I have a gap in my front teeth. In my whole entire life on Earth no one has mentioned it, questioned it or asked me why I have or haven’t had it fixed. I don’t know if people like it or hate it, no one has ever told me one way or the other. I love it, it makes me who I am and when I think about it that’s all that really matters. If someone did ask me why I hadn’t had my teeth fixed because I would look better for it, I would feel like making a gap in their teeth!
It would be rude, insensitive, a bit pointless to really question it and above all none of their business. The information they would get from that question wouldn’t enhance their life one little bit.
So I invite you to imagine one of these scenarios. You are at a wedding, the person next to you is someone you have never met before. Or you are at work and a colleague yells to you across the office. Or you are sat down to Sunday roast with your whole family, and they ask you any one of these questions out of the blue.
‘When was the last time you had sex?’
‘Where are you in your menstrual cycle?’
‘Have you ever lost someone that you really loved?’
Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Squirm a little bit or make you red hot with anger at the audacity that person had to ask you that?
So now I want you to think about these questions/statements and how they make you feel or if maybe you have ever asked them to someone.
‘Are you going to have children?’
‘Why don’t you have children?’
‘Are you going to have another baby?’
‘Why don’t you have another baby?
‘You had better get a move on if you are going to have children.’
‘You aren’t complete without having children.’
‘You are selfish if you don’t have children.’
‘How many months are you? Wow you are HUGE!’
‘Are you having an Elephant?’
‘You must be having twins, you are massive’
‘I think you are too small for this stage in pregnancy I would be worried if I were you.’
‘Have you had the baby yet?’
‘Are you pregnant?’
‘It’s ok for you because you don’t have children.’
‘But you would be an amazing Mum.’
‘I bet you must hate kids as you don’t have any.’
In other articles that I have read around this subject, I find the authors seem to feel they need to justify which side of the fence they sit on. So regardless of if they have children or not they feel they have to justify their reasons as to why they do or do not. News flash you don’t have to justify anything to nobody END. OF. STORY.
I am writing this as a call to action to be nice to each other to support the choices people make and have done with it. The only person that really needs the heads up about if you are going to have a baby/more babies is your partner. That’s it. No one else needs to know, unless that is you want them to, then by all means shout it from the hills.
But I want you to stop and think about this article please. I want you to stop and think to yourself, why am I asking this highly personal question? I am hoping that when you stop to think about it, you will realise that there is absolutely no freakin reason you should be asking it in the first place. I work as a Doula and complementary therapist with pregnant folk, in context someone asking me if I have children is a relatively normal ask, if they then go onto ask me why I don’t have children this is very dodgy ground. Lets look at the list of reasons this could be.
I can’t have children.
I’m going through IVF as we speak.
I don’t want children.
I’ve miscarried a baby/babies.
My partner doesn’t want children.
I’m undecided if I want children.
I may have some history of abuse/rape/neglect that has left me unsure of my own capacities to be a mother.
To name but a few.
Would you want to know any of that information from a relative stranger? To put it in context would you ask me if I was undergoing IVF? Or would you ask me if I could have children or if I had ever had a miscarriage? No because that would be too personal, it would be too raw, it would be non of your business right? Well news flash, that’s what you are asking when you ask a person about their procreative choices.
Never EVER say these things to a pregnant women. FYI all of these are things that have been uttered from peoples mouth I ain’t make this shiz up here!
‘Wow you are huge!’
‘Let the lady through wide load coming.’
‘My God are you carrying an elephant?’
‘Are you having twins?’
‘You look like you could pop at any moment.’
‘You are so tiny.’
Making booming noises as a pregnant lady walks past you like the earth is shaking.
‘Your bump looks really small.’
Gossiping on clothes choices someone is wearing saying ‘they must be pregnant’
Spreading rumours that someone is pregnant.
Making gestures of bumps and raising eyebrows and pointing in work meetings/nights out/family gatherings.
All the while manhandling your belly WITHOUT permission!
Nothing nothing nothing about those statements or questions make that lady in that moment feel good about herself. There is no empowerment, there is no support or positivity at all. Just thoughtless words, engaging brain after you have flapped your mouth about. In fact, there was probably no brain engagement. Weird things happen when pregnant women are around, it’s suddenly seems ok to make really inappropriate remarks!
It doesn’t stop there oh no, not a moment have you brought your first born home from hospital, the next set of questions start.
‘Are you going to have another baby?’
‘When are you having another baby?’
‘You don’t want to leave the age gap too long.’
‘You don’t want the gap to be too close together you are mad to have them that close!’
‘Do you want a boy or a girl next?’
‘Are you trying for another baby?’
‘Don’t you think it’s important for your first born to have a sibling?’
‘Was one enough for you?’
‘Aren’t you worried about only child syndrome?’
Refer back to the first list of questions.
And if you go on to have a bigger family – like more than two kids, people seem to make judgment calls on that too. Like don’t you think you have had enough? How are you going to still work/sleep/eat if you have more than two children! Enough people, enough!
Asking people about if they are going to procreate is a HUGELY personal topic one of which has many threads to it. To you it maybe a joke, small talk opener, a well meaning question, but it’s loaded with so many emotions you might as well stick that person with a cattle prod. If a person wants to open up to you they will, but I can tell you something for free. The people that have never asked me about my procreation status, I hold them in the biggest and deepest respect because they get it. To those people, I thank you and hug you very tightly.
Getting truthful on these questions is a way forward, or better still get down right mischievous. Have an answer in the wings so you can retaliate when needed, it makes you feel so much better! Or simply leave it with them, maybe throw it back at them, would it make any difference to you if you did know? What will you do with this little bit of information?
We can sometimes feel that we don’t want to make a fuss or look hormonal or crazy or, heaven forbid rude. I really think it’s time to start pointing out these blimin interigations! One of the best things I heard a while ago was this…
‘Middle-aged chap in the supermarket asks me how long to go. A couple of months says I to which he replies with a look of horror and gesturing to my tummy “blimey that’s going to be huge”.
I replied with a smile gesturing to his rather portly frame “not as big as yours”.
The moral of the story: don’t piss off a busy pregnant woman and do remember the social mores regarding commenting on strangers bodies still applies to pregnant women.’
I couldn’t of said it better myself. X