I heard this piece of conversation at a social gathering a while ago.
Lady 1 to Lady 2 “So are you in touch with ABC. How’s she doing? Are they planning to start a family yet?”
Lady 2 “No, they aren’t planning to start a family yet. ABC says she’s not yet ready.”
Lady 1 “Not ready yet? haven't they been married for 2 years now? How much longer does she intend to wait?”
At this point 2 other women join the conversation.
Lady 2 “She says a baby will bring about too many changes in their life. Right now they want to just enjoy life. Basically she says she’s not ready for the changes the baby will bring to their lifestyle”
At this statement there was a huge uproar amongst the women.
“baby will bring changes? What rubbish is that?”
“how can she talk like that – being a woman?”
“aree we’ve had a child too – what big sacrifices does a baby ask for?”
“and what lifestyle changes will a baby ask for? Live your life as you did previously – just one more person to share your life with”
“a baby brings only joy – such a selfish woman”
At this point, I had had enough – I stopped eavesdropping and moved off. But the conversation kept ringing in my ears.
As a new mother, I totally agreed with ABC’s point of view. A baby does bring changes – huge ones to your life. Especially in the first year – just about everything gets turned upside down. Your eating habits, your sleeping patterns (what sleep?), your social life, your stepping out of the house – be it for grocery shopping or an overnighter, suddenly there is a new perspective – one more lens to see all these things with.
So then what were these magpies chattering about? About there being no changes entailed? If I look at my life – there were 2 things I held very dear – my morning cuppa – which I make myself – just the way I want it – to be had at just the right temperature, and my sleep. And my son A’s arrival just totally banished these two dearly held things in my life. Invariably, sonny would have to poop or demand to be fed as I sat down with my cup of tea. And the first few months – he had to be fed every couple of hours – night and day. So sleep was pretty deprived. In addition – we’ve stopped going to the movies – coz we’re pretty sure A is going to create a racket there, dining out has reduced a lot. Yes, we’ve started spending more time together as a family – doing things that will keep us all happy – but that is a change.
And now that I think, just about everything has changed too, down to way I tie my hair – I used to keep it open – now I have to tie it – else sonny will pull out the few remaining strands.
So then, how is ABC wrong in maintaining that a baby will change her lifestyle? To begin with the argument has no premise – whether or not ABC wants to have a baby is entirely her jurisdiction – no fat aunty has any say in it. But her point is valid – if she is not ready for the upheaval – she’s not ready. And upheaval is the right word.
Yes a baby brings joy – and you more than willingly accommodate a new arrival in your midst. But hand on your heart – you have made adjustments – minor, major – to ensure that the new one fits in. Yes, every new relationship brings it’s share of adjustments. And this one is no different. And yes, you made most of the changes of your own accord – there was no one demanding it. But nevertheless – there were changes.
Or am I the only selfish woman out there (with ABC, of course) who thinks like this? Or does motherhood (and also fatherhood) mean that you keep putting your life through the wringer and don’t even feel the need to acknowledge it – even to yourself. And to expect people to recognize that you have changed your life means being branded selfish?
And remember, these are not men, who seem indifferent. These are other women – women who have had children of their own. Who ought to be in the best position to appreciate all that another woman goes through in raising the next generation of humanity. And yet, these are women who seem to think, that you ought to be a mother first and a woman afterwards. That you ought to sacrifice your indulgences as a woman at the alter of motherhood. Or is that how it should be?
Is motherhood so great that it will overshadow womanhood? Cant both co-exist? Where sometimes being a mother gives you so much joy – and yet when you want to be pampered as a woman – motherhood is not going to stand in your way.Or are they already co-existing, being mutually helpful, and I am not able to see it clearly.
Maybe some years down the line I would have found my answers, maybe some of you already have. But at least I questioned it and have started searching for the answer. Maybe that’s the first step in the reconciliation.