As the world turns..
In the good old days of bachelorhood, I was a carefree birdie, dancing along, not bothered about anything, the future, finances, health, and so were all the other single guys and girls I knew.
One fine day got married and life turned, for the better. Suddenly, we had to be responsible for another person, plan for our future, take care of our health. The interesting part is our associations with people around us. As a newly married couple, we would socialize predominantly with other newly married couples. We would still have the single friends come over for coffee or tea over the weekends or get help to fix things in the house. The single dudes and dudettes would suddenly feign business or other prior engagements as excuses not to socialize with us. In short, we were cut out from the bachelor circles. Maybe they thought we needed more privacy (?!) or maybe they just felt uncomfortable or self consious. Whatever the reason, we were pretty much limited to socializing with married couples and the few dedicated single friends who would still drop by.
This scenario wasnt all that bad. We used to get together on friday nights, play pictionary or other card or board games till the wee hours on saturday morning, sleepover at our friends place, go on to have some tea and breakfast and continue to watch movies till saturday evening and finally return home to our apartment. Add to this the parents who come from India!! The moms dont mind making three rounds of tea while we play games till 3:00 AM, and the food and snacks.. yummy yum!
Then one fine day the married couples drop like flies from pictionary night !! Why ? You guessed it, the ladies get pregnant one after the other.. It is almost as if the bird flu hit them. I have seen this happen in more than one or two circles.. One woman gets pregnant and the rest are practically competing to beat some deadline. I still havent figured out what exactly it is with these ladies, especially among friends but there is some inbuilt peer pressure. I have known women who have cried to their husbands saying "How can she just get pregnant in one week ? It has been a month already for us!".
I have to elaborate on this. Most guys and gals dont know that if one fine day you decide that you are ready for a kid, especially after planning not to have a kid for few years after marriage, it takes a few months to conceive. I am not making this up (I am actually quoting an OB/GYN on this). But peer pressure cannot wait a few months.. First the couple try to have a kid. Once they waste a few packs of pregnancy test kits, they start getting restless. It starts to bother them.. I have seen typical cases where they are highly irritated. Then they start to look at the other person with a critical eye. Maybe he / she is the problem..
At this point the parents throw in their two million where two cents would be enough. You start getting dialogues like :
1. If you had both been god fearing and visited all temples when you came to India instead of roaming the beaches things would have been different.
2. Dont worry. No one in our family side has ever had any problems. It must be something from their family!! Send that person to the doctor !!
3. If only you had listened to us and had not postponed kids after marriage you could have had three kids by now !! You were our wedding anniversary present ! In those days , blah blah blah..
4. you guys have a screwed up lifestyle. Too much pressure at work. Quit your job and come back and settle here and see how soon you conceive !!
5. We told you !! as the girl gets older it becomes more difficult to conceive.. She is not any younger now !! (and they will be saying this to a 24 year old)!
There are of course other variants to this where they take this as an excuse to open up questions about the couples sex life in general and at that point, well it becomes pointless.
By this time the couple have actually decided to call it quits and take it as it comes.. and one fine day, the girl says "by the way, do we still have any of those kits left" ? and surprise surprise.. the kit suddenly shows two lines instead of one !!
At this point, you suddenly start seeing the couples from the old pictionary nights again.. but this time because you are now moving in a differenct circle.. the couples with infants/toddlers circle !!First they start advising you on anything and everything, but this is just their way of saying "welcome to the club". Your habits change. You realize how wrong you were to accuse those parents of always being late to parties, just because they had a kid, when you actually can never make it to any party on time. You still play pictionary but no one is allowed to shout in excitement because the kids are sleeping in another room. You always find an excuse to leave before a sleepover invitation because you dont want your crying baby to wake up the rest, and you find that your excuse is gladly accepted !!
And before you realize, the kids start sleeping by themselves!! You have won back some of the freedom. You can have a movie night, after all the toddlers go to sleep. You can still play card games, although it is a little eerie that the entire game is played in silence. You play Dumb charades and for some reason, the people who are guessing start to act out the words instead of shouting out the answers !!
Things will change beyond this to soccer games, ballet lessons and god knows what else. I have a Persian friend. When he asked his mom when things will change with the kids, and she replied "The first 35-40 years are the most difficult. Then things become easier". That is what parenting is all about I guess. So the lesson folks, enjoy all these phases and dont worry, things will keep changing, and always for the better..
Ps. How can I write a post like this without a disclaimer ? Not all of the things mentioned above have happened to us.. It is a collective observation of more than two dozen couples, at least..