Monday, December 11, 2006

Change...or something like it

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.


At 4:26 AM, Blogger iz said...

My biological alarm went off a couple of years ago. But everytime I think of having a kid I realise that there's no putting them back in! So yes, if you're selfish, honey I'm the original bitch!

At 4:27 AM, Blogger iz said...

My biological alarm went off a couple of years ago. But everytime I think of having a kid I realise that there's no putting them back in! So yes, if you're selfish, honey I'm the original bitch!

At 5:25 AM, Blogger artnavy said...

u r right- upheavel is the right word

the other women are deceiving themselves

BTW take him to a movie- he may enjoy it and be a doll- as i found out

At 6:58 AM, Blogger itchingtowrite said...

of course life changes. i can identify with all the things u mentioned. right down to the way people used to speculate whether we are thinking of kids as yet. i wud add that breakfast never happened, the leisurely taken lunch/ dinner doesn't exists. 2nd helpings- no time, fav TV programs- not caught up with it for long, even can't iron own clothes without them threatening to grab at the iron. while going out together, can;t spend more than 10 minutes getting ready else the kids get impatient, while one keeps washing the kids poo pee, the mom can't do hers in peace. can't go to the bathroom if she is alone with the baby, neither can take a peaceful shower.. well a mini post for you!!!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

iz: having a kid is entirely your call - and as you can see - there is a hell of lot that will change - should you take that step. So you have every right to be selfish on that account. And science has just redefined biological alarm clocks... so take your time.

Art: maybe thats what it is - self-deception. Wonder why though?

itchy: heard this one? before baby, luxury was a day at the spa - after baby luxury is - having an uninterrupted bowel movement. true na?
and its so true - I have stopped taking secong helpings... my first ones are huge enough ;)

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous NZ said...

good post STS.

It is a big step as it changes our lives dramatically if not upside down ! And those women who deny this fact ARE decieving themselves.
And one has to be absolutely mentally and financially prepared before they jump into parenthood. Its an individual decision and people should respect that.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Orchid said...

I beg to slightly differ with everyone else on this. No I am saying that there is a set rule about when every woman should have a child, no that is entirely an issue of individual preference given one's own circumstances but I think in a few years (notice, I said in a few years) if someone where to ask me about being a mother I would answer very differently than I would right now. I have had my share of "not being able to poop in peace" but honestly it is getting better with each passing day and in a way I am sure we are all glad we had them (our children)when we did without asking too many questions. If you start asking those questions, I guess none of us will ever be ready..... I used to be less of a woman and more of a mom but i think that it doesn't always have to be that way (ofcourse if the second one comes along....) but anyway it's not lik I am agreeing with the women either...I am just saying if you want to, you can make it both work (motherhood and womanhood, that is...

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

nz: Thanks! You're right - being prepared is not just a mental or emotional state - but the financial aspects need to be weighed in too.

Orchid: Yes and no! :)
yes that timing is key. Perhaps a few years down the line - when we read this - we could all laugh at it - the issue may seem so insignificant. But right now - its not.
No - because we should not stop asking questions. I mean when our child keeps asking us all the possible whys - we encourage it - dont we? because its a sign of a thinking brain. Why should we not apply the same parameter to ourself?

At 3:27 AM, Blogger Rohini said...

I think the other people basically need to get a life. Anyone with half a life will feel immense changes and upheavel with the birth of a baby...

At 5:06 AM, Blogger That Armchair Philosopher said...

@iz - hmm, funny you should talk about "putting them back in" - a Frasier episode I saw not yesterday used the exact same phrase. heh.

@something - now why would you say men would be indifferent to something like this? surely you're not stereotyping them in the role of secondary care givers who are helpless when its comes to managing a baby? isn't the guy equally affected by a decision to have kids? after all, when you need to get up at 3am in the morning because baby dear's screaming its lungs off - isnt it his responsibility to do his share too?

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

rohini:thats exactly what I thought too - they need to get a life.

That Armchair Philosopher: Well, since men arent around all day - for all practical purposes they are secondary care-givers(in most cases - but thats not always the rule). And yes, the upheaval is also felt in a man's life - just as much. My point was - a woman who has gone thru it herself - should be better placed - than to shoot her mouth off in such manner. Men at best - have a second hand experience to birthing, feeding - and the works. Thats all! No stereotyping wasnt my intention.


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