Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Question

The dreaded question.....
Every newlywed gets asked.  When you hit your two-year wedding anniversary you're bound to be asked by nearly everyone you talk to.  By the time you hit 5 years (where we are), it's as common a question as "how are you today?"

"When you are you having kids?"  Insert....scary them music here.
Honestly, my feelings towards this question have evolved over time.  On certain days, I'm ambivalent and will politely smile and respond "maybe someday..."  On other days, I'm a bit more dramatic and my answer usually involves a lengthy diatribe about how hard I've worked in law school and how content I am with my life now.  Most days though, I simply answer the question and go on my business.  But lately, I've been a little irked that I'm required to simply answer an incredibly personal and invasive question with such a casual response.

I mean, there are some questions you just don't ask people, right? Like.......Have you had a boob-job?  Is your family financially stable?  How much money do you make?  The list goes on and on, yet for some reason, the "kids question" never seems to make that list.  Yet what could be more personal to a couple than the decision to have kids?  I know people mean no harm, but it's like the old man at the grocery store asking the pregnant lady if she's having twins (she's not).   He means no harm and certainly doesn't have any type of malicious intent, but his question still stings.

So why does this question bother me so much?
First, I've said it once, but it bears repeating.  It's personal.  The back story behind any type of answer I could possibly give in a brief reply couldn't (and shouldn't) dive into all the reasoning.  Even more personal is that the answer may contain some pretty scary truths---infertility, miscarriage, difficult decisions, etc.  Those types of truths are shared only when the holder of such truths wants to share them, not when they are asked "when are you having kids?"

Second, the question is usually followed up with additional encouraging/urging about the topic.  Again, I know these comments are usually harmless, but I can't help but infer from the comments that there must be something wrong with my current life that requires you to convince me to radically change it.  I mean honestly, is my life so bad that you must now discuss how wonderful children are (and how old my eggs are getting) for the next 10 minutes?  If you think about it, it's kind of an insult.  It's like saying, what you're doing now in your life can't possibly mean anything until you add a child into the when are you going to do it, huh?

Third, when people that shouldn't be having kids (financial insecurity, too young, unprepared, not in a committed relationship, etc.) NOBODY asks them, why are you having kids?  It's now a fact of life, so everyone moves on their merry way, throws baby showers, sends cards, and coos and awws.  Why can't my reality (that I don't have children) be just as accepted without questioning. I would never dream to ask a pregnant women, why are you having a baby?  That would be completely inappropriate.  So why is it ok to ask an "un-pregnant" woman why she isn't pregnant.  

Lastly, I'M YOUNG!  I got married when I was 22, so even though I'm coming up on my 5 year wedding anniversary, I'm a baby.  Lay off.

The point of this post isn't to ruffle feathers....or maybe it is.  My main goal is to hopefully shed some light on a question that I think a lot of people ask, but not many people think through the ramifications of their question.  This innocent question carries a lot of baggage, and while your intentions may be good, your words and advice could actually sting.

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