Every union should produce results. Progeny is one of the results of marriage- at least an expected result. Every newly married couple face overt or covert questions about their “plans”. Any delay beyond 3 years causes great consternation to the families of the couple first and then finally to the couple.
All this creates a psychological need to have a child or children. The initial clarity during the mating period of waiting for few years, settling in respective careers, purchase of dwelling etc. may have been achieved or could be in process. But now the need for a child becomes supreme.
The conception takes place. I have a vague impression that women do have hesitation or some apprehensions about the entire pregnancy and delivery process. Most males disregard these apprehensions and the emotional and psychological coercion is enough for the women to cross this hurdle.
The child arrives. Respective in laws troop in with broad smiles and a realisation of being grand parents. Those who become grand parents before reaching the age of 60, mentally tell themselves that “we are like students who pass CA or IIT Entrance in first attempt while others who still troop to school with their children� or run around for admissions to colleges are slow starters. But we are young grandparents. Old age associated with the status of being grandparents is not applicable to us”.
Mothers are conferred an almost divine status in India.� One story I heard in justification of this status is something like this. One young student questioned placing mother first in the statement “Mata, pita, guru, deivam.” The guru who was smart delayed the reply. After a few days, the guru asked the student to take a brick, tie it around his waist and go to the well and fetch water several times. The well was obviously at some distance. After the student got exhausted, the guru informed the student that� a pregnant mother carries the child similarly for nine months and hence they get this status. A typical Indian story which justifies the age old statement.
Western civilisation has not placed such exalted status on parents. Probably they are seen as the medium thru which the life is created on the earth and the medium is like a vessel we use for cooking. The food is more important than the vessel.
The mother now gets to see the life which was floating around in her belly. She is intially wonder struck. Then the awareness sinks in about her primary responsiblity. Feeding a child at 12.30 am or 4 am is not something any human being can get excited about for weeks and months. The excitement of working as an executive in an air conditioned office is more palpable than cleaning a baby who will learn sanitary habits after some years. She wonders”God, why does any one say all this is exciting?”. The situation of Indians who have emigrated to middle east or USA etc. is even more difficult. These countires have strict laws for child care. Some countries insist on full time attendant till one year of age (this is what I understand).
The role of father at this stage is crucial. Few have any prior experience. They are forced to learn by trial and error. Many� families erroneously do not educate their sons to be aware of basic domestic chores. So they land up in family life without any knowledge of the drudgery involved in maintaining a house in a nuclear family.
I believe that it is at this stage the next foundation of family life is laid. Couple who work together (whether both are employed or only one is employed) and share responsiblities build a stronger edifice of their marriage. The children watch and instinctively understand how their family lives and adapt accordingly. If the responsiblites get shifted to outside family members like in-laws or servants, then the� pattern changes. We see distorted behaviour from the children. Excessive tantrums, need to seek attention of one or both the parents whenver they are present, inablity to mix or be comfortable in a large group are some of the visible external symptoms.
I cannot claim any memory of my two children’s early years. It all seems to be a blur now. When I watch my grandson grow, I feel a twinge of regret at not noticing and storing these memories at least in the brain. Cameras were expensive then and so there are few photos of those times.� Now Picasa contains a few hundred or thousand photos of various antics of my grand son. Most mothers would tell you that the first three years of the child are difficult but rewarding. Creation of life and its growth is still one of the greaterst wonder in this world. The efforts we put in these early years yeild visible results. The exuberance of the child, its curiosity in exploring the world around it, lack of any fear or knowledge of danger gives the greatest pleasure. One of the memorable photos of my grandson (when he was less than a year) is his smile when he turns around to look at me before trying to pluck the AC plug from the socket.
Today’s world does not give any educated person the time or privelege to think on such things. Success brings its own material rewards and satisfaction. It requires great courage to step aside from such a path to enjoy such pleasures. Children demand lot of emotional attention. Our city life drains out our quota of Emotional Quotient leaving little for our family. This is where the distance with children/family starts building up.