When are you going to have a baby? Are you going to have another baby? As a mother of one, I am asked this question at least weekly. It never ceases to amaze me that people think it’s ok to ask such a personal question. Yes. It is in fact, a very private question. An inquiry that triggers hurt, pain and anger inside of me when asked.
I’m sorry, do I know you? Is My son not enough? Am I less of a mother because I have one child?
Behind the answer to this question, there is always a story. A very personal one. More times than not a very emotional one. While many people think of it as an innocent question, it’s quite the opposite. This question is so invasive. When you ask me this question, you are asking me to divulge my sex life. My finances. My health history. Loss and grief. Private conversations between me and my significant other. Having a child affects all aspects of someone’s life, and there is a lot that goes into family planning. And that planning does not usually involve Linda in the checkout line at Macy’s. Bye Linda, bye.
That question can be a painful trigger for the person you’re asking
Miscarriages are a prevalent but painful thing women go through. Couples are going through IVF treatments, hoping to become parents. People have lost and are mourning a child. Women have had abortions(and yes they grieve too). The physical or sexual abuse a woman may experience takes away their ability to conceive. These are all traumatic and pivotal life events that people experience but not ones they want to discuss over cake at Uncle Bobs 50th birthday party.
It costs how much?
Kids are expensive. That is no secret. It takes money to clothe, educate and feed them. Have you ever added a child to your health insurance policy? I won’t go into specifics but your rate skyrockets. What if that child has special needs and requires at home care, weekly doctor appointments, and medical equipment. Not to mention the physical and emotional toll it takes on parents juggling this on top of work, finances and their relationship. Yes, parents still have a life outside their role as Mom and Dad. We spent $10,000 a year on full-time daycare for my son. Let that amount sink in. One of us being a stay at home parent was not an option. But again the reasons behind that are none of anyone’s business. One’s finances are a big reason why someone may choose to have a smaller family. So unless you are looking to sponsor our family financially,keep your question to yourself.
Perhaps this question is rooted in the idea that a woman’s value comes from growing the human race.
That we are the child bearers of the world. Society has ingrained into us that a woman’s purpose is to bear children. That the number of children a woman has determines her worth. I am here to tell you that is a bunch of malarkey. Yes without women the human race as we know it would cease to exist. But we have evolved, and we know that women are so much more. Women are also CEO’S, business owners and world changers. Bearing children is not every woman’s dream or vision for her life. Not every woman wants the title of mother. That is her right to choose. AND THAT’S OK. We need these women as well. They are not less valuable. They are a part of society that is allowing us to continue to evolve and move forward.
We need to stop tying women’s value to bearing children
Dolly Parton. A successful, strong and beloved woman with no children who says she has a very fulfilling life. She is a wife, entertainer, and philanthropist. She is the founder of Dolly’s Imagination Library. A program that promotes literacy by sending free books to children. Can you imagine a world without Dolly Parton? I for one, rather not.
Of course, women have relationships in their life where they have had this conversation. Usually in a private setting confiding in their significant other, close friend or family member. Someone who they know has their best interest. And when that person does disclose to their trusted confidant, realize she is trusting them with everything. That conversation is sacred and full of vulnerability. It’s not something to take lightly. It’s not the story you share the next day with your friend Jan over a box of wine. Not that there is anything wrong with boxed wine, but you know. Just take note.
It’s time for us to start looking at our intent behind asking this question.
I admit I have been guilty of asking this question in the past before I knew better. Before I realized what I was genuinely asking and was aware of the impact this could have on someone, I just thought it was a question to open a conversation or to show interest in one’s life. And for that, I am so sorry. I’m sorry if it ever triggered pain or discomfort. So know that I write this letter believing the majority of people have asked me this thinking this is an innocuous question. But it’s time we know better and do better. It’s time for the conversation. We don’t live in the Handmaids Tale era…yet.So stop implying my worth is linked to my ability to have children.