From the mind of mom: On uncomfortable questions
There’s no truer right of passage in young, married life than those inappropriate, prying questions.
You know the ones I’m talking about: “So, when are you going to start a family?” “When are you going to have kids?” “Ready to turn that spare bedroom into a nursery yet?”
And if you, dear child-free soul, think those questions will stop once said room has, in fact, moved into nursery status, you’re mistaken. Next come the questions of siblings, of delivery experiences and sundry things that are enough to make even the most outspoken person red in the cheeks.
A current and popular opinion: I’ve never been fond of any among the list. The questions are uncomfortable for anyone: the purposefully child-free, the fertility strugglers and the long-range planners alike.
But my unpopular opinion, or perhaps predisposition, has been to smile, to shrug, to laugh or change the subject. The questions will be asked regardless of whether or not one chooses to take offense to them, so why succumb to the ruffling of feathers?
Or that was my haughty headspace as I endured, grinning and bearing the prying questions while my first child turned one, two, three and four with no sibling in sight. Not a matter of choice, but a silent struggle, enough for a tiny little twinge of discomfort when those questions came. “When?” “How?” “Why not?”
I would not allow myself to be offended, I thought, nose heavenward. The questions were well-meaning, innocent. Even recently, I found myself listening to a child-free person rant about those constant questions. “Stop asking questions about my uterus!” she said, and I snorted at the preposterousness of the concept. That was a strong leap to make, wasn’t it?
Holier than thou, I went about my business of mothering my now two littles, readying my home for my infant’s next ventures into the world of sitting, playing and interacting. I reached out to a family member for an activity center I had loaned along the way and —
“Oh. That thing? It’d been so long we assumed you wouldn’t be having any more. We threw it out.”
My chest tightens. My feathers ruffle. I’m 30 years old, I think, not menopausal!
And yes, I realize, an assumption was made. Maybe it was about my body, maybe it was about my husband’s, but it was deep and personal and uncomfortable and, holier or not, it smarted.
So maybe the questions will never stop. Maybe people will always raise their brows, exchange knowing looks or nudge elbows.
I’ll be in my corner, embracing my ignorance and finding new questions to ask, new topics of conversation.
Barring conversations with a health care professional, no uterine inquiries allowed.