Readers, it is time for me to stop writing about being a parent and to just parent. In a few months, my eldest will be four. I am no longer a new mother; I no longer battle with constant motherhood impostor syndrome. I have found my way, and that includes knowing and accepting that I will perhaps never know the way.
I thought I never wanted children and then I decided I did and I was fortunate to be able to make those decisions independently and then I was fortunate to be able to conceive and bring my babies into the world with proper medical care. For me, having children gives me moments of euphoria.
But I also struggled with postpartum depression—once diagnosed, once not. I put in the sleepless nights and the endless diaper changes. I gained weight, I lost weight, I stopped caring about my weight. I look like I have bangs because the hair that fell out after baby two is still growing back in but despite that, I no longer stumble when I say, “Yes, I have two children.”
A mother is part of who I am. And that means I no longer have enough to say about it every two weeks. I still marvel—at my children, at my husband, at myself, at the world—every day, every hour, every minute—but that is becoming increasingly private, increasingly normal, though still delightful.
A writer is part of who I am. And that means I write. I write fiction. I rarely write about writing fiction; I certainly would not be able to do it every fortnight.
I am also a daughter, a wife, a sister, a professor, an amateur knitter, a terrible cook, a decent tennis player, and so much more. But the way I wear all those identities like a second skin, I finally feel like I have grown into my identity as a mother, and that means shedding this column. There are no longer any edges between myself as mother and myself as everything else.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Some of you have written to me over the past months to tell me about your own challenges—especially with deciding whether or not to have children. For those women, I promise you only that the answer is not in these columns or in any books or in any advice from anyone at all. Deciding to have children is a deeply personal and unique decision. You can have a happy, complete, satisfying, love-filled life without children. And you can have the same with children. Whatever you choose, I hope you find happiness and beauty and maybe even moments of euphoria along the way.
It has been a challenging phase of human history but I hope we can soon remove our masks and see each other smile (although I am still not for hugs and will not mind if the pandemic puts an end to that once and for all) and to my fellow parents, I will see you at the school gates for drop-off after the pandemic and we can get a much deserved glass of wine at 9am.
Diksha Basu is the best-selling author of The Windfall and Destination Wedding.