Thursday, September 24, 2009

Baby Blues.

Yet another friend had a baby few days ago. I am hugely happy for her. And for the couple of other friends who have had kids in the last year.

But if truth be told, there is one small part of me which gets all freaked out every time I come to know of a baby-in-progress. The event forces me to take my head out of the sand and confront the brutal reality that time is passing by - fast. That it really doesn’t matter a jot what the emotional and mental age is- or whether, as in my case, that its 10 years behind the physical age. The latter is what ACTUALLY matters in the real world.

Also, nothing is straightforward or assured anymore. A generation ago, the jobs were more secure, the support system more solid and financial strength was linear and growing. Now, the first two are increasingly becoming a chimera, and if anything, the financial graph is flowing in reverse (monies are much easier to come by in the thirties/forties rather than fifties/sixties). All the more reason to have kids younger, so that there is some guarantee of being able to care for their needs, not to mention, the energy to enter into their pursuits.

It's not that I don’t want children. I do. But in the abstract.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that the life I lead right now (which is fun enough at this age) might start looking pretty sterile and colourless ten years hence. After all, only so much of movies, malls and travelling one can do before it becomes totally meaningless.

But the actuality of children - that’s a different story altogether.

Nothing actually makes one confront one's inadequacies as much as the thought of a child of one's own. It’s not even about being a perfect parent – I know that parenting is learning, growing process and no one is omniscient or right all the time. But inadequacies in terms of say, selflessness – voluntarily abdicating the focus on self, keeping aside one’s needs and whims for the good of someone else – always. I don’t know whether I can do that on a sustained and continuous basis.

I look at myself and S, I don’t think we are particularly selfish or self centered, or irresponsible, or cruel, or any of those things that make bad parents.

But I don’t know whether we have what it takes to be good parents either. We have our foibles, we have our moods, we can be quirky verging on eccentric, we can be abstracted and so inward looking that we lose sight of the outside world. We can be jaded, and unenthused. We cannot pretend - feign interest in things which bore us, or be social when we would rather be quiet, or display any extraordinary degree of emotional selflessness. Or allow anyone (including the spouse) to cross into the absolute core inside of that ephemeral concept of personal space

And one cannot get into childrearing with ennui and cynicism. A child does not have any definition of personal boundaries or limits and rightly so. But the thought of letting go, is what is so terrifying.

Or the thought of giving up that control which one has struggled to achieve in life -On one’s independence, on one’s body, on one’s sleep, on mental and emotional liberty. I know that people who are parents will rush to tell me that you can still do whatever you want to – whether its adventure sports or travel or whatever else. I am aware of that. However, one’s hold on life and limbs, has to be that much more tenacious for the simple reason that there is a kid depending on one – so there is always going to be that restrictive mental seatbelt. To paraphrase a quote I had read in some book “I cannot die now, I am a mother”.

I am not saying any of this is bad or something I don’t want to do – but the thought of doing that 24/7 for the next eighteen years without a day off, without margin of error, without a safety net – THAT thought is terrifying. I have seen a lot of people who were fairly irresponsible when they were single step up and rise magnificently and become wonderful parents. So I try and reassure myself with a “if they can do it, you can probably manage too” but somehow it ends up sounding like a meaningless platitude even in my head.

But I don’t know how some people do it – transition so naturally from one life stage to another. Marriage and then the maternal instincts come roaring in. I always seem to be in a denial –resistant mode about these sorts of things. Always seem to be fighting change, battling against growing up. And one cannot stay a child, if one has a child of one’s own.


Epiphany said...

I had been thinking on the same lines, I think you may have triggered a post :)

BTW a simple test - get a dog (no seriously)...If after some time of waking up to take it for a walk, planning your vacations around it etc if you still think you can handle a kid..You are ready ;)

Meira said...

But I somehow feel we worry too much about how we will raise our children. Like with any other fear, I feel tackling it is one only way of getting over the fear. Well, we have conquered most of our fears since childhood, so this wouldn't be too tough, no?

Lazy Pineapple said...

This is eerie :) you have voiced out exactly how I feel. I can totally understand your situation. I think it sometimes mean that we should stop over-analysing situations and just taking a plunge and find out on our own rather than speculating.

AmitL said...

Hi,Cyn-you've put your thoughts very nicely,there.I'd sum it up in short as'isn't it great to live life for oneself as well as for someone who depends on you?'.Well,for eighteen years,at least,as you've mentioned so succinctly.:)
But,the current situations are also true,as you said-the previous generations used to have job security,there used to be joint families,so the support system was stronger.
All said and done,I'm sure you'll make fine parents when the time comes.:)Good luck at taking the right decision at the right time.Cheerio.:)

Iya said...

same questions everywhere.. doubt and confusion...i am in the same boat dear..

Shachii said...

Boss, look! The more you think about it, the more complicated it gets.
Look at it this way... are you not ever gonna have kids? If yes, then stop thinking! If not, then get to it! Better now than tomorrow.
On a deeper note.. Its amazing, almost like magic, how easily one slips into the role of mom or dad. The least likely people make the most wonderful parents. I have witnessed these transformations myself.
Its definitely life altering... but, in my experience, for the better. Yes, the first few years of being a new parent, you're gonna have to be absolutely selfless, giving up things you love to do etc. But think about it in the long haul.. it doesn't matter...

Enough lecturing? Take it from me, who's done this twice over... its the best thing that ever happened to me!!!

Good luck! Hope your decision brings you the best!


Cynic in Wonderland said...

epiphany - i have my strays no? but do you think its actually the same tho? kids would be much more needy na?

meira - most decisions are individual you know - atworst you screw up your own life, or of another adult. the power to do it with a kid is different dont you think?

lazy pineapple - the famous leap of faith eh? well i did that with marriage i reckon. dunno if i have the courage to do it again.

amit no one has taken ANY decisions. the only decision i have taken is to stop being an ostrich and at least think about it once in a year or so :D. i did say i was a coward na?

iya - yus i think a lot of us in blogdom are.

shachii - aiyo no decision taken. random rambling done. i dont think i have the nerve to take cold blooded decisions about this. yus you have told me, as have others. point is i DONT FEEL grown up enuf to be grown up na. what to do about that bit?

popsie said...

I can so relate to being in the denial-resistant mode. I am now at a stage prior to what you are in and know exactly what it feels like. Guess the only way to deal with it is to face the situation, deal with it and kill the fear, apprehension, etc that come with it. and thus enable transition.

AmitL said...

Err,u do mean,think and dream about it?(Ref. the previous post!!hehe)

??! said...

Are you me?

mentalie said...

i think you are getting too caught up with the sacrifice and the high ideal of parenting. it's a myth. people are far from perfect. and parents are people too. while kids bring in some very practical constraints, it's not like they can browbeat you into changing who you are.
they, however, are putty in your hands, heh heh! i'd love to have a child, maybe even two, to screw up in my own unique way :)
that said, i am terrified of actually having one!

P said...

wow the more I read your blog the more I feel like you are like my khumbh-ke-mele-mein-bichri-hui-twin-sister!!! :D

I too fear about such things a lot. As a teenager when all my friends were getting into romantic relationships, I was scared to get into one. Now I'm 30 and scared to get married and have kids..all because of similar thoughts..will I be able to handle such responsibilities 24/7, 365 days for rest of my life??

But you know what, I think you will do quite well when you decide to be a parent. It's just that you are responsible by nature and so you THINK before taking any big decisions in your life. So getting scared is just a normal process. But because you are the responsible type, you will do it well too. Besides, I have noticed that growing around sensible parents make kids sensible most of the time. Making adjustments, sacrifices, tough decisions won't be necessary for you least all the time.

sunshin3girl said...

What timing! Only yesterday I got told that I have wasted two years (the exact time I have been married, btw) because I have no babies to show for it.

While your posts echos my thoughts, what scares me more is that I may end up deciding to have a baby just because I grow tired of people asking me to have one. In which case, all the points you mentioned will grow ten-folds, no? I do not want to resent my baby for binding me to an unhappening life.

Ninia said...

Your post connected with me so much! At least I will not feel that I am the odd one out amongst all my friends. It feels good to know that there just might be other people whose mental age is 10 years behind the physical age! I just dont feel enough grown up to take on the responsibilities of parenthood.

Shachii said...

You don't need to feel grown up... I don't feel grown up yet! In fact, its an excuse to feel 5 yrs-old again... an excuse to burst out into random silly songs at any time! :)
Its fun! You'll have a best friend thats a kid!! Really..

S said...

Are you reading minds now ??

Morpheus said...

It is an awful lot to take on. hmm. This issue sets me thinking on a critical path and ends up in the questioning mode. is it me? am i selfish? Is there something wrong with me? and wondering whether it will be too late before I have an answer to those questions. And the issue concludes by echoing mommy's words - you THINK too much! tch!

Cynic in Wonderland said...

popsie - believe me, i was in denial for that mode as well. in fact WAY after i got married even. but as i said somewhere earlier, the due dilligence required thereis marginally less than the baby situation isnt it? there is a (hopefully) consenting adult at the other end.

??! - same dilemmas eh?

mentalie - i dont know whether its really the high ideal per se. actually in a way its good, one should probabaly embark on it with ideals unlike most other undertakings one has done in the last half a dozen years. but kids necessarily involve some amount of changes in behaviour and in temparament and in patience i suspect. scary it is.

P - i devoutly hope you are right as and when the day comes. point is if you have responsibility, or for that matter any sensitivity - one tends to obsess much more about things i guess.

sunshingirl - yes, and point is you really cannot lead your life onto someone else's timelines no. the trick is to figure out when you are ready. which seems to be never in many peoples cases hehe.

ninia - its is comforting to me as well - that lots of people are grappling with this same thing.

shachii - :O.

S- er..?

Morpheus - ah i get that one too. my mother is of the just-do-it and think later school of thought. maybe there is a point in that though.

ank said...

Life biggest decisions are made on the flip of the coin. If you are not on the verge of eccentricity, parenting comes nautrally.. and who defines good or bad parenting? Your kid will love the way you treat him/her.

In love with my life said...

Been a while since i read you. And you already know what my thoughts are.

Hope what ever you finally decides works out well for you

D said...

Ditto, ditto, ditto - to every single word you've written here.