A Personal Note

I was hesitating to post this but after this morning’s trip to the work cafe I couldn’t take it anymore. Today my stomach was a little off which is not unusual for me so I stopped down to the cafe below our lab to get a hot tea. The cafe worker notes my unusual diversion from my normal black coffee and asks ‘tea?!’ I respond, yes I like tea but I’m also not feeling so well this morning. She giddily responds: ‘maybe you’re pregnant!!!’ me:  um…no. well that’s a LONNNNNNG STORY. She responds: ‘oh I’m sorry!’ I say…oh no! I don’t even want kids. Finally she shuts up. Besides the obvious fact that tea is delicious and I drink it at home constantly sick or not, this woman can’t believe how I can live without getting knocked up. UNBELIEVABLE!

Seeing as I am not getting any younger and the question continues to puzzle those around me, I need to clear the air. Disclaimer: I am in no way bashing those who feel the opposite of me but simply stating that I do not chastise your choice and you are entitled to your own choices! Shoutout to comedienne Jen Kirkman who recently wrote about this very topic on her tumblr! Happily married, super cool, 35 years old & childless! Read her story here: Jen’s Tumblr

Questioner: Melissa dear, when are you going to have children? You aren’t getting any  younger!

My Subconscious thinking: That’s right, at 27 I’m withering away!

Actual response: Oh the hubs & I don’t really want any. I’ve never had a desire even when I was growing up…in fact I was afraid of babysitting!

Questioner: oh you’re young! You’ll change your mind!

My Subconscious thinking: But you just said I wasn’t getting any younger & you don’t know the personal girl health issues I’ve experienced since I was able to menstruate or lack thereof. Should I make you feel awkward or just let you go on pressing me about this “need to conceive.”

Actual response: *nervous laughter hoping you will drop it already* I guess you never know & hey! Maybe we will adopt someday.

Let me ask you a question…can you not have an identity as a woman without bearing a child? Is that what you are implying? How could I possibly fathom living a life without giving one to someone else? Before I am compelled to digress into a lengthy & boring story about the socio-economic issues at large & the negative world in which we live; allow me this comment:

“Many people feel that having children gives meaning to life. You telling them that you don’t want children challenges that notion and forces them to consider the alternatives – what are we here for if it’s not to procreate? What legacy will I leave when I die?

Those sorts of questions are deeply unsettling for some people, and in order to avoid them they resort to telling you that you’re wrong. If they were comfortable about the choices they made and their views on life they wouldn’t have a problem with you choosing not to.

If you don’t want kids, don’t have kids.” (via this comment on reddit.com)

A-MEN. stop calling me selfish, there is so much more to my story & defense! I don’t owe a detailed explanation to those who constantly criticize. I could retort & call you a narcissist but that would be ignorance speaking. Why not try to quell those wagging tongues & leave my personal/private decisions out of your business!

11 Responses to A Personal Note

  • artmajorese says:
    May 18, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I do find this whole debate interesting. . .your idea that people who are threatened by childless couples are really threatened about what their own legacy would be (besides kids) is an insightful one. I never thought about it that way. I do often think that women who just have a desire to be pregnant all the time are crazy and not very responsible (primarily because of the socio-economic issues).

    Do you find that it is grown-up people or people our age who are the most offensive with this question?

    • thedelicateplace says:
      May 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

      it’s funny because it’s not our age group who nags me with this question. it’s those in the 40+ age set and they do not let up! i get bothered because our generation’s mindset is a changing one. my life will not mimic the lives of the women in my familiar past because I am choosing to set out on a different course. I embrace what they have done/gave for me but we are not all the same people. we all have different ideas, goals, hopes & dreams. just because mine doesn’t include children shouldn’t make me an evil person :( unfortunately, they don’t take too kindly to my “choice.” i don’t criticize them for having children when they complain about how difficult a task or lack of sleep etc that comes with a family. i listen and keep my opinions to myself!

  • clockworkpurple says:
    May 18, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I HATE it when people tell me I’ll change my mind; as if I can’t POSSIBLY know what I want if it doesn’t involve kids. Some of the happiest people i know don’t have kids, and one day I hope to be one of them! :)

    • thedelicateplace says:
      May 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

      ((hugs!)) we’ll i’ll be there with you. my uterus is not open for business!

  • artmajorese says:
    May 24, 2010 at 8:56 am

    The other aspect of this I’ve been thinking about since I first read the post is the effect kids/not kids can have on your marriage relationship. . . one of the things Mom tried to pass on to me is an understanding that if you have kids, you cannot put them before your marriage. Your kids will grow up and move away. And you will still have your spouse. I can imagine it being so much easier to stay in touch with your spouse without having to worry about the well-being of 2 or 3 other human beings (and tiny crying ones, at that).

    My third and less serious response is that it would be hysterical to print up little business cards about not wanting kids. Make them as awkward as possible. If it’s an awkward enough card, maybe they will stop harassing you. =)

  • ashtangalover says:
    July 30, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I do agree that people really have no business making these comments to you. Although I have a child, and do desperately want another, I have reproductive health issues, and all the time I get asked when the next one was on the way. This is a source of some pain in my life so I find it really hard to address these comments. But even without these personal issues, reproduction or lack of is an extremely private personal decision that no one should make assumptions about or comment to others on.

    That being said, I do not think these comments come from a place of discomfort with their own life choices as you seem to suggest. Actually I believe it is the opposite. Being a parent myself, the experience has been extremely transformative and has enriched my experience of life and love immensely. I think most of these people mean well with their comments, and truly believe that everyone would have a similar experience and just wants to share the joy of parenting.

    Think of it this way, have you ever suggested yoga to others? Because you love it so much have you ever said to someone who said “its not for me”,.. “but you might change your mind” …

    Obviously with both comments the intention is the same, and the idea is that you know better than the other because of your own experience and merely want to share something that has made you happy. The difference of course is the subject matter (pregnancy), which I think should be totally off limits unless its a mutual sharing discussion and not a probe from some know it all, nosy person.

    • Melissa says:
      August 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      wow Jos! who knew we had so much in common? ^_^ it can be very difficult to convince an older generation that pregnancy/biological children are not a given but a choice that is personal. it’s a complicated conversation to have with those who do not have an open mind about more progressive opinions. However, my husband and i are both in agreement that we do not want to have children of our own. I’m happy you found a partner who agrees with you too! :D

  • Jos says:
    August 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Oh gosh, I do get this reaction A LOT…not just from ppl from older relatives but also some of my friends as well. For Asians, especially older generations, they think that married couple should have kids as soon after they’re married so we’ll have someone to take care of us when we both get old.

    I do know where they came from, but seriously in this era, that kind of idealism almost extinct. You won’t even know if your kids will actually take care of their parents. Most of the time I see here they usually just send them to nursing homes. So what’s the point anyway? Having spending lots of money, time etc in the end we’ll just end up in a nursing homes or your kids will leave you after they grew up and have their own family.

    I’m not trying to criticize others who chose to have kids and respect them a lot. A lot of my married friends already have kids and they do know we don’t plan to have one. On another note, I also have some health issue which even makes me more certain to stay childless. Hubby thinks the same way as well. Some of my friends that grow up in Asia usually can’t see the way I think and they still think that I’m like a weirdo who actually will change my mind later and will regret for not having kids.

  • Valerie says:
    August 8, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    good post. i’m 27, and childless. i can’t tell you how many times my dad asks me when i’m having kids, or asking me if im pregnant yet. i’m not even sure if i REALLY want kids, and if its even in the cards for me.

    in this world, we make it seem like those childless women are somehow weird, and abnormal because they aren’t having kids (hello – sex and the city). when did procreating and being a “normal woman” become interchangeable? what, we aren’t happy with just ourselves and/or our significant other?

    i’m happy without a child in my life at the moment. it may change, and it may not. but that’s all up to ME!

  • Katie says:
    August 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I love this topic! I absolutely adore kids, but at 28, I’m not really interested in having any of my own. I can’t afford them, I don’t want to give up my own time, and I figure there are enough couples out there having more than 2 kids (2 kids to replace you and your husband when you die should suffice) that it evens it out. I think our society is becoming dangerously comfortable with asking personal questions that have since been taboo.

    On that note, my boyfriend and I have been dating for three years and we are getting tired of people asking us if we’re getting married. We’re happy. We may just end up committed to each other forever without making it official. People asking about it kind of makes me not want to do it. It takes the fun away. I think people ask as a way to show they care (even with the kid questions), but really it’s just annoying. Mind your business.

    :)

    • Melissa says:
      August 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      ::hugs:: yay! you are totally not alone. there’s nothing wrong with your family just being you two! our society dictates that we follow suit but some of us aren’t comfortable just being a follower! keep doing what you’re doing! it’s your life x

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