'You are a woman, how can you not want kids?'

'You are a woman, how can you not want kids?'
Newborn babies lie in a baby room of a hospital in Shanghai in this July 10, 2006 file photo.
PHOTO: Reuters

Three years down and no baby. "Hai Allah (Oh God)," exclaims the dramatic one.

"Bechari (poor thing), may be she has a medical problem," explains the understanding one.

And to conclude, the curious one, "I think someone should talk to her, maybe she will open up about the real issue."

In our society the very idea of a woman not wanting to have children is impossible to swallow. It shatters tradition and challenges a deep-seated patriarchal mindset about motherhood.

Aside from cricket, it is the one thing that Pakistanis stand united on; a marital union equals mandatory babies.

In our part of the world, family, friends and free mashwara (advice) givers dictate when is the right time to have a baby. Family planning for couples is everyone and their kaam waali's business; from mothers, to aunts to grannies and the neighbour's aunt.

Usually, women are placed in the hot seat, not their spouses. Endless probes and enquiries must be endured, especially if she is pursuing a career.

"How could you not want to have a child? A career is not important, children are."

Why should this be an either/or in the first place? And even if a career prevents a woman from having children, why should she be judged? A woman has a right to her body and what she chooses to do with it is her business.

Once, a bewildered relative asked me, "How can you not want kids? You are a woman, it should come naturally to you."

News flash: there are some women for whom karate comes more naturally. Women do not come out of a manufacturing plant where each and every one of them desire and aspire for the same things. We too dream differently from one another, just like men. While some women prefer to juggle family with career, some of us might only want a career while others want neither.

And then comes the clock ticking; another reminder when a woman hits 30. It is usually packaged as a pointed finger, which reads like a warning, "Thou shalt watch out, you are stepping out of the baby zone."

The countdown has officially begun.

A lot of women however have found a scientific solution. In order to extend fertility, women are going through a procedure called egg freezing in case they want to start a family in their later years.

Thirties is a tricky time for professional women just the way it is for men. It is when you are still considered young; promotion is around the corner and the future is full of great promises. Not to mention the fact that you have just started making some serious money.

Thus for women who want to keep the option for having children - freeze your eggs.

And if you are 100 per cent sure that you would never want to have a baby...that too is just fine.

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