People like to remind me of the great irony that I am a contributor at this blog that used to be called Simple Mom. “But Katie,” they will say. “You don’t actually have any kids.”
I know that I don’t have a clue about parenting. I’ll never lie about that.
I usually try to just blend in with subtle notes. If I’m writing about the soulful benefits of taking walks, I throw in with a stroller. When I write about documenting your daily life in December, I mention doing it with your kids.
It’s just that sometimes, it’s easier to avoid the inevitable question:
“When are YOU going to have kids?”
I’m turning 30 this month, celebrating seven years of marriage, and living without kids. Do I want to have kids? My story and my reasons aren’t the topic of this post.
What I do want to talk to you about is the constant questioning childless women receive and how much it can hurt.
Photo courtesy of Katie Clemons
If you are married, you probably remember stepping straight from the alter to a bombardment of people asking, “When are you going to have babies?”
The baby question has become a topic as casual as, “Hey! How are you?”
That’s great when you’re in the exact place where you want to be (and it happens to be exactly where the person asking wants to hear that you are). But what about other women?
What about the women who want to have babies but have an obstacle in the way? What about the women who just don’t want kids? The baby question can quickly make them feel like they’re not good enough or that they’ve failed.
People ask when you’ll procreate because:
- They love you and think you’ll make an awesome parent.
- They think of the incredible ways parenthood has enriched their lives.
- They don’t know what else to chat about.
I’ve seen how parenthood transforms people in the most beautiful ways. My little brother has become this incredible, reliable father who provides for two girls and a stay-at-home wife. I keep thinking, “Is this the same guy who only five years ago would consistently leave every gas tank on empty and show up to work 20 minutes late?”
His growth humbles me.
That direction of growth might not be right for everyone.
Photo courtesy of Katie Clemons
Every girl has her own reasons and her own stories. It isn’t a topic we’re going to start chatting with anyone about in the grocery store line because they asked. These aren’t answers we’ll spew at the family reunion. No. They’re dear to the heart.
Just as women with children tend to gravitate to one another for common ground, so do women without children. For some of my friends, the baby question is the most painful question anyone could ask.
These are the reasons why six of my female friends who are over 30 do not have kids.
(Please note: these women are not online and blogging.)
1. That girl is trying to conceive and can’t.
They pray. They seek medical help. They try. And they wait.
2. She and her spouse can’t agree about having kids or not.
She almost cries each time she sees a young woman carrying an infant in the store or at the park. She questions herself. She fights with her husband. She prays for guidance and acceptance.
3. The lifestyle she lives (and wants to live) doesn’t cater to having kids.
She and her husband must move all the time. He works for an international company, so they’re not just moving within one country or state. Every time they move, the local language is a new one. And he works all the time.
They plan on devoting energy to their nieces and nephews and the local churches and communities where they live.
4. She doesn’t feel like the relationship she is in is right.
It’s easy to put our hands on our hips and say, “Well then get out of the relationship!” But some things take time. Her history and experiences are different than ours. We can love her and pray for her.
5. In her culture, women work on their careers first and have kids later.
If you walk through the streets of a German city on a Sunday afternoon, you will see parents and children playing together. The parents are much older than American parents. People just have children later in life there.
6. She doesn’t want kids… and that doesn’t make her a failure.
It could be because of her own childhood. It could be because of her feelings about the environment and population. Or maybe she has strong opinions about adoption and foster care. Then again, maybe she just wants to contribute to our world in some really awesome ways other than with children.
What are your thoughts on this seemingly simple question? Do you suppose we could lift these women up?