Make Womb for The Future

(Side note-I’m playing with the way this site looks. If you have a suggestion, or a thought, leave me a comment. I want to make sure everything is at least readable.)

Over the course of the last month, I’ve heard one question pop up each time we’ve (Ben and I) run into someone from our pasts. It’s the one question that forces me to bite my tongue so hard I’m sure I’ll gnaw right through. The one question that makes me want to smack my head against a wall. And that reaction is ubiquitous (my new favorite word) regardless of intention, identity of the questioner.

So, any kids yet?

Now, the question has variation of course. And some people I just assume ask because I’m a heavy woman. And that is the one case when I’m surprisingly not immediately offended. I get it-I’m fat. I’m not gonna pout about it. But that particular scenario has happened maybe once, so it’s the exception, not the rule.

Seriously though. I know a great many people who are parents-and damn good ones. If that’s the life they choose for themselves, I’m happy for them. But for Ben and I-it’s not the right time. And I know, I don’t have to defend my life choices to you lovely people, but we need to talk about gender expectations and this is one area I am a professional at.

Ahem.

When Ben and I got married (and at a young age), our congratulatory messages on social media were delightful, but several contained the question above. This may be an old story, but it’s relevant, so here goes. A year went by and in class, my professor asked if women in America experienced any pressures to have kids. I told him that the same day I got married, people were asking me. He shook his head and told me that he doubted it actually happened.

And that was two years ago. I’m still getting asked. I honestly don’t think I’ll stop being asked in the immediately foreseeable future. I don’t have to like that for it to be reality. So I try not to let it bother me. But the truth is, it’s demeaning, it’s borderline offensive and it’s not cool. Allow me to explain.

When you ask if I’m going to have kids soon, what you’re really saying is that my only value is in my ability to reproduce. You’re telling me that my marriage is only valuable if I make another human being. You’re telling my husband that his only worth is in producing sperm and that I am only as valuable as the number of offspring I produce. You’re telling me that my career isn’t worth anything, that I’ve wasted my time going to college. You’re telling me that my life ceases to be anything the moment I become a mother.

So let me tell you something.

I have value. As an individual. I don’t need to ever have a kid if I don’t want to. Do you know why? Because being a mother isn’t the only purpose for a woman to exist. I can be anything. I can be a lawyer, or a doctor or a fisher or a crafter or an actress or anything. And do you know why? Because if I want it-I will do it. And none of those things need your permission for me to accomplish.

So when you tell me that you want grandchildren because there are coworkers who talk about theirs and you don’t get to partake in that conversation-I’m silently fuming. You’re telling us that the only reason you want grandchildren is so that you won’t have to be left out? You’re telling us that you don’t care about what we want in life, just as long as you have a conversation starter? Excuse you. (And no, it’s not my parents.)

Let me tell you what I want.

I want to see the world. I want to work in a job I don’t hate, make friends who are loyal and share my interests. I want to go out and try new things, just for the sake of crossing them off my bucket list. I want to pay off all of my student loans. I want to be a member of wine of the month club and perform some more marriages. I want to live in a world where my value isn’t negotiable, my rights aren’t laughed at, my body is not something anyone else is entitled to. I want to live in a country where people are seen as equals-regardless of their skin color, their socioeconomic background, their beliefs. I want to live in a world where people care about one another, protect one another, help out one another.

And until that happens-all of that-I can’t imagine that having a child will make me happy. 

I don’t want to look at my kid and see nothing but regrets and “what ifs”. I don’t want to be bitter that I never got to do x, y, or z. I don’t want to resent my child because I can’t go to places I’ve always dreamed about. That’s not what I want for them.

And when I cross off all of the things I want out of life, all of the things I’ve ever desired and can offer my everything to my kid-it is then and ONLY then, that I will consider having one.

Because I am not defined by my ability to reproduce. And neither is anyone else.

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10 thoughts on “Make Womb for The Future

  1. The first time my ex took me home, his father asked me, “so…. kids?” Then again, it was the month he’d retired.

    I saw this article on FB yesterday and thought it summed up my feelings adequately.
    http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/a-friends-pregnancy

    I agree– all children should be wanted for themselves, not because children are the assumed ‘next step’. I know if I don’t have kids, I’ll regret it. But, I can’t say that I wouldn’t regret both sides of the coin, because every decision you make has consequences and sacrifices.

    1. Absolutely. And I’m not saying that having a child is bad. It’s just not for me-not right now. I know people who had kids at 16 and they’ve become better people for it. I know people who waited until they were 38 to have kids and were unhappy. Ultimately, it falls to the individuals involved. And you’re right-everything has consequences. But making a hard choice for the right reasons is better than making the hard choice for the popular reasons.

  2. I love this!!! It also goes to asking the question “So, when are you going to have more kids?” Because it is unacceptable to only have 1 and be satisfied? We have been asked this question more times than I care to count and mostly by family. It irritates me. These people never stop to think that maybe there were medical reasons we only have 1 child OR simply because we only WANTED 1 child. Consideration of feelings isn’t thought of when asking these questions. The old saying “Think before you speak” is far underrated.

    1. Definitely true. I also heard from a classmate that people ask the reverse “Why didn’t you stop after X number of kids?” You can’t please everybody, but family seems to be the hardest to convince of pretty much anything. I mean, health and happiness go a lot further than people pleasing. and career women? That’s enough gossip to go around a small town for years lol

  3. When I was in my late 20s and engaged this felt like all anyone asked about. But I will say that at 35 and single? It’s been years since I’ve heard anything. Which is fantastic. I have a friend who got married at 40 for the first time and they are trying desperately to have a child and she never gets asked which is really depressing her. So wide range here. But I do think you can age out of this question.
    I am sad to hear that people didn’t stop asking because they realized it was a horrible question, but just because I got old and single.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. That is really unfortunate, and I’m sorry that happened to you. There’s definitely a stereotype for women as far as age goes, and it would seem that once you reach a certain point, any questions possibly related to youth and vivaciousness seem to disappear. That in and of itself is ridiculous. Numbers are social constructs and cannot do much to stop a person from living to the fullest.

      1. Entirely true. But also? I’m really ok with it. I’m ok with it no longer being assumed I want to party and find a man and have babies. People ask me about work and writing and podcasting.

        I wonder if this is what men are treated like?

      2. I understand completely. I can’t speak for men, obviously. But my husband occasionally gets asked (usually by family) and he takes offense to it as well. He sees it as being asked if his only value is in decent sperm production, which is something he thinks about, but not his whole identity.
        It’s all just bizarre to me how our society is so focused on biological functions, but over-sexualizes them at the same time.

      3. Well they at least are giving into their basest biological instincts to continue the species by prodding people around them to do their part to have healthy and many progeny.

        I’m not bothered by the question once or do you have kids as a normal point of learning things, but when it is over and over and a focus that it bothers me.

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