My journey through motherhood is not the stuff that mommy-manuals (if any, that exist) are made of. I can barely remember the first year of this experience with unending changes of nappies, sleeplessness, anxiety over not being able to express enough breast milk, caring for a baby without any help and every week marred by a new problem that I wasn’t equipped to deal with. But would I trade this journey for any other joy in the world? Nope. I would seek the services of a therapist, though if I could go back in time, and also grab my husband by his collar to get him to hire part-time help. Apart from that, despite all the struggles, motherhood has been a fun ride for me. The one that I willingly embarked upon.
However, we take a woman’s will to embrace motherhood for granted. Motherhood is as obvious a part of an Indian woman’s future as marriage is. Other things like studies, career, passion, hobbies, have to force-fit themselves around these two. This is one of the very crucial aspects of motherhood that everyone seems to leave out. It was, and still remains a duty that defines our lives, our existence, and becomes a key factor in taking many little-big decisions of our life.
But with changing times, the conversation around motherhood needs to change as well. Indian society, including women, needs to understand and accept the fact that motherhood is a choice, an option, and not a necessity. It cannot hold the power to define our existence if we do not want it to. Yes, there are moms who choose to devote their lives to raising their kids, but that shouldn’t be made into a golden rule.
As with any other aspect in our life, the decision to become a mom should stem from a free will. She shouldn’t be pressured into it by society or her family. She should not walk into this full-time commitment under the pressure of social norms, which refuses to see any woman without a child as complete. This isn't a chore on our checklist that we can tick off and be done with. Which is why it is crucial that a woman becomes a mom willingly, else she would struggle with feelings of resentment for the rest of her life, and it is her family that will have to bear the brunt of it.
Many people may argue that motherhood does complete a woman and changes her life forever, giving it a new meaning. But this assumption is exclusionary. A woman is very much capable of living a happy and fulfilling life, even if she is not a mom. Or let me rephrase that, a woman's happiness in life doesn't depend on becoming a mother, this is just something that everyone wants her to believe. Any woman who doesn't want to be a mother, we wouldn’t understand her perspective or choices, because we haven’t lived her life. We do not understand what she wants. And this exactly is also the reason why it is unfair to juxtapose our mindset and life goals on her.
Let every woman decide what she wants from life for herself, what gives her happiness, be it in case of motherhood or any other aspect of her life.
The views expressed are the author's own.