When I was growing up, I had a one track mind set on how I wanted my life to go. I pretty much wanted to find love, get married and have children. It was likely every Indian girl’s fantasy; and every Indian parent’s dream come true – to have their daughter “settled”. I was young and impressionable and totally taken in with the idea that women should be homemakers and mothers. This was my goal and I wouldn’t necessarily say that this was a cultural imposition from my family…it was more cultivated from how I perceived things and how society functioned at that time.
Since then, things have evolved. Educated and career driven girls are no longer a foreign phenomenon. They have become the norm. Strong and independent girls with dreams and visions and goals of their own! And with this new breed, it seems like the destinies and roles of women – and Indian women in particular – is slowly starting to be reshaped.
But seriously, back then if you were twenty and had no proposal, people would worry! Thankfully my parents were more open minded, and my mother especially pushed the boundaries of the stereotypical role of an Indian woman, and constantly still does (my ultimate hero I tell you!). We are four sisters who have all gone on to follow the unconventional Indian route, but that doesn’t mean that the conventional roles and identities didn’t still infiltrate our minds through many other influences – like Indian movies for example! Or the fact that most girls were getting married in their early 20’s. It wasn’t something taught to us, it was more what we saw happening around us.
And now I find myself sitting on the complete other side of that equation. I found love. Got married. And had the children…I did these things young and not without some drama in between! I just think I had the wrong idea about the whole vision and what it all entailed. But the point of all this is that all these things…all these dreams and desires…all this responsibility and expectation that society puts on our shoulders – it comes at a cost. A cost I never ever paused to consider, and a responsibility far greater than I could ever have imagined. Because having kids is really not about completing me or us or making our little family whole. Having kids is a permanent responsibility that never gets easy. You need to shape and mould and guide and feed and nurture and teach and be an example…Having kids is a huge undertaking and having them should totally be up to you and not when and how society dictates it should happen.
So, to the Indian Muslim woman who has decided to wait a while before starting a family; I salute you!
To the girl who has decided to see a bit of the world before settling down to have kids…Do it!
To the one completing her education – studying for her masters or PHD…Don’t quit!
To the one who has decided she’s not yet ready for that kind of responsibility, and the one who is enjoying one more extra year of just the two of you as a couple…I fully support you!
To the woman desperately wanting to have kids but struggling to conceive, I salute you too! I may not know your pain, but I know it’s not made easier by society’s prying questions or when they make you feel inferior because you haven’t fulfilled their criteria of Love- Marriage- Kids.
And to Indian, Muslim girl who has decided that motherhood can’t wait, or who, like me, didn’t have a chance to plan at all; I salute your choice to do life your way too! I know first hand that having them first is not the end of the world. I also know that kids sometimes help us grow more than we can imagine and I also know that having them doesn’t mean you have to stop living or that you have to give up on following your dreams.
So to ALL you women….I salute and support you in following your dreams. Because YOU are important. Your dreams are important. Your feelings are important…and you don’t need to be married and have children at a certain time in your life for it to complete you. There’s no one set formula that leads to happiness, and whichever way your life unfolds, you best believe that there’s plenty of us supporting your plight!!