Spoiler alert! I am writing after a long break so its difficult to gather my thoughts. However this writing may not ring well with everyone; my apologies to ones who are offended and assure that this is only my opinion and written in a lighter vein.
With the increasingly popular rat race of achieving high in life, our life styles have undergone a huge change in the way we perceive things ; especially our feelings! It is not a surprise that in order to pursue a career of our choice, we have placed starting a family as our second priority. Both men and women. With the fluidity in relationships, we have also grown with the way we deal with our expectations from each other. Although marriage with opposite sexes still remains a norm for many in our society.
As a person heading for my thirties, the thought of having a child does cross my mind. And during these moments, I tend to look not within but outside. May be looking within is another answer to my questions but at this time it’s not proving a convincing answer. On my wonderful long walks in the evenings, I have increasingly seen men carry babies (infants) in a kangaroo bag close to their chest. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see a man who breaks the stereotypical norm of gender roles. Grown in a patriarchal society, my heart appreciates the way things are changing at least here in U.S.
The stereotypical role of a caregiver is not only imposing for a woman but is also dangerous for the psyche of a man. This breeds the reinforcements of women’s role in economy as ‘secondary’ to men. At the same time, it would be unfair to categorize men as ‘irresponsible’ for the child since mother is biologically responsible for giving birth. In my opinion, the tendency and need to have a child is far more greater in a man than a woman. The idea of the man’s lineage being carried forward by a child, a male child at that, has broken hell loose over many traditional patriarchal societies. The declining sex ratio in many countries like India and China is a testimony to it. The balance in cycle of life requires greater balance of our roles in society.
The decision to have a child, biological or adopted is not easy. And nor is bringing up a child. There are many socio-cultural and economic dimensions to it. It would be unfair to deem any couple selfish or capitalist before understanding their psychological state about the decision to have a baby. It is solely at the discretion of the couple, no one else. My close associates who have been either having babies or in the ‘thinking process’ share that it is a constant state of emotional turmoil.
All human beings have the inherent tendencies of caring. The maternal and the paternal instincts also needs to be fed. Here is when I think about woman and dogs. It is perhaps more common to see women with dogs on my walks than men with babies. Here by dogs, I would mean any pet that you care about. I have seen dog people, cat people and the ones who love both! It doesn’t matter. What matters is that our pets are there to fulfill our emotional need. Sometimes the need of having a child. Although increasingly realizing that they are not economically and socially easy ‘investment’, they are lesser of a work than a child. At least one doesn’t need to worry about their education or what they would finally grow up to be!
I have also seen friends transition from having a pet to then finally having a child. And to me, it makes perfect sense. When we can realize that we are capable of taking care of another being (your pet), we become more and more confident of being able to take care of a new life (your baby). Perhaps it is unfair to compare a child to a pet but its not uncommon for most people to call their pet as ‘their kid’. And their most loved child as their ‘pet’! Living in U.S. for a while, I have realized that people love their pets like their children. If you are a person who don’t like dogs and tend to show it in front of their dog, they get offended with your behavior. Further, I understand the physical and psychological aspect of having pets, especially dogs. One of the studies mentioned that having a dog in the house, maintains your blood pressure level beside giving you company and guarding your house. However, I also would maintain, having small dogs (which you carry in your arms or lap) tends to fulfill your desire of a baby. No offenses to the cat people!
Thus, the trend of men and babies; women and dogs is perhaps healthy to lead us into the transition where our society stands today. The ability to decide whether we are ready for bringing a new life into this world to our ability to balance our gender norms for our next generation, all go hand in hand.
Thanks to the internet for the perfect pic!