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Business News/ Opinion / Online-views/  Why would anyone want to have children?

Why would anyone want to have children?

Somewhere in your answer you will find the bridge that connects the sum of your parts to make a whole

They can teach you what being an adult means. Photo: Natasha Badhwar.Premium
They can teach you what being an adult means. Photo: Natasha Badhwar.

We had just sat in the car when Naseem, our four-year-old, shared some important news with me.

“When I grow up, I will be a guard," she said.

“A guard?"


“What will you do?"

“I will open gates and wave at cars to move on."

“Aha," I said. I imagined a moustache, but I didn’t mention it to her.

I think she kept considering her calling for a while because an hour later when we were at a petrol pump, she changed her mind slightly.

“No, no, I won’t be a guard, I will be a…a…"

I made the gesture of tilting a gun-shaped nozzle to fill petrol in a car.

“A petrol pump attendant," I asked.

“Yes," she said, impressed both with herself and me.

We had a friend in the car with us and she laughed spontaneously. For some reason, Naseem changed her mind.

“I’ll be Mamma," she said. “That’s what I will be. I will work on a computer, like a Mamma."

“You want to grow up and be like Natasha?" asked my friend.

“Mamma and Natasha is the same thing," said Naseem.

Mamma and Natasha are not the same person, I thought in my head. Yet there was a certainty in the child’s tone that challenged me. Perhaps she’s got it right. She sees a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. I’m holding on to old labels. Maybe I just need to let them wash off.

The first time the “Mamma" idea had crossed my mind coincided with a serious experience of heartbreak. I was 21, a pretty sorted 21. I remember exactly where I was. I can go back to that stone-tiled lane in my colony and show you the misshapen square tile on which I was walking when this thought had crossed my mind. I was shocked by it.

“I want to have my own children."

My conscious brain knew that there was no connection between loss of love and becoming a parent. Yet it had been a visceral, emotional reaction. Wanting to create a relationship that would always be mine. That I would belong to, indisputably.

I remember telling myself to calm down. It was another 10 years before my first child was born. She will soon be 10. I am a mother of three.

And really, I don’t understand why normal, perfectly abled people have children. I mean I had them because I couldn’t not have them.

They are my safe space. My refuge. Children knock me out of feeling miserable about the adult world. They give me a perspective on what being a grown-up really means.

Sure motherhood has depressed me. It has knocked me off the tracks and teases me every time I wait at the station to get back into the groove. It has also helped to hold me together when I decided to stay off the tracks for my own sake.

Becoming a parent has introduced me to my own guts. It has helped me to see that achievement is letting go. It’s not always about acquiring shiny new things. It’s about coming home.

Being a Mum helps me do everything I want to do a little bit better in life. It’s a hobby that saves me from my addictions.

Of course in the scale of things, it’s a grand and devastating hobby. I don’t recommend becoming a parent to everyone. Or anyone, actually. It’s overwhelming, like living in a house that’s constantly crumbling and being renovated. A self that goes to pieces before it can reassemble.

After all, there are so many other ways to discover on-the-spot poetic moments. There’s always gardening. Pets. Baking. Swimming in icy oceans and jumping off sheer cliffs. A million other ways to out-run your fears. Or just be a shameless show-off.

When I see how many holes I have plugged and parts I have propped up with the strength of being a parent, I wonder if I was a psychological cripple before this. Maybe I was. Maybe I am just committed to healing.

You tell me your reasons. Somewhere in your answer you will find the bridge that connects the sum of your parts to make a whole.

Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three.

Also Read | Natasha’s previous columns

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Updated: 15 Feb 2013, 05:20 PM IST
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