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Quiet weekends
No desire to have kids

By Sharareh Shirazi
July 5, 2001
The Iranian

The Iranian dream. The perfect family. Husband, wife and kids... that's how it's always been, and they say "it always will be"...

What if, I don't want kids? What if I decide as a married, happy, and successful Iranian woman, that I have no desire to have kids? How do I fit into the Iranian society? How do I continue to have a normal life, with Iranian friends and relatives? Will I be accepted? Or will they just assume after a while that I am "naa-zaa" and can't have kids.

I have been happily married for 10 years. My husband and I have worked very hard to get to where we are today. Finished university without any help from anyone, started a life together at a young age (21), and now we are in jobs that are starting to pay off for all the hard work and dedication we have put in. People around us, were beginning to get used to the idea that this happy couple are "too busy" to have kids.

The news came that my in-laws were coming to visit us from Iran. The first thing I thought of was... uh-oh, they're going to ask us about bacheh... and then what? Do I have to smile and be the typical aroos, and say "Enshaalaa, bezoodee"? Or should I stand up and say it's none of your business? So I expressed my concern to my husband, and he told me not to worry about it, and that if they should say anything, tell them to speak to him.

A few days passed, and everyone was trying to catch up on lost time, and get over their jet lag. Like a good aroos, I was in the kitchen washing the dishes while everyone else moved to the living room. Then I heard words like "bacheh", "peer shodeen", "deer shodeh", and that's when I knew it had happened. The questioning had begun.

I could hear my poor sister-in-law coming to my husband's rescue, and told her parents to mind their own business. But the discussions continued. I wasn't game enough to leave the kitchen and join them. I decided it was a good time to clean the stove, oven, and while I'm at it, why don't I just put a load in the washer? Any excuse to stay in the kitchen. My husband came into the kitchen, and gave me a peck on the cheek, and said in English "Honey don't worry about it , I took care of it".

Took care of it? Took care of what? How? I tried to think of what to say. I finally gathered enough courage to join them. I poured everyone a cup of tea, and then came the question... "azizam, shomaa nemekhaay bachedaar beshee? Daareh senetoon meereh baalaa." SH**! Now what? There was silence. I waited for someone to rescue me. Maybe the phone would ring, maybe there would be an earthquake. My palms were sweaty, my heart was beating fast and I was shivering.

I pulled myself together and explained to them in the most civilized possible way, that "We are too busy with work, and cannot afford to have kids." It didn't stop. I was given a lecture of how kids bring light into our lives. I was also told about the time when their son -- my husband -- was born and they didn't even have money to pay the rent and had to live with their in-laws!

I couldn't hear the conversation anymore. I was deep in my own thoughts. How could this be happening? It doesn't make sense. There has to be something wrong with this picture. They had kids, but couldn't afford it? But why? Why put yourself through all that misery? I'm happy. I'm very happy. My husband and I love each other very much, and don't need a third person in our lives.

We want to rest on the weekends. We want to go to restaurants without having to take diapers and baby food with us. We don't want to worry about whether the restaurant has high chairs or not. I want to watch TV without worrying if the movie is appropriate for kids or not. I want to go on a romantic trip to Europe. I want to go back to school, and get my PhD in philosophy. I can't do any of this with kids!

I suddenly realized my in-laws were waiting for an answer. I looked into their curious eyes, and as I was about to open my mouth to say something, my husband told them to finish the discussion, and not talk about this topic anymore. I couldn't control myself. I swallowed the lump in my throat, and left the room.

I couldn't do it. I couldn't defend what I believe in. I sat there like a five-year-old that's done something wrong, with tears in my eyes. I did something right though... I was a good aroos, and didn't talk back.

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