Sunday, June 22, 2008

A dream that may never be..

This is going to be a difficult post to write. I wondered for a long time whether I should even write it at all. But then, in the end I decided to go ahead because I wanted to sort out the thoughts inside my head and, obviously, I wanted to hear from you guys even though I already know what some of you think about this.

I am an only child as the regular (read 2 nos.) readers of this blog might know. And as Boo has pointed out in her latest post, I always thought our family of 3 was just perfect. I had loads of cousins and extended family staying in Coimbatore and even though we did'nt live under a single roof, we met up very often. I, however, was not very close with any of my cousins while I was growing up. I was always a bit of a precocious child, quiet and shy and was happiest when I was in the company of my books.

Amma and appa made for wonderful company but they were also quite happy to leave me alone in the company of my books and imagination quite often. I have never known the joy of playing long hours under the sun, getting into mischief with cousins and siblings during balmy afternoons while the rest of the household slept, of small adventures in the neighborhood. I always got all the action I wanted from my books. I lost myself in a world of mystery and intrigue, got hopelessly thrilled by the adventures of the Enid Blyton books and the action in the Nancy Drew series well. I started reading these books while other kids my age were still reading Amar Chithra Katha and Tinkle, I moved on to bigger things.

The strange thing about all this is I never felt anything was amiss while I was growing up. I was never the athletic rough and tumble kind anyways and it wasnt long after the last vestiges of childhood were gone and I was married and listened to hubby talk about his childhood did I wish that I had had a little more action-packed eventful childhood. That I had been a little more naughty, a little more bold and daring and had lived, at least for a while, a little dangerously.

Today, after all these years, I wonder if some of my timidity may have been due to lack of company as a child. And it brings to fore uncomfortable questions for me. Do I want to deprive kuttan of a sibling's company the way I was? Is another baby right for us?

When I got married, I never had a single doubt that I would have 2 or more kids. The more the merrier, I thought. Then came the c-section, the nightmarish post-partum recovery period and the intensely frustrating period of the first year of kuttan's life when I quit my job and realised I did'nt enjoy it as much as I thought I would. After a couple of disastrous attempts to get back on the career wagon, I finally succeeded in doing so by the fag end of 2006. Things, touch wood, have been reasonably stable since then.

It seems to be my nature to rock the boat when things are fine because suddenly the desire for another child slowly seemed to be forming in my mind. The famous baby shower with so many moms expecting their second babies strengthened my conviction that it is the right thing to do. When I finally found a moment of peace and quiet that is required to discuss matters of grave importance such as these, I enlisted the err...help of my partner-in-crime. He succinctly said, 'no'.

Simple and straightforward describes husband best. He definitely did not mince words. He reminded me in painfully embarrassing detail about all the times when I had whined and cried about having to stay home. He played his trump card when he cunningly asked me, 'Do you really want to give up your career after having fought for it so hard? And if you don't, can you bear to leave 2 kids instead of one in the daycare day after day? How much time can you spend with them?'. I was defeated hands down. I let things lie low for a while before deciding to take it up on a war footing again. But no matter how much I begged and pleaded, this usually sweet-natured, easy-going man seemed strong-as-steel on this one.

I don't blame him. I think I might have put him off babies forever with all the whining and crying I did. We got married when the husband was barely 25 and had a baby by the time he was 28. He had given up doing all the fun things for 2 years and now he was READY to get back his life..he deserved it. And in many ways, he is right. But that's not why I am still hesitating about this. My reasons are quite, quite different from his.

My first and most important reason is lack of support. Amma has been diabetic for 12 years now. Every year, I see her systems getting weaker and weaker as she battles with this insiduous disease. It took all the energy she had for her to see me through my first delivery. I do not think she has it in her to see me through a second one and I am worried about the effect it could have on her health. The MIL is faring no better in the health department either which basically means we will be left with 2 kids to take care of, all on our own, and the prospect is daunting, to say the least.

My career is another thing that I have to think of. 2 kids definitely means quitting my job. Double the expenses and half the income. But the most important thing is this - it takes two to make a baby and I want both the people to want it just as badly. The husband is an ambitious man. He wants the best in the world for kuttan and me and I love him for it. How can I not? He has taken up the MBA course for this very reason and he will need the flexibilty to experiment and take a risk or two when he is done with it. How can I weigh him down with a baby at that crucial point in his life?

I am not saying that we will never ever have another baby. Life is funny that way. Just when you think you have it all figured out God smiles to himself and alters all your plans. But it is unlikely that it may happen anytime soon.

And still, whenever I see a tiny baby, whenever I hug kuttan and wistfully see the baby frame disappearing and a gangly boyish frame taking its place, when I go to a toy store and see the cutest possible cribs and smallest possible booties that I am sure no human feet can ever fit into, whenever I see the tiniest pattu pavadais and I bury may face into sweet smelling babies of other people, I have to admit, the heart does skip a beat and I desperately wish things could have been different.

19 comments:

AarKay said...

BM...its been a long time since I posted a comment,but I must say this blog wrenched my heart and kept it right next to me.Life is strange as you say,but there are tough decisions that need to be taken for the common good.

I wish you ,hubby and kuttan a lifetime of cheer and happiness and may he too find solace in books,sports and ofcourse carnatic music ;-)

BangaloreMom said...

Thanks Aarkay Pal!! And your very sweet comment moved me to tears. :D. I hope so too.

varali said...

I am stranger here, but your post struck a chord. When my cousin sister was child of 3 her parents decided they wanted a second child. But hers had been a difficult birth and her mother had misgivings about a second delivery. She too had given up her high profile, high paying job to stay home with my cousin. Today she says she has no regrets, but I know the early years were very hard for her.

Anyway, they thought about it and decided to adopt. In the early 80s, adopting was a nightmare. Having a girl, they could only adopt a boy, although they wanted only a girl. Giving in to the vagaries of the law, they decided to go ahead with a boy.

It took two excruciating years to go through the paperwork and the permissions (they didn't live in their home state which made it very hard) but they fought it all and brought home my cousin brother.

Theirs is one of the happiest families I know. Few people if any realise my cousin brother is adopted. Most of us in the family have forgotten; not that it ever mattered.

I write this post-length comment only to suggest that a second child of your own is not the only option you have. Do think about this too.

Warm regards and best wishes with whatever you decide to do.

manuscrypts said...

er, that would be three readers, perhaps more, some of us cheapos just read, and dont comment :D
made an exception this time to give you a same pinch on the childhood - precociousness, ACK, Enid blyton and books in general.. :) with one major exception, i have a sis too.. and that experience tells me that the action-packing (i think) is a personality thing, and has little to do with sibling bonds.. and if you ask me, for the kind of 'massive' list of childhood stuf you have imagined, two aint enough, you need one big joint family.. and i'm even more sure of the two funda because of the increasing selfishness i see around, kids as well as adults (blame it on the cynicism)... unfortunately kids dont have an undo button, one of those very user unfriendly things God does :), so one always has to be dead sure.. i'm guessing you have the answers, you just have to explain it to yourself a little better, so you accept it :)
PS. same pinch on the getting married at 25 too :D

Anonymous said...

Mothers or MIL come in only when they are of any use i.e. take care of young babies, baby sitting for the night out, etc. How very convenient!

Point is: you don't want to lose yr job; you love it far too much nor the hubby is interested in risking his career.

Welcome to the urban, ambitious and ruthless world

BangaloreMom said...

Varali: Welcome! And thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts with me. You know, for some reason the thought of adoption had never crossed my mind. But anyways, my immediate problem is taking care of the kids as much as the delivery itself.

manuscrypts: Thanks and welcome(grin)! And you're right about the big list thing. Hubby was a part of a big joint family comprising of 8 kids and I swear I think some of his childhood stories are straight off a book, so unbelievable are they. But yes, things are so different now. I see parents with 2 kids buying 2 of everything these days just so the kids dont fight! Where is the fun in that??

Anon: Husband and I have never, ever looked at our parents as baby sitters. We have taken all our decisions based on the realisation that the responsibility for our baby is completely ours. Which is why the right to choose whether we want another one also lies with us. I sat at home for 2 years to take care of my baby. I have no regrets about that at all. But I believe it means I have to choose my actions wisely because I, and only I am in charge of my kids' lives.

And no, I do not think of kids being emotionally dependant on parents(the way I still am) as ambitious and ruthless at all. :)

Swati said...

Perhaps I wish to say a lot and this space is less.

Don't you think you and me and all the working indian women are sailing similiar boats ? Your story seems just as mine except that I have still not left my job and I shiver when I think of leaving. I also don't have a support system. Here both of us want baby no 2 , sometime after Aryan is 3 , but then both of us think we cannot handle. Life is still not smooth. House is always a mess. All the time we have is just for Aryan and we hardly find time for US. Finding the right day care is a nightmare.
If I think practically , I love babies and one day baby no 2 will also grow older , then what, I cannot go on ? And plus I want a girl for some silly reasons , but baby no 2 can be a boy , thats not in my hands.
But yes , I want Aryan to have sibling , I feel we all need company , esp kids with working parents.

Let me stop now ..I can go on and on and on

noon said...

Oh BM - hugs to you. Girl - one thing that is going in both your favor is age. You can have a child even after your husband finishes his MBA and works for two years. Kuttan will be 7 - that's still not too bad. I have siblings who are all much older than me - we are all still very close...yeah it would have been nice to have siblings closer to me in age when I was a kid may be - to have a ready playmate at home - but I wouldn't know what I missed even since this is all I had. Anyways - so don't fret - you can have a kid even after a few years.

And regarding support - you have much more support - at least paid help - than what we have here - so if we manage here doing all the housework plus two kids you will surely do it...I am not saying this in any "see how we do it" tone - not at all - just saying you will manage it just because you wont' have a choice. Even if your mother is old/diabetic - she will be around for moral support and you hire some help for the time period you need...

And just because first pregnancy was tough doesn't mean second will be worse..my friend had a horribly difficult second pregnancy - but still she went on to have a third child - that was so smooth...no problems at all.

Career - yes it is a choice you have to make one way or another. Just have to bite the bullet on that one...if you want to give them full care at home and also want a second for sure - yes, your career will stall for a bit...But it is not the end of the world - you will still find a decent job.

If not now, many years from now Kuttan will thank his parents for giving him a sibling...or better still his children will thank you for giving them cousins/aunt/uncle! :)

Reading your post - I felt no point was serious enough to merit giving up on having a second entirely..may be not now if husband doesn't want one more...but later should be possible seems like.

Come stay with us for a week and see KB and KG play and just delight in each other's company - you will go back and dope your husband into having a second !:)

BangaloreMom said...

Swati: These seem to be dilemmas of women the world over. And yes, I know all about life not being smooth. Just when you think you have achieved some sense of balance something happens to disrupt it and the balls go up in the air all over again. And whatever decision you take, I wish you luck!

Noonie: If I ever have a child and it does turn out to be a girl, I am half considering naming her after you.:D. Through all the confusion, you have been the one voice strongly telling me what you really, really believe and I thank you so much for it. You dont need to and you still care enough to do that. That means a lot to me and I really appreciate it. And yes, as you pointed out a support system CAN be put in place and finances, well, they will take care of themselves. But more than anything its the fear of putting our lives on hold, again, for the next 5 years that is really driving hubby nuts. But then, as you said, we have age on our side and, hopefully, time will show us the way.

Mama - Mia said...

:)

awwww BM, you really know how to speak your heart!

dontcha worry! i would agree with Noon on all counts!! the diff between bro and me is close to 7hrs! i quite hated him since he was so small and useless!! hehe! but look at us now, and we are best buddies!!

life isnt hard as we imagine it to be!! career can be restarted, if not as good as this one! but a good one nonetheless!

am sure you dont HAVE to take the decision NOW! there are no hard and fast rules about the age gap and all that jazz!

and soon enough, it wont be about SHARING time with Kuttan and other one! they will be each others support, teasing you together!

hope there is a rght answer somewhere around the corner!!

cheers!

hugs!

abha

Aditi's Album said...

Now you know BM that you have more than 2 readers. I was an only child myself, did not live ina joint family, but I guess friends madeup for it. Sometimes, I would hate to come back home to solitude. I guess as only child, there's an increased urge to not deprive our own child the joys of a sibling, that we missed.

I'm sure sooner or later u'll be able to convince ur man right down and go ahead and give kuttan a cute little sibling. Good luck and hope ur dreams (of holding ur own another tiny bundle of joy) come true

Mystic Margarita said...

You know, BM, you could have been talking about my childhood when you describe yours. I'm an only child, too, and all my action and excitement were derived from books. More so, after my dad passed away when I was 11. I thoroughly enjoyed my childhood, but in retrospect I feel a child needs the company of a sibling. Like you, I ,too, would like to have 2 kids and I share all these dilemmas about career, convenience, and finances. But what I feel is that if having a second child is a top priority, go ahead with it - there will never be a perfect time and when it's a priority, you'll surely find a way to work around the other issues. Just my two cents.

Collection Of Stars said...

Go on BM, make your dream a reality :)

Anonymous said...

Reader #4, and a male reader of your blog too :)

Go with your first instinct, whatever that may be...

You have pretty much hit all the pros and cons except, I think a critical one. Once the parents are gone, the closest family is / are one's sibling(s). It would be unselfish and nice to provide that future support group for your kids.

Of course, in balance with all the present considerations.

But you got one thing right, it is a lot of work, and for a period of time, it is a non-linear increase in the effort you have to spend.

Good luck, things always have a way of working out in the long run :)

Anamika said...

Hi BM,
Good luck to you on making your dreams come true.

I'm tagging you to this meme.

http://weaveatale.blogspot.com/2008/06/meme-of-five.html

RK said...

Hi BM,

Please dont spoil your present day's peace of mind and happiness thinking about the possiblilities of future. Only if you and your family are happy and comfortable with your life now, you can think
of a second child. Confusions and frettings will only make decisions difficult. I know this is a vicious cycle. I went through the same even for my first child.

So enjoy life. Make hubby and kuttan happy and wait patiently.
You dream will come true for sure.
BTW, what will you call your second child? Kutti? :-)

Avanti Sané said...

I am barely through with kid number one and am already facing your dilemma. I would want my child to have siblings like me and the husband do...but like I recently discovered...its too much work! Hope we both find our way around this..

rohini said...

I"m a first time reader BM and your blog struck a cord, DD and myself have been discussing/arguing about a second one for months now. My son is 11 months old, and I'm stuck with this notion of kids growing up together (small age gap). I'm also very keen on adopting, and working through my priorities to see if we can biologically have/adopt a baby girl in the next 12 months. My husband is extremely supportive and is a very hands on dad, but is afraid of rocking the boat. He has left the 'ball' in my court, as i work from home and I have other life long commitments to work out my priorities and see if we can do justice to another baby- I'm still soul searching. All the Best, I fully empathies with you.

Vidooshak said...

i dunno what to say. i agree with your hubby and i completely agree with you.

i think that's why guys are obsessed with politics and sports-- two fields where you can have strong views and your views don't matter.
:-)

good luck in figuring out this dilemma. maybe u will get a sign-- like in those YashRaj films...