Sacrifice? Really?

I decided to take time off from work, 3 years ago because I found it difficult to balance everything to my liking. I am sure, a lot of women would have managed better in my situation, but I decided to take it easy, because it worked for us as a family. And the reason I say this is, it was my decision. It was not a sacrifice. It was a well-thought out decision and my daughter (at one year of age)was one person who was not party to the decision-making process.

Why this statement? IHM’s latest post. The post touched a chord. It is a topic I feel rather strongly about, so I can’t help but pen down my thoughts here as well.

Given my background, how fair would it be if I say to my daughter – ‘I sacrificed my career for you, now it is your turn to pay me back’? She, who did not ask me to be born, she, who was not party to the decision that we made,  should she be made to bear the brunt of my expectations and my decisions in life?

As parents, I think a child gives us so many joys.  Those things itself make our life richer. Just her presence, her hugs and her love makes me glow with happiness. All I want is for her to have a happy and content childhood. For her to grown up into a good person, who is mature and sensible. I had her to enjoy being a mother – not as security for my old age.  She made my life complete – I did not do her a favour by giving birth to her. There I think is where the crux is.  In an older generation, people had children(read boys) so that they had security when they aged. Childhood joys and bringing up a child was more matter-of-fact, something that had to be done.

A child had only so much to say. A child had a lot to do though. A child had to make sure that all the expectations were met, that parents are always obeyed, irrespective of how old the children themselves were..

Now, I am not really advocating a life where we have no responsibilities. The way I look at it, if children is brought up well, there would be no need to force responsibilities on them. They will be wise enough to take care of both sets of parents. The problem occurs when the expectations from parents are so high, that they might road-roll over what a child might have planned – be it career or choice of life partner. And when I say children – I mean both girls and boys,. Both girls and boys should be equally responsible. Why should only the men be burdened with it?

Another thing that keeps coming up is how the Western society lacks family bonding and has no family ties. After living in different continents in the west, I do think that it is a blanket statement, which we use to make ourselves feel better. There are issues everywhere, and there are exemplary families everywhere too.  Every day at Poohi’s school, I see lots of grandparents pitching in with the child care. They drop and pick up their grandchildren. They participate in school trips, volunteer at school activities. They don’t seem lonely and sad. Most of them live in their own homes, with or without a partner, and are yet very involved with their families. I had a landlady who had a 90-year-old mother, and she used to be quite involved with her mother’s life as well as with her daughter and grandkids lives. All this while living with her partner.

One of the problems is that the older generation in our country( a large percentage of them atleast) are not occupied, busy, with a life and circle of friends of their own. It is almost as if, the moment retirement comes, they have no idea what to do after that. So then sets in the dis-satisfaction and unhappiness. For some, of course, it sets in earlier when their children refuse to toe the line. Then they feel that all their ‘sacrifice’ was of no use. But then, ‘sacrifice’  means that it was a ‘selfless deed’, doesn’t it? So how is a selfless deed, selfless, when one wants something in return? That is more of an investment, isn’t it?

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40 thoughts on “Sacrifice? Really?

  1. Oh most certainly its not a sacrifice… we decide to have kids… and the onus to raise them is on us… If we decide to quit careers and not have nannies… or whatever… its not really a sacrifice is it ?? silly.. actually if people think that way isnt it ??

  2. I agree with everything you have said. The selfless (!!!) sacrifice, the bad bad west (to make us feel better about ourselves), the expectations and taking for granted that the kids will always obey to prove they were grateful.

      • Smitha please spam as much as you wish and then blog about it too – this is an issue close to my heart too. We never heard such things growing up – can’t imagine how parents can blackmail their own children with such talk and expectations.

        ‘an’t imagine how parents can blackmail their own children with such talk and expectations.’ – I cannot understand that at all..

        I can’t imagine burdening my kids with such ‘sacrifices’ either 😦

        Same here. It is our choice to have children. If the decisions we make, are too much for us, we just should do it, or not have children at all. But passing on the burden to a child, is ridiculous.

  3. My sentiments exactly. And I took the same decision for my child. My telling him that I did this for you, years later….gosh…that would be so so unfair and wrong!!

    Exactly, Shilpa. But so many people do burden their children with their expectations, in so many ways.

  4. exactly my thougts smitha,kids never asked us to bring them into this world,they gave us a chance to be parents.

    Exactly! If at all, we should be thankful to them!

    The beautiful bond is termed as sacrifice,i heard people telling how much they sacrificed for the kids,kids never asked them to do

    I know! I just cannot understand that!

  5. I guess it all depends on the culture of each family…mine is not stereotypical…we are three sisters…and our parents raised us with a lot of love and without any expectations…

    My parents are in their 70’s and have a active social life…they are busy and engaged…

    It does depend on the culture of a family. I had the same sort of upbringing too. My parents are extremely in dependent. They have an active social life, hobbies and work to keep them busy. Just the other day, my dad took up some new responsibility at an orphanage. Both my mom and dad value their independence. But not all the people of their generation is like that – sadly.

    As for burdening kids…I don’t have any right now so cannot comment on it 🙂
    Me : 🙂

  6. Perfectly said Smitha… 🙂

    In India.. even though parents take real good care of the kids they are doing it for some future benefit… they have this mentality of their own kid and he/she must do what they wish… From choosing the studies to choosing life partner… and then give a long lecture of I have done this/that for you… which does brings down the level of the beautiful relationship… 😦 😦

    I agree. It does make the children distance themselves, if they can. After all, how long would people like to hear that they are responsible for all the problems in their parents’ lives?

  7. Smithu, this is one of the most touching posts I’ve read in a long time. Moved me immensely. I guess every other mum would claim to have sacrificed her career. I do the melodrama at times too 😉 But what you have written is the TRUTH. Our life is complete with our children, so where is the question of sacrifice?! And to think that ‘sacrifice’ means ‘not expecting anything in return’ 🙂 Well said, Smitha. One of your best posts, I think 🙂 Poohi is so lucky to have you 🙂

    Thanks Pals 🙂 You are good for my ego 🙂 Poohi may not agree with that though 🙂

    • The reason I feel some mothers crib and say they made sacrifices is because they probably had to follow rigid customs and traditions, bear kids because of pressure from in-laws and also did not get any support from their husbands…I have seen women like this all around me in India..they actually had to sacrifice their desires and identity.

      They never had their own identity…were forced to do things they did not want to do…so all the frustration stems from that.

      It is easy for us to sit and judge when we never had to face such a situation ourselves…am sure it would be quite difficult to walk in their shoes…

      • I agree. There might be people who are forced to take such decisions, but is it fair to make their children bear the brunt of it?

        Surely, if they have to blame, isn’t it better to place the blame where it should be, rather than burden a child who has no reason to be involved?

        Yes, there are instances were women/men are forced into decisions – all I am saying is, that laying the guilt on the child, is not fair. Not fair at all.

  8. For some reason, many people think everything about the West is bad…I have no idea why raising children to be independent at an early age and choosing to live alone (with cats & dogs) is a bad thing…I think we should all strive to raise our children to be independent at the earliest…Also, living alone does not necessarily equate to loneliness and a lack of emotional attachment to loved ones…

    I agree. Living alone – a lot of people might prefer it. It had it’s advantages. ‘I think we should all strive to raise our children to be independent at the earliest’ – I totally agree. That is the best gift we can give our child.

    I see it like this…Once we are adults, our parents’ job is done…We should not expect them to continue helping us till they die…They too have a right to live their lives as they say fit and if that means living independently, so be it…They should not be made to feel guilty if they decide to go for a holiday instead of babysitting your child…

    Absolutely! There are a lot of people who do not think twice about getting their parents do all the babysitting, without a thought of whether their parents want to or not – that is not fair either. I think retired life should be a lot of fun, with freedom to do what ever they want to, without the constraints of not having enough vacations and stuff.

    • I agree with you Sraboney. I had no parents helping me when my two kids were young. It bonded us better – my husband and I took turns to stay up and change nappies or feed them, when they were really young.

  9. I agree with all that you’ve said in the post verbatim, Smits. Have said and spammed a lot too on IHM’s blog :). This is a topic which a lot of us can relate to and will have ample to share.

    🙂 Yes, it is a topic close to our hearts, isn’t it?

    R & I brought Namnam to this world because we wanted to experience the joys of parenthood. And every moment of her growing up makes us realize more and more how blessed we are to have her in our life. When I decided to quit to become a stay at home mom, it was NOT to do any favour to my child but to make sure I didnt miss out on her growing up moments and I felt I could bring her up better if I was there for her full time. Multitasking was certainly not my forte 🙂

    Absolutely! Could not agree more. It was a decision, which I took, because I wanted to, not because she forced me too.. And if someone feels that unhappy, it is better to find a way of resolving it, rather than blaming the child, you know.
    Like you rightly said why should our children bear the brunt of our expectations and decisions in life?

    Super post, Smits, loved it!

  10. Lovely post Smitha…in continuation to ur comment at IHM’s, I am enjoying reading all abt it here…

    I have so much more to say on this…

    This is the same I feel too…the child doesn’t owe us anything, just becos we got the child to this earth. Creating the life was totally our decision and we need to keep that in mind.

    Absolutely.

    Am glad u wrote abt this…

    Actually aren’t we the lucky ones to have children who give us more joy and love everyday ??? Then whats there to think that the child owes us something ???

    Wish that all parents will think like this, Smitha. Atleast the pressure on the kids to outperform others all the time or get a particular college admission – all those unwanted pressures will reduce.

    I agree. If parents stopped trying to live their dreams through their children, life would be easier for everybody around.

  11. well said Smithus…
    Folks need to develop their own hobbies and parents (majority of them anyway) need to stop being so selfish!!

    I agree..

    I have a friend and she lives with her in-laws and she travels everyday – 4 hrs one-way to get to work!!! And she is so tired at the end of the day, she has no time for anything else!
    The in-laws crib she doesn’t help out and they also guilt-trip the son into staying in teh same house!!
    Like, if they live apart, it would mean the family has broken up!! 🙄

    Goodness! That is so mean and sad, isn’t it? What about the poor DIL? Has she no say? It must be pure torture for her.

    • Pix, sooo many ppl think that way!
      Recently, I read a post on one blog saying boys who leave parents and girls who force them to are missing so much!
      Isn’t it as simple as to each his own? If it works out in the best of everyone’s interests, why not???

      I wish everybody thought like this!

      How much does staying away physically determine if we love anybody or not or whether we will help them if time demands? Does it mean all daughters hate their parents just bcoz they stay away? Why is a son staying on his own not as simple as a daughter doing that!

      Crazy! Daughters have no right to love their parents, do they 😉 Their love should be reserved for their in-laws, acc to some 🙂
      God, I can go on and on… so I will stop 😛

  12. According to me, the purpose of life is to grow into a better person, and having kids is a surefire way to personal growth, if you’re actually serious about doing a good job. Anyone who’s moaning about sacrifices, needs to go get their heads examined!

    You’ve said it all, Starry.

  13. I know, agree to every word of your posts.
    Too many mother characters in real and reel life have taken their 9 month long pregnancy story to emotionally blackmail their children! ridiculous!!

    Yes, and that is so sad, isn’t it?

    Adding something to what u said, in olden days, women had no choice over thier pregnancies, imagine, undergoing the cycle every 2 years or even less! I have often wondered how my grandmother, she has 13 kids to her credit (some credit!!) went thru it! different matter, each kid had a nanny and all that, still, physically, emotionally aren’t they drained!!! Men can plant their seed and take off.

    It must have been one difficult life then. And those who were not economically well off, had to do everything else, in addition to looking after their children

    And women of her times never voiced their opinions (did they have any? was there a choice?) to their Lord and master.

    And may be in a spur of the moment or moments these mothers voice their 9 month story to their children at a vital stage in their lives, putting them in utter confusion!! (showing off their power?)

    I agree.

    I’ve never heard MJ saying this 9 month story, heard a lot about it from a lot of friends/relatives mothers. So, I asked her whether I was born a little early maybe 2 months or so, giving her less pain or pressure so I never gave her an option to complain 😀 😀 😀

    LOL! That is funny 🙂 I have never heard that from my parents either 🙂 Lucky us 🙂

    • And about the post retirement,

      We in India are so obessesed with a job, any job, specially the govt kind(!) that people actually think they have conquered Mt Everest by securing it. So a full stop to their hobbies when they get into what is popularly called as Service!

      So true – you have it nailed.

      What hobbies any way, did they have any in the first place! reading is for the jobless/housewives! u didn’t know, blogging too comes in that category!!!!! Or hobbies are limited to reading and writing, things like gardening and networking or taking up social work is time consuming!!

      True again.. So they fine themselves at loose ends. No idea what to do after retirement..

      So once they are done, these less innovative types end up creating reasons to visit the doctor more often, about ailments! ya, people develop backpains and leg cramps suddently after retirement and complain…

      There isn’t any dearth of activities. Religious, political, social, art, jobs … It’s about gr8 Indian craze about the salaried people that makes post retirement hell for the majority!

      Take it easy, be creative, and plzzzz think and look around is all what we can say 🙂

      Could not agree more. I have seen my grand-dads – both of them had a busy life and kept busy till their deaths – and that I think kept them happy and satisfied.

    • Afterthought: Me thinks, the suppressed woman/wife/spinster/widowed aunt shows her power only when the DIL (new prey) enters, therefore we have the gr8 drama unfolding and the guilt tripping all over again this time with the DIL in focus!

      I agree. It becomes a fun pasttime and a way to give back what they received as well, you know.. And unless we break the cycle, it will just go on and on.

  14. Smitha – I wish a lot of parents could read this post of yours. I so agree – especially about the part that parents (mostly motheers) in India, don’t have a social life other than their family – this puts a lot of pressure on children to not just make sure that they’re well cared for in their old age – but to be totally involved in their lives.

    Thank you so much Corrine. I agree – ‘this puts a lot of pressure on children to not just make sure that they’re well cared for in their old age – but to be totally involved in their lives.’ And this just leads to friction and distance between the family members..

  15. A very thoughtful post.

    Even though I feel I am quite young to comment on this I feel when I am of age, I would agree to this.

    Great writing! 🙂

    Welcome here The (un)Common Woman. I love your name 🙂 and thanks.

  16. Superb post Smiths! Very honest!

    I don’t buy either of the views … that a Mother sacrificed her career for her kid or that a Mother who did not leave her job to look after her kids is toooo much concerned abt her career and not her children!

    Totally agree! So many women manage it all beautifully. Their careers go places, their children secure and confident -one can have it all. And the decision one makes, is based on one’s circumstances.

    Awesome post .. I agree with u – every single word 🙂

    Thanks Swaram 🙂

    ‘because it worked for us as a family’ – thatz exactly what matters no? Because, as of now, I dont even know what I want to do when we have a kid. Whether I will take a break or my Mom will or we will go in for something else – bcoz the decision will just be what will work for all of us in the family in the best possible way!

    Exactly! It has to work for us as a family. Whichever way works- should be the way to go. And if one is not happy, then I think we have to take steps to stem that unhappiness or find a way out, rather than passing on the unhappiness and the guilt to a child.

  17. ‘Childhood joys and bringing up a child was more matter-of-fact, something that had to be done.’

    This was mainly because they had too many children and no free time to enjoy bringing up the children, like sitting together, discussing about their education etc. Their life flowed like a river…no diversion. If any diversion happened, it was blamed on ‘god’s will’.

    Absolutely. There was little choice, and hardly any options available to women.

    ‘A child had only so much to say. A child had a lot to do though. A child had to make sure that all the expectations were met, that parents are always obeyed, irrespective of how old the children themselves were.. , yes, their life also is not made easy by the possessive parents.

    I agree.. And you know what they say about, letting someone you love go, I think that works far more than trying to be possessive.

    We enjoy having children, bringing up the babies, cuddling them, watching them walk, laugh and do the baby talk. When we ENJOY doing all these things, where does the word ‘sacrifice’ comes, I don’t know. We have got something to happily discuss about (our children’s growing up stage) in our old age. So we should be happy about these things, instead of grumbling about how much we have done for them.

    Am so glad, you agree too, Sandhya.

    I too met a couple of happy old people when I went abroad and my son also appreciates how the old generations enjoy their life, living alone or with partners and participating in bringing up the grand children.

    You have expressed the points so well that I think, I might comment again, later! This is like a post, here!

    Please do come back 🙂 And I loved your comment. You have made so many interesting points.

  18. Pingback: Managing Expectations « Any Excuse to Write…

  19. in my personal view: yes..having children is not an investment or sacrifice at that..it’s sheer bliss..it’s the norms that we follow of having a happy family..it’s the desire of having your bundle of joy in your arms !

    I so agree with you 🙂 A baby is not called a ‘bundle of joy’ for nothing 🙂

    I agree to what you’ve pointed out that largely in India the older population doesn’t know what to do after their retirement..but I think that’s just one reason for them to think ‘what their children are paying back?’ it’s also to do with the mindset of our society..

    I agree. The mindset of our society is pretty much still the same.

    in a general discussion also you’ll find that people always talk on these lines: ‘parents did so much and now see what the son is doing’ etc.. it’s the societal norm that make people think about it this way that after growing up children SHOULD repay in some or the other way!

    True.

    whereas I think-what you’ve also mentioned-that if the roots are strong there is no need to expect anything from children..their bringing-up concepts will do the work on them and they will certainly will stay connected to you lifelong-by their own will and not by the pressure of responsibilities or societal norms !

    Exactly. If the roots are strong, there is no real need to expect. The children will take care and they will do it because they want to. not because they have to.

  20. i so agree with what u are saying smith… i have been in the same situation… didnt give up but lost my job and then decided to take it easy and spend time with him instead… there have been times when i have been told i am wasting away and their have been times when ojas has been told u are lucky…

    i dont agree with anything. it works for everyone… it workds for us a family and hence no one should feel guilty

    I get what you mean. There is no reason to feel guilty or lucky, is there..

    good post

    Thanks Monika.

  21. I peeked into my reader today and had to read this 🙂 Wonderful post Smitha. I really enjoyed reading this. I find it such a blessing to be able to spend more time with children.

  22. True…(though I have complained on many instances, on the sleepless nights)I hope I too don’t become the nagging mother later on and follow them with my demands of taking care of me. I am betting on the same roots that you have written about..But I seriously hope I will never fall ill and bedridden.

    You know, if I get bedridden, I would prefer to be put in a medical facility where they can take care of you, and the family can visit. It might be easier for everybody involved, you know.

  23. Wow! That was a splendid read Smitha….

    Thank you, Happy Kitten 🙂

    The children completes our lives and they are THE gifts… and they shall be with us for a while.. until then, one should learn to enjoy them.. and when they choose to fly the roost, leave them.

    I agree.. And we should be prepared for them to fly the roost – they can’t be with us all our life, after all.

    But then for some parents life can be too tough to enjoy the stage of child rearing, which in itself burdens the child and finally when retirement comes they yearn for the care of their children who are not there for them.

    True.. That does happen.

  24. Catching up with the backlog on my reader now and found this lovely post.

    You’ve put it so beautifully.
    Anyway, I don’t think my kids will ever buy the logic of: I gave up my work, so…They’d be so happy I went back to work full-time!

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