It happens to me a lot. I dismiss it as curiosity but it makes me feel like I'm some sort of strange creature roaming the earth. People may not always recoil, but there is definitely a reaction.
People want to know if I have children. Then they want to know why I don't have children. Then they want to know if I want children. And really, although not insulting questions on their face, the answers are really none of anyone's business.
The question seems to imply that there is something wrong with me. As if I am not keenly aware that by society's standards, I'm a few cats away from being a write off.
By asking childless women about their childless circumstances, it implies that parenthood is the only real, true, viable option for a woman. I've heard men get asked if they have any kids. When the answer is no, they don't usually get asked why not. No one cares. Men can be whatever they want in life but women are supposed to be mothers.
I'm not a woman who is jetsetting around and living a wild, self exploratory life. I'm just a single gal, in my mid thirties, trying to get things right. Young women today are taking time for themselves. They are building careers and travelling the world. All things that are much easier to do when young and not raising a family. If that's what they want to do right now, they can. They aren't cold, heartless women. They aren't child haters. They are just marking things off the bucket list.
I had a friend in university who always knew she didn't want to give birth. I, like many people out there, assumed she'd change her mind. It didn't occur to me at the time how insulting it was for me to assume such a thing. She knew. And it is entirely up to her to decide. It was foolish of me to presume to know what was right for her.
Asking a woman about her parental status can be not only insulting but upsetting. When you ask that woman about her plans to have children, you don't know her background. Maybe she's tried and tried and tried and is unable. Maybe she just had a miscarriage. Maybe, like me, she's single and not sure she can float it on her own. Truth be told, you never really know someone's story. And the thing is, her story isn't your business. If she wanted you to know, she'd tell you.
It isn't up to me, or you, your parents or anyone else to decide and judge. We are never going to reach a point in society where women stop having children all together so your fears and concern are unfounded.
It is important to remember that not everyone needs to be a parent.
That woman you tell to hurry up and have kids, doesn't really need your two cents. I've been told to hurry up more than once. I'm aware that my clock is ticking. But I will not let that dictate my life. I'd love to have children. I'm open to having children. But I'm not in a place to do it right this second. The reality is, I may never be in that place. It doesn't mean I deserve to be judged.
We stereotype women as caregivers and don't know where to put them when they don't fit inside the box. There are a lot of ways to be happy, healthy and fulfilled in this world. My friend from university is now happily married and a step mom to a beautiful little girl. She is one of the best mothers I know. She didn't have to give birth to feel like a whole women. I understand that having a child is the only
option for some women. And that's okay too.
It can be a complicated decision. The ins and outs of which are really none of your concern.
Are you childless and been asked the probing follow up questions? How did it make you feel?