Ben and I have been married for three years.
Since we got engaged the most frequent question I have consistently gotten is, “So when are you going to have kids?”
What they really meant:
Are you having them right away?
What are your life plans for the next few years? Do they involve kids?
Do you know you shouldn’t put off anything for kids?
DO NOT have kids – they’ll ruin your life.
After a year or two of marriage what they meant:
I’m just trying to get to know you and am curious about when you’ll add kids to your family.
Why don’t you have kids yet?
Do you even want to have children?
Sometimes they come from close friends and family – but generally I like the rule, ‘if you have to ask, you don’t get to know.’ Sometimes the questions come from a kind and caring place, sometimes from a harsh and judgmental one. But it doesn’t really matter – because think about the question…think about what you’re asking…think about the potential answers. Are you really comfortable asking that? Do you think they’ll be comfortable answering?
When I was in college I had no trouble answering the question, and to be honest, it didn’t bother me at all. I was waiting (at least) till I graduated. I felt no need, no pressure, no expectation, and no desire to go through pregnancy, childbirth, or child rearing while taking a full course schedule and working 20 hours a week.
When we moved to Cincinnati it wasn’t as easy to answer, because the days of full time school were behind me and I wasn’t working full time yet. Those first few months though, I didn’t have an answer for myself so there was no need to be uncomfortable telling anyone else.
It was a few months later, when I desperately wanted to be pregnant that it got a little bit harder. They would ask and I would have a thousand responses come to mind:
Do you really want to know the inner workings of my reproductive system? Do you want to hear how my period has come once in the past eight months? Do you want to hear about how I’m dreading the specialists, the tests, and what they might tell me? Or maybe you want to know about how much fun the actual trying process is? Do I need to explain how it works? ….
But, I just smiled and told them ‘sometime’.
Now I get the questions and I want to laugh, because little do they know but there is a little miracle inside me right now. Right as they ask their unnecessary questions, its stealing my nutrients, making me sick, and bringing me so much joy already.
But how do they know? I could be like my dear friend, having seen every specialist and still waiting, heartbroken. When I get these questions I get angry for her, because I know she’s getting them too. It doesn’t matter how genuinely curious you are, how good your intentions are, or how great your ‘need to know.’
I find myself doing it to, wanting to know what other people are planning, if they’re going through what I did, or something far more difficult. Maybe they just don’t want kids, or maybe I think I deserve to know if they can’t yet.
But I don’t. And you don’t either.
P.S. This was written sometime during my first trimester…but its been on my mind for years. What do you think? When is it appropriate to ask? Is it ever? What’s the best way to ask?
P.P.S Now that I have a baby I want to ask EVERYONE who is married when they’re having kids. If they already have them I want to know when they’re having the next one. Mostly, I think, its because I want to talk about kids because Lincoln takes up SO much of my life at the moment. I don’t really care WHEN they’re planning on growing their family, I’m just really curious and eager to find something to talk about. But, I bite my tongue 95% of the time and remember getting those questions myself. So I’m a bit more forgiving of those kind, curious souls who asked me about my reproductive system and marital intimacy as casual conversation.
^this picture reminded me of the popular baby announcement pictures where they line up feet/shoes and add in baby booties (full anniversary shoot here)