Written by Mariem ELTagoury
*Please note that names of places & people are kept discreet for privacy issues. Also the use of Franco Arab in this article is to deliver the detailed picture of incidents.
I’m a 22 fresh grad; how did THIS become a topic in my life is beyond me but somehow, it’s been thrown in my face so often that I have to admit it’s A topic.
It was a lovely Friday morning when three smart, fine, well educated young women gathered for coffee and breakfast. The weather was pleasant not striking hot, a first in a long time. We were catching up on life and family, college, work opportunities, the likes. One of us was now an official graduate so she was stuck in the job dilemma, like all fresh grads. As we discussed her options, opportunities, and community and family limitations – don’t we all have those? – my other friend advised her to go on with her masters and PhD which I wholeheartedly approved as an option, until she blurted out “it’s better for your future when you have babies!” As I choked on my coffee, she went on to clarify that “it gives you better opportunities to have a stable job with defined early hours, so it gives more time for child care.” Now that I was safe from having coffee stains, I munched on my muffin as I eyed my friend, whom I’d known for so long. We both had the same resolution that we’d never become housewives and unlike me, she had had quite a number of relationships – I stopped counting at 17. So why was this intelligent, college student with a job, and the capability of having almost any guy she liked, planning a career according to a baby map?!
Don’t get me wrong; one day I hope to have my own bundle of joy but the last thing I’d ever imagined was to plan a career according to a nonexistent relationship and family! According to the culture we’re brought up in, certain landmarks in our lives were written long before we were born, like the date of our birth and death, marriage, children, etc… If we live along those lines then anything is possible. It’s possible to never marry, or divorce, or never have children; it’s all a matter of fate. But yet the same culture teaches us that the matter of marriage and child birth is such a norm that it’s not a matter of ‘it will happen’, it has become a matter of ‘it must happen’.
And even if someone granted us all a guarantee certificate that we will all marry and have kids, should one be defining their future according to an idealistic baby map?! In a modern world where you can find mothers who are doctors with night shifts, part of the police force with minimal holidays, and even referees who can adjust their babies’ breast feeding schedule to their matches, the idea of planning an ideal career for baby care seems somewhat anachronistic. Hey if Italian Licia Ronzulli could care for her baby while voting for the EU parliament, any woman can have any successful career and still be a caring mother.
The next day me and my mom were visiting a woman I love dearly –her identity will not be revealed for confidentiality – I sat there as they caught up on their gossip, and then it happened…
“I don’t understand! My husband has done everything, but they simply won’t attend any of the appointments he makes with the doctors! I don’t understand! They’re not young anymore!”
My mother cautiously replied “maybe they don’t want to go….”
I drowsily added, “Maybe they don’t want to have children. It’s their business after all….”
“THAT IS PREPOSTEROUS! What kind of normal human being doesn’t want children? And no, it’s not THEIR business alone! It’s our business too….”
Here’s a piece of advice; do not try to talk sense to a mother who’s desperate to add ‘grand’ to her title, unless you’re suicidal.
How the business of two people suddenly became an issue to six is beyond me. We are brought up in a culture that is nosy by nature, everyone wants to know why each and everyone are leading their lives they way they do, and the closer they are the worse the case. With a rising generation exposed to western culture and different lifestyles, it’s hard to pinpoint who’s right and who’s wrong. On one hand, there are loving parents who want the best for their children and were raised within a culture that emphasized listening to your elders. On the other hand, those children have become adults who have been exposed to a western culture which emphasizes privacy and less enthusiasm to extended family relations.
Is it possible that our community & culture expect us to plan our futures and define them according to little beings who might or might not be a part of our future lives? What if we never have babies?! What if we made that unspeakable choice of willingly not wanting children? Is that a crime? Or a shame? I don’t know what to make of it. But I do know one thing; I’m a 22 jobless fresh grad. I’m not close to getting married either and even if I did; I’ll never be a housewife. So excuse me society with all your “o’baliks” but I have a job to find and bills to pay, thank you.
What do you think?
Have you faced a similar situation? What do you think of the topic? How would you respond to similar topics in conversation? Let us know in a comment! If you have any other topic you’d like us to discuss leave a comment or send an email on firstname.lastname@example.org