Speak Up / Speaking Out / women and feminism / women and ambition

Breaking old patterns of life is the way to freedom

. 6 min read . Written by Roopal Kewalya
Breaking old patterns of life is the way to freedom

Have You Ever Thought Why You Get Married And Have Children?

This was a couple of years ago when mothers of toddlers had decided to meet for breakfast so we could get to know each other better. A round of introductions later, we quickly moved to our children and how we had brought them into this world.

I was numbed to find that on a table of 10 mothers, only 1 had made the decision to have a child solely on her own. All the others had their babies for one of the 3 reasons:

  1. Under pressure from in-laws or own family
  2. Fear of biological clock ticking
  3. What if I want a baby in the future even though I don’t want it now.

The mother who had made the decision to have the child without any fear or pressure also found giving birth and raising a child overwhelming, to say the least. Needless to mention, the mothers who had given birth under pressure would have found it even more taxing on their physical as well as mental health. Our table of mothers was a microcosm of the entire world.

Of course, all these mothers love their children. It’s not about love. It never is.

But it’s definitely a question worth asking. Why do we have children? Why do we get married? Why do we follow a set course in life charted out for us, not allowing us to freely explore and experience life in its entirety and if we go deeper than that, then why are we even here? What is the purpose of this existence?

Perhaps there will be some answers that will always be evasive. In fact, there never are any correct answers. We can only be correct in the given moment or situation. But what we do have control over is how we experience our individual journeys.

But if the individual is never allowed to blossom, how does this person experience their journey?

Remember uniforms in school? Have you ever questioned why schools have uniforms? The quick reply would be discipline. Have you ever questioned what discipline means? The quick reply would be order. Have you ever questioned what order means and to whom? The answer would be for the teacher. And hence for the principal and hence for the school authorities. Uniforms help homogenise children in a school so that individuality is curbed because it’s easier to control a herd of sheep.

Expression of individuality through clothes or through the way someone parts their hair is discouraged for at least 14 years of school education. And of course, uniform is only one way of ‘disciplining’ children.

As far as you work within the rules set out for you – by a school, family, society or a nation at large, you are considered ‘normal’. The moment you begin questioning this normalcy is when you and the society are in trouble.

So a woman who vehemently expresses her right not to have children is seen as a threat. A woman who has a child and then demands that the child be taken care of, equally by all members of the family is also judged. Men and women who choose to file for divorce are seen as being on the margins of a society because they threaten the fabric of a moral code set out for them – that of a ‘happy’ family which is essential to the ‘order’ that society has set out for them.

That is the reason same sex marriages are looked down upon because they cannot biologically produce children so there is literally a threat to the survival of human species.

Look around you. Does human species need any protection anymore? The bursting population on this planet is evidence enough that it is time to question what we routinely practice, without a word. Ask yourself.

What does marriage mean to you?

Why did you decide to get married in the first place? Was it because it was expected of you? Was it because you thought it would give you love, stability and security in life because no one ever told you that you can’t be stable or secure on your own? Was it because everyone else was doing it so you felt the need to do it too? Was it because you were truly seeking companionship and you found it but are no longer happy with it so you continue to stay because society expects you to? Because that is the only picture shown to you of a happy life and you don’t know that any other possibility exists?

The very foundation of the earliest marriage was skewed in favour of men. After marriage, women were seen as property of the husband. They were tools of procreation and they could be discarded by the husband if they were ‘infertile’ – a horrendous term used to define women who were unable to give birth to a child. 

An institution laid on an unequal foundation is bound to crumble in the face of time. However, it not only survived but it thrived. Generation after generation fell into the trope of marrying for love but then found themselves trapped in the rituals and rules that marriage lay upon them.

As most people would admit – love is romantic, marriage isn’t.

Getting married and having children without questioning the system is pretty much like children in school donning uniforms. Uniformity is soothing to the eye. And not only did we trap ourselves into this belief, we are also hell bent on trapping our children in these same beliefs so that future generations cannot free themselves.

Why are there less jobs and more people? Perhaps it’s the world’s way of telling us to look around, find a problem and offer a solution instead of spending one third of our lives looking for a job.

It is important to question generations of old patterns that we have been living in, in different facets of life and see how they affect us?

  • Religion? What does it mean to you beyond the rituals of it? Is religion truly a part of your individual identity or has it been thrust upon you by your parents and their parents? It comes out once in a while when you are asked to mention it in a form or perhaps reinforcement of it during a festival which is mostly about food and fanfare and dressing up.
  • Your Job? Why are you in that job? How did you begin? What does this job mean to you beyond a salary and daily drudgery? Do you enjoy the people you work with? Or do you enjoy the product you are building? Or do you get a sense of power that comes with it even though it doesn’t make you happy? Is there no other way you could achieve the same things?
  • Your purpose in life? What are you here to do? When you were a child what did you like to do? Were you creative? Was there anything you enjoyed doing the most? How could you replicate that joy in your life?

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong in getting married and having children. But it’s important to question what it means to you as an individual and whether it is necessary.

It’s time to question everything that was ever handed down to us. Because if we don’t we will all be in school uniforms for the rest of our lives walking in a line, eyes downcast, never ever having the courage to break out of that line and constantly punishing those who find the strength to let the individual within, blossom.

Because as French philosopher Foucault pointed out – Do you know which other institution has uniforms? A Prison.