The Need to Spawn

02 Feb


Or: “A Family is not a Family without Children”*

I have a problem.

Whenever I think of my hypothetical family to be, it always comes fully stocked with children. Plural. They will be beautiful little babies with chubby cheeks who like to cuddle and quickly learn to sleep the night through. They will attend a variety of arts and crafts classes and spend weekends playing Huckleberry Finn at the treehouse I will provide for them in the backyard. They will have lots of friends with whom they will share toys and form lifelong friendships.

When they grow up they will obviously get into trouble of some kind or the other but I will be there for them and we will come through it all without too much trouble. And if something does go seriously out of whack, I will then transform into Rekha from Khoon Bhari Maang and kill all those who did my babies wrong! (Because once you’re a mother, the Law does not apply. Fact.) However, I will first make certain they know the evils of disobeying their mother (Me) by volunteering them at camps, clinics, etc where they can study at close quarters what happens to the sad people who stray from the path of the sober and righteous (as defined by Me).

They will be very strictly brought up so they will mind their manners in company, never throw a tantrum or create a scene in public. They will never whine to go home in the middle of a concert or start wailing in an airplane right next to a weary business traveler trying to catch some shut eye after having been up for fifty-six hours straight on nothing but copious amounts of black coffee and Red Bull.

And since overpopulation is a very real threat and I want a large family with kids all born a year or so apart because I think that just works out better in the long run, I decided in my teens that I don’t necessarily have to birth all these lovely children. Adoption is definitely the way to go unless I’m prepared to be a hormonal mess for about ten/fifteen years or so – which I am not.

At some point in the future, these children will all grow up and become wonderful citizens of the world – they will be musicians and artists and dancers and actors and maybe a teacher or something more conventional in the middle of it to balance it all out. They will be kind and generous and hold the door open when they see a lady coming. They will launder their clothes and take regular showers. People will frequently compliment me on their very existence. And when they all come home for the holidays, I will be the matriarch and look around the table at my lovely accomplished children and feel smug about a job well done.

[Oh, and, er, they’ll have a father around too, of course, who, er, throws a football at them or something. Actually, it just occurred to me that I haven’t thought about a father for these hypothetical children of mine. Not because I don’t think fathers are important or anything, but mainly when I imagine my equally hypothetical other half, it’s never occurred to me to put the two together except in the vaguest of terms so I’m not thinking of him in fatherly terms. Ahem.]

As you can see, I have it all figured out. The only problem with my lovely vision? Children.

Nothing against them, per se (some of them are like family to me), but I’ve watched them for some time now and I’ve noticed things about them – things that give me pause.

They frequently suffer from runny noses, for instance (I guess my mother was right – those hankies pinned to my classmates’ sweaters weren’t the fashion statement I always suspected they were; it was more a commentary on their hygiene. Newton’s Fourth Law: Amrita’s Mom = Never Wrong) and sometimes wipe them on their sleeve. Which is just yucky. Then there is all that cleaning of bum and spit – they can’t help that any more than they can help getting carsick, throwing up for absolutely no reason at all in the middle of the night, getting chicken pox right when it is most inconvenient for the family to be quarantined, and things of a similar nature. But it’s not something to look forward to, is it?

Also, I understand there are no kennels for children where you can leave them and go off on a holiday. Once you’re a parent, it seems you’re stuck with them 24/7 – and if my parents are anything to go by, you’re stuck with them 24/7 all your life. And, in what can only be a symptom of Stockholm Syndrome, you apparently reach a point in your life when you actively miss taking care of the little critters. Imagine that.

[I’m thinking back to all the shit my parents went through bringing me up when it would have been far easier to let me just die already and, um, somebody deserves a thank you card!]

But quite apart from children being children, there is also the question of whether I actually want any. Obviously, I would like those Benetton ad imaginary kids of mine – in the same way I would like Paul Newman circa 1969 to come ask me to marry him (or! be the father of my children! See, making up for lost time!) – but the best part about those kids is that they are Not Real.

They never argue with me, they think I’m the most amazing person on the planet, they do exactly as they’re told, I love all their friends, they have extremely easy teen years, have perfect eyesight and very straight teeth, and I can leave them behind on a vacation, no problem. They teach them early how to fix themselves a meal over there in fantasy-land. Like, when they’re fetuses.

When I think back to my own childhood, this is the person I remember. Being my parent was and is a complete joy as far as I’m concerned – I like me very much and have always been very glad to have me. But I have a sneaking suspicion my parents might cavil at such a wholehearted endorsement.

Shocking, I know! How could they possibly?! But it’s true. I just can’t shake this feeling… and if they feel that way, how will I feel in their shoes?

If only children weren’t actually people, I think my choices would be much more simple. I mean, if someone were to ask me whether I would like a very affectionate doll, I would say yes in a heartbeat. A puppy, on the other hand, would throw me off my stride a bit and I might ask for some time to prepare myself by training with a goldfish first, but I like dogs and would probably be very happy to have one. In fact, I wanted one as a child. I think. I could have wanted a TV in my room. It was one or the other. I don’t remember but I didn’t get either so it doesn’t really matter.

But children? I know every idiot can have one, but the question is do I want one? I guess it depends on the company. I hear Paul Newman was a great dad.

*Insight brought to you by A Grand Old Lady.


Posted by on February 2, 2009 in Life, Personal


27 responses to “The Need to Spawn

  1. Pitu

    February 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Never wanted kids, don’t even like them much actually. Been married for almost a decade and I still don’t ooh ahh over younguns, unless they are the four legged kind. Have a dog and 2 cats, want MOAR! But kids, no thankyou.

    Also, I have become quite flippant and cool when answering horrified questions regarding my lack of progeny.

    Q- But don’t you want to pass on your awesome genes to the next generation?????!!

    A- I agree I am awesome :-p but what do I care about the next generation and a possible lack of awesomeness? Also, Oprah Winfrey, Lata Mangeshkar, Ayn Rand and Katherine Hepburn are/were childless. Don’t see how the world suffered :p

    Q- But don’t you want to be immortal???? Like, live on??

    A- You don’t technically become immortal, doofus. I’d have more luck with being cryogenically frozen or something :p

    Q- You’re so selfish!!!!! You don’t care about the world??

    A- I am a good, kind hearted person, I am an eco warrior, I am vegan, I stand up for others and I rescue animals. How exactly is squeezing a baby out of my you know what, altruistic?

    Meh. I’ve given up with all the super special people with their super special progeny and I merely give them an evil grin when I wake up at 11am on weekdays, take off at a moment’s notice, actually have a love life and can dress in designer labels without spit and baby puke on it :-p

  2. Pitu

    February 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    err that would be ’11am on weekends’.

  3. bollyviewer

    February 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Amrita, you and me both! Our parents were truly fortunate to have us as kids and our kids will definitely be no trouble at all. lol Now we just have to go find the missing part of the equation and start multplying, err… raising a family.

  4. Sujatha

    February 2, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    A propos of nothing, I once had a friend who said she did not want to have children because she was afraid her body would retain water.

    FWIW and I know you know this already, but this is an answer each one has to find for one self. I’ve been through this stage when the not knowing (whether I wanted a child or not) was killing. But I’ve also passed through the stage where wanting a child and not being able to have one was also killing. And I would dare say that the former is the more delicious of the predicaments to be in. Beause then at least some things are in your control.

    But whichever way you go, you’ll still be Auntie Ams to a whole bunch of kids, whether you like it or not! 🙂

  5. DewdropDream

    February 2, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    How well you put it! I’ve gotta grow up before I can think of babies … so I’m going to sit on my bum and not grow up if I can help it. 😀

  6. Hades

    February 3, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Do check out The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement . Read the site properly. Very informative and a bit scary.

    And btw, nicely written. Very easy flow and other stuff.

  7. desigirl

    February 3, 2009 at 6:53 am

    ROFL, Ams, u cartoon!

  8. ana

    February 3, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I’ve gone through not wanting children in my teens and twenties, to wanting them, back to not wanting them, and then feeling compelled to when my lovely mother says (no guilt trip of course) “I want grandchildren,” and now back to no, no way, no how. (and it’s too late anyway)

    I’m not exactly certain I know what continuing a family line, or legacy means anymore. And as Pitu says, awesome women have done very well without. 🙂

    I did have this notion though that if my siblings were ever to have kids, I would expose my nieces and nephews to all the things my siblings might find revolting, you know, like grunge, dreadlocks, socialism! 😀

  9. Amey

    February 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Please preserve this article very carefully. It will be of immense help to the psychiatrist your kids will visit one day.

  10. Sujatha

    February 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Amey :o)

  11. Sujatha

    February 3, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Ok, that was meant to be a smiley face. What the hell happened?!

    Let me say it words. Sheesh!

    Amey, your comment brought a smile to my face. There!

  12. M

    February 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    this is hilariously like a look in my head – about 20 years ago! 🙂 Like many others, I was vehemently anti-kid, and still prefer to deal with ones I can actually *talk* to, rather than infants – and in some sort of cosmic balance, went through a period of wanting my own desperately, and not being able to conceive.

    Now I see the other side of the coin and yes, while not pretty, wouldn’t have it any other way…kids are fun – despite all the work (and yes, there is plenty and it is never-ending) – and so worth it…I look at it as my debt to humankind…paid forward maybe. (not an original thought, but read it someplace and it fit)


  13. memsaab

    February 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Hmmm, I never even fantasized about having kids and now that it’s too late, well, I still don’t. I do love my dog. One of my neighbors has said to me “I have a child, and I have a dog, and I like my dog better” (but her son is a teenager, so take that with a pinch of salt).

    People who think I’m selfish b/c I never wanted kids just amaze me with their complete lack of any sense at all. Wish they hadn’t had kids either.

  14. Rahul Sharma

    February 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    This is HEAVY! Amrita, you are INTENSE!!!

  15. Ankit Nagori

    February 3, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Hi…amamzing blogs I must say!!..I would like to introduce you to a network called…It is a citizen journalist website for the youth of Delhi NCR. Please join it and contribute with your ideas on contemporary issues.

  16. sachita

    February 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I have grown up enough to understand Humans not wanting to have kids. I wish this sense would prevail upon several human beings like Britney spears, Angelina jolie and so on. But this preference of dogs over kids, I cant. I mean they are dogs, ok:)

    I am running off before people throw bricks at me.

  17. Orange Jammies

    February 3, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Aaah, you beat me to the kids post. 🙂 But maybe I’ll do one sometime anyway. You are hereby invited to come meet all 50 of mine. There is a thing called being too ready and I am that. I’ve long passed the stage when I could have them with dreams of pink frills and chubbiness and not know any better and be stuck with it. Sigh. Ignorance is bliss. 😦

  18. apu

    February 4, 2009 at 4:31 am

    Ms Perfect Kid – great post as usual. Don’t you think it is time to give your mom or dad a guest post here and we can have some of the truth? 🙂

  19. dipali

    February 4, 2009 at 10:28 am

    The damn kids grow up and move away and you miss ’em.
    But I guess I’m glad I had mine when I did- too much thought and they might not have been around at all:(

  20. Amrita

    February 5, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Pitu – see, that’s the person I’m meant to be but give me a couple of hours with my collected family all moaning about my inherent selfishness and with no similarly selfish other half to back me up, my innate love of the little bebehs kicks in and I think, awww! maybe one or two…? At least my biological clock is mercifully silent.

    Bollyviewer – That’s why we get presents for our birthdays, you know. We’re such a joy to have around, they have to thank us again and again!

    Suj – well Auntie Ams’ body already retains water (it’s called PMS 😦 ) so I can’t use that excuse. I know, as my cousin said wearily after half an hour of my blathering on, it all depends on whether or not I find someone I want to share DNA with coz right now it’s all pie in the sky.

    DDD – I tried that too, and my BUM grew. What an outrage!

    Hades – ahem, was that a hint?

    DG – just coz you have two adorable little munchkins who’re bringing each other up! humpf.

    Ana – you’re the aunt I always wanted! Please adopt me.

    Amey – psychiatrist? They won’t have time, what with running around trying to get my fantasy fulfilled.

    M – If ana won’t adopt me, will you?

    Memsaab – Like having kids gives you extra credit for being a human being, right? Sigh. I like kids, but I really like giving them back.

    Rahul – lolz. Sarcasm is always appreciated.

    Sachita – no, no, I like dogs because they’re not kids. This is a brick free zone.

    OJ – ahahahaha! I don’t know how you do it, babe. I don’t know how any teacher does it. Kudos.

    Apu – what, and let them have their say? NEVER!

    Dipali – I think too much about everything, na!

  21. Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma?!?

    February 5, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Oh! But Auntie Am, we’re not that bad! We’re like cuddly looking Shitzus with all the friskiness of a baby daschund. Nasty temper like a spoilt pit bull? Erm, define spoilt…

    *say the EO and YO with unspilled tears in their eyes and quivering lower lips*

  22. A Cynic in Wonderland

    February 6, 2009 at 1:01 am

    …uhm VERY apposite post. I am at the age where I think i should be having em or something ( since everyone i know is procreating) AND i think vaguely i would like a couple ( but i have no definite reasons for wanting them) but my physical age and emotional age are way of kilter. THAT is the problem. And i should STOP READING PoSTS LIKE THIS – drippy noses and puke and shit aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh

  23. M

    February 6, 2009 at 12:42 pm


    sure, come on over! I’m serious – kids of a rational age are a delight, much oftener than babies are…at that age, they’re certainly cute, but that complete dependence on me made me very claustrophobic – not that the smiles/cuddling weren’t wonderfdul – just that there was so much of screaming (colic) and other associated negatives…


  24. Amey

    February 6, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    @Sujatha: Thank you, thank you. We will be at our blog. Come soon, come often 😀 (Sorry, just saw your comment)

  25. BEV

    February 10, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Yup, the problem with your picture is…your children will be kids for a long, long time before they turn into paragons!

  26. Haniff Din

    February 10, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    If you are thinking about not having kids, you might as well kill yourself and be done with it.

    Life is about kids. It really is about nothing else.

    Without kids you are not living life. Your whole purpose of your life is to experience that journey.

    Think about it, would you have existed if you parents had such a narrow mindset?

    If you don’t have kids you’ll just be reborn until you do experience it, so you might has well cut the chase now.

    Don’t think too much about it, just do it, you won’t ever regret it.

    When you have child you will understand, until then you never will.

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