When I first got married, I guess some part of me knew that the question would eventually come. I wasn’t sure when, or how, or who would ask it, but I knew, sooner or later, someone would ask if (or when) we were planning to have children. We did get a few questions right off the bat – literally, just days, maybe even hours, after the I-dos… “Are you guys thinking about kids?” “Do you guys want kids?”
I roll my eyes already. We’ve barely been married a few hours, or a few days, and already, the conversation has turned to our potential parenting at some point in the future.
I want to put it straight right here, before I go any further. It is absolutely, completely okay (and awesome) if people have children right after they get married, or soon after. It’s also awesome if they have children before they get married. It’s awesome if people choose to wait. It’s awesome if people choose to never have kids. It is completely up to the couple.
And that, my friends, is where we often run into a roadblock. Having a child is probably (I assume, since I’ve never done it) one of the most incredible things you can do. But it should be your decision — not anyone else’s.
So this takes us now, to New Year’s Day, 2017. My husband and I have now been married all of five and a half months. Between the two of us, we’ve had what discussions we’ve felt have been appropriate and/or necessary regarding children, and what we would or would not like to do now and in the future in terms of having, or not having, children of our own. That is our business – not anyone else’s.
So: New Year’s Day. A member of my extended family, who I haven’t seen in several months, greets us with the question: “Do you two have an ANNOUNCEMENT to make?” What should’ve been a nice greeting had quickly turned sour. “No,” I say, which is apparently not good enough for them. “I had a dream the other night… are you sure?” they ask. “Yep, I’m sure,” I reply. It still isn’t enough. “Oh, I don’t know! I had a dream about it the other night! Maybe you’ll find out soon!” Okay, now I’m more than annoyed; I’m getting angry. “No, we won’t,” I say now, with the anger probably more evident in my tone. It’s enough to stop the questioning…. at least for a little while. That family member would ask again, later in the day!
Another conversation, with another family member that day: several family members were talking about a TV show where one of the main characters is pregnant, and they were discussing what they thought she was having. Someone misunderstood and – yep, thought they were talking about me! “Oh, Melissa’s –?” “NO. I AM NOT. STOP.”
Safe to say that was enough to get me angry again, enough so that I’ve felt it necessary to sit down and write down this anecdote and this post. Oh, and I was then incredibly self-conscious the rest of that day wondering if people had thought that because… did I look like I’d gained weight to provoke that question? Great, maybe I need to hit the gym more often now. And sure, dinner looks awesome, but I’d better not eat *too* much, or they’ll wonder again if I’m perhaps “eating for two” when MAYBE I’M JUST HUNGRY.
Do not ask people when they are having children.
Do not ask people if they are expecting.
Seriously. Do I need to say it again?
By asking either of these questions, you’re making a LOT of assumptions about the couple. You’re assuming that a) they both WANT to have children, which, shocker!, not everyone does. You’re assuming that they both physically can have children, which not all people can. (Just because you aren’t privy to someone’s potential health issues doesn’t mean they aren’t there!) You’ve turned them from a couple into nothing more than baby-making machines, which… we aren’t.
You have no idea what that couple is going through. Maybe they’ve been trying to have children with no luck yet, and you’ve just reminded them of that. Maybe they don’t want kids at all,, and your constant questioning gets more annoying every time. Maybe one, or both, of them knows they can’t have children, and you’ve just reminded them of that – which I can only imagine would sting. Maybe one of them has a health condition that would make parenting incredibly difficult. Maybe they were expecting and lost the child, which you’ve again just reminded them of. Maybe they don’t want kids right now but don’t feel like they should have to explain that to you, or anyone else.
And the list goes on, and on. Either way, no good can come of your questioning. Have some respect. If people want to talk about these things, they will come to you. And if they don’t, it’s their choice. No matter what, it’s their personal life and, quite frankly, none of your business.