2011 was the Year of The Wedding. HomieLoverFriend and I attended 7 I believe, including our own shindig in August. Though we still have about 4 to attend this summer, 2012 is quickly turning into the Year of The Baby Shower. I can't count how many friends and family have announced pregnancies, shared ultrasound pics, sent out invites for showers, or gave birth to their own little bundles of joy in the last few months - but it's most definitely a happy time for a lot of folks around me. HOWEVER. I have a Public Service Announcement to make: Please stay out of my uterus.
As a newlywed, I've had to deal with the timelines others have tried to impose on me and mine. Commentary about us taking too long to get engaged turned into conversations about how long we would take to walk down the aisle. That task being done, now we face the inevitable "When are you having children?" discussions - and I hate it. I've always detested the idea of others thinking I needed to do things based on their time frames, but lately I've reached a new stage of loathing with the incessant baby questions.
I know (or would hope) that people inquire and ask about baby plans with nothing but good intentions. People love nothing more than to see two happy, in love, got-their-sh*t-together people come together and create new life. With all the bad in the world, I know folks just want to feel something good - and what could be gooder (I'm using that word - fight me) than a beautiful, healthy, cuddly, baby-powder-scented infant to shower love upon? I know this. I understand this. So every time I get asked "When are you having kids?" or "What's taking you so long?" or my personal fave "You're not getting any younger, you know?" - I try to hope that good intentions are at the root.
Do I want kids? Absolutely. Does every woman want children? Nope. Is every woman who wants to bear children physically capable of doing so? Sadly, no. Do you know how many miscarriages a woman may have had to deal with in her quest to be a mom? No - you don't. Do women who are trying to conceive know exactly how long it'll take? Hell no.
Think about it. You may be (unknowingly) making assumptions and imposing your values on someone who doesn't share them. Or, you may be ripping the bandage off of a wound that hasn't healed. That woman you just asked may just be coming to grips with the miscarriage she had, or reeling from that doctor's appointment last week that confirmed that she or her partner is infertile. On top of that, you could be adding pressure and stress to the woman who is trying to conceive. With all of the ovulation charting, prenatal vitamin taking, dietary restrictions, and scheduled sexing, something that is supposed to be natural feels anything but. When you asked her "What's taking you guys so long?", she may have just gotten her period - and she's devastated because she thought this month would be "it".
I used to be primarily sensitive to the fact that not every woman wants children. As I've gotten older, I've realized that there are so many other factors at play that could make the topic of parenting especially sensitive. And now, I find myself having a specific reason to feel that way, other than my general dislike of doing things when others think I should do them. Without going into to much detail right now, I will share that I had a cancer scare recently. A scare that luckily is not thought to be cancer (final confirmation will be with the biopsy results in a couple weeks), but does require pokes and prods and tests and treatment plans that direct me to WebMD for somewhat reassuring info. With the irony of life, it would only make sense that the abnormal test result that set this all off would come up just as HomieLoverFriend and I decided to throw our hats in the parenting ring. Just as I was 100% ready to jump in, life snatched me back and said "Hol' up! Hol' up! Hol' up! Hol' up!" like Big Sean and 'em. Thankfully, the doctors have said my treatment will not affect my ability to have a baby, but will most definitely delay the plans that were already in (fun and sexy) motion. Time to regroup, do what needs to be done, and jump back on the baby-makin' train when the time is right. I'm OK with that - as long as I keep the "what ifs" at bay and hope for the best.
Anyways, let me bring it full circle. I say all of this just to remind people that the discussion around babies and whether to have them or not is always going to be one that requires kid gloves when handling. When you REALLY get down to the rooty and the tooty, if you aren't helping with Jr's college fund or offering to babysit when Mama and Daddy need to go out on the town, is it really your business? So - put your kid gloves on before you ask the question, or don't ask at all. I'm sure you'll get your answer eventually, one way or another.
What do y'all think? Are you also constantly on the receiving end of parenting questions? How do you handle it? Do you have any fears with regards to being a parent? For those who have a child - do you get asked when you're going to have another? Speak on it!