“You’re 39 and you don’t have a baby?”
Sorry did I just give someone the impression I’d had a sex change? No? Then why does this evoke near disgust from so many women when they find out I’m approaching 40 – and childless?
Does the fact that as yet I have chosen not to have a baby, for my own private reasons, means that I am any less of a person?
Invariably, the person asking the question has children. Does that make the askee more important than me?
They certainly seem to think so. And sadly, I often find it is not an equal relationship with my baby-toting friends.
I hear the same stories from my sans-kiddies mate all the time – we’re always the first to pick up the phone and check how our friends with kids are: we’re the first on the scene at kids birthday parties, treating all our friends kids as our own: we realize our friendships are bound to change once there are kids on the scene.
We’re not stupid. We get the pressures kids bring to a relationship. We understand that in the early days of motherhood, you’re up and down all night feeding, and exhausted most days.
We accept that when we’re down or need a drink, with a girlfriend, the mum’s can’t come running anymore.
We know when our family is sick, or a boyfriend has dumped us, that little Joey might need mum’s attention first.
All we ask from mothering friends is recognition that our lives are still important and fulfilled – without children.
This situation has cost me one friendship. I had been going through a particularly tough time and realized it had been awhile since I had checked in with a mate who had a toddler.
I decided to test whether indeed it had become a one sided friendship. I didn’t make the usual first call. It has been three years now, and not a word. I hear about her from time to time, and am told she’s wondering why I haven’t called.
Another single and childless mate, who recently told her friend she had broken up with her latest bloke, was comforted with the following words: “I do despair for you. Oh, well you still have a few years left” In reference to missing the boat on having his child. Which she had never mentioned she intended to do.
Only a few years left? Isn’t that what you say when someone’s terminally ill?
If you are one of those people who enjoy interrogating childless women about their family choices, think of something more appropriate and interesting to ask them.
Remember, not only is it absolutely none of your business, the questions could be hurtful reminders of hidden factors.
Yet I’ve heard this question delivered so many times, as if it’s no more intrusion than asking what their favourite colour is.
Think it doesn’t happen? Ask any childless woman how many times she’s been put in the uncomfortable position of having to duck and weave out of giving complete strangers or acquaintances the reason why she doesn’t yet have a child.
Where these people get off? Being put on the spot at a dinner party of flapping ears, and prying eyes, wanting to know if I want to have children, or why I haven’t got any yet, is not my idea of pleasant dining banter.
Do any of these people consider that perhaps for medical reasons or genetically there’s a problem? That’s perhaps I can’t, not don’t want, children?
Is that something I’m going to discuss over clinking cutlery and fake laughs?
Perhaps I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to conceive and it sadly hasn’t eventuated. Do I need my face rubbed in it? Should I have to think of an excuse so I can avoid sharing this heartache with those who are not my nearest and dearest, whilst doing my best not to burst into tears?
Or perhaps I haven’t brought a child into the world because I haven’t found a partner that I deemed father material? Does putting my dreams of motherhood on hold for the sake of my future child make me less of a person?
So why haven’t I had a child? That, my friends, remains none of your business.
DO YOU GET THE BABY INTERROGATION? HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT?