. Things start going wrong when the support becomes the system. Anyone can wash or feed a baby, but are those the only things she need? What about her emotional needs? Of being caressed, talked to, played with, pampered? Of cozy evenings of storytelling and family games, of meals together and after dinner games, some shared TV time or a few pillow fights? Do they not need a childhood that you would have been lucky enough to have?
Sit back and think of your childhood, what is it that you remember the most, that which brings a joyful smile on your face? Aren’t those the shared moments of bliss? If we do not care enough to spend some time and effort in making these memories for the little ones that we consciously brought into this world, why have them at all? That is the real choice in my opinion.
Bindu Manoj dabbles in numbers for a living, dreaming of words all the while. A mother of two, wife to one, sister to four and friend to many, she hoards books by the score. An arm chair traveler who does some real life off roading now and then, she prefers the moves and shakes of jeeps and trucks to the cushy comfort of normal vehicles. Her wandering soul muses at http://ruminateatleisure.wordpress.com/ and she reminiscence her reads at http://wanderlustathome.wordpress.com/