When are you having babies?
As a woman, how many times have you been asked this question? AND at what age or point in your life did this question start?
If I had a penny…
I can remember as young as a child being asked how many kids I wanted to have. It was just an expected thing in life because I am female.
Growing up, I always rejected and rebelled against traditional gender roles and always knew I wanted to be independent and live a life for me; not for a husband, not for babies. Did this mean I didn’t want children? To be honest, I’m not sure. But I do know that getting this baby question so much made me automatically answer “NO! I don’t want kids.” and list explicit points why I didn’t need/want a baby to fulfill my life or why having one would be a burden to my lifestyle or success.
Can you have it all? that’s another burning question. I can tell you that when I was working my 9-5, which was really more of a 7-7 including commute and long office hours, and the thought or conversation of children entered my mind, I couldn’t imagine how I [and my husband] would possibly manage having a child. I got home from work very exhausted and drained, not only from work, but the terrible commute. My husband and I only shared 1.5 days off together. I lived for the weekend; so I could finally rest! I could just see the pile of issues and compromise of mental/physical health that would arise personally and with my relationship with my husband. So the idea of having a tiny human that depended so much on me, was simply not something that seem to fit into my life or I had the time for.
I know a ton of women and couples do it all the time, and many are excellent at it! Just for me, I didn’t see this going well.
Regardless of what’s been going on in my life, even before I got married- people (particularly other women) keep asking the same question. And the older I get, the more follow up questions there are.
I am now 35, and very aware of my biological clock. If anything, now is when I’ve given more serious thought to the idea of having a child (IF I even could). But it’s not something I take lightly. I’m unemployed, our income has drastically decreased from where I was a year ago, our place isn’t small, but not big enough for a child and all the things they need, and reasons really go on. People who have children will say “timing is never perfect” and while that may be true, I’m a planner and perfectionist- so I aim for that. BUT aside from all that, I also take this life decision very seriously- do I even want children?
So I always knew this question bothered me, but now it really angers me. Especially as close women to me become pregnant and I get to experience [second hand] the level of intrusion they receive from family and friends as well as complete strangers. Some of these women have had reproductive challenges, or was a surprise pregnancy, or experiencing hardships in their lives at the time they became pregnant, OR having a high risk pregnancy. People intruding expect them to have this rainbows and butterflies type of attitude about EVERYTHING concerning their pregnancy. And while I overall agree that baring a child and brining a baby human into the world is such a blessing and amazing/beautiful gift, it’s not always that simple. Circumstances can be complicated and in general a very private matter.
Which brings me back to me- when I answer “no” I expect the questions to stop, but lately there are plenty of follow ups that are very personal. Let’s assume I was pregnant and very early or or high risk (which I would be at this point because I’m 35)- is you trying to pry it out of me a respectful and considerate thing to do? Furthermore, I’m quite private (I know it doesn’t seem like it with me sharing so much on my blog and social media, but I really am!), so odds are whoever is asking me has zero idea of what may be going on with me personally or in my relationship. What if there are reproductive issues? What if this is a sensitive subject between my husband and I? What if, it’s simply none of your business?!
For me, I’ve always chosen career growth and travel over settling down and buying the house to fill with children. And regardless of my career achievements, others always seemed to look at me like I was missing something, or my life is empty because I don’t have kids.
While I can understand curiosity is normal and there is a lot of joy in welcoming new life into the world; I think what bothers me is the expectation that because you are female you should want to have a baby or else there must be something wrong with you. This, I think, is what irks me to no end. I don’t believe our value or success as females depends or relies on having children. For some women it might, that’s their choice and what they believe their calling or purpose is- but it is not, or should not, be measured by that same standard for all women. Let’s STOP this!
And for the most part, I think we can agree that the baby questions aren’t asked maliciously but let’s all please consider and respect the woman’s right to privacy and delicacy in this matter before you ask.