My dear aunty
This letter is not just to you but to all the women like you who strongly believe that you know better about how I should go about leading my life and sadly go share your valued opinion with my mother as well.
I read your letter today first thing in the morning as I was reading my Sunday morning Hindu and it forced me to put everything aside to share my thoughts with you.
You lament about how mothers in their quest for giving girls independence and financial security have not taught them the beauty of being a woman. Sadly aunty, I think my mother and many mothers have done a wonderful job of teaching us not just about independence and financial security but also about not defining our beauty of being a woman by only being married or having children.
Your reason for writing this letter is a sense of disquiet that you experience that somewhere down the line, there would be a generation of unhappy women spending their time in guilt, if not regret. I appreciate your concern for all of us but let me alleviate your pain by telling you that most of us do not feel guilty currently and most probably will not be regretting our choices in the future. We choose to live life on our terms and feel strongly about what we believe in. We work hard to build our careers and find them extremely fulfilling, we are single or in relationships by choice and not because we are nearing 30. We have very different expectations from our lives than what you had from yours and sadly, the only guilt we experience is the guilt of not being able to help our parents from feeling bad once in a while when an aunty like you comes home and asks “still not married?” or “isn’t she already 30, when will you become grandparents?”
You talk about our amazing risk taking abilities and our capability to make a mark in the economy. The decisions we make in our jobs are clearly thought through, based on data or experience with us driving the process to achieve outcomes we desired in the first place. So I request you to credit me with the confidence that if I can shape the economy of the country or drive profits up for organizations on a quarterly basis, I can definitely make life choices to take on “additional burden” as you put it.
When you hear me say “I am not ready for marriage or having children” what I am trying to tell you is I am perfectly happy with what my life offers me right now. Please do not insult your intelligence or mine by comparing the decision to have kids to crying on the first day of school. I am aware of the consequences of my choices and more importantly what it would change for me. I am aware that if I choose to get married, you will have an opinion about me not giving up my career to relocate and be with my husband. I am aware that even after having a child when I go back to work, you will still have misgivings on me leaving my child behind or not breastfeeding long enough.
You talked about how one can balance work and home life or prioritize the most important things in life. I know for a fact aunty, that you would never write a letter to your son to take a break for 6 months or be a stay at home dad to help me manage my career. Even if the poor guy makes this choice out of his own free will, chances are you would berate me and him for not doing the “right thing”.
So aunty, I am pretty convinced that irrespective of the choices I make in my life you will have something to be unhappy about because I do not live within the parameters you defined in your head for an appropriate life that a woman should lead.
Lastly aunty, there are some of us who want to have children more than anything else and even at the right time in consultation with our biological clocks. But sadly, there are complications which make medical assistance of IVF necessary. Needing modern medicine’s assistance is not a sign of failure or a sign from the universe that I am paying a price for placing my needs above someone else’s.
My choices are my own and the regret or guilt if it follows will be mine as well. I am willing to bear the cross of my actions and I think you should be ok with it too. So please do not write a letter to all daughters asking us to reflect on our choices and feeling bad about what our mommies did with us. Our mommies did an awesome job with us and we are thankful and awfully proud of them as well!
So I suggest you make your peace with my life decisions, move on in life without worrying if I will be old, wrinkly and angry with the world. I see it more as your style than mine.