Sunday, January 25, 2009

Parenthood

Over the years I have come to learn more about the inexplicable intimacy between a mother and her child. Although I have not achieved much understanding of this genetic affinity, I have come to some of my own conclusions about this maternal bond as well as this concept we call parenthood.

First there is the biological clock that supposedly lies dormant in female DNA and when the time is ripe, it will start ticking and eventually ignite the ovaries (bomb) via the fallopian tubes (detonating cord). However some women purport that they do not have the maternal instinct to want to reproduce (point of digression—a career woman tells you she wants to focus only on her career—do you believe her or the fact that she just has not found the right man yet?). If everything goes according to the grand plan of natural selection, will these non-maternal women eventually weed themselves out of the human race?

Of course I am no doctor or gynaecologist but I do know that a multitude of societal factors both push and pull women into decisions involving marriage, sex, pregnancy, abortion and family-planning. In this age, a woman’s position on society’s ladder is constantly moving up at the expense of the joys (and woes) of motherhood. One could argue that some women are more genetically-predisposed to leaving the propagation of the human race to personal choices but here I have assumed that for them, it is an absolute case of mind over (genetic) matter.

I have always believed that love should be the only mechanism that drives the world and all its going-ons and for this post, I am only referring to the love between partners and a mother’s love for a child. When I look at these two kinds of love, an interesting question comes to mind—do we really need a spouse or a loving relationship in order to have a child? Society at large still frowns upon the single parent at the moment but if we were to take that (as well as the complicating issues around IVF, surrogate mothers, gay parenting, etc) out of the equation, shouldn’t pure maternal (or maybe even paternal) instinct lead directly to single parenthood since it is the fastest means to the desired end?

And that brings us to another interesting question—why does a person want to have a child in the first place? At first glance, there is the obvious and primal reason of reserving a place in the continuum of planetary human-domination for one’s lineage, which is the practice of most other species as well. But when we delve a little deeper, other more superficial reasons surface eg. I find kids so adorable, I want someone to take care of me when I grow old, I want to cast all my failed hopes and dreams on someone, I am bored so let me start this new personal project, etc. Notice how all these reasons start? Yup, having children can be a selfish act.

But haven’t we all heard of how unconditional a mother’s love is? Where is the selfishness in that? Well I was looking at the motivating issues strictly in the pre-natal sense or rather at the pre-conception stage. I have no doubt that once the child is born, that inexplicable intimacy that I have alluded to earlier certainly belongs in the realm of unconditional love (although I am not saying that all mothers are capable of offering love of such nature). So if selfish love (oxymoron anyone?) is wrong, what are the correct reasons for bringing a child into this harsh and mutated world?

I have thought long and hard about this before and I have sought the opinions of many as well. The concluding consensus (apart from the biological clock ticking noisily away depriving many of valuable sleep)—when there is too much love in this relationship between two people, there needs to be a place to direct the spill-over to. Coupled with the desire to carry this relationship of love on for as long as possible, using this overflowing affection to make a product of their love (whom they will continue to love forever) makes perfect sense (and hence the term “making love”). In my opinion, this is the only reason why a child should be brought into existence otherwise the enormous responsibility of being a parent (which many are not acutely aware of beforehand) could weaken or even crush the strongest person.

Unfortunately a lot of parents did not give their decisions to bear offsprings much forethought and I do not (totally) blame them when there are so many things around us clouding our reasoning nowadays, not to mention sanity (peer pressure, governmental pressure, parental pressure and media pressure all forcing people to come together, have sex (often promiscuously), get married and bear the consequences for all the wrong reasons). The vicious cycle that ensues compounds the situation into a bigger mess—kids of divorcés and divorcees growing up without good role models only to become even more inept parents themselves. Ever wondered why many extremely poor families are also extremely huge ones? Where is the logic in that?

I am not trying to sweepingly assert that children from broken homes necessarily translate into broken people but the trends sure point in that direction don’t they? I am also not trying to paint a black-and-white picture here. This is why at times I can be quite overwhelmed by the sense of relief that as homosexuals, Ision and I do not have the need or face the pressure to grapple with these issues. Again, this may very well be another part of the grand plan to weed gays out of the human race but that belongs to another post.

Many people have told me that parenthood is not something one can learn from a training course and that nothing can ever prepare someone enough to be a parent. That may be right but they should at least be reminded to have a child and start a family only when they are equipped with the right reasons. That being said, I still hate to think of parenthood as a sink-or-swim assignment that one can only learn on-the-job as I always like to plan the many aspects of my life. I also hate to think that children are basically experimental subjects manipulated (with good intentions or otherwise) by their parents eager to add child-rearing to their to-do lists. I only hope that more parents swim than sink and in the unfortunate event of sinking not turning it into an ugly contest of ownership that does nothing other than ruining a child’s life.

This post goes out to all the parents out there (especially mothers and especially all my friends who have recently become mothers) and along with it, I will dedicate a song that I have written to all of you as well. May it give you the fortitude to brave through all challenges of parenthood and emerge victorious in the end.



[摇篮]

柔柔缓缓摇篮在荡漾
外婆手中握着一把扇
微风吻着我儿的脸庞
慢慢催眠他入梦乡

墙上外公褪色的肖像
浅浅微笑温暖了心房
脸上皱纹细说着沧桑
外婆听着留声机轻唱

想当年, 只有简单的三两句话
浓浓的亲情来自父母的伟大
男大了当婚, 女大了自然当

感情就这样从零默默萌芽

想当年, 爱情等于桌上的两餐
呵护就只是缝好破衫避风寒
外公为了家再度向朝阳启航
外婆守在开启的木门, 向外望

外婆,我要以你作榜样
爱情, 亲情维系的模范
睡吧, 儿子 爸快回来啦
柔柔缓缓摇篮在荡漾




[Cradle]

Softly, slowly, the cradle rocks
With a fan in Grandma’s hand
Light kisses of breeze are blown onto my son’s face
Gently lulling him into dreamland

On the wall hangs Grandpa’s faded portrait
His mellow smile warms my heart
The lines on his face detail stories of both ups and downs
As Grandma sings softly to the gramophone

Thinking back those years, when there were only simple exchanges of a few words
When strong bonds of kinship stemmed from the selflessness of parents
When men and women simply started families when they were of a certain age
When loving relationships grew out of nothing

Thinking back those years, when love was expressed through two meals on the table
When tender care was shown simply with a sewn-up torn shirt on a cold windy day
When Grandpa had to set sail into the morning sun once again
When Grandma stood by the open wooden doors, looking in the distance

Grandma, I want to make you my role model
To learn the ways of fostering love and kinship
Sleep my son, daddy is coming home soon
Softly, slowly, the cradle rocks