Why the **** do I have kids?
by Shyama Lalita, Daya Client
I had the traditional mentality that if I am married, having kids is the common next step. I had no doubts about it. Some people even go on to say that marriage is primarily to have kids. After my marriage, although I was convinced that I would have kids very soon (and I really wanted to be a mother) I had no idea that I was not prepared. Being in a relationship with an abuser who does not understand the responsibilities that come with having kids, I got pregnant at the age of 25, just a few months after marriage. It was not an easy journey especially given I was not prepared at the mental and emotional level to deal with the stresses that came with it.
The first set of shocks came with the physical changes in my body. I was not taken good care of, and I didn’t have family support to help me go through this phase easily. The emotional overwhelm that I went through completely bewildered me. On the one hand I was happy to bring another life to this world, on the other hand I was anxious and doubtful about my own abilities.
After the initial trauma of coping with unprecedented changes and deterioration in body and mental health, there comes the baby in my hand while I have no clue what to do with it. When I held him, it felt like just another part of my body that I am very attached to, but I did not know how to take care of it. All I knew was that people have been becoming parents since time immemorial and nobody had to go through an educational process to be a parent.
I was determined to be a good mother, unlike my own mother. So, I gave over and beyond my capacity to give. Since my husband did not demonstrate the qualities of a caring father, I had to take it all on me. I quit my job and took on the added anxiety of throwing away my career for the rest of my life. I was overly exhausted and always haunted by a lot of guilt for not being able to be the kind of mother I wanted to. I found my son a difficult child and I found myself an incapable mother. But like any low self-esteem person would do, I pretended to be the happiest person in the world throughout that time.
Even before I had the time to overcome this one shock, I became pregnant again in just 7 months without my will. When my second son was born, I had to take care of 2 kids all by myself with deteriorated physical energy and no external help at home. Again, I rose to the occasion to be 100% of everything to my children 100% of the time. I eventually just started feeling suicidal for the next few years.
Nothing that I did ever made my kids happy. It seemed like all I am doing is taking care of them… pampering them, feeding them, putting them to sleep, giving them what they need, stopping their fights, sacrificing my hunger and even need to use the restroom, stopping them from getting addicted to videos, engaging them in different activities, keeping them active, taking them to different classes, saving them from emotional torture from husband, hugging them, giving them plenty of kisses on cheeks, telling them “I love you”, and finding ways to make them happy all the time. I gave away everything of mine to make them feel like they are wanted and loved, something that I never received from my parents.
It got even harder when I decided to be a single mother. Even after so much hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice, it was always a struggle. All I seemed to get was rebellion, disobedience, complaints, whining, fights, arguments, and being taken for granted. I was also reading articles from experts and watching videos on how to be a good mother. I was always seeking help from other people, including therapists to understand what I was doing wrong that was causing this whirlwind of negative behavior. I implemented anything I heard about how I could change my own behavior to bring about changes in them with love. I could not understand. What was I doing wrong?! I failed, I failed miserably.
I could not take the continuous anxiety and pressure I was taking on to make sure they had the best life and the comforts that I could give them. Looking at the amount of sacrifices I had to make in my personal as well as professional life, I thought it would be so much easier to just not have kids. Putting them in boarding school or handing them off to my husband seemed very lucrative options. That would give me the freedom and mental space that childless young adults had whom I deeply envied. I could not accept my fate of having to do it all and be it all for two kids that I had not even agreed to give birth to. How can life be so unfair and cruel to me?
One day, out of sheer frustration, I googled “why do people have kids”. I assumed that people without kids would maybe share some insight that would make me feel grateful for whatever relationship I had with my kids. I found that although most people complained about how much work kids are and how much we have to slog to take care of them, there were many who shared the real purpose of having kids. One of those purposes struck me - It is to share unconditional love with another life on this planet.
I realized it is true that people who don’t have kids feel they are missing out on giving what they have back to the world. Having kids is a way to nurture and nourish another life that has been brought to this world by the desire of the Higher Power. It sure gave me another perspective towards the whole situation. It was no longer about having to take care of them. It was about being willing to take care of them. I imagined that when souls take on new bodies, they are helplessly looking around to see who would like to take them in their shelter and prepare them for a life filled with hope and joy. Now it feels like I am privileged to be able to do that for someone.
There are so many people who sell their houses to pay for fertility treatments or who are trying to find the right match for adoption for many years. Here I have, in my lap, 2 gentle and lovable small bodies for whom I didn’t even have to work hard to come into my life. It is a privilege to raise such good kids, it is a privilege to hug them, kiss them, be hugged by them, give them shelter when they feel scared, comfort them, provide for them, give them positive experiences to remember for life, educate them, help them build a good character, and teach them values of life. These are all not just duties and responsibilities, but really privileges.
On the flip side, when they become successful adults and have a long list of achievements on their records, I get to be the mother behind it all. I get to be proud of their accomplishments and celebrate their successes and even get the credit for it on top of the privilege and pleasure I get to be their mother.
I also later realized that it was not about being a perfect mother all the time. Sure, I have some shortcomings. Sure, they don’t listen to me when I give them good advice out of experience and wisdom. But each of us has our own journey that, ultimately, we have to figure things out in life. Parents can only be guides and do the best they can to impart knowledge, but the soul’s choices and fate determine what they will become in the end. So now I have let down my guard trying to control what they were and were not doing each moment of their lives. I trusted that in the end, the Higher Power is there to take care of them and protect them.
These two realizations made me lighter than ever. It was like a huge boulder that was lifted off my chest and shoulders. And the love and joy are what I actually wanted from my own parents that I did not get. So now I have the opportunity to give them to my own kids.