Unbearable: Whether You’re Childless By Choice Or Trying To Conceive, Awkward Questions Suck

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Having a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

My daughter and I were at a fundraiser last week where we ran into some old family friends. Through the small talk and chit-chat, I heard one very persistent question, “When are you giving that little girl a sibling?”

A couple of B5’s wonderful women have been talking about their choice to remain childless. While I love and support these women, I didn’t feel like I had a huge connection with the constant pressure to have kids. I had a child at the age of 22, so I never got to a point where people were wondering when I was going to pop out a baby. I never had to deal with the invasive questions or the need to defend my decisions.

All of a sudden, in one evening, I said, “Oh, so this is what its like.” None of these people were trying to be rude. They had no idea what was going on in my personal life. But that didn’t make questions like, “Your daughter is already three, I assumed you would have another by now?” or “Don’t you want her to have someone to play with?” any easier to hear.

What on earth were my response choices? I am simply not open enough about my sex life to say, “We’re working on it.” The truth, that we’ve been trying for over a year now and I have monthly emotional breakdowns everytime it doesn’t work, didn’t seem like great conversational fodder, although it might have put a few of those questioners in their place. I would love to pretend like I’m secure enough to simply not dignify those questions with a response, but I’m achingly polite and my mother was there. Mostly, I smiled and nodded. I managed a few words here or there, without ever giving a specific response or actually addressing the issue.

I went home that night and thought a lot about random acquaintances’ need to inquire about the status of my uterus. I’m not sure if it seems safer to ask me such questions, since I already have one daughter and obviously am not averse to having children. Or maybe I get less questions because having one satisfies some people’s belief that every woman wants to be a mother. Since I’ve filled the requirement, maybe I hear it less than those who chose to never have children at all. If that’s the case, I am so incredibly sorry for all that childless ladies have to go through! My Heavens, that’s a lot of explaining I wouldn’t want to do.

I’m not sure if its simply a sign of our times, when every tabloid has a constant “bump watch” running on every celebrity female, that people feel entitled to such personal information. Maybe its a symptom of oversharing in general, the way that people will post absolutely anything to their Facebook walls, no matter how private or intimate. Whatever the reason, I feel like those around me simply assume that I want to tell them every part of my personal life. And let’s be serious, since I write about a lot of it, you wouldn’t think that I would mind.

But hidden behind those questions is the assumption that I should want another child. Its an implication that I’m not doing something right if I haven’t had another baby yet. And every time I hear it, I have to cope with the fact that I may never get there. I may never satisfy these people’s expectations and I may never stop having to explain just why I stopped at one child.

I honestly do not believe that people who ask these types of questions realize how inappropriate and rude they are. At the same time, I’m not sure that ignorance is an excuse. We don’t know about everyone’s personal choices and goals for their lives. If we aren’t close enough for this person to volunteer the information willingly, maybe we should assume that its not our business. Maybe we should respect each other’s choices instead of pretending that everyone wants to make the same ones as us.

Even if I’m trying to have another child right now, there’s obviously a chance that I will only ever have one offspring, and I will never be ashamed of that. I will always be happy that I have a beautiful little girl. I don’t think that I’ll be doing her a disservice if she doesn’t have any siblings. If that’s my family’s choice, we have every right to make it without anyone’s input. Every one has the right to make their own decisions about children without anyone’s input. So while I can’t understand all the pressures and judgements that childless women have to go through, I can’t definitely agree with them on one thing, inquiries about the state of someone’s uterus suck. And we should all stop doing it. Now.

(Photo: Everyday Awkwardness)