For the love of God, please don’t. I’m out of answers, I’m tired of explaining. I’ve joined the hoards of women harassed by wide-eyed relatives and reminded by concerned friends that yes, I have time, but I don’t have forever. As I write this, I’m aware that one person making one comment does not usually intend to cause harm. This is not my problem. My vexation is the steady flow of comments from other women about children.
Here is how one of these conversations usually go,
“When are you having kids”
“When we are ready”
“Oh, you’re never really ready!”
Or sometimes, this happens,
“I really want you to get pregnant on the honeymoon” (yes, people actually say this to me)
“Okay, please send $233,610 to my Paypal”
“Oh, there’s never enough money”
Let me get two things straight, I understand both those arguments. I’ve heard over and over that you can read every baby book on earth and you still won’t feel ready. I know that if I wanted to save $233,610 (the cost to raise a child born in 2015, according to the Department of Agriculture), I would miss my chance to be a mother entirely. However, no one is going to convince me that I’m crazy for wanting to wait a little while and build a nest egg before bringing another human into this unpredictable world.
I’ve had people approach my fiancé and ask him to convince me to have a baby right away. We separately came to the conclusion that we want to enjoy married life for a little bit, do some more traveling and continue to sleep in on Sundays. I cannot explain the relief I felt when he came to me and told me this. I’m so not ready for a little baby, and did I mention I’m 24 years old. I have time.
When friends make these comments I feel inadequate. Invalidated. Incomplete. I feel like I’m falling short of some natural duty. And I feel defeated for having to explain myself time and again.
I truly feel for women who don’t want children and have to put with this. We need to do better as a society when it comes to the expectations we put on future generations. Marriage is not for everyone. Children are not for everyone. Women assuming all other women want children or a ring is toxic. We’re whole, with or without kids.
For the last year of my relationship prior to getting engaged, I had engagement pressure. It felt like everyone was asking when I wasn’t engaged, or worse, what was wrong with my relationship that led to me not being engaged yet. I remember crying on the bed 3 days before I got engaged, telling my boyfriend that I was fed up and embarrassed that we had been together so long without a ring. Little did I know that he had picked up my ring earlier that day and was waiting ’til our 3 year anniversary that Friday.
The point is, those comments built up and made me feel like there was something wrong with me, like I was incomplete as a human being and my relationship was illegitimate, something to not be taken seriously. I know this sounds dramatic, but when it’s a consistent stream of questions and accusations it’s painful.
I had my come-to moment when I was listening to famous YouTuber and comedienne Jenna Marbles’ podcast. I can’t for the life of me find the episode. Anyways, she was lamenting on the fact that so many people comment on her videos “are you pregnant” “please have a baby” etc. She makes the very powerful point that she could have just had a miscarriage. She could be struggling to get pregnant. You have no idea.
This hit me in the heart. What if that was me? What if I literally had a miscarriage recently and then I had all these people asking me if I could please have a baby so they could gush over it. What if I secretly knew that I couldn’t have a baby. Jeeze Louise, what if I knew I never wanted kids…
So, here I am, 95 days out from my wedding and I have people down my throat about a baby. I’ve started to call people out. I’ve started to straight up say “I feel inadequate as a friend when you tell me that I have to have a baby”. I’ve started saying “I feel hurt”. I’ve started explaining how the pushing damages me and other women.
If you would like to ask me “do you want kids” or “what are your plans for the future”, I will happily tell you about all the names I have picked out and what the nursery is going to look like and how I want 2 kids and a dog and my white picket fence.
This has been the year of learning how to talk to people. My mom, who works with young children, taught me that it’s better to ask “what grade are you in?” rather than asking a 6 foot 5th grader, who might be insecure about their height, if they’re in the 11th grade.
I’ve learned to not assume that every person in a relationship wants to get married. Not every woman 21-40 years old wants a baby. I’m working on not assuming. I’m working on listening rather than talking.
So, I’m grateful that I have a voice that I can use, and strong women beside me. I’m grateful I can recognize that when one person asks the dreaded question, I can acknowledge that they didn’t hear the five other questions I got that week. I can turn conversations around. I have an understanding fiancé who reminds people that we’re just trying to live in the day and that it’s inappropriate to ask these things.
For today, I’m content holding my friends babies and giving them back.
What’s your experience with baby pressure? Let me know below!