The choice of becoming a parent

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A few days ago, a discussion at office sparked up a thought in my head. I would like to discuss it today. The discussion was about adapting to changes in life after having kids and why we have kids in the first place 😀 If any of you have had clarity about this aspect in your lives, I would love to hear!

I realised that I myself have probably not given a clear conscious thought as to why did I feel like having a baby 3 years ago. I mean, having and raising a baby is no easy task. Especially in today’s world, where the spectrum of things that you can explore and do by yourself is so wide; the idea of signing up for something that deprives you of this ease and freedom is enough to dissuade many from getting into parenthood.

So there must be some reason that makes us add something which gives us sleepless nights, endless jobs to take care of, makes us rework our career plans, steps into EVERYTHING we plan and do in our daily life (I mean EVERYTHING) and gives us a never ending responsibility for life?!!! There surely has to be something that goes beyond all this right. Is there? Or is there not?

Today when my daughter is 22 months old, I certainly know there is a lot more to it. However, when we decided to have a baby, I had no idea how the journey was going to be!

So why did I decide to have a baby?
Was it because we were already married for 5 years and it was the ‘next thing’ necessary? – Clearly no!!
Was it because of family/society pressures? – Thankfully no!!
Was it because my biological clock was ticking? – No, not yet!!
Was it because I needed a change in life after a major milestone of life after completing Ph.D ? – No! There could have been several other ways to achieve a change in life!

So what then?

I decided to recap and flashback.
I realised that I had always been clear about wanting to have a kid of my own. I knew that at a stage where time commitment for career can be relaxed a bit, I would become a mother. I had this in mind even before making any professional choices. To be honest, it was even before I could finalize who the father of my kids would be!! Much before I met H, I knew it was always going to be –> build a career foundation –> then have a baby. I have never been from the clan who thinks the sooner you have kids, the better; and that your career will grow ‘in the background’. No, I have never been supportive of this. Thankfully, when I met H and we got to serious discussions, we shared the exact same opinions about this. So the question of whether we want to get into parenting was always a yes; the only critical aspect was identifying the suitable time. However, the question of why did I or we choose to have a baby still remained unanswered!

What is it that we gained?
Or the more correct question is – what was I trying to gain 3 years ago when I decided to be a mother?

After a bit of pondering, I think the answer was actually very simple – the underlying parenting instinct is a strong universally conserved emotion that was the chief reason for this decision.

Deep down, we all want to take care of something so badly that we cannot handle any discomforts to it.
We all want that little something that we can be completely ‘responsible for’ and ‘in-charge of’.
We want to be able to influence and raise someone by yourself – with all your creative freedom.
We want to be given the magical power of being able to be influential and mould someone’s life, be someone’s unconditional love.
We want to be someone’s purest love with all security.
We want to be someone’s in all it’s entirety, to be irreplaceable!

We all have that desire of parenting. I think it peaks sometime around when we are in the quarter life-thirties crisis! Some, like me, choose to have a baby around this time. I have often seen that several couples this age also tend to adopt pets and raise their pets with the same emotion. Not just couples, several single men and women also adopt pets and raise them. I don’t know how many of you have noticed this, but the number of people who declare themselves as parents of pets has risen immensely in the last decade. Some of us take up a very serious hobby/passion or build an organization and nurture it with the same emotion. Some of them even say – This company is like my first baby! To me; these are all manifestations of the same parenting instinct.

A BIG difference in raising your own child is undoubtedly though, that the level of dependence on you is extremeeeely high! AND it’s a no-rest-no-vacation job; much unlike pursuing your passions like your child – where, well, lets be honest – you can at least have a cup of coffee undisturbed 😀

But either ways, I think the parenting instinct put us into this. It definitely put me into this.
And with the parenting instinct also came in the very practical considerations of having a baby while you are young and fit enough to physically endure carrying a child and also do all the literal ‘running around’. And like what I described earlier, the very important consideration of having sufficient time at hand to take care of the baby; and also a sense of having completed one foundation stone of career and financial plannings.

So, 3 years ago I decided to have a baby because I wanted to parent someone and I wanted to do it when I have enough time and fitness at hand to take care of him/her! Yes! I think I finally have my answer – and it was so simple!

So did I end up achieving all that I sought to? I did, and in fact I got much more!
That having a baby is the most magnificent sort of happiness that you can ever get. The little one, the innocence, the affection, the feeling of belonging – is priceless!!!
It is also something that puts you in a fantastic self discovery and introspection mode because you now know that someone is looking at your life and learning to copy you entirely!! It helps you in time management, makes you responsible, fiercely independent and of course, PATIENT!!!
However, I also learnt that it comes with a price. A price of your priorities, time, career paths, vacations, everyday business, relations, mental health, physical health – and the freedom of smallest things in life such as sleep times or even going out!

So, when you have a baby, you are signing up for the entire package – remember that the best things in life ARE going to come with a price. I don’t want to play the diplomatic mom and tell would-be moms that its a superb smooth happy journey once you get into it. It’s a superb journey undoubtedly, but it’s not going to be super smooth ever. But that is the fun and amusing part of it for me as well – Like they say, motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing in life ever!!!

Richard Dawkins has told us about how the selfish gene wants to procreate so it can stay alive and in circulation in the gene pool. I am glad that for this, the selfish gene has chosen the cutest path ever. Whatever made the gene so selfish, thank you!! I owe my little bundle of joy to you!

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