Recently I had the opportunity to share some time with a young woman that I didn’t know very well.
It was fun to get to know someone from scratch, so to speak. I very quickly learned that she’s a strong and determined person with huge goals and dreams. She’s also kind-hearted and sensitive and doesn’t fit what society may call the status quo. At almost 30, she’s married, but has no children.
I’ll give you one guess what the first question is that she has to deal with all the time. Yup — when are you going to have a baby? or “why” you don’t have kids? Don’t you want one? The clock is ticking, what’re you waiting for?
Hey people, butt out, it’s none of your business.
The young woman grew up in an impoverished home and experienced things that left deep emotional scars. She’s worked hard to put herself through university, change her circumstances, and build a future. As a little girl, for example, she dreamed of taking ballet lessons but the family couldn’t afford it — she’s now enrolled in adult ballet classes — how cool is that? She knew from a very early age that she didn’t want children and the decision is a part of who she is and will not change. She sought out and married someone like-minded. Both are happy to rescue animals, give their time to volunteering and dedicate themselves to each other.
“I’d be a terrible mother,” she says. “I seriously don’t have a maternal bone in my body. If I had a kid, I’d resent the situation and the changes I’d have to make in life which wouldn’t be fair to the child. I’m very content and fulfilled with my current life.”
Some are shocked and dismayed by such honesty, but I find it refreshing. She (and her husband) are making a choice. It’s their’s alone. They’re not caving into any societal or family pressures. What some fail to see and acknowledge is that having a baby doesn’t necessarily complete the picture for all and I applaud the fact that they’re sticking to their guns. She has opportunities and options for travel, career advancement and financial security and for her, having a child would stifle all of this. It’s not selfish, as some would say, it’s realistic and logical for the parties involved and has nothing to do with anyone else.
The thing we all need to remember is that every individual is coming from a different place and experience. This young woman is a survivor and knows herself well. She has a support system around her and looks forward instead of back. While she’s strong and knows how to deal with those who ask about babies (or lack thereof), many are sensitive about the subject and questions could set off an emotional storm that you have no idea about.
I have a friend who’s been trying to have a baby for the last five years. She’s been through fertility treatments, poked and prodded to the point of no return. Right now she’s on “a break” and reconsidering her options. This is of course private information but she’s questioned all the time by people, even strangers, who just can’t help but stick their nose in.
It seems like when the subject is babies, everyone has an opinion, a solution, or alternate point of view. Usually such comments come from women and can mistakenly, I think, come across as judgmental and hurtful. Things like: ‘Why don’t you adopt?’ Or, ‘I read about a new procedure they do in Siberia.’ ‘Why don’t you do this?’ ‘Why can’t you?’ ‘Every woman needs a baby.’ Blah, blah, blah.
Basically what it comes down to is this — it’s none of your business. Stop asking. Stop questioning. Stop suggesting. If someone wants to share their story, they will, and if not, just bite your tongue and don’t ask.
Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or fayeearcand.com