Monday, October 28, 2013

Defying the Laws of Humanity

It is that time when questions are starting to head directly at that point above the bridge of your nose when you have passed that particular mark of entering the world of marriage.
Typically the grace period is granted by merciful in laws and elders for a few months and maybe a year (if you are really really fortunate) where the couple is left alone understandably to enjoy the honeymoon mood and the intimacy of the early years of their marriage.
Not for long, as the curiosity and the overly concerned people surrounding the couple's lives form this invisible circle around them; throwing question one after another at the two people and the big question, "When are you planning to conceive?"

No offense, but what, is this any business of anyone except the couple, really?

Perhaps there is a hint of exasperation and annoyance in my above statement as I am currently a victim of harassment on the topic of childbearing.
Talks of prime childbearing age, and how children would be a delightful addition to our lives, not to mention the growing up of the child versus our aging are just things that I have grown so familiar to as it was constantly preached to me by various non-medical experts on the matter; or 'concerned' parties as you may say. I am not swearing any of them off, nor am I deliberately writing a post to criticize people for advising me to have a child as this is not an unusual situation and I am definitely not the only one in the world who has faced this situation before. I have indeed heard of worse pestering by the society, family and relatives on this subject of productivity and heaven forbid if they have been married for quite a number of years; i.e: 3 years and above.
It is like this taboo, or an unspoken rule that a couple is to obey to conceive and start a family within one or two years of marriage to be considered as normal or even acceptable by the standards of the society. Otherwise, they will be shunned or even perceived as medically unfit due to their non parental status while the rest of the world are already busy showing off their children.
While I may sound frustrated with these endless questions (and I know they will just keep on coming, people just don't get it - it's easier for me to take up nuclear or rocket science, honestly), I have started looking into this topic from various perspectives; from the aspects of childbearing to the communication and expectations of the society. It is a myriad of questions and answers; and one like most things in the world - where there is no definite wrong or right. It is more of a retrospective outlook from my own eyes to zoom into the whole topic from the common (yet uncommon) angle.

It is astonishing for myself to come to the realization that I have written about this topic more than once - I am not sure whether it has really bothered me more than I really thought it would but I would say that it has opened up a a few different perspectives this round.
For instance, what defines the childbearing age? Is it purely by the demands of the biological clock or the pressure from the society? (Of course the biological clock is also subject to the medical advisory of the best recommended age for conception due to health reasons).
Based on the medical experts' recommendations, the ideal childbearing age would be between 18-35 for women where this is the period of time when women are said to be at the prime of their health to bear a child. That did not mean that women above 35 should not have children; but based on studies and data collection, it appears that women who are pregnant or conceives after the range of the recommended ages are more likely to face the risks of pregnancy or birth implications.
Logically, this would be one of the more acceptable reasoning behind those anxiety surrounding parents when it comes to questioning the family planning the couple probably had.

Tagging along the above, the prime age for the childbearing does not only relate to the smooth delivery or birth process but also the ages when the parents are deemed fit to care for and to share in the growing up process of the child.
We are often encouraged to marry at a younger age and have kids as soon as possible so that when we are not too old when our kids are growing up. We would also be around when our kids are getting married or start their own families in the future. It is like this telescopic view into the future to ensure that continuity of life and that there is no disconnection in between. True enough, the future generation would love to have their parents around and I am sure we would love to live to see our next generation.
Another rationale behind the need to have children at that prime age so that the age gap between the parent and the child would not differ on a large scale.

Fair enough, the above are probably the main reasons we are surrounded by the endless chatters and concerns showered by all the loved ones around us. Age, ability to care for and the livelihood of the family to stay together are just the main reasons to name a few.

Putting aside the concerns on the age and medical reasons, how about the psychological aspect of childbearing and family planning? As in mental preparation? Is the couple ready mentally and physically to have a child?
Most would answer, "Why not? Everyone does it!" as opposed to, "Maybe not, I still need some time"
The thing is, having a child is not as simple as just going through an intercourse to produce a baby and then duty done, to shut those wagging tongues around them.
Having a kid is a responsibility; it should be viewed as one important task on hand to care for, nurture and educate a future contributor to the nation.
Due to the biological factors, sometimes couples are just hurrying or even racing against the ticking clock and to avoid the incessant nagging to have a child. Perhaps it was for the sake of getting it over with? They may not even be ready to face the possibility of welcoming a new member into the family; or the thoughts of what awaits them upon the arrival of the child. Everything would just go with the flow; baby born, someone takes care of the child, husband and wife go back to work, they see and snap photos of the child on weekends to be posted on social networking sites and then child grows up, etc. Simple, right? How difficult can that be?

They could still go on vacations with each other and maybe with the child or they would even love to enjoy activities which help them to relax and unwind after their stressful time at work. Come business trip, they hand the child over to their parents (if they are around) or somehow find a babysitter or daycare to help them care for the child in their absence.
It all looked pretty normal and socially acceptable to them; simply because, that is how everyone has been doing it all this time.
I am not here to say whether it is wrong or right, for each situation calls for a unique perspective and again, I am not about to judge others' on their lifestyles.

To me, I just wonder, as I slip myself into the child's shoes, just how much do I get to see my parents each day? How much do they really care about me? Is their work or money more important than me?
I don't think my parents love me that much, if work clearly takes up so much of their time.
Not every child may think like this, and do not ever expect the child to understand that the reason you are working so hard to earn money is to provide for a better living . They will not understand at that age.
I was one of those fortunate kids who had a mother who cared for me, and I had my mum to tend to me upon my return from school each day. She was no working mum, but she was not inferior to other mothers in any way. In fact, I felt my mum worked harder than the mums who held office jobs.

Caring for a child is a responsibility that ought to be taken up by the people who have decided to brought the child into the world. It is not a task to complete but rather that part of life to live and breathe in. Mental preparation is important to truly welcome that new addition to your lives (not just family) and that the child will be a part of you from then on.
It is an important thing to remember and yet so easily overlooked.
Also, once you have entered into that mental preparation stage, do not forget about the finances. Nothing is free in this world anyway.

I look around me these days and I noticed that almost everyone around me is having a baby; a newborn, celebrating their first birthday/100 days, first walk/tooth, first word, and the list just goes on and on. Photos on social media sites; and don't mind me saying, it is like a competition out there or just a major invisible shout out, "Hey, LOOK at my baby!!!"
This whole phenomenon screams immense peer pressure, but somehow my hubby and I remain unnerved by it while we are continuously badgered with the questions, "When's your turn?" "Are you planning for one soon?"
It did not help that we explained our crazy and busy work/daily routines where we barely had times for ourselves, let alone each other and then on how we have not really planned or thought about it.
Furthermore, we wanted to just let it be; come what may.
Oh no, that was not acceptable as we were just greeted with frowns and even words like, "Crazy"

It is just unfathomable that we would like to have kids the natural way and everyone thought we are just holding it back or doing something to prevent that from happening. I guess it is just absurd and I did not even want to waste explaining as people who know me would know me best and those who would want to judge me, well, that's entirely their mind and I cannot stop that, as long as I did nothing against my conscience and my religion.
(My religion does not encourage any artificial planning or birth control)

I do not need to explain to anyone regarding my childbearing process as it is most important to reach the mutual understanding with my husband. While it is true that having a child is a wonderful thing, it is not entirely up to us mortals to decide on that as I leave things to Him who dwells above.
I have had friends who had gone through the same traumatizing experience of being hammered mercilessly with questions and remarks on fertility that they were left so embarrassed and humiliated. It is just so insensitive of some people (never mind relatives or friends) who just went a little overboard with their concerns.

The thought of letting it be occurred to me, and together with my husband, we are both fine with the idea of either having or without children. It is just something we just want it to come naturally and not to be forced or succumbed to due to pressure.
Of course, due to my ambitious and achievement focused nature, there were times when I just felt I was not ready for children and sometimes I do wonder too, will I ever be ready? Or maybe I just do not want children?
It does sounds wrong, doesn't it? As the society says, every woman who gets married must bear a child or they are viewed as social outcasts. Never mind the modern age we are living in, it is a wonder and perhaps a blessing that women who do not bear children are no longer divorced or neglected in place of a new wife/concubine who would be brought into the family for the sake of childbearing purpose.

At the same time, I could not help but wonder, perhaps the biggest reason for all the hoo ha about childbearing is not about just having kids as part of the fulfilment of the marriage covenant, but the most important of all, is the continuity of the human race?
It is perhaps the most obvious of all; how else do we ensure that there will still be men and women in the future and that there is a next generation?
Childbearing is indeed important to ensure the continuity of the human race and not having children seems to be an act of defying this ground rule of humanity and productivity and it is no wonder it is constantly being frowned upon.
After all, we were once children before this? Had my parents not want children at that time, would there be me today?
It is a thought to ponder upon, but again, not to be rushed or decided in a haste...but for the sake of humanity?
Now, is that a form of pressure or mental preparation? Go figure....

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