Unlike some women who can’t wait to break the news of their pregnancy to the world, I on the other hand, only told those around us around the sixth month. When I was already showing and the question was inevitable. (The news came out around this time last year, hence this posting.)
Many were surprised that I didn’t break this news much earlier. And in fact many others found out from other people. As soon as the news came out (courtesy of a few CNN newscasters) it spread like wildfire.
And I was so ill equipped and unprepared at being congratulated to. Worst still were the questions thrown at me, why didn’t you tell us? But some of these people, I haven’t spoken to for ages. Was I expected to pick up the phone to inform them that I was pregnant?
The few close friends I had, those I really hung out with, knew somewhat earlier. But what was most apparent to me was the different cultural reactions.
(Atenah and I had this conversation about how we perceived things are shaped by our culture. Yes Atenah I am still pondering what makes me the way I am. And I am beginning to think that some of the so called cultural values that most Malays have, well I don’t seem to hold those values.)
My Malay friends thought that it was their God given right to be told from the very beginning when I was pregnant while my Western friends would just take the information in and smile and asked me how I feel. And the funnier thing was that it was much easier for me to share the news with my Western friends rather than my Malay friends.
My beloved pointed out to me that I hang out with my Western friends because we have some things in common, our quilting hobby perhaps. They are people whom I genuinely enjoy their company and we have the same mindset about things. My Malay friends well, some of them, we hung out with because of the commonality of out culture even though we may not share any common interests or point of view. My Malay friends, I suppose are like family. You can choose your friends, but you don’t choose family.
The other thing I absolutely could not stand was the underlying implication that the Malays assume when they found out that I was pregnant. One of the first questions they would ask was, how many years have you been married? And when given the answer they would react as if a miracle has suddenly taken place. Oh wow! After seven years!
You can finally conceive! They would remark with such surprise.
Out comes the stories of how, "Ah adik I pun dah 8 tahun kawin baru dapat anak." Or "My cousin punya best friend punya sedara tu buat IVF 4 kali baru dapat anak."
It was very difficult to explain to them that it wasn’t that we couldn’t have children, but we chose not to have any all these years. They just cannot believe that there could be such a person who voluntarily chose not to have children after getting married and quickly assume that you have “problems.”
Luckily my beloved, being the ever so wise one, pointed out to me that, "What people say is a reflection of them, of who they are and what they are thinking, and often has nothing to do with you or about you." He also pointed out to me that, "their perception of things belong to them and there is nothing much you can do to change that."
Now don’t get me wrong, now that we have The-Little-One, we love her very much. And yes it is such a joy to see her smile and hear her laugh. But I am still adjusting to my life as a mother. There are days when I do wish I have more time to myself, so I can just sit down to think and be able, at a moment’s notice pack my bag and fly off somewhere. Unplanned trips were my specialty. But these days, it takes me two hours to get ready to go out. And yet I’m breastfeeding, so no hassle with bottles and formulas. But I still go around with a HUGE Gucci diaper bag.
Yes the Gucci diaper bag deserves a mention here, because its part of my denial I guess. I cringe at the thought of carrying a pink quilted bag with pictures of bunnies and storks on the outside.
Some of my friends only found out that I have a baby when I returned for my holidays recently. I just didn’t get round to telling them that I was pregnant and I now have a nine month old child. Some were in shock but I’m sure they’ll get over it somehow.
However, despite my reluctance and my trepidation, I love being a mother to my daughter. I still stand on my past decision not have children any earlier because I needed to be mentally prepared to be one. I needed the time to get to know myself, my limitations, my strengths, my values and my view of the world before I can finally decide what sort of values I want to pass down to my child.
And Atenah, more so now than ever before, I am constantly assessing myself and my environment, and what sort of message I am sending out to my child.
When and how I became like this? I think since my uni days when I was taught to be observant and critical of the things around me. When I was taught to think and assess everything.
And my wish for my child?
For her to get the best education a person can get. Not just having the academic accreditation but also the wisdom of the ways of the world. May she always find happiness in life, in whatever she does. I want her to always know that she is loved very much by both her parents. And that she will become a good Musl/m.
NB Yes Kak Teh, I do need extra hands, arms and legs this year. I don’t know somehow your posting about your mum made me think more about motherhood, in my case the start of my motherhood and my reluctance to embark on this role earlier.
Elisa, yes we are fortunate to have the opportunity to see the true colors of the religion.