I lead a straightforward and simple life. I work, have light conversations with my colleagues during lunch, come back to my flat, cook, hang out with my flatmates or other friends, read, sing, Skype with family and friends in other countries, and watch series like Star Trek and Grey’s Anatomy.
So there it is. So simple, good and fun too! The satisfaction of making music with the choir or the band or my flatmate and his girlfriend; the fun I have cracking jokes with some others, watching movies or playing games, sharing opinions and worldviews with people with different backgrounds, learning things from them; the warmth I feel when another of my flatmates’ girlfriends called me over for Christmas dinner with her family or when people I just about know, stop me on the street to say hi, and that it’s nice to see me after so long; all this friendliness and love along with the frequent contact I have with my family is enough to feed my need for human connection.
When I travel, I have only my own schedule to consider. When I cook, I have only my own tastes and whims to think of. I have the freedom to stay out as late as I want without obligations to answer to anyone. I could plan to go anywhere in the world after my PhD for further studies or a job. I don’t need to navigate through anyone’s feelings, opinions, quirks, life plans or value systems (except my family). A free bird can do as she pleases.
I suppose it is human to feel the need for more than this at times but what I’m pondering on as I write this is, is it really worth the risk? I asked the same question when I was nineteen and came up with a ‘no’. Marriage and children are for people who conform to social rules. Who is society to dictate what is right and wrong for each of us individually? But when I became an aunt for the first time, that little infant brought my family so much joy, I started loving her without any real reason. When my youngest cousin, a few months older than my niece, also visited at that time, I was completely bowled over and started loving kids and thinking, maybe some day I will have some too.
But now, four years later, thinking about what it would involve makes my head spin. Firstly I would need to find someone to love and to be loved by. If I have to spend the rest of my life with him, he would have to be quite something in terms of kindness, intellect and attractiveness. It is asking too much. Then when you fall in love, you run an enormous risk of all sorts of complications. Pain comes in so many forms; disagreements, misunderstandings, variation in expectations, missing the person when he’s gone, feeling jealous at times, the list could go on until you get to the possibility of infidelity and/or a break up. Why sign up for such pain?
And then there are children. I love kids just as much, if not more than I used to when I was nineteen. I find the babies in my family and all other babies and children cute, if not adorable. I like playing with them, entertaining them, teaching them small things, watching them grow, and caring for them for some time, but there is a huge advantage of those children not being my own. When they start to cry, or need their diapers changed, I can hand them over to their parents and get back to what I was doing.
Mothers go through nine months of a biological roller-coaster with the hormones, cravings, aversions, extra weight and discomfort. Then comes birth. How scary and painful is that! But well, that’s just the beginning! I have seen how lives change after a couple has a child. Their lives revolve around the baby. It takes up all their attention, energy, money, and time. New parents are exhausted and sleep deprived. The child is all they can talk, think and dream about. And I’d say, if you have had a child, that’s indeed what it should be like. That much is basic responsibility and love. But I still can’t help asking why? Maybe I need to be that much in love with someone to understand the desire to make something which is part of both the partners. As a single person, I definitely don’t get it.
Thinking of children is simply premature. Love and relationships themselves take so much effort. They are so emotionally risky, divorce rates are climbing and extramarital affairs are so commonplace that people talk about them almost casually. So why do people get excited about falling in love? Why do they still try to get married? What keeps them so optimistic and happy? Why don’t they feel an immediate dread of an impending doom when they feel like their connection with someone is deepening into more than friendship? Why doesn’t it scare them off?
I am left mystified. Perhaps once I meet my soulmate (if there is such a thing in the first place) I will understand.