First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage… right? Well not necessarily.
Just last week my dear friend, Kristin — of keep up with ktap — and I got on the topic of women being constantly asked whether or not they’re having kids. We both felt moved to write about this potentially “touchy” subject, but from different perspectives. She is an incredibly hardworking, successful counselor (and now blogger!!!!) She’s close with her family and is better at keeping friendships alive than any other person I know. And she has many interests and hobbies… and yet, when someone is “catching up” on her life, the first questions seem to deal with her current romantic relationship status and then intrusively about her desire to have kids (and maybe even the need to hurry up as she gets closer to 30.) As if any woman is unaware of her biological clock…
For Kristin’s brilliantly candid post on this subject, click here.
As someone who just got married in November, I was surprised how many people actually asked before we even left our wedding reception, “when are you having kids?! Time for babies?!” Every person in attendance was someone my husband and I hold dear to our hearts, so I was in no way alarmed by the questions or offended, but simply thought to myself, “that’s so interesting that getting married MEANS we are now ready to have kids and perhaps is even the REASON people get married at all.” It almost seemed as if it wasn’t quite enough for us to just bask in the room full of love and excitement as newlyweds who were just part of the most important commitment ceremony of our lives.
All this being said, I’ve come across several posts, articles, conversations, etc. since we tied the knot, that have made me realize how odd it is to ask someone to proclaim when they’re having children. Why? The answer is not only personal but could potentially be very complicated. In a recent post I read with MANY comments, women of various ages (most who seem like the “perfect” candidates for carrying a life) had been trying for many years without success (one lady had been trying for 8). Some had become pregnant multiple times only to miscarry every single pregnancy. Some had thyroid issues, some had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), some had done multiple rounds of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), some had been trying every old wives tale known to man, and some had literally been on prenatal vitamins for years. And yet, no baby.
The very real possibility sunk into my soul that we may not have an easy time having kids. Maybe the exact timeline and month we’ve planned out in our heads isn’t what’s going to happen? My heart began to ache for all these women who said things like, “I don’t feel like a real woman because what kind of woman can’t bring life into this world? What kind of wife am I?” And still those who had so much hope through all the suffering said, “I can feel it. I’m supposed to be a mom. My little angel just isn’t ready for me yet.”
I guess I just want to say, while Haroon and I very much plan on having kids and I’ve never minded the questions because it is something the two of us discuss often, there are people who feel these questions so very deeply and therefore you just shouldn’t ask. God forbid we have a difficult time getting pregnant in the future, I’m sure I’ll have a much harder time being questioned on when babies will be brought into this world. Not to mention, for the women out there who don’t want to have kids, these questions perpetuate an idea that in order to be a “real woman” you must bear a child… and that’s just not accurate. Just like wanting to birth a child but being unable to makes you no less of a woman.
Remember, you never know exactly what someone is or has gone through and asking something so deeply personal should be off limits. I don’t say this looking down on anyone who’s done this before, as I’ve most certainly done it too. Thoughtlessly. Without any regard for all the complicated factors that may be lying below the surface. I’ve eagerly questioned someone’s relationship status and even brought up their plan for children. But let’s just all agree to stop doing that. If someone brings it up on her own, that’s your opening into this very private matter, but don’t simply assume its up for discussion
Also, let’s be honest, asking when someone is going to try having kids is really just asking about their sex life… which is obviously not okay. Additionally saying, “we are going to try to get pregnant in XYZ month” is just a socially accepted phrase for, “we are having sex on a schedule in hopes to produce a child.” I’m all for sharing whatever you want about your body, but like, does your mom, or Susan in accounting, or even the family friend you’ve known since kindergarten, really need to know you are having lots of sex in hopes to procreate? I’m going to say no. Think about that next time you want to ask questions about someone’s very personal baby making plan.
Photo by Lionlady Photography