When I was single, no-one asked me about having kids. No-one was interested in my plans for a family. No-one cared about my eggs and whether or not I was putting them to good use. For the first twenty-nine years of my life, no-one thought I was wasting my time or misusing my body.
Then I got engaged.
Suddenly everyone wanted to know, “When are you going to have kids?” I was not even married yet, but all my friends were seized with an urge to know about my future family plans. Like a red spot sale, people flocked to ask me about my reproductive intentions.
I found this terribly interesting. For some reason, single people are not asked about their hopes and dreams for the future (beyond the classic, “When are you going to get married?” question). Only when one becomes attached does ones’ desires for children become wildly captivating to the general public.
Single people are not asked about their hopes and dreams for the future.
Even my Christian friends were keen to know. Or shall I say, especially my Christian friends were anxious to know. They seemed to feel a greater sense of urgency about my need to start a family than what I did. I for one could not understand what the fuss was about.
I also could not fathom the sudden, inexplicable interest in my eggs.
Every person and their pet had an opinion on the egg factor. When I ventured to answer that I was not yet sure about when, or if, to have children, people seemed aghast that I would even question such a vital life milestone. Friends fell over themselves to convince me of the beauty and necessity of childbearing. (Tip: labour stories are not the best argument.)
People seemed aghast that I would even question such a vital life milestone.
I found this fascinating. One month ago, no-one had given a hoot about the productivity of my uterus. Now, everyone was horrified to learn that I might possibly decide not to put it to good use. Their favourite argument seemed to be, “But you have a uterus. Why wouldn’t you use it?”
I felt like saying, “Well, I also have a voice. Doesn’t mean I’m gonna be a preacher.”
My guess is that all of this social pressure arises from people’s expectations of one another. Underneath the layer of expectations, I will venture a guess that there lies a whole lot of fear. People seem to hold fears about their own biological clocks (another mystery to me) and perhaps seeing someone else not panic about kids confronts their own fears of missing out.
Perhaps they are just being well-meaning. Perhaps they care about me and worry about me missing out. But here’s the thing: I am ok. Even now, being childless, I am still ok. Those who feel I must be unhappy are perhaps projecting their own feelings onto mine. But there is no need.
The shocking truth is that it is possible to be childless and happy at the same time.
It is possible to be childless and happy at the same time.
I don’t get questioned about having kids anymore. Maybe people are sick of asking. Or maybe they have figured out that I’m going to remain childless – and I’m going to be ok.
Do you get asked about having kids, either as a single person or as part of a couple? How do you answer people – and how do they react? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.