Parenting is like wearing a sari. Some of us wear it like we can run a marathon in it; others need a lot of practice and many many safety pins to keep it up. If you don't feel guilty about not being able to wear a sari, you shouldn't feel guilty about not wanting a second innings at parenting.
I know a lot of mums that are a little obsessed with doing the right thing, parenting-wise. Actually, that's not true. All mums are a little obsessed like that. I know a mother who diligently spends 45 minutes, three times a day, attached to the breast pump in her office-even though her milk had begun to dry up well before she went back to work. Why? Because she had set the magical date of weaning at one year and she was determined to get there. But that isn't very out of the ordinary, is it? That's how hard all parents try to be what everyone calls 'a good parent'. Because to be anything else would be criminal, right?
According to the definition decided by her social set, Amrita Shastri from New Delhi is a bad, bad parent. Because she and her husband have a four-year-old daughter and don't intend to have any more kids. "The questions started about a year ago," admits Amrita. "Suddenly, everyone wanted to know when I'm having another kid. When, not if," she says wryly.
It doesn't help that Amrita is an only child. "Many people assume that I'm projecting my issues on my daughter," she says. As far as I know, Amrita's issues begin and end at fierce possessiveness of her books. She's normal and nice, so I don't see why her daughter won't be the same.
Do what's right for you
t's a story I hear from a lot of mommy friends. And there's one standard response to all of them: just ignore what people say and do what's best for you and your family. I believe a lot of families expand before the couple has a chance to figure out what is best for them. You might be convinced that one is best one day and feel terrible about the decision the next. "It's a tough decision. Every time I hear friends talk about their siblings and nieces and nephews, I feel a pang of guilt. Am I denying my daughter something important? I see her playing with other kids at the park and well up. At that moment I'm convinced we should have another."
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? When the guilt threatens to overwhelm you, think of all the reasons you decided you want just one. Make a list and carry it in your wallet, if you have to. Sometimes it's a financial decision. But even if it's not, and you made the decision so that you have time for yourself and your partner, it's perfectly okay. Not all of us can wear saris everyday. Some of us need the jeans.
Don't get pressurised
Whatever your reasons, if they're good enough for you, the rest of the world will take care of itself. Even if you have the means and are young enough, it's okay to want just one. Like every other parenting decision-weaning, working or staying at home, boarding school or day schools-how many kids is extremely personal. And like every other decision, this one comes with copious amounts of unasked for advice and opinions. You just have to develop a thick hide and get on with it.
But we're not saying that one is the ideal family size. Like any life-changing decision, this one has its pros and cons as well. Click on the next story for the possible challenges if you do decide to stop at one. And, as always, how you can deal with the situation before it becomes a problem. You can also submit a query to our relationship expert, Varkha Chulani, on the experts say tab or write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org