Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My womanhood...

So, I have witnessed the resurgence of an interesting phenomenon this past week. Now, I have experienced it before, but this week it has pissed me off in a way that I am trying to articulate.

"So, Anna, now you're married. When are you going to have a baby?"

This has come from various places... from my dad's wife joking that she wants a redhead to the older ladies from my home church wondering when I am going to "start my family." It has even come in the form of a question from an aunt that I haven't talked to in a year... the first thing she asks me is if I'm pregnant yet...

This week, however, the baby nagging has come from facebook...

I sneeze. A lot. I always have. This week I sneezed 21 times and posted something on facebook about it. A friend of mine replied jokingly that an old wive's tale says that for every three times you sneeze, you'll have a baby. Someone else replied, "7 Babies?!?!?" Now, I understand that was all in fun, but then the baby-craziness continued.

As I was perusing my school's website, I saw that the academic calendar for 2010-2011 has been finalized. That means that my graduation date from seminary has been set. I saw this and became really excited (rightly so, I think!) so I posted the date on my facebook in the status update that read...

"May 21, 2011 has a nice ring to it!"

One of the first comments that was made was, "Is that your goal due date?" HELL NO! Why does any important thing that I leave ambiguous in public immediately become related to babies? And then someone else commented that graduating from a master's program (seminary, M.Div.) is nice, but a baby sounds good, too... UGH!

"So when are you going to start your family?" I resent this. My family has been started. When I left the home of my parents, I started my own family. I branched out from the family of my parents and became my own. And I added to it when I decided to get married. I firmly believe that neither marriage nor a baby starts a family. A family is started long before then!!

Also, I am 23 years old (for a little while longer at least...), and I have a lot of living left to do before I even begin to seriously entertain the thought of having a child. Does this mean that I think that all 23 year olds need to wait? No! I think there are some wonderful parents who are my age and younger. But as for me, Anna, I need to finish school
at least before I can even think of being a parent to a human being. I even shy away from the notion that I am my dog's "mom" (I like to steal the language of my friend, KLM, who says that she is her pets' roommate).

I once heard a great (and heartbreaking) response from a woman when someone asked her when she was going to have a baby. She simply replied,

"What if I can't?"

I don't like to be one of those women who gripes about the double standards between men and women (ok... that may be a slight fib) but why is a woman assumed to be able to bear a child. I have never heard someone ask my husband, "So, when are you going to impregnate your wife?" Don't get me wrong, I don't want someone to ask him that, but why do I receive all the questions about reproduction?

I am not sure that anyone would claim that they would think me less of a person if I am not physically able to have a child, but I have certainly been made to feel that because my choice
at this point in my life to not have a child has somehow made me less of a woman. And quite frankly it ticks me off.

I want to have a child some day. I really do. And even as I fight of the natural maternal instincts in myself right now, each person that asks me, "When are you going to have a baby?" incites this tiny part of me that never wants one at all. And what if I reach that conclusion someday? Will that make me less woman or wife because I have made that choice for myself?

So friends, think twice before you ask a woman when she is going to have a baby...


Anonymous said...

Preach it, Anna!! I am so sorry that has been your experience. One would think that we would not have to endure such questioning in the 21st century, but there is still a double standard. While people don't ask me the "when are you going to have a baby?" question, they feel free to ask me "when are you going to get married?" As a 38 year old happily single woman this question infuriates me, as if I need some man to complete my life. I have even had people (including parishioners) say to me, "it's such a shame that you don't have a family of your own." I tell them I do have a family ... and that a husband and 2.5 children with a dog does not a family make. Thank you for highlighting this important issue.

April Casperson said...

Preach it. Thank you.

Don said...

It's rude and intrusive. It's no one's business.

Blue Eyes said...

I stumbled across your blog from the Stuff Christians Like page. I thought I would actually say hi rather than just staying invisible!

I think you make such a good point and it compares to the way Christians react when two Christians start dating. When i started dating my boyfriend (only a few months ago) people started asking questions like 'Are you going to get married?', 'Are you going to move to South Africa with him?' etc. Some asked within weeks. WEEKS. We had barely started dating and people assumed we were going to announce our engagement imminently! What?!

Interestingly it was mainly single people who asked those kind of questions not people who were in relationships or married. Do you find that the people who ask you if you're going to have a baby are mainly those who are unmarried and not considering the prospect themselves? I'm not trying to slight single people in any way (I was single until very recently!), it's just I think that because they are not in the same position they ask crazy questions! Obviously that is a broad generalisation. What do you think?

Best wishes,
Blue Eyes x

kathy said...

Hi Anna,
It is sad and crazy. I once as a newly married person went to a women's bible study and instead of just praying for my prayer requests, prayed for my future kids. I was ticked.

Chrissy Joy said...

So I'm a little late to the game on this, but I HEAR you loud and clear. I feel fortunate, my mom is already a grandma and my mother in law has assured me she does not need to be a grandmother any time soon. So there is little pressure.
But when we got married we made certain that people knew we were waiting at LEAST 5 years before we even started talking about human children. This was a good plan because I got a little baby crazy about 3 years in, but got over it. I really like being a young married couple, it's amazing.
It's hard as you get older and your married friends start having kids because then they think you won't want to hang out. I love to hang out with my friends kids!
Anyways... I hear you and you are not alone.

PeaceBang said...

Anna, I am FINALLY aging out of that era where everyone assumes I am looking to get married and have children. I learned to say years ago, "I have a calling to ministry. I never got the calling to motherhood. Obviously God knows my limitations!" That seemed to shut people right up.