I know all girls are trained since childhood in how to behave with their in-laws, and what kind of mother they should be. But is that all life is going to offer them? A life of marriage, where they cannot live beyond their children, where every desire of their little ones is considered a priority over anything they need?
When I look at my mother, that’s all I see - not an independent and educated woman, but my mother. Maybe it has been ingrained so heavily in our minds that we refuse to accept even the remote possibility of a woman who isn’t a mother; a woman without a child. In these days of equality, bearing a child is something to be proud of, something that distinguishes a woman from a man; something that a girl imagines as an integral part of her life.
But what if she grows up to find out that she can’t? I wonder how life shall treat such women who defy the laws of nature, either voluntarily or involuntarily. I know many female celebrities delay the prospect of childbirth to focus on their careers, but their lives are considered incomplete till they start a family of their own, even if they tie the knot, and settle down.
I think it’s unfair to expect every woman to bear children, work full-time, manage the household, and still look picture perfect. Especially in these modern times, where the hectic lifestyle
of women hampers their ability to give birth, or prevents them from taking time out to do so. I think it is this expectation of ours that puts pressure on women that can’t conceive, and makes them feel vulnerable and incomplete, no different from any man. They begin to doubt their own womanhood, but is womanhood only equated to motherhood?
These women are prone to stress, anxiety attacks, and clinical depression because they believe they cannot live up to society’s expectations. They feel they have no purpose in life, as they see their childhood dreams crash down, and feel a loss of control over their lives.
The one thing that can help women suffering from miscarriages and infertility is a strong support system, but with the way every culture is obsessed with gender roles, friendships change as close ones try to grasp the inevitable truth. Women are left with no one to help deal with the problem, only because society says it’s okay to see every woman only as a primary caregiver, and not in her entirety.
Even if women do mother children, I think we should look beyond the obvious, and go deeper than that oh-so-graceful figure of 36-24-36, and try to understand her as an individual, and not as a maternal machine.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase ‘being human’, but try ‘being woman’ for a change, and not judge a person on the number of offspring, if any, she might have. After all, we all strive to be recognized for who we are. Why should women be denied that right, and why should they be bound by a stereotypical image?
(This column has research contributed by Apurva Sapra)
About The Author
Mrs. ANU GOEL is a Counselling Psychologist. She has practiced in Mumbai for 5 years, and is currently practicing in Delhi since the last 7 years. Goel, who can be contacted at 9313320146 and firstname.lastname@example.org, is a member of the Counsellor's Association of India, and has been a guest speaker on several occasions.