By Jodi A. Shaw
I got married a year ago. I get asked on a regular basis when we are going to have kids. It didn’t start recently; it began only weeks after the ring was on my finger. “When are you going to have kids? When are you going to have kids?” At first I was able to politely handle the question, but it has gotten to the point now, where, when asked, I want to punch the person asking me.
Why such a violent reaction? If you feel the urge to ask me when my husband and I are going to have kids, please refer to the following:
1. It’s none of your business. Childmaking is an intimate affair and unless you are prepared to ask me about those intimate details of my marriage, do not ask about the making of children. That’s right: if you feel uncomfortable asking me questions about how often we have sex, in what position, and what our method of birth control is, you should probably feel uncomfortable about asking me when we are going to allow fertilization to occur.
2. In the past, when I have answered honestly: “I’m not sure. We might not even have our own. We might adopt,” the immediate reaction tends to be, “Oh, well, you should really have your own,” or, “Oh, but you two would have such adorable children,” and so on. I am pretty confident that what you have to say about how the hubby and I go about having kids is, you got it, none of your business. We don’t ask for your opinion about our sex life, so why would we want your opinion about how we become parents.
3. When I was 14 I got my first period. I then became physically capable of becoming pregnant, gestating, and bearing a child. No one asked me then when I was going to have kids, so why ask now? Because I’m married? Let me clear this up: I got married so that I could be married to the person I love. I did not get married so that I could have kids.
4. If this is not enough to satisfy the urge to push and push and push the “have kids, have kids” mantra on me, please consider this: Not too long ago I had an eating disorder that almost killed me. I was very, very sick for several years and now, I have a very tumultuous and confusing relationship with my body. So, while I’m sure you mean well, by asking me when I’m going to get pregnant, you are also plaguing my mind with turmoil and fear. You are also asking when I’m going to get fat, get stretch marks, lose control over my bodily functions, when I’m going to bloat, ooze, and put my body through one of the most trying experiences of my life . . . and I don’t like to go there. Oh, but you say, it’s worth it when you see that baby. Okay. You spend five years of your life with an eating disorder that takes over your entire existence, rots you from the inside out, and leaves you with psychological and emotional scars that, years later, are still very fresh — and when you’re done coming back from that, then we’ll talk about how it’ll “be okay” when the baby arrives.
5. It is not 1950. I have ambitions, goals, and dreams for myself, my career, my marriage, and my life that do not revolve around having babies (not that there is anything wrong with wanting to have kids. If your ambition is to be a mother, I respect that, and do not consider you oppressed or old fashioned). I reserve the right to have dreams and goals outside of being a mother and would much rather you ask me about those things. I’m building a career right now with one of the oldest unions in Canada that will afford my husband and I the ability to one day support and provide for kids, and having kids would stall my progress. Sorry babies, no medical benefits for you!
6. Raising children is very expensive. True, no one can ever be financially prepared for kids, but I think the responsible thing to do before having kids would be to pay off some of my student debt, maybe have some money in the bank, perhaps even start the motions toward buying a house so that they have somewhere nice to live . . . unless you are willing to make great financial contributions to the abovementioned debts, please reconsider harassing me about getting pregnant. I am being responsible by not getting pregnant. In fact, by not getting pregnant at a time when we cannot afford it, we are proving to be very wise and responsible parents.
7. Consider this for a moment: Perhaps the second my husband and I got married we started trying to have kids. And perhaps, the sperm and the egg aren’t liking each other. Perhaps, one of us is sterile. Perhaps, we are very sad that we can’t get pregnant. And perhaps, people asking about it all the time is salt in a very big, painful wound. Thanks for rubbing it in.
Is this true? Well, you don’t know. So if you’re not comfortable asking me, “Hey! Are you sterile? How’s your husband’s sperm?” Then perhaps, you shouldn’t ask if/when we’re going to have kids.
8. It just keeps going, now doesn’t it? Obviously, I am pretty tired of people asking.
Hello. My name is Jodi. I choose not to use my uterus right now. I choose to be a wife, a daughter, a sister, a writer, a letter carrier, and a size 8.
I am not an incubator. My identity is composed of so many components — all of which I’m pretty proud of. One day my identity will probably include the role of mother, but when, where, and how our children are produced is up to me and my husband to decide. And, as mentioned several times, it’s not really anybody’s business but ours.
If I get pregnant, and it really matters to you, you’ll know. Until then, pay more attention to who I am as a person, to all the great things I’ve got going on in my life right now (I just got married, just started a career, etc.), and please: leave my uterus alone.