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?